Spyin' Kop: Newcastle preview

Posted by Armin on March 4, 2005, 01:05:43 PM

At the start of the season many picked this fixture as being decisive in the race for the Champions league places.  It may still prove so but it is unlikely that Newcastle will be dining at Footballs top table next season.  After a desperate start to the season which cost Bobby Robson his job the Toon have now found some form.  Knocking out Chelsea in the FA cup has meant that Alan Shearer still has a couple of chances to pick up  some silverware in his final season. 

For our opposing fans perpective this week we have Chris from Howaythetoon and David from Fansforum. Also thanks to Rawk's own Murf for getting David on board.  Your cheque is in the post ;)

On with the questions and apologies for the formatting which I will sort later ...

Q: How is the season shaping up for Newcastle?

Chris: Newcastle's season has been a disaster from day one.
An outbreak of conjunctivitis in the close-season
threatened to ruin our pre-season plans and it has
just snow balled from there. From the sale of Jonathan
Woodgate (great business in hindsight) to Kieron Dyer
refusing to play wide right and snubbing the Captain's
armband. From Sir Bobby's sacking (in a disgraceful
and undignified manner) to the appointment of Graeme
Souness (not wanted at all) and his subsequent fall
out with Craig Bellamy. Not to mention awful football,
poor results and a leaky defence. All in all it's been
one to forget. However we are going well in two Cup
competitions and should we win one of them then
Newcastle fans will have something to cheer about come
May. We have also made some very astute signings.
Nicky Butt, Amdy Faye, Celestine Babayaro and Stephen
Carr in particular. All Internationals and all costing
under £7m combined. Not the world's best players in
their respective positions but Premiership standard,
players we have needed.

David: The season as a whole pretty poor, but this last couple of weeks have been great.

Q: What are your expectations for this season? Have
they changed from day
one?


Chris:At the start of the season my expectations were quite
high. I hoped Newcastle could mount a challenge for
that final Champions League spot. Now? I don't expect
us to finish in a European place and mid-table doesn't
look far off. In the Cups you are always hopeful where
your club is concerned. Fingers crossed on that one.

David: I would be pleased if Newcastle finished in the top 6 in the League, and if they could win either the FA or UEFA Cup i'd be over the moon. Yes my expectations have changed since day one because i honestly thought we would finish top 3.

Q: Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Chris:Alan Shearer, even at his age, is still our most
important player. He's the only one who can lead the
line and put the ball in the back of the net on a
regular basis. Other than the No.9 I'd say Shay Given
who is Mr consistency and has saved our bacon many a
time. It's just a shame he hasn't always had the
protection he deserves.

David: The twelfth man (Toon Army)

Q: Your worst player(s)?

Chris:I don't like to criticise individuals or name names.
Lets just say Newcastle have an average squad with a
few players who simply aren't good enough at this
level.

David: I know who they are but am not prepared to name and shame them


Q: What should we (traveling fans) expect in the way
of atmosphere,
singing and what do you expect from the Liverpool
support? How do we
compare to rival away fans?


Chris:The atmosphere could be electric, or very poor. It
depends on how the game pans out. St' James' Park used
to be a cauldron of noise from the first to the last
whistle but it's sadly been in decline for a few years
now, like most large Premiership stadiums. On a good
day however (like the recent 1-0 win over Chelsea in
the FA Cup) the crowd can create a terrific din and
really get behind the lads.

I expect the usual "you've never won f*** all" or
"where were you when you were s***" from the Liverpool
crowd as most visiting fans tend to sing. All banter,
but a bit unoriginal and quite boring. Not that you'll
be heard much. Given your lofty place in the heavens
the away support, even the more vociferous, get
drowned out due to the acoustics of St. James' Park
and the general layout. How do Liverpool fans compare
with others? I personally would rate you as being one
of the better away day fans and good craic. Canny fans
whom I personally have no problems with. It should be
a good atmosphere, but don't build your hopes up.

David: Bring your binoculars because they stick the away fans up in the gods. You can expect some great craic because Newcastle and Liverpool have always got on like a house on fire.

Q: Any young up and coming players in the squad that
we might not know
about?


Chris:Steven Taylor, a 19 year-old centre-half and a local
lad who is an England under 21 regular has made a big
impression this season, playing out of position at
right-back in the absence of Carr. He was courted by
Gerrard Houllier last season, who watched him for the
reserves several times as has Rafa Benitez this season
apparently. However there is no chance of Liverpool or
anyone for that matter signing him. He's a Geordie and
a huge crowd favourite even at such a young age. He's
going to be an awesome player and we are all excited
about him on Tyneside. Without wanting to build him up
before he can walk so to speak, he has everything.
Height, immense strength, composure, good reading of
the game and above all else, he's a leader. In the 14
games he has played he's faced the likes of Henry and
Pires and snuffed them out - clattering both with
fearsome (clean) tackles. I've seen him organising the
whole back-four and having a go at senior
professionals, even Shearer. He had a loan spell at
Wycome and Tony Adams couldn't stop raving about him.
A future leader of NUFC.

