Spyin Kop Newcastle Away 24th November

Posted by Tiger Tony on November 23, 2007, 04:36:23 PM

Newcastle United v Liverpool
Barclays Premier League to be played at St James' Park
12:45 kick off live on Sky Sports
Referee: Alan Wiley

So after another of our good old favourites, the international break, where Ingurland messed up beyond belief much to our delight, it is back to proper football and a trip up north to face Newcastle. Thankfully there are no injury worries to report on our side after the internationals. Although Owen has been ruled out for the Toon, in what is becoming a common occurrence after his international showings! One of the Newcastle lads offered his opinion on internationals too:

I really couldn’t care less about our national team.  I like to see them do well, and enjoy following them during the summer months when Newcastle are not playing but hate the constant interruptions of League games and pointless Friendly matches where key players get injured.  I think most of the lads up here would agree too. 
The major drawback with the national side (apart from the interruptions) is that everyone past Birmingham has to travel far greater distance to get to the games and spend more money.  I know our capital is London, but the idea of the stadium not being equidistant for North & South is just stupid.  I said before they built the New Wembley they should've moved it to Birmingham and stick with that decision now.

N.B this was discussed before the Croatia game, hence the ‘enjoy following during the summer MONTHS’. ;D

It is fair to say they have had an indifferent start to life under Sam Allardyce. Home form has been generally good, and away form rather bad. However the recent 4-1 reverse against Portsmouth has got the doubters going again and some people are questioning Allardyce’s appointment already, but the Premier League seems to have adopted the La Liga way of going through managers like there is no tomorrow, so who knows! Benitez will certainly be looking to crank the pressure up further on Allardyce after his rather well publicised pathetic comments about Benitez not too long ago.

Still, the Geordie faithful had high hopes of progress and a push for a top 6 finish, especially with the change of ownership, so it will be interesting to see if they can improve, or if the fans patience will be further tested. On the elusive trophy front an early exit from the Carling Cup to the much praised Arsenal youth leaves them with only the FA cup to play for as they head increasingly close to 40 years since their last trophy, the Fairs Cup in 1969.

Liverpool seem to have it all rosy again. After the record breaking performance against Beşiktaş, and a comprehensive display against Fulham, all the knee jerk negativity has died down and there is real belief that we can have a good run ready for the (hopefully) crucial showdown with Man United in mid December, and also come back from the dead in the Champions League. However if you believe recent rumours Rafa has fallen out with Gillett and Hicks and he might replace Steve McClaren!

Special mention goes to Sky TV for this fixture too. Another early kick off after internationals, and another early kick off for one of our biggest journeys to add to the Portsmouth and Sunderland games. Makes a lot of sense to me but maybe I am losing the plot. Cheers guys, it really is appreciated. However, the Newcastle fans seem a little worried about it as they seem to have a hoodoo with 12:45 kick offs, or so they say on a few of their forums. Maybe it isn’t so bad after all, apart from the distinct lack of beer time before the game.

I asked one of the Geordies for their opinion on early kick offs and this was his response:

I think they piss the majority of fans off to be honest.  I love the traditional 15:00 Kick Off times and I remember fondly the days of a mass list of games being read out on the tannoys giving you the scores at half time.  I wish they would bring it back, but unfortunately it seems to be getting worse, but more games on a Sunday compared to a Saturday is just what really boils my piss.  I want to use a Sunday morning for hangover recovery not Monday morning at work!


Newcastle United was formed in 1881 when the Stanley Cricket Club of south Byker formed a football club so they had a sport to play in the winter. (Just to clarify before someone asks yet again, Byker Grove has never been filmed in Byker, in 2006 it was filmed in my road in Spital Tongues, which is in the city centre!) Within a year it’s name was changed to Newcastle East End FC. Another cricket club did the same and it’s team was called West End FC. They played at St James Park. However when they did not fare so well they disbanded and most of the players joined East End in 1892, who had turned professional in 1889. In December 1892 the name Newcastle United was agreed upon after various committee meetings, hence why their badge has the year 1892 on it. Another club was formed in 1892, I think they play in red, do you know who I mean?
In the early days the team enjoyed a reasonable amount of success winning the league several times in the 1900s. FA cup final appearances were also common place during this time, although they won only one of their first 5 finals. They won another league and cup in the 1920s.

