After a few days off for Christmas, ‘The Opposition Opinion’ is back again this week ahead of Man City’s visit to St James’ tonight, with us bringing you some thoughts from Manchester ahead of what promises to be a tough game.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game this season, interviewing 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 City fan Water, whose had the following to say ahead of Guardiola’s record breaking sides’ trip to Tyneside:
Q1) Perhaps a stupid question in the circumstances, but what have you made of your season so far? What sort of shape are you heading into this game in?
“This season so far has been the stuff of dreams for Manchester City fans. It’s football but not as we know it.
“Every single question asked by an opposition manager has been answered by Pep and this current squad.
“The major difference between this and last season is the clinical finishing by the forwards, and the attitude and aggression by the whole team when they don’t have the ball.
“Every player has bought in to the Pep effect and confidence is high and every player is desperate to play every minute of every game.
“No City fan I know says the league is over (we leave that to the so called media pundits) but it is definitely ours to lose. We City fans are watching something truly special week in, week out, and even the old timers are staring to believe and enjoy what Pep is doing for our club.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“Newcastle and City have similar pasts in many respects (until the takeover). We both have huge fan bases and passionate away followings, both have stuck by our teams when the going got rough, and we both seen our share of rough!
“We have both looked back on bygone glory days and that belief that those days would return.
“Newcastle this season have been inconsistent from the off. You’ve suffered from a chronic lack of investment in the squad. In many ways I feel that Newcastle have a decent championship side and Rafa is being sent out to bat in the Premier.
“Dwight Gayle on his day can be a handful. Matt Richie looks adventurous in midfield with Jamaal Lascelles steady at the back.
“I do feel that City will have to have a major Christmas hangover not to take all 3 points.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Man City team right now – any players for us to watch out for aside from the obvious? (For good or for bad)
City have scored the most goals by a country mile in the Premier this season but people aren’t aware that City also have the best defensive record in the Premier too.
“There are no major weaknesses in our first 11. The defence is the area that is the least strong due to injuries – Delph has been filling in most of the season for the Twitter sensation Benjamin Mendy.
“Also John Stones who’s been sensational this season and is a corner stone (Pardon the pun) to the way we play out from the back is out but will be replaced by Vincent Kompany.
“The much maligned Raheem Sterling is City’s top scorer this season and has the invaluable knack of turning up in the right place at the right time – his footballing intelligence is second to none.
“Sane is like roadrunner and if you give him time and space will literally tear any team apart.
“I’ve not mention the magic trio of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho, who have not had a bad game this season together providing the guile and industry in midfield.
“To add to all this, a top forward line of Jesus or Aguero. It’s no wonder City are top scorers in England and have scored 100 goals in the Premier League this calendar year.
“My favourite player this season has been Ederson in goal. He’s a phenomenon with his distribution. I’d urge Newcastle fans to keep a close eye on him during the game. He’s simply unflappable.”
Q4) What sort of game do you see it being and how do you see the match panning out? Score prediction?
“City have a 100% away record on the road this season and have gone away to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge and put both those teams to the sword. Both those sides possess more quality than Newcastle so unless we have a bad day at the office, coupled with Newcastle hitting peak form, I can only see a City win.
“Long gone are the days of going up to St James’ Park and Shearer scoring before I’ve even taken my seat (fastest every Premier League goal!).
“I can only see a City win it just depends upon by how many. If I were heading down the bookies I’d put money on a 4-0 City victory.
“City have all types of victories on the road this year from last minute never say die winners to 6-0 hammerings of the opposition. The one thing they have in common is that all of them were victories.
“Pep will have studied your team and identified weaknesses and strengths and one thing is for certain – City won’t turn up ill prepared.”
Q5) How do you think both sides will fare over the remainder of the season? Predictions for rough league positions for both? (including the three you see going down this season!)
“I think the league is City’s to lose with us now having a 12 point gap. It would take a monumental balls up for us to let that slip.
