The ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back once again this week, with us getting some the thoughts from London ahead of today’s big game with Watford.
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 Hornet fan Gary Tucker (from @RonnyandRamage) with him having the following to say ahead of his trip up to St James’ Park this weekend:
Q1 – What short of shape are you guys in coming into this game? I see it’s been your best ever start to a Premier League season, so I presume you’re feeling pretty confident for this one..
“We’re high in confidence and coming to the North East is always a pleasure – the best trip of the year! Javi Gracia has really settled into the job and there seems to be a really good team ethic and spirit with the Watford team
. The pleasing thing about this summer is that we sold Richarlison, turned a profit in terms of transfers and still strengthened the squad.
“Looking at our rivals (teams who could finish 8th – 20th ) I don’t think enough of them strengthened sufficiently – Newcastle, Burnley, Palace, Huddersdield etc, and as we saw last year with the likes of Stoke, WBA and Swansea there is no place for complacency in this league.
“It’s certainly a season which brings great promise, but we usually start well and fade after Christmas so time will tell, but I’d expect us to stay up. A top ten finish would be a bonus.”
Q2 – Who are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any ‘ones to watch’ (for good or for bad) that us NUFC fans wouldn’t know about from watching you on Match of the Day?
“For the first time in the Premier League we now have a squad which has great depth and injuries aren’t going to pose a problem because the quality of the squad is very consistent.
“Weaknesses will our centre halves though I would say more so against the big 6 in the league. Kabasele isn’t a natural leader and has terrible lapses of concentration, though he is certainly a fans favourite. Between Cathcart, Kabasele and Mariappa, they all struggle with their distribution and if there was one position we could strengthen in Jan then it would be a leader at centre half.
“The only other weakness I would highlight is that we tend to go with the winning team and at this level, you can get figured out quite quickly such as we did against Bournemouth.
“In terms of our strengths, I am confident that our midfield can go toe to toe with any team in the league on their day and we have offensive players who will run at you, play one touch football and craft many good opportunities. So far this season, Capoue has been an absolute rock, Pereyra is on another planet technically, Success and Deulofeu are showing such promising signs in developing a new partnership which we’d never have imagined as little as 4 weeks ago.”
Q3 – Which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses to this Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
“I see Shelvey falling into both of these categories because on his day, he can control a game and his balls behind the back line can cause any defence a problem. However, we have a very intelligent midfield with Hughes and Pereyra playing between the lines and I’d expect them to cause Shelvey all types of problems.
“Last year Yedlin had a torrid time and should he play, I’d expect this would pin Ritchie back a little further and nullify that threat also. Rondon is certainly someone who always looks dangerous though I question his goals return, however if you have been on a long spell without a goal then Watford are normally the perfect opposition.
“I see the biggest threat Newcastle have against Watford is the ball behind our centre backs and set pieces. Lascelles would walk in to the Watford team to fill that leader role and Dubravka has stood out from afar since he joined..”
Q4 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“I think it’s just a matter of time before Newcastle pick up their first win and it’s long overdue.
“St James’ can be an intimidating place to go so you never know what’s going to happen on the day and one thing I know about Watford is that we’re typically hopeless against a team with bad statistics.
“I don’t think we’ll lose and we will score twice, I would therefore go for a 1-2 Watford win (kiss of death!).”
Q5- It’s recently been reported up here that Rafa is a fan of Troy Deeney. We’re not expecting anything to come of this given Mike Ashley’s reluctance to spend, but could you see him coming to Newcastle IF we did make a January move?
“I would be surprised if Troy ever left Watford simply because at this point of his career, it wouldn’t make sense to do so. If he was to move then I have no doubt he’d welcome the possibility of Newcastle, though he’d only ever go for the move if Watford no longer required his services.
“Troy still has a lot to offer Watford and this year he has a new sense or hunger / motivation, plus he is playing up front in a partnership which always brings the best out in Troy.
“I would struggle to see at 30, a price tag exceeding £10m and with that in mind – he is worth a lot more to us and he’s still our main man, our captain, our leader.”
Q6 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Javi Gracia go for?
“Please take this with the greatest of respect because I love the city and people of Newcastle and even now, can’t understand why the club isn’t a footballing force in Europe. However, the current squad isn’t one that I get excited about or give me any element of fear. Jacob Murphy has always shown promise, however it was his brother who caused more problems when we played against Norwich.
“Shelvey obviously has high quality, but he wouldn’t be an upgrade on Chalobah, Capoue and Doucoure in my mind. Ki-Sung-Yueng has always been a solid performer when playing against Watford, so if I were to choose one player, it’d be him or Lascelles or Dubravka as mentioned previously.”
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? (BE HONEST!)
“I have to apologise and naturally I will show a biased, I think it’s a tough job picking our best 11 at the moment but here goes:
“Foster – Femenia, Lejeune, Lascelles, Masina – Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes – Pereyra , Deeney, Deulofeu.”
“I generally think our scouting network is excellent and as we get deeper into the Pozzo era, it’s getting more consistent year on year. Likewise, I can’t understand why Newcastle aren’t pushing us to the limit to sign some of the players that we’re able to pull off (ownership issues no doubt). Pereyra, a Juventus double winner at Watford?? Deulofeu, Spanish international and La Masia graduate at Watford?? I still can’t believe it!”
A big thanks to Gary for taking some time this week to speak with us this week during his time in Newcastle.
Next up will be the thoughts of a Bournemouth fan ahead of what promises to be another huge game at St James’ Park in a week’s time.