In the post War period they enjoyed a further 3 FA cup successes, which helped raise their profile. Playing in the team during this era was Jackie Milburn and Bobby Mitchell.

They qualified for Europe for the first time in 1968, and in their first European season won the Fairs Cup, which of course is their last trophy to date. But they had a reputation for good football in the 1970s with players such as Malcolm Macdonald. During this period they also lost an FA cup final 3-0, you should all know who it was against!

A period of decline set in during the 1980s with a couple of relegations and promotions, although they have become established Premier League members having gained promotion in the first season of its implementation.

Since then it has been a mixed bag, from some very poor seasons to almost becoming champions. We all know about the Keegan/whisky nose feud and most of their Premier League history so I will finish this section now. By the way they signed one of our ex players the other year, do you know who I am talking about?

MAJOR Honours (N.B runner up spots do not count as honours)

League champions: 1904-05, 1905-07, 1908-09 and 1926-27
FA Cup: 1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952 and 1955
Fairs Cup: 1969
Charity Shield: 1909

For other ‘honours’, such as the Texaco Cup, check wikipedia or other online sources.


Most appearances: Jimmy Lawrence, 496 appearances 1904-1921.
Leading scorer: Alan Shearer, 206 goals. Albert Stubbins could be deemed as such, but War time goals were not counted on record.
Highest attendance: 68 386 v Chelsea 3rd September 1930. Modern stadium record is 52 327 against Man United on 28th August 2005.
Biggest win: 13-0 v Newport County, 2nd division, 5th October 1946.
Biggest defeat: 9-0 v Burton Wanderers, 2nd division, 15th April 1895. Whisper it, but their record top flight defeat is against Sunderland 9-1 in 1908.

For this Spyin Kop I have gone over to Newcastle Online, where several people have been kind enough to answer. Thanks to Mick, Toptoon and MattyPNUFC . I have also got some answers off a university friend, James (Monty). Overall it has provided a good mix which hopefully makes for an interesting read. So here goes:

How has the season been shaping up so far under the new ownership and management?

Mick: The new ownership has meant that Allardyce could bring in quite a few players which were badly needed, without them and a rumoured debt of between £80 and £100 million we'd have had next to nothing to spend.  Allardyce is frustrating a lot of fans with his questionable team selection which changes like the weather and also his negative tactics; we're probably the only team than has gone to Derby to contain them, crazy.

MattyPNUFC: The season so far has been as I expected.  Much tinkering from BSA to find his best selection and formation, but so far is disappointing the majority of our fans, me included.   I believe he will get it right and is the correct man for the job, but I'm ultimately unsure whether he will get the time from our fans and our new chairman/owner.  Speaking of which, I expect the Ashley/Mort partnership to turn us into a big club (some say we are a big club, but I believe we are only in the fact we have the support).  Both Ashley/Mort seem to have their heads screwed on for running a business and I hope they support the manager’s long term plans.

Toptoon: Over the moon with the new owner he seems great. He's paid off nearly all of our reported £100m debt. Allardyce had a great start but the wheels came off after losing to Derby and we have been very up and down since then. The team looks very disjointed and few fans agree with his very odd defensive team selections that he puts out  that frustratingly offer little very offensively.

Monty: Overall, not too bad. I’ve been pretty impressed with the signings that Allardyce has made. We’ve finally got, what look like, a pair of half decent full backs and have strengthened the centre of defence with Rozenhal, Cacapa and Faye. Whilst being a complete scumbag, Joey Barton has always impressed me as a player and Mark Viduka, when not in KFC, has always scored goals and made a nuisance of himself in the opposition penalty area. Alan Smith was the only signing that I wasn’t 100% in favor of. He’s not a bad little player, works hard, but I don’t think he has the quality as either a central midfielder or a striker to make a real difference. Performance wise, bar the Pompey debacle, we’ve been competent at home and woeful away. The minute Allardyce ditches his ugly Bolton tactics and stops playing for a 0-0 draw against the likes of Derby, we’ll be okay. With the likes of N’Zogbia, Milner, Barton, Emre, Martins, Owen and Viduka, we’ve got the pace and quality to go to pretty much every club outside the top four and give it a really good go, sadly Sam hasn’t seen this yet. Hopefully he will.

