Just days after our midweek trip to Goodison, the ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back for the second time this week, with us getting some thoughts from the West Midlands ahead of Sunday’s game with Wolves.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been chatting to Wolves fan @Bazza1983 , with him having the following to say ahead of his side’s trip up to St James’ Park this weekend:
Q1 – What short of shape do you feel Wolves are in coming into this one? I know you beat Chelsea in midweek, but you’ve had a real bad run of form.
“When you look at the points return from our last 7 games, 4 from a possible 21, we have had a really poor run, there’s no denying that. However, in the those 7 games we’ve played Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea and those games are where the 4 points came from!
“The other 4 matches where we were really disappointed with the results were two 2-0 losses at home to Watford, in which we were overrun in midfield in both games.
“We battered Brighton for 90 minutes and still lost 1-0, a game where both Brighton centre halves turned into Maldini/Baresi hybrids, and the other defeat came last Friday away at Cardiff, a game in which we took the lead but conceded two poor goals in the second half. A game where we got drawn into Warnock’s hoof ball war of attrition instead of playing our own game. I could mention how our goalie was fouled in the lead up to their first goal, but nobody wants to read about refereeing hard luck stories.
“I don’t think we’ve been as bad as our form suggests, and the win against Chelsea backs that up.”
Q2 – Phil Neville claimed earlier in the season that you were the best newly promoted team the Premier League has ever seen. I know you’ve spent big and started well, but did you (or do you still) believe that?
“This kind of thing will always be subjective, as you can never compare like for like. For instance Reading finished on 106 points back in the 2005/06 season so they’ll always be able to say they’ve got the record points total, but would I expect last season’s side to beat them? Every single day of the week and twice on a Sunday.
“You mention spending big, which we have, but we’ve also spent wisely. Look at Fulham, £110m spent and they sit bottom, West Ham spent £92m and started poorly, we spent £62m and 4 of those were turning loan signings into permanent deals.
“With regards to being the best promoted team then I’d say yes, but I would really wouldn’t I.”
Q3 – Who are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any players that are the ‘ones to watch’ (for good & bad) that us NUFC fans wouldn’t know about from watching you on Match of the Day?
“One player that will go onto bigger and better things is Ruben Vinagre. He plays at left wing back and is equally adept at going forward as he is defending. His chance came this season when Jonny Otto was injured whilst on international duty, he’s settled into the Premier League well and is showing more maturity than his age (19) suggests. Not without his faults, but loves a tackle and will definitely be successful if he keeps progressing the way he has done.
“One player that deserves a mention but I feel the secret may be already out, is Morgan Gibbs-White. He’s already a World Cup winner with England (under 17s) and is on Southgate’s radar for a full call u. He’s slotted in well in midfield, and loves to run with the ball and always looking to take us forward. When you consider he’s playing alongside Neves and Moutinho and holding his own, that should tell you enough about him.
“Then to our three best players..
“Ruben Neves. He’s our play maker. If he’s at his best then we’re at our best. Hasn’t hit the heights of last season and is still settling in, but once he does he’ll go right to the top.
“Willy Boly. Our rock at the back. Looked very casual last season because it was so easy for him, he’s made the transition well to the premier league and has formed a good understanding with Conor Coady.
“Rui Patricio. We’ve got a lot to thank the Sporting Lisbon ultras for. After the stormed the training ground and kicked off, Rui cancelled his contract, we’ve since paid £18m for him. When you think about what keepers go for these days, that’s a bargain for the current European championship goalie. He’s saved us a few times already this season with some absolute ‘worldies’. His distribution can be a little off but doesn’t always have a lot to aim for. He will save us a lot more points than he costs us.”
Q4 – On the flip side, which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses in our Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
“I’ve always been an admirer of Jamaal Lascelles. He’s got everything you want in a centre half – strong, pacey and decent in the air.
“Ayoze Perez is somebody I’ve seen play well whenever you’ve been on the TV, but having just looked at his stats for this season he’s scored once and only had one assist too which has surprised me.
“With regards to who don’t I rate, I’ve never liked Salomon Rondon (for obvious reasons), and Jonjo Shelvey won’t win any popularity contests in Wolverhampton either.”
Q5 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be on Sunday and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“You lot have always had the same reputation as us for away teams – start well and the fans will start to turn. We’ve had this thrown at us many times, and in some instances it has been true.
“I’m hoping the team that played the second half vs Chelsea turns up and not the one that finished the game at Cardiff!
“I can see a score draw, a few goals, 2-2 maybe. If we start well I think we could even take all 3 points.”
Q6 – Is your main aim to stay up or do you feel you should have bigger ambitions despite it being your first season back? Where do you think yourselves & Newcastle will finish in the table & which three do you see going down?
“I never bought into the top 8 finish that so many Wolves fans predicted. Whilst being positive and looking to progress the bottom line is that we simple must remain in the league for the owners plans to come to fruition.
“Fosun (our Chinese owners) haven’t bought into the club to preside over a mid table Championship club, they simply won’t stand for it, so we need that sold base to progress. If that means we scrape 17th this season, then so be it.
“You lot seem to hit a bit of form until the visit of West Ham, but there’s absolutely no chance of you getting relegated. I can see us both around the 12th 13th mark.
“The most important bit for both clubs is to win the games with the teams around us. Beating Chelsea and Liverpool in one off games won’t decide the season, it’s the 6 pointers around the bottom half that will be important. Something that we both need to improve on.”
Q7 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Nuno go for?
‘As previously mentioned I’d take Lascelles.
‘I think he could fit in well. We like to play from the back and I think he does that well.’
Q8 – Adama Traore. He’s a player Rafa Benitez had held an interest in over the past TWO summers, but you were the side that took the £18m plunge to sign him from Boro. What has he been like so far? Some call him a headless chicken but others think he’s an incredible talent..
“Sometimes he’s too fast for his own good, which sounds strange. But when you’re running that quickly with the ball you need to be a fantastic dribbler to keep the ball at your feet.
“With balls over the top he’s always going to be a threat, which was proven when he scored in injury time to beat West Ham away (incredible limbs in the away end).
“He’s already improved since he arrived, but when you compare the training he’s getting from Nuno to the training he would’ve got under Pulis at ‘Boro it’s hard not to.
“His decision making isn’t quite there yet, making the right decision at the right time is the most important thing for an attacker, but that’ll come with experience and from playing regularly.
“I’m not worried and think at £18m we’ve had ourselves a bargain in todays transfer market.”
Q9 – Finally, if you had our two squads to choose from and were asked to pick the best possible side, what would you starting 11 be? (BE HONEST!)
‘This is the one that has taken the most thought. I can’t imagine many football fans are ever that objective but I’ve given it a go..
‘(3-5-2): Rui Patricio – Willy Boly, Jamaal Lascelles, Conor Coady – Kennedy, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Mo Diame, Ayoze Perez – Raul Jiminez – Salomon Rondon.’
A big thanks to this Wolves fans for taking some time to chat to us this week!
Next up will be the thoughts of a Huddersfield fan ahead of our trip to Yorkshire next weekend.