For this week’s Opposition Opinion piece, we’ve been speaking to Burnley fan Phil Parkin this week ahead of tonight’s game at St James’ Park.
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.
Here’s what Phil’s had to say during our pre-match chat:
Q1) – With just one defeat in our last 10 and 5 wins and 3 draws in your last 8, just what is it that’s sparked your revival?
“We lacked belief and identity earlier in the season – but we’ve finally regained that and are finally looking like that tough to beat, organised and gritty side that finished 7th last year.
“Hart was shocking just about every week and Heaton was one of the main reasons we’ve done so well since we got ourselves back into the top flight, so having him back has been a huge lift for everyone.
“He’s a top keeper who’s just given our centre-backs so much more confidence.
“Not only that, we’re working as a unit again and Wood and Barnes are doing the business up top.”
Q2) – Who are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any ‘ones to watch’ that most NUFC fans wouldn’t know much about?
“Strengths start with our defensive unit. Heaton is an outstanding shot stopper, Mee and Tarkowski are a very tough nut to crack and our midfield duo of Cork and Westwood are high energy and hard to break down. Ahead of that you’ve got Barnes’ physicality that most CB’s struggle with in this league, and Wood is also a danger now he’s found his finishing boots.
“Weaknesses? I’m not a big fan of Bardsley. Solid enough, but most wingers with pace can tear him a new one…and I think Almiron could do exactly that!
“Our one to watch has to be young winger Dwight McNeil. He’s recently broke into our first team and has 4 assists in 10 appearances. He brings a great mix of flair and youthful endeavour to our forward play.”
Q3) – Which players do you see as the strengths and weaknesses in Newcastle’s side?
“Rondon has to be your main strength. Your top scorer but someone who’ll be key when it comes to getting Almiron and Perez in the game too via his lay offs and hold up play. As I said earlier, I’m worried Bardsley won’t be able to stop Almiron (unless he just hacks him down that is!)
“Longstaff seems to be catching the eye and I can see why after watching your win over Man City. Perez is a bit hit and miss but he’s the sort who could be the difference with a piece of magic.
“Weaknesses….I’d like to see McNeil get at Yedlin. He wouldn’t be a pro footballer if he wasn’t quick..!
“Also think Barnes could bully you centre-backs. Lejeune doesn’t look the strongest of centre-backs and I know Lascelles struggled when Barnes backed into him in the game up at your place last season.
“High crosses into the box may test Dubravak after his big error at Wolves!”
Q4) – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“You Geordie boys are in for a big surprise!
“Huddersfield may have seemed a stroll and a perfect day for your big new signing, but you won’t be playing a bottom of the table side with 10 men for most of the game here…and I think you’ll find it tough.
“We’ve got a point at Man Utd, hammered Brighton and frustrated high flying Watford in our last few away games and we’ll be full of confidence after that win over Spurs.
“A part of me wonders if you’ll get a point, but my head’s saying 1-2 Burnley!”
Q5) – Do you feel you’re all but safe now? Which 3 sides do you see going down?
‘I think we’ll both be fine. We’re both strong at the back and team spirit is good, with both of our managers knowing how to get results in these types of situations too.
“Southampton have lost all momentum, Cardiff’s result against Watford must be worrying and Brighton are in big trouble now too, but I’m backing Cardiff to just run out of gas and join Fulham and Huddersfield.
“That being said, I think the Saints are in huge bother if they don’t beat Fulham!”
Q6) – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Sean Dyche go for?
“Easy question for me…Salomon Rondon!
“He’s a beast and would thrive in our team…although that Almiron looked some player over the weekend didn’t!”
“I might have said Lascelles a year ago but he doesn’t get in ahead of Mee and Tarkowski.”
Q7) – 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?
“(4-4-2) Heaton – Yedlin, Mee, Tarkowski, Ritchie – Gudmundsson, Defour, Shelvey, Almiron – Rondon, Barnes.”
A big thanks to Phil for taking some time this week to speak to us.
He’s obviously resigned to their fate and fearing another defeat but gave us a brilliant insight into the side we’ll be coming up against and also offered some thoughts on Newcastle that I think most Geordies would agree with!
Next up will be the thoughts of a West Ham fan ahead of our trip to London this weekend.