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

Mick: I expected Allardyce to live up to his hype and play a good tactical game, so far that side of his management skills have been well hidden.  I expected us to have done better than we have considering some of the opposition that we've faced.

MattyPNUFC: To be honest, I thought top 6 during pre season, but it seems our new lads are taking more time to Gel.  Also the constant bizarre formations seem to be costing us results against games we should be looking to win.  I'm still expecting this to improve but it’s going to be tough.  Top 10 finish.

Toptoon: UEFA cup spot at the start. Looking less likely unless Allardyce gets his act together. But i live in hope he may turn us around yet.

Monty: I’ve always been fairly realistic about this season. We’ve got to be patient and give Big Sam time to get his methods instilled into the team, whilst allowing the new signings sufficient time to blend in. After the dross we’ve seen under the likes of Roeder and Souness, I’d quite happily accept a top table finish with encouraging signs of moving in the right direction. Bobby’s first two seasons at the club ended in 11th placed finishes, he needed time to clear out the wasters and reconstruct the squad before taking us to 4th, 3rd and 5th place finishes. 

There have been rumours of discontent with Allardyce already, what were your initital impressions of his appointment, and have they changed at all? He has recently said he would need 4-5 years to make Newcastle into what he wants, will he get that patience from the Geordie faithful, and the new owner for that matter?

Mick: My initial impression was that we'd probably got the best manager for the job that we could have realistically brought in, that changed after a short while as the job changed from potentially being one of looking through the bargain basement to potentially being a job where money was no longer in short supply.  If Allardyce wants to be at the club in 5 years time then he's going to have to earn that right, just like any other manager at any other club should earn the right to manage that club.  He will only get that patience if we're confident that things are changing for the better, so far he's doing well off the pitch but not so good on it.

MattyPNUFC: A minority of our more fickle fans seem to be a bit discontent and tend to forget the position we have been since the SBR era.  I was happy with his appointment, and as mentioned earlier, believe he is the right man for the job.  Time is what is needed right now, people have to learn to be patient.  Short term appointments have not worked in the past and I believe Chris Mort has reiterated as such.  The only problem I can see is Mike Ashley wanting instant success and BSA not delivering.

Toptoon: I honestly thought he could potentially be a fantastic appointment and just the man we needed for stability nd growth.  I now have big doubts he is the man but he obviously deserves longer. If we are ever in any danger of being relegated, then he has to go as we can't afford that to happen, otherwise give him this season and if we finish in the top half possibly give him next as well. We just want to keep progressing really and if it takes some time then fine but as long as we continue to progress.

Monty: I was delighted when Big Sam arrived. I genuinely thought he was the best we could have hoped for at that time. His record at Bolton, and generally speaking, was outstanding and despite some minor concerns about the style of football he had encouraged his teams to play, I was convinced that working with technically better players and with more money at his disposal, he’d be able to get us playing decent football. As for four to five years, I don’t think anyone gets that kind of time nowadays in the current climate of football, and Big Sam will be no exception. However, I’m sure Mike Ashley will be reasonable about the situation and will give him a couple of years to give the job his best shot.

On the subject of your new owner, are you happy with him? Although I kind of know this answer…..are you also glad to see the back of Freddie?

Mick: In a word, yes and that goes for both although not everyone is happy which may come as a surprise to an outsider.

MattyPNUFC: I'm happy with both in truth.  A lot has already been said about Freddie and to be honest, I'm very glad he has gone.  It has uncovered a lingering feeling I had regarding club debt and a business that would be in major trouble if it hadn’t been taken over.  On that note, Mike Ashley seems to have settled in and has done some very positive PR work by insisting on sitting with the lads against the makems...I know he's the owner, but he may have cost me my ticket! Then again, I can forgive him for the money he's put into the club.

Toptoon: Yes and Yes.

Monty: So far, so good. Mike Ashley seems to be loving his new challenge and doing all he can to endear himself to the fans. Buying drinks down the Quayside and the Bigg Market is always a good start but his antics at the Stadium of Shite a fortnight ago: jumping around like a lunatic when Milner scored, travelling with fans on the official buses and posing for topless pictures with a tattooed, large breasted reveler known as “Beefy” will only enhance his status in the Toon. I’m over the moon to see the back of Freddy and relieved that Ashley came in when he did, according to Chris Mort (our chairman), Freddie’s financial mismanagement had left us in a pretty precarious position, I dread to think what could have happened had he stayed any longer.