“With Newcastle a lot depends on who’s in charge of the club. In Rafa you have an F1 driver driving a Ford Capri and Ashley expecting results. My Predictions (but don’t put any money on it) City to win the league. Newcastle to finish above the drop line in 15th and Swansea, West Brom and an outside bet of Watford to go down as their form over the last couple of months has been woeful and they have been dropping like a stone and could find themselves in a relegation fight come the end of the season.
“I hope that Newcastle don’t get relegated as the Premier League is a better place having the Geordie Nation within it.”
Q6) Takeover talk is rife on Tyneside right now with Mike Ashley and co. currently in talks the lady who helped broker a deal for Sheikh Mansour to become your owner. She goes by the name of Amanda Staveley and has big contacts in the Middle-East. She’s believed to have big plans for the club and is keen on transforming the club’s fortunes and making us a force – much like we’ve seen at Man City become since big new owners arrived at the Etihad almost 10 years ago now. What do you make of this? Do you feel Newcastle United has the potential to go onto big things as you have following the arrival of ambitious new owners and wealthy investors?
“Having new owners is key to Newcastle becoming a major force. Ashley has been bad news for your club and needs getting rid of asap.
“Any owner who seeks to make a profit in the transfer market is going to doom your club to yo-yo status at best.
“If you do get owners with very deep pockets and ambition for the city and the football club I feel they have come in a few years too late.
“The way the Premier League is set up in terms of FFP (Financial Fair Play) means that there’ll never be another Manchester City story (Not on the scale of City anyway).
“Owners can no longer just go out and gift a club a ‘war-chest’ to go into the transfer market and also the wages of a club have strict rules about how much they can increase. FFP was brought in to protect the interests of the traditional big boys and City literally front loaded all their initial spending to not miss the draw bridge that was being pulled up.
“To be fair, I feel that any owners you get that invest in the squad and stadium will be a damn sight better than Ashley who has been a leech.
“I hope you do get some major hitting backers as I’ve always enjoyed away days up in Newcastle. The people are fantastic and love their football and deserve better than what Ashley has served up in recent times.”
Q7) Eliaquim Mangala & Willy Caballero – Rafa was heavily linked with a move for both over the summer, with it being reported by those in the know that a deal for the latter looked ‘all but done’ at one stage (even though he ended up at Chelsea as we know). What do you make of those two? Would they have been good signings for NUFC?
“Caballero became a legend at City with his league cup final winning performance despite his short comings. He’s dependable without making world class saves, he plays the percentages and was a steady back up for us, but with the new lad Ederson between the sticks ‘Big Willy’ was never going to get a look in and it was time for him to move on.
“Mangala would have been an excellent signing for you guys I reckon. He’s like an old school defender who has man marked Kane, Zlatan and Costa out of games in his time at City. If he were part of a solid defensive unit he would shine. The problem for him at City is Pep expects his defenders to do so much more than defend. Pep expects them to be able to play out from the back and knock it around much like John Stones does under pressure. This is not Mangala. I have a theory that the Mangala will surprise the fans of whichever team he signs for next and will quickly gain cult status at that club. (but it won’t be City). He’s big, fast, imposing and very much like an old school English defender.”
An intriguing look into the league leaders from Walter here.
Normally when we get an opposition fan giving it the big one about their team and predicting a big win we realise there’s a hint of over ambition and bias involved, but with this one it’s a bit different. City are that good this season and Walter’s 4-0 prediction is quite possible given their unstoppable form.
His take on the potential takeover and the comparisons between Newcastle and Man City in that respect was also fascinating. Could financial fair play rules stop us from becoming the Premier League heavyweight we long to become because of this? He makes a valid point.
We’ll be back in a few days with the thoughts of a Brighton fan ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash with of Chris Hughton’s Seagulls.
Buckle up folks, this one’s going to be tough – HWTL!