We’ve been speaking to a Cardiff fan for this week’s ‘Opposition Opinion’ piece, gaining some thoughts from Bluebird season ticket holder Matthew Perryman ahead of today’s huge hame at St James’ Park.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, chatting to an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, an insight into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
Here’s what Matthew (@perryman775) had to say during our pre-match chat this week:
Q1 – What short of shape do you feel Cardiff are in coming into this game? It’s a six-pointer as far as we’re concerned and undoubtedly our biggest game of the season to date..
“I don’t think we’re in too bad a shape.
“Last week’s game against Huddersfield was dire with some of our players looking dead on their legs after half an hour – our small squad is starting to catch up with us and the quick turn around of games over Christmas didn’t help.
“Having said that I’m sure Warnock will have them ready for Saturday given the importance of the game. If there’s one thing we’ll definitely bring to St James’s Park it’s fight.”
Q2 – Is imminent £18m club record striker signing Emiliano Sala expected to arrive in time to play? I ask as this would be a HUGE deal to us if the roles were reversed, given we’ve not paid more than £17m on a player since we signed Michael Owen in 2005!
“If latest reports are to be believed, no.
“Nantes are apparently looking for him to have one final “farewell” game for them on the weekend which, if true, is ludicrous given the fee involved.
“As for the £18m price tag, I think the vast majority of Bluebirds are just amazed that Vincent Tan has been so relaxed with the purse strings.”
Q3 – Who do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Also, is there any ‘ones to watch’ that us NUFC fans should know about?
“Our loanee from Real Betis, Victor Camerasa has been outstanding for us in midfield, bringing some much needed composure and quality to the team. Similarly Harry Arter has added some bite and experience in the middle of the park. Both have been big pluses and have held the team together at times.
“Sol Bamba’s been huge for us in marshalling the back four. 6 clean sheets for the team this season isn’t too bad!
“As for Weaknesses – it pains me to say but our captain Sean Morrison. He was fantastic for us last season but just hasn’t quite managed to replicate it in the Premier League. Every game he’s good for at least one “heart in the mouth” moment, which at this level is usually punished.
“For our “ones to watch”, I’d say Junior Hoilet (if he’s on it) or Josh Murphy (if Warnock plays him). Both can cause lots of problems.”
Q4 – Which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses in this Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
“Obviously I don’t watching you week in, week out, but I’d say Matt Ritchie always looks handy and seems to put in a shift. A proper “Premier League” player.
“I’ve always thought Rondon was a decent forward and is good for a decent number of goals each season. I was disappointed that we didn’t get him back in the summer.
“I’ll get hammered for this but Shelvey’s always (grudgingly) impresses me when he actually plays and isn’t trying to fight someone. I feel dirty saying anything positive about an ex-Jack!
“Weaknesses – I’d probably say your team as a whole. You’ve got some outstanding quality but there seems an underlying fear, especially when you go behind. League position is clearly a factor but it seems to have been something the team have suffered with in past seasons in the top flight.
“As for disappointing players, it’s got to be Ki (and no, nothing to do with him being another ex-Jack!). He just seems to float in and out of games and appears to lose the ball fairly easily.”
Q5 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? I know you’ve been solid at home this season, but I see your only away win was last time out at Leicester. Score prediction?
“I wouldn’t say the game’s a “six-pointer” just yet but it’s very important for both teams.
“I think it’ll be a cagey 90 minutes with both teams cancelling each other out and not a great deal of chances.
“Our last few away games haven’t been too bad (FA Cup defeat to Gillingham aside) but it’ll be tough for us.
” I’d be more than happy with a point. I’m going 1-1.”
Q6 – It’s fair to say both of our clubs are facing a real fight to stay up this season. How do you rate our chances of survival & which three sides do you see going down & why?
“Irrespective of league position I can’t see you going down. The behind the scenes issues for the club are obvious, but I think, from what I’ve seen, you’ve got too much quality on the pitch to be in the bottom three come May.
“Benitez is a good manager too, I’m convinced he’ll turn it around for you.
“As for the three to drop out, I’ll say Huddersfield and Fulham because neither can defend and then anyone from Southampton, us and Burnley due simply to inconsistency (although I do think we’ll survive by the skin of our teeth!).”
Q7 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Warnock go for?
“We desperately need a goalscorer so I’d have to say Rondon.”
“He impresses me and looks like he can always get a goal.”
Q8 – Paul Merson has just said there’s ‘no chance’ Rafa Benitez could’ve done the job Neil Warnock has done at Cardiff. What do you make of that statement?!
“I can see where Merson’s coming from, Warnock does have an uncanny knack of picking up bang-average players, spending next to nothing, getting them to play their hearts out for him and get results – and there’s not many managers that can do that.
“When Warnock came to the club we were on our knees, the club was rotten from top to bottom. Over the past two years he’s brought a feel-good factor to the place, bringing together everything from the fan base to better interaction with the local community, and don’t forget last years promotion with a rag-tag bunch of players which none of us saw coming.
“I don’t think Merson’s comments were meant as disrespect to Benitez, I simply don’t think a man who’s used to managing the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool would have the same bloody-mindedness.”
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?
“Going with a 4-4-2 I’d say…
Neil Etheridge (City) – Joe Bennett (City), Jamaal Lascelles (Utd), Sol Bamba (City), Matt Ritchie (Utd) – Josh Murphy (City), Victor Camarasa (City), Harry Arter (City), Ayoze Perez (Utd) – Callum Patterson (City), Salomon Rondon (Utd).”
A big thanks to Matthew for taking some time to speak to us this week, with him offering a great insight from a Cardiff perspective ahead of this weekend’s game.
Next up will be the thoughts of a Man City fan ahead of our meeting with the champions at St James’ Park a week on Tuesday.