View from the enemy – Toon talk on defence, Demba boys and van Persie

by Sam Peoples

First of all, introduce yourself to the readers.

Hello! My name is Kerry Leigh Harrison (@misskerrybabbyy). I am 21-year-old journalism graduate from Newcastle. I’m currently spending a few months in Cyprus enjoying the sunshine with my family as they live over there. I’m a lifelong Newcastle fan and my favourite memory is probably witnessing the Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal game at St. James’ Park with one of my best friends (who happens to be a Gooner). The feeling when the fourth goal went in is simply indescribable. However, I have to say I was at the Newcastle 4 – 3 Manchester United match in 2001 with my dad and that ranks high up there too! (Sorry!)

What’s the general feeling towards the start of the season amongst Newcastle United fans? Are you happy with the start you’ve made?

The fact is we have picked up points whilst not playing well, and that’s something Manchester United have been credited with over the years and it’s a big contributing factor as to why they’ve won so many titles. In my opinion, we’re three points off third and there’s evidently a lot more to come from our players so that’s surely something to be excited about.

If you look at the table we’re only three points off third place, which is certainly something to be positive about. However, our performances have not been up to scratch and we’re yet to recapture the form of last year in the league. But we’ve got players like Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa who’ve produced individual bits of brilliance to rescue us some points recently.

So, performance wise the fans haven’t been too pleased. But looking at the table you can’t say it has been a terrible start.

Demba Ba is in red hot form and Papiss Cisse is back amongst the goals. Do you expect an attacking ethos from Newcastle tomorrow?

Yes. We’re at home, we had a good result there against Manchester United last year and with