I suppose this is linked to the above question, but what do you think of all the money coming into the Premier League with new owners all over the place? Will it increase competition or ruin the game?

Mick: The money will probably even itself out, Chelsea has had cash to burn recently and will probably remain as a one off, the others might just cancel each other out. I just hope the rich owners aren't going to pay increasingly stupid wages to already overpaid players.

MattyPNUFC: Personally, it is like any other big business these days...if they can make money out of something, people will invest to turnover a profit.  I don’t mind it, but one thing all Premier League clubs need to do right now is too lower ticket prices...the working man is being phased out of the spectator side of things.  Dwindling attendances will get even worse if they do not look at ticket pricing.   

Toptoon: I haven't a strong opinion on this really, it may be a good thing, i'd rather it came into our league than another league i.e. Seria A as otherwise the best players would all be over there, time will tell.

Monty: It’ll increase competition at the highest level, but ruin the smaller clubs and ‘grass roots’ football. A real shame.

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

Mick: None at the minute because the manager is having more of an effect than the players due to team selection and tactics.

MattyPNUFC: For me it’s either of our 'keepers.  The way we are playing at the moment, we need a solid leader from the back.  As the defence is being chopped and changed and no one player standing out, it’s up to our 'keepers.  Oh, and Harper should be called up for England in my opinion.

Toptoon: Martins in my opinion. He can create something out of nothing and is a real nightmare to mark, creativity is something we've really lacked this lad has two great feet is lightning quick and can do the seemingly impossible at times. It would help if Sam actually played him though. Owen etc pushing him out the team hasn't done his confidence any good either.

N'zogbia for similar reasons to Martins i.e. his creativity, he's a cracking player. It would help if sam actually played both and in their propper positions.

Monty: We haven’t really had a settled team so far this season, so it’s difficult to say who’s the most influential. I’d probably go for Shay Given. Still a world class goalkeeper. Charles N’Zogbia always causes problems with his pace and trickery down the left hand side and James Milner will work his socks off for 90 minutes.

Any player who has performed below your expectations?

Mick: Owen but the blame doesn't lie with him, we all know what he can do when played to his strengths although speed may not be all that it once was, he's still the same player as far as knowing where the goal is, we just need to give him the balls he needs and not play the negative game played mainly away from home.

MattyPNUFC: We seem to be misfiring on all cylinders at the moment, so no one stands out.

Toptoon: Many would disagree but Viduka and Smith for me. Viduka is way too slow and for a big lad gets overpowered too easilly. He creates next to nothing and needs everything laid out on a plate for him, which is not hapenning due to our non creative midfield. Smith is up and down, i thought as an attacking midfielder he could do well for us, but he's been well crap on the RW, crap as an attacking midfielder, good as a defensive midfielder and ok up front. 

Monty: Probably Geremi. I’ve always rated him as a good, steady player but he hasn’t really made his mark yet on the team. The players compared him to “Nelson Mandela” this summer, saying that he’s very influential and respected in the dressing room, which is lovely to hear, but not much use if you can’t pass the ball ten yards successfully. He’s the club captain but it’s hard to see where he’d fit in when everyone’s available. Beye’s a natural right back and looks more comfortable there than Geremi and I rate Butt, Barton and Emre as better options in the middle. We’ll see. I’ve already mentioned Alan Smith, wasn’t impressed with the signing and have yet to be impressed by his performances either.

Do you miss Titus Bramble? We will most certainly miss cheering his name!

Mick: How could we possibly miss him?

MattyPNUFC: In a word, no.  As for cheering his name...surely you can still do that when you play Wigan?

Toptoon: Ha ha ha good ridance, i can't believe we kept him for so long he had a terrible effect on all around him too spreading nervousness to the rest of the team especially his fellow defenders who would get dragged away from their man to cover for him.

Monty: I must admit, I’ll never forget the ovation he got when coming on at Anfield. I don’t think anyone has frustrated me as much in my years of supporting Newcastle, he would occasionally show flashes of brilliance (yes, brilliance!) but you knew that one lapse of concentration, one thought about his nights down the Quayside, ‘pimping it up’ with Jenas, Dyer and Ameobi, and that would be the game gone. No, I don’t miss him.

