The ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back once again this week with some thoughts from the south-coast ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Bournemouth to St James’ Park!
As always, this new feature on the blog is here to bring you a view from the other side before tomorrow’s game, seeing us interview an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Bournemouth season ticket holder John, whose had the following to say ahead of our clash with Eddie Howe’s out of sorts side tomorrow afternoon:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? We’re keen to know what sort of shape you feel you’re in ahead of the game..
“We’re obviously disappointed with our points and position (second bottom on 7 points), but we’ve only played poorly in 2 games and that was earlier on in the season.
“We’ve lost by 1 goal to 3 title contenders and are playing much better now – although we desperately need to start picking up points.
“We were looking good but Callum Wilson’s long awaited return is balanced up by Junior Stanislas’ injury and doubts over King and Fraser.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you deem to be our biggest threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit tomorrow?
“You’ve started very well but with a couple of expected stutters.
“Most Bournemouth fans will give Matt Ritchie a big welcome, although a few were unhappy about him leaving for a lot more money – he’ll will be seen as a big threat and it’s inevitable that he’ll score against us!
“I also see Joselu and Lascelles as threats. They’re two big lads and with us being poor aerially and bad from set pieces, they could expose us.
“Shelvey always gives us a hard time so he’s another I’m wary of.
“We also had Atsu on a season long loan and hardly saw a sniff of him, but he has looked pretty good for you from the few clips I have seen.
“If we are at our best, our pace may cause your defence problems.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses of your Bournemouth side – any players for us to watch out for on Saturday?
“No secrets here: Howe plays attractive expansive football but with the risk of losing the ball and being caught on the break. He’s been toying with formations recently, but played three at the back against Chelsea last week, so that’s one to watch out for.
“Stanislas getting injured at the weekend is a huge blow. We have really missed him at the start of the season when he was injured and now he is out again it will effect us. King is also a fantastic player – but unlikely to be fit as well!”
“Players to watch out for (that you might not know so well) are Lewis Cook and Andrew Surman. Cook in midfield is one to look out for. Captained the England u20’s to World Cup success in the summer and is a real player.
“Ake has also been very consistent at the back.
“Weaknesses. Well Francis at centre-back has made a couple of errors this season which both led to goals and Jordan Ibe’s decision making is not great.
“We are traditionally not good at set pieces, as exploited by Hughes & Pulis who otherwise parked the bus at home against us. Current weakness is not scoring enough goals (just six all season!).
“I’m assuming Rafa won’t read any of this!!”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score prediction?
“I think it will be a close game, but I’m hopeless at predicting!
“We have had a tough run of fixtures and now have 6 in a row that we MUST get points from.
“Head says 1-0 to you, heart says 1-2 to us. I’ll use the old “disappointment hedge” and go for you lot to win!”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I’m the world’s biggest pessimist but even I think we’ll be OK.
“It’s not so much that “we’re too good to go down” – plenty have proved that wrong, but we play the right way and we should be fine.
“Can’t see us beating last season’s 9th place finish, which was as a bit of a false position for us I feel.
“You look like you’ll do well but the Ashley sale could prove pivotal.
“I think there are three worse sides than both of us this season and that is always the level to judge it at!”
Q6) Matt Ritchie – A player adored by us on Tyneside. As you know, he made the move to NUFC last summer, dropping down a division to join us following our relegation. What are your thoughts on him and his move from yourselves to NUFC?
“Matt is adored here too (except from those who dislike the way he left).
“Most wanted him to stay (including Howe) but he was adamant. I can understand why he left to go to you guys and drop down a league – financially we could not compete with what he was being offered by you.
“It’s fair to say that he was less successful in his 1 Premier League season with us than in the Championship seasons either side of that with both our clubs.
“He is already looking more of a threat this season so it’s clear his game has developed even further under Benitez
“He was fantastic for us, but I never felt he was a real fans favourite. Not sure why, but we definitely miss his inventiveness, his goals and his assists.”
Q7) Jermaine Defoe – I thought he looked a great coup for you when you signed him in the summer. He made a habit of scoring goals against us for Sunderland, but I’ve heard so little from him this season. What are your thoughts on him?
“I have to confess I was not really bother either way that he joined us. Not because of his age or salary (both of which are big numbers!) but more because I don’t see him fitting our style of play that well.
“I feel we are not playing to his strengths and never will. We have also adapted to try to accommodate him and we have been worse for it.
“I can genuinely only remember him having two chances so far this season. One he missed and the other he scored.
“If I’m honest I don’t think he has really looked that interested.
“That bein said, we have a saying down here, “In Eddie we trust”, and it rarely lets us down!”
Q8) And finally – if you could make a combined XI from the two squads, what would yours be? (be honest!)
“Like all fans I probably rate our own players a little too highly, but in all honesty I would take mostly AFCB players along with Ritchie (for nostalgic reasons).
” 4-4-2: Begovic – Daniels, Ake, Lascelles, Yedlin – Stanislas, Cook, Shelvey, Ritchie – King and a fit Callum Wilson”
It was a really interesting chat, this one.
An alternative look at Matt Ritchie’s departure – a player who was clearly appreciated by the Cherries – and some revealing tips on Bournemouth’s strengths and weaknesses going into tomorrow’s game.
I’m not sure where Merino was in the combined XI, but as John says, we always rate our own higher than others!
Another interesting insight and as ever, we thank Bournemouth fan John for taking the time to speak to us, giving us an enjoyable read to whet our appetite for tomorrow’s game.
We’ll be back a week after next with the thoughts of a Manchester United fan ahead of our clash with Jose Mourinho’s side at Old Trafford after the international break!
Here’s hoping for three points tomorrow – HWTL!