Ahead of Saturday's game against Newcastle
United at St James' Park, we caught up once more with Magpies' fan Ben.
He gives us his views on United's
poor results, John Carver, their survival chances, and more. You can
follow Ben on twitter
It's been a
pretty disastrous last couple of months for the Magpies, it can't be much fun
being a Newcastle fan at the moment?
Not at all. The performances are
rubbish, the results are rubbish, and the club's standing among the fans is even
worse. There's even a split in opinions between the supporters that are
desperate for United to stay up and those that would rather see us go down.
Football shouldn't be this depressing.
actually had a decent first half of the season so why has it gone so wrong?
manager? chairman? players?
All of the above. I would,
though, point out that even under the leadership of Southern Journalism's very
own Alan Pardew, results ranged from poor to very poor, barring a crazy
six-match winning run. Siem de Jong's injury hasn't helped matters, nor have the
various lengthy absence of Papiss Cisse, but United have continued to
under-invest, and then put a failed MLS manager in charge of a Premier League
side. It feels like the fans have been pitted against the club all season, but
that's bound to happen when a lack of ambition is plain for all to see.
the departure of Alan Pardew in January, most people were surprised at the
choice of John Carver as his replacement. How did United fans view his
Not with surprise, but certainly
not with enthusiasm. John Carver is essentially a (much) less shiny Pardew, in
that all of his ideas are taken from his former boss' notebook. Appointing
somebody cheap and already at the club because league safety already looks
assured is a very Newcastle thing to do.
seems unlikely to remain in charge past the end of the season so is there anyone
in particular you would like to see take over as United boss?
There is a lot of talk about
Steve McClaren, which would be alright, but there's every chance I only think
that because our last two managers have been dreadful. For a while it looked as
though Thomas Tuchel might be an option, but he's now at Dortmund, while Remi
Garde was touted for a long time, and Paco Jemez is the current flavour of the
month. The latter two both look interesting prospects, but the next boss will
likely be cheap, English and nothing particularly exciting - like, er, McClaren.
games left it looks as though the relegation battle will go right down to the
wire. How confident are you that the club will retain it's Premier League
With all due respect to
yourselves, West Brom, QPR and West Ham are three very winnable games on paper,
and given the various fortunes of that trio, we could hardly have hoped for a
better run-in. However - and it's a big however - it's hard to be confident
about the prospects of a side that have lost eight on the bounce. I really
thought that run would end at Leicester last week, and yet that was the worst of
the lot. There's been a lot of talk from the club this week, in the way of
apologising and vowing to improve, but the time for words has been and gone. We
need results. I think we will - just - have enough to stay up. Whether that's
due to an up-turn in form or because the other teams down there are so poor, I'm
of the season?
Leicester at home was a truly
bizarre occasion, with the score-board falling down, Gabby Obertan sealing
United's first win of the season and Sunderland losing 8-0 at Southampton, while
hearty roars met Jonas Gutierrez's return and an incident involving Janmaat that
I'll come on to, but it has to be the win at Man City in the League Cup. This
being a club that openly admits to not caring for any competition that doesn't
pay handsomely merely for being involved, we couldn't believe our luck when a
team featuring two teenage strikers beat the champions to send us into a
quarter-final. Of course, we would then be obliterated by Spurs, but the
celebrations that followed Moussa Sissoko's clincher at the Etihad will live
long in the memory.
would rather forget?
We like to criticise Sunderland
for their cup final attitude towards the Tyne-Wear derby, and you do get the
feeling they'd be happy with survival and six points against
but with our club showing little interest towards progression in the cups or
European qualification, it's all we have left too. Unfortunately, unlike our
dear neighbours, we consistently don't turn up for those games. Eight league
defeats in a row is painful, but it doesn't come close to five in a row against
your rivals. The Black Cats are a really awful outfit, and yet there's every
chance that their results against us will see them safe for a third consecutive
With nods to Jack Colback and
Ayoze Perez, I'd have to go for Janmaat. The Dutchman arrived on Tyneside last
summer after looking decent, but no more than that, in the World Cup. He was
tasked with having to replace Matheiu Debuchy, our best player last season, and
has done so - and then some. The early signs were good, as he scored in just his
second home game, and he soon established himself as a key performer. We
expected him to be better defensively than his predecessor, but with a fairly
limited attacking armory, but he has proved superb at both ends. Though he's
racked up a number of assists, his finest hour was a merciless hack at Mario
Balotelli, who had just wrestled the ball from two United players, before
accepting his yellow card with a nonchalant shrug.
Take your pick. The owner has
let us down yet again, Pardew continued to irritate the United fans, and Carver
then managed to make things worse, while party plans are well under way to
coincide with the respective departures of Jak Alnwick, Mike Williamson, Vurnon
Anita, Yoan Gouffran and Emmanuel Riviere. However, I'm going to plump for the
captain and his deputy. Fabricio Coloccini is one of the most talented defenders
to have pulled on a black and white shirt, but it couldn't be more clear that
his focus is a long way from St James' Park. No team could ever be motivated
when led by such a passive, uninterested skipper - or his understudy, Sissoko.
Granted, the pair can be excellent on their day, but I can't wait to see the
back of them.
and tactics are we likely to see from the Magpies on Saturday?
Well, you won't see any tactics,
as Carver has openly admitted that his idea of football involves a lot of
running around - and probably some shouting. As for personnel, Janmaat and
Williamson are both suspended, while Paul Dummett is apparently struggling with
injury, so our defence will be picked from the front row of the Milburn Stand.
De Jong should be fit to start in midfield, but Rolando Aarons and Cisse might
for and thoughts on the game?
Surely, surely, we cannot lose
nine games in a row. We've already passed a club record, and this has to end at
some stage. West Brom should be safe now, so much will depend on whether that
means that the Baggies will ease off. Either way, I'd expect you to have
considerable joy against our back-line and the creaking legs of Ryan Taylor, so
a home win might be a step too far. 2-2.