DRUM ROLL……what for I hear you ask? The obligatory Michael Owen question! Of course we have fond memories of his time here, but the way he departed has marked him down in many Liverpool fans bad books for life. In hindsight has he been a waste of money? A brilliant goal scorer, undoubtedly. But is he now a crocked ‘past his best’ liability?

Mick: Some thought he was a waste of money the day we bought him, the money could have been better spent.

MattyPNUFC: I honestly feel sorry for England’s Michael Owen (I use this term due to the media constantly barraging the poor lad with tosh).  He has had some horrid luck, and his latest setback is just typical of what seems to be a curse at our club.  Yes, we paid a lot of money for him, but he is still England’s Number One goal scorer so it’s not surprising we had to pay that much when you think of what Spurs paid for Bent.  As for our fans showing discontent towards him, I for one put this down to the media.   

Toptoon: A total waste of money in my opinion he's a crock too. In fairness to him he is not getting good service which he needs to thrive on, if we were supplying more chances he'd probably be doing alot better. But as we are not supplying him much, his presence is pointless at times. Martins should play as he can score and create by dropping deeper if needs be.

Monty: Tough one. I’d personally keep hold of him, even after the injury against Austria. His goal scoring record is superb and I think we’re a better team when he plays, he can always create something out of nothing and there’s nobody better in and around the penalty box. However, I personally think that Big Sam will get rid of him, preferring the raw pace of Martins to partner Viduka. It’s always seemed to me that Big Sam has been playing him almost because he feels he has to, and he’ll be moved on at the end of the season. A real shame though, because there’s no doubting Owen’s quality.
Following on from the above question, will anyone ever be able to replace Alan Shearer?

Mick: Of course somebody will replace him, he was only one man, no matter how good in his prime.

MattyPNUFC: Strange that you mention this, I was watching the Shearer Legend DVD the other week.  ..At the moment, no.  No one is even close to being that good, he was immense.  But I'd imagine in a few years someone will come through the ranks and become another Shearer...it’s just a matter of time.

Toptoon: Probably not for some time he's a once or twice in a lifetime kind of player and God up here. I'd love him to manage us.

Monty: Probably not. A true legend. However, I was glad to see him go when he did, after the trauma of the Souness era, it was time to move on and start with a clean slate. He’ll be back in the future though, I’m sure of that. 

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about who you feel have the potential to establish themselves in the first team? I attended the youth cup game at your place last season and a few of your lads looked pretty decent, any of those lads developed further? Have they got the potential to go one further in the youth cup this season and make the final, possibly even take the crown off Liverpool?

Mick: No idea, I don't have the time to watch the kids.

MattyPNUFC: Tim Kruul is looking good.  I have seen him play for Falkirk and although still learning is looking quality.  James Troisi has been decent for the past two seasons in the youths/reserves but whether he will be given a chance in the senior squad is up for debate.

Toptoon: Not really   

The expectation levels in the Toon are massive, and I know that as well as anyone, having lived in Newcastle for the last 3 years. Do you feel the expectation levels are realistic, and do you feel you will have what it takes to compete with the ‘big 4’ within the next few years?

Mick: I think our expectations are realistic, people mistake what we would like to happen with what we think will happen.  I'd love to see us win something but don't expect it.  I think we could compete with the top 4 but it will take a lot of hard work and probably as much luck because of the poor state the club was in only a few short months ago, at least we now have the means to move forward again.

MattyPNUFC: I don’t think expectation levels are that massive.  If the lads turn up on a Saturday (or Sunday/Monday...what’s happening with Saturday kick offs this season) and give it 100% for the club, that’s all I expect at the moment.  This is the start of more stable, structured times.  If we can get to where Liverpool are now within 3 years I'd be more than ecstatic.

Toptoon: At this moment in time competing with the big four looks a million miles away. But things can change quickly and i hope sam gets it together quickly and we start to progress and start bridging the gap.