David: Peter Ramage (Defender), he's a local lad from Whitley Bay. He was welcomed into the first team squad for the 2004/05 campaign after coming through the club's ranks. He is a central defender who is a regular in the Magpies' reserve side.

Q: Do you have a particular memory of any previous
meeting between us?


Chris:Many. The 3-0 win in '94 when Andy Cole bagged a
hat-trick was quite special as was the 2-0 win at your
place that same season. One that stands out is a 1-0
New Years Day win at St. James' Park in 2003. It was a
scrappy game, a poor game but the atmosphere was
tremendous and the highlight of the game was seeing
Shearer with the ball at his feet at the corner, in
the dying moments, fighting off 4 Liverpool players
and not one of them could get the ball off him. He was
immense that day. A sweet, well earned, hard fought
victory.

David: I've got two, 4-3 anyone ?

Q: What do you make of Graeme Souness and do you think
he will stay beyond
the end of the season?


Chris:I didn't want him at the club in the first place nor
do I rate him as a good manager or even believe in him
but I'm a supporter and that's what I'll do - support
him. He's made a few good signings and seems to have
sorted out the dressing room. Although the manner in
which it manifested (the Craig Bellamy saga) wasn't
very pleasant. Our League form is awful and Souness'
tactics of playing a 3-5-1 formation while dropping
our only creative player and winger (Laurent Robert)
has contributed to that poor form. He's thankfully
woken up to his sense and reverted back to 4-4-2 and
started the Frenchman of late. We are going well in
two Cup competitions which could save our season. Do I
expect him to be at Newcastle at the start of next
season? Not if he doesn't win a trophy and or qualify
for Europe. I personally believe he needs time, lots
of money and patience. He's here now, we may as well
get behind him and hope he can get us back to
qualifying for the Champions League and win us a Cup
(or two - I'm greedy!), leaving his eventual successor
with something good to work with.

David: To be honest i think he was brought in to sort out the brat pack at Newcastle and he has certainly done that. He has received a lot of stick from the fans but if he were to win us a Cup this season he would be a hero.

Q: What sort of line-up will Newcastle put out against
us?


Chris:4-4-2 will probably be used, although it wouldn't
surprise me if Souness reverted back to 4-5-1 or
4-3-3. The lineup I expect is as follows:

Given, Carr, Boumsong, Bramble, Hughes, Dyer, Bowyer,
Butt/Faye, Robert, Shearer, Kluivert.


David: 442 if he has any sense, using a couple of wingers.

Q: Do you have a favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps
any that require an
explanation?


See:
http://www.newcastle-online.com/toonarmy/nufc_songs.shtml

David: YNWA is one of the best songs ever, don't forget to get your scarves out when singing it

Q: Where do you expect Newcastle and Liverpool to
finish in the Premier
League?


Chris:I expect Newcastle to finish 10th, maybe 8th.
Liverpool? 7th or 5th. I don't expect you to topple
Everton as they aren't dropping many points and seem
to be squeezing out victories. Either way, neither
finish is good enough for both clubs.

David: I think Liverpool will overtake Everton and finish 4th this season (sorry Toffees, it's nothing personal).

Q: Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Chris:Steven Gerrard is the obvious candidate although he
can go missing in certain games. The one player I fear
the most is the much improved Jon Arne Risse who has a
great left foot, a great engine and works his socks
off. Fernando Morientes will be a danger in the air
and in and around the penalty box but he seems to be
way off the pace at the moment as he adapts and
regains full fitness.

David: If he was fit, if he was playing, if he was on form just as he was while playing for Leeds i would have no hesitation in saying Harry Kewell, but since signing for Liverpool he has gone off the boil. I'm going for your captain Steve Gerrard as he is inspirational, tigerish in the centre park and lethal around the edge of the box.

Q: And your feelings on the new 'Spanish flavour' Liverpool. Rafa Benitez
himself and our new recruits?


Chris:Rafa Benitez is obviously a very good manager.
Valencia were a cracking side, built on a small budget
and for me, were one of the best sides in Europe.
Certainly over the past few years. Balancing a mean
defence with attacking flair and efficiency. I don't
know if he is the right man for Liverpool though.
Something tells me he isn't. He's a very good manager
and should do well, but I don't know if he can build a
Title winning Liverpool side which is surely the aim?
As for his signings. Xavi Alonso will become a
fantastic player as will Morientes. The others: Luis
Garcia seems far too light-weight for the Premiership.
Lots of tricks but no end product and very flimsy on
the ball whenever a challenge comes in. He could
really struggle. The former Real Madrid winger who's
name escapes me, doesn't look like a player at all.
However with all clubs, players need time to settle
and we've all seen before, even ugly ducklings can
become Swans.

David: No comment really although Baros reckons he's a bastard.

Q: Care to predict the score? Go on!

Chris:2-1 to the Toon. It will be a hard game. Both sides
are average in my opinion and there isn't much to
separate the two. You have your good players, and so
do we. You have your poor players and likewise we do.
Enjoy the game, but not the result

David: A very hard game and i'm going for a 2-1 victory to Newcastle.

As ever RAWK would like to thank our opponents for graciously giving us their time and giving us an insight into the oppositions thoughts.

© RAWK 2005

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