Following our draw at Watford, we’ve been speaking to Manchester United fan Paul Turner for this week’s ‘Opposition Opinion’ piece ahead of their trip to 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 Paul said to us during our chat ahead of tonight’s game:
Q1 – What short of shape / form do you feel Man Utd are in coming into this game? Are you full of it now Solksjaer has got them playing or frustrated it’s taken so long?
“The last three games have been a breath of fresh air. We may have won a few of them under Mourinho, but we wouldn’t have played the sort of expansive and free-flowing football that we have in 5-1, 3-1 and 4-1 wins over Cardiff , Huddersfield and Bournemouth respectively.
“I can’t lie, I’m delighted to see how we’ve improved since Solksjaer came in, but I think it shows just how unprofessional the players were under Mourinho. Forget whether you like his tactics or style of man management, you should always give 110% when you’re playing for Man Utd football club and earning hundreds of thousand pounds per week!
“That being said, it is nice to see our big guns back playing as they can and the team scoring goals again. We look a completely new team, but we still have it all to do to get back into that top 4.”
Q2 – Who are main the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Is there any ‘ones to watch’ that us NUFC fans wouldn’t know much about from watching you on Match of the Day?
“I don’t know where to start with strengths at the minute as everyone seems to have upped their game hugely since Solksjaer took over.
“Pogba looks unplayable in this more attacking central role, Rashford and Martial are suddenly running at players and trying things they wouldn’t under Mourinho and although we’ve conceded in all of our last three, it seems attack is the best form of defence in Solksjaer’s mind. If all three turn up, we could really win this comfortably for me.
“De Gea is still arguably our most important player. Shots have to be right in the corner to beat him it seems.
“Lindelof has been great in our last three, but I still worry about us at the back. Young isn’t good enough, Shaw is inconsistent and our centre-back options are pretty awful. Bailly is erratic (although suspended for this game), but his potential replacement Jones is just as unpredictable.”
Q3 – Which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses in this Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
”Strenghts – Your goalkeeper Dubravka is a top player and saved you in this fixture last season. Rondon is a real handful and the only attacker of yours that I’m wary of. Shelvey can be quality on his day, but it’s not been his day for a while, has it? Diame was class when we played you at your place last time, but he’ll have to be just as good this time to contain Pogba.
“Weaknesses – I’d say Yedlin. He’ll do very well to stop a revistalised Martial. Perez is far too hit and miss for me as well. He looks soft and a bit of a luxury every time I see him. “
Q4 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?“
“I don’t expect it to be easy (see last season’s game!), but I do think we’ll get the better of you this time.
“As Lingard said in an interview this week, we’ll definitely win if we play as we have in the last few weeks – and I stand by that.
“You’ll make it hard for us and get in our faces, but I don’t really fear going to St James’ Park anymore if I’m being honest.
“I can’t see you scoring more than one and I don’t see us scoring less than two! “
Q5 – Which three sides do you see going down & why?
I think you’re going to be in a big of a dogfight to be honest. I don’t see you going down, but it’ll be close.
“My three are Huddersfield, Cardiff and Burnley. Huddersfield couldn’t score a goal to save their lives, Cardiff will fade eventually and Burnley may have beaten West Ham over the weekend but they’re not the same this year. Average going forward and nowhere near the same unit defensively.”
Q6 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Solksjaer go for?
“Your goalkeeper Martin Dubravka looks a top player to me. I’m not sure there’s been many better goalkeepers in the league in 2018 to be fair.
“I saw how well he played on his debut when you beat us this time last season at your place and have followed him since then.
“We don’t need a goalkeeper right now, but he’d be a top back up option to De Gea or someone who could replace him should Real Madrid come back in.”
A big thanks to Paul for chatting to us this week. He clearly feels this will be a totally different game to the one that saw us win 1-0 last year – and his line about no longer fearing the trip to St James’ Park probably sums up where we’re at after losing 7 of 10 home games so far this season!
Next week we’ll have the thoughts of a Chelsea fan ahead of our trip to Stamford Bridge next Saturday.