Monty: The expectations have been too high, in my opinion. The club needs to have a period of stability and continuity before being able to move up and compete at the highest level. The Souness and Roeder tenures completely destroyed Bobby’s five years of hard work. We’re now in the best position we’ve been in for years, with the new owner and a decent manager, we need to be patient and let things come together on the pitch. I’m fairly confident we’ll be able to have a decent shot at breaching the big four in the next three years.

With Liverpool’s proposed new stadium and other clubs planning new grounds or redevelopment, does St James Park need to expand to keep up so to speak?

Mick:  St James' only needs expanding if we are filling the ground every week, no point having empty seats.

MattyPNUFC: If we improve results and performances over the next few years there will be more demand to watch us.  If not, we don’t need to expand.

Toptoon: I'd like it to expand peronally to around 65k others would disagree.

Monty: I think it’s fine. It’s a great stadium, in a superb central location and the last expansion took us up to just over 52,000 so I think it’ll be sufficient for a good few years yet.

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? That can be either on or off the pitch, or both. Preferably no 4-3 talk please! It also seems to be mentioned every year, hence why I would prefer something else!

Mick: I've always loved going to Anfield, I once went down and didn't get in until half time because a load of mates were on the piss with Liverpool fans.  I can't remember a thing about the game other than the Liverpool fans we were with came into our end and were singing Newcastle songs with us, they wouldn't let us buy any drinks either although we kept pretending to go to the toilets and sneaking rounds in.  The other team across Stanley Park is supported by tossers, I'll never forget seeing Newcastle fans with blood pouring from stanley knife wounds to the face.

MattyPNUFC: I for one hate that match so certainly won’t mention anymore.  I remember last season and the shock result at home.  I fully expected us to take a hiding but ended up winning.  I think I was more shocked at that than I had been for a while.

Toptoon: Sorry, have to mention it, that one 4-3 game under Keegan was one of the most exciting matches ever played, could have gone either way and cost us the title. Other than that not really. Oh Razor Ruddock deliberately elbowing Peter Beardsley smashing his cheekbone to smithereens really f***** me off.

Monty: Well, if the 4-3’s banned then I’ll go for your 4-1 demolition job on us at St.James’. You played us at the best possible time, managerless after the Dalglish sacking and Michael Owen was just unstoppable. Not a particularly pleasant memory, but a memory nonetheless!

There is a general opinion that Geordies and Scousers get on very well. I have found this to generally be the case and got on well with the locals while I have lived in the Toon. Do you agree with this viewpoint or do you not get on with Scousers? Why do you feel that way, any particular experience that makes you feel the way you do?

Mick: I can't stand Everton fans but get on well with Liverpool fans and that goes back years, I remember going to London when we played Chelsea and Liverpool played Forest in the League Cup, thousands of Newcastle and Liverpool fans got on well all day, we were playing football together in Trafalgar Square and drinking together for hours.

MattyPNUFC: I think Geordies and Scousers get on well mostly because we A.  Both love our football B. Love our booze.  That aside, I have very little contact (bar a few lads at work) with the Scouse population so can’t really pinpoint any personal experiences.

Toptoon: I agree. Similar passions  i.e. a general love of football and having a laugh.

Monty: Completely agree. I’ve always got on well with Scousers, finding them to be friendly, warm and good humored. I’ve got a few friends from Liverpool and always enjoy going down to visit them. Liverpool, like Newcastle, is a great night out and the regeneration of the city has been very impressive. I used to enjoy going to the Arkles before and after away games, there’d always be a few Liverpool fans in there who were friendly and up for a bit of banter. It’s not just Liverpool fans either; I also enjoy my trips to Goodison Park, there was a cracking atmosphere in the pub literally opposite one of the stands just before New Year last year where the “Geordie Alouette” got an extended airing.

‘Best fans in the World’. A statement used by fans of many clubs when describing themselves, including both our respective clubs. State your case to back up that statement.

Mick:  Won nowt but still turn up, nothing else is needed.

MattyPNUFC: Someone else has mentioned this, but 52,000 (and a shed load more in most pubs) turn up week in week out for a team that A. Are not playing very well and B. Have won naff all for too long to mention.

Toptoon: Silly question....... We are really passionate about football and it has showed in the past.

Monty: Haven’t won anything for what seems like over 300 years, but still sticking by the team, despite having seen some awful excuses for managers and players who couldn’t give a toss about the club, fans or region (Would Mr Kieron Dyer please stand up?).

