After four straight wins and safety secured, the ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back ahead of tonight’s 8pm kick off at Everton – and this week we’ve been getting some thoughts from a Blues fan before Big Sam and Benitez do battle once again.
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 speaking to Everton fan Will, with him having the following to say ahead of our trip to Goodison Park tonight:
Q1) What sort of shape do you feel you’re in coming into this one? There seems to be some problems rumbling on both on and off the pitch at Everton right now?
“Well…we’re not in great shape. On the pitch, we need a near total overhaul which is absolutely absurd considering how much we spent in the Summer (and January to be fair). For a long time now, the fans have being desperate for this entire season to be over and in the history books and move on to next year, however, to move on we need a new manager.
Off the field, I’ve never seen us in a worse state, the discontent between fans and manager have never been greater. We love our club, every football fan does. But I despise Sam Allardyce for making us feel how he has. Over the last 72 hours, rumours have emerged that there is a board meeting scheduled next week to discuss his position as manager. I don’t see how that meeting concludes with that gravy chugging moron still in charge.”
Q2) I expected you to touch on it in question 1, but what do you make of the infamous survey sent out by your club and Allardyce as a whole? I never got the impression that you guys saw him as any sort of long-term appointment, but some may be a little baffled to see all the abuse he’s getting given he’s essentially done the job he was brought in to do this season? Enlighten me on this..
“I don’t see much of a problem with the survey. Martinez and Koeman had similar scrutiny but at each point things were going well so the media never jumped on it in the same manner. I’m not happy with Allardyce suggesting our marketing director “isn’t a football man” as Richard Kenyon is a life long blue and cares more about our club than Allardyce ever will.
“I honestly don’t believe there was much danger of us getting relegated this season. A poor start worried us, especially given the awful nature of our defeats. But it must be clear that Allardyce was a panic appointment that should never have happened. Yes, we’ve stayed in the division but realistically we should have still been able to recover and challenge for 7th. As it looked like we could in early March following a win against Leicester. The losses against Burley and Watford were majorly disappointing but not surprising given how uninspiring our manager is. At time of Big Sams appointment we hoped it would be until end of the season before bringing in a better name, hopefully he’ll be gone soon and Paulo Fonesca will come from Shakhtar and he’ll be backed like Koeman. The results of the survey must be clear enough to get rid of the poison in charge.
“One of the main reasons Allardyce is so despised is the arrogance and refusal to accept that he hasn’t managed to win games that he should have. We know that the way we started means that a top 7 finish is ambitious but he’s allowing players like Vlasic and Lookman to consider their futures because of his poor man management. Klaasen and Sandro, both have struggled to fit in to our system and England in general but are both young and should be given time. A short term manager is making long term decisions that will not benefit a club that pays him but means nothing to him.”
Q3) After 4 wins on the spin & safety secured, we come into this one full of confidence, knowing a win would actually take us above you in the league and level on points with 8th (crazy given we were genuine relegation contenders just 6 weeks ago) What have you made of our season and sudden surge into the top 10?
‘It”s been a crazy year from 7th down, which I think was quite predictable, in hindsight. I struggled to pick my 3 teams to go down and thought there was a lot of similar standard teams.
“I obviously hoped we would be 7th instead of Burnley but here we are.
“Your surge up the table can with 4 wins, there was always going to be a team or two that managed to make a break away and you must be satisfied to see it be your team that made it. Based on performances it’s deserved.
“Over the last month Shelvey has been excellent. Lascelles and Lejeune have formed a solid partnership. The keeper you’ve brought in appears to be a shrewd bit of business too. But Shelvey is the stand out, we’ve discussed many times that when he performs, the whole team does and his rise in form has been a massive lift. On current form, I would like to see him at the World Cup. Certainly ahead of the likes of Jake Livermore.”
Q4) Back to the game itself, where do you feel the strengths and weaknesses lie in both sets of teams? Any Everton players to watch out for (for good or bad) and any NUFC players you’re wary of, or hoping to exploit?
“Everton – Walcott has been a really good signing. He adds a directness and genuine turn of pace. Tosun has been very good as well since he’s had more of a chance in the team. He’s a classic number 9 that I think you’ll agree both of our sets of fan crave. Hopefully he could kick on when he gets a full pre season under his belt. Keane has been mightily disappointing despite the high hopes we held for him, hopefully it’s a case of poor form rather than a dud signing. Our centre backs and centre mid I think are our current weaknesses. Davies has struggled at times of late. Schneiderlin is the only individual who like he cares about the club as little as Allardyce does. But our biggest weakness is our negativity. From minute one you’ll be able to hear and feel the distain that the fans feel from the manager, and in my opinion, it must take effect on the players.
“Newcastle – I’ve largely touched on your defensive strengths in the previous question and with the in form Shelvey and rejuvenated Diame in the middle, you’ll look to control the game from the start despite being the away side. Perez has been in the richest top flight scoring period of his career also, this could cause us some issues down the middle. I still think it will be a low scoring game. Much like our meeting earlier in the season”
Q5) How do you see the match panning out? Score prediction? Neutrals will see it as a bit of a dead rubber, but we’ll be gunning to keep the run going and move as high up the table as possible (plus Benitez and Big Sam have never seen eye to eye!)
“0-0 or 1-1.
“I think it’ll be a draw and I think Allardyce will then claim it’s a “marvellous point against an in form team” which will piss us blues off no end because, no offence, we would realistically hope for 3 points against Newcastle at home.
“I also don’t think the game will be too exciting. Between Benitez’s structured away from home approach and Sam’s seeming lack of any form of approach, it’ll be a low key affair.
“A few early big tackles or a goal could rouse a tired Goodison crowd but I don’t see that happening to be honest. I think you lot could suffer from not having the pressure of relegation under you, although that’s unlikely for a Benitez side.”
Q6) Cenk Tosun – a player we had scouted extensively at Besiktas and someone we looked all set to bid for in January before we were priced out of a move and muscled out of it by your big spending. What have you made of him so far?
“As I’ve said before. He’s a strong player. I believe that his nickname in Turkey was the bull or something to this effect. In typical Allardyce fashion, he claimed that Cenk wasn’t ready due to the cold of England, but when given a chance in -2 degrees, snowy, Burnley – he scored!
“I think a pre season at Everton can only be beneficial, he is happy to put his head where some won’t even but their feet and that can only be a good thing when we have some skilled crossers of the ball in Bolasie, Walcott, Baines and Coleman (Sigurdsson if fit also). I’m happy with Cenk and hope that under a new manager he is still given a fair chance.
“Although I am hoping for another striker in the summer, especially with Sandro looking to move back to Spain so quickly.”
Q7) And finally, based on performances this term, what would be your team of the season from our two squads..
“Well, whoever is the team I know which manager I would have in charge…but, based on this season:
” (4-5-1) Pickford – Coleman, Lascelles Lejeune, Baines – Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Gueye, Walcott – Tosun..
“Which is massively different to the team I gave before the game at St James’ Park.”
“I would like to make one more additional comment. And wish Arsene Wenger all the best in the future. His service at Arsenal is only rivalled by that of Sir Alex at United and I think it’s a shame to hear Arsenal fans forget his incredible earlier years.”
Thanks, as ever, to Will for taking some time this week to speak with us, with him offering a superb in-depth insight into tonight’s opponents, the situation at Goodison and his thoughts on NUFC.
We’ll be back next week with the thoughts of a West Brom fan ahead of their visit to St James’ Park this weekend.