In terms of atmosphere, it seems to be getting worse at most grounds year after year. We started a campaign to ‘reclaim the kop’ last year. I hear you have a ‘toon ultras’ group with similar motives. What do you think are the reasons behind declining atmosphere? Do you think such groups can make a difference, or have already made a difference?

Mick: Sitting down has a lot to do with it, standing would make a massive difference to a lot of clubs.

MattyPNUFC: Our Level 7 guys (and the Gallogate this season) have been in decent voice for a fair few seasons now but ultimately the problem is with fans sitting down.  Away from home, the noise is immense as we stand the whole game!  The FA need to bring in Safe Standing areas (like in Germany) which will solve a lot of the issues in our leagues.  Oh, that and cheaper tickets!!!

Toptoon: Your right its definately getting quieter, its the growing corporate sector in the crowd.

Monty: I’d like to think so. It’s a real shame what’s happened to the lack of atmosphere in football, especially at the top level. We’ve really quietened down over the past few years, which I suppose goes hand in hand with the fact that the performances have been woeful; hopefully the new era will see some of the noise return to St.James’. I’m all for the group dedicated to bringing back the noise, hopefully they’ll be successful in their efforts and make St.James’ into the fortress that it once was.
What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Mick: God knows.

MattyPNUFC: No idea...most likely Milner on the Left and NZogbia on the right!!!???!!!

Toptoon: I hope to god an offensive one. However we will probably play with a maximum of one winger if any at all in which case you should win fairly comfortably. i.e. Zoggy LB instead of LW,  Barton riddiculously on the RW instead of CM, Butt and Smith or Geremi in the center with Emre (a CM) or milner (a RW) on the LW. Basically a right mess,  however i hope Sam surprises me and we put out the team at the bottom of my post.

Monty: Hopefully 4-4-2 involving a lot less long balls. At the time of writing Owen, Taylor, Babayaro, Carr, Duff, Faye and Peter Damage are unavailable, so I’d go with: Given; Beye, Rozenhal, Cacapa, Jose Enrique; Milner, Barton, Emre, N’Zogbia; Viduka, Martins.

Which Liverpool player would you most like to see fall ‘victim’ to the infamous rotation policy for this match? Only one.

Mick: I doubt any single player would make much of a difference.

MattyPNUFC: As Alonso is out, Benayoun is out, it has to be Steven Gerrard.  Many people believe he is overrated, but I doubt our midfield would get a look in based on current performances is he was playing.

Toptoon: Gerrard

Monty: Steven Gerrard.

Any player you really want to see in our starting eleven who you think has been weak for us so far this season?

Mick: Mike Hooper but he no longer plays for you.

MattyPNUFC: I don’t think you have anyone in your team who normally has a nightmare against us.  If anyone Sami Hyypia has been playing very inconsistently for you, so I'd chuck him in.

Toptoon: I'd like to see Hyypia and Carragher try and Mark/keep up with Martins. But he probably won't play him   

Monty: Momo Sissoko or John Arne Riise.

Where do you expect yourselves and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League? Also who do you think will win the 4 major honours?

Mick: We look as if we'll do really well to finish above 8 and Liverpool look as if they might finish 3rd.  As for who will win our domestic trophies, I think they'll be won by one of last seasons top 4.  The CL, of our teams I think Man U will be the last English club left in.

MattyPNUFC: I said before the season started I fancied you lot for the League this season, but seems Benitez has other priorities.  I'm going to say 2nd for you lot in the League, 7th for us, FA Cup to Arsenal, League Cup to Chelsea and fancy the Mancs for the Champions League/Premier league.   

Toptoon: Pool 4-5th
Toon 8-9th

CL - Arsenal
Man u - League
Liv - FA Cup
Chelsea – LC

Monty: I’d be delighted with a 6th place finish, and I think that you’ll finish 3rd, winning the FA Cup as well.

Care to predict the score?
Mick: 1-3

MattyPNUFC: Depends on if we show up and don’t play obscure tactics.  2-2 if we do, 0-3 if we don’t.

Toptoon: 0-3  to you if Sam picks his usual dross.

Monty: I can’t predict anything other than a win so I’ll go 2-1 Newcastle, Martins and N’Zogbia for us, Gerrard for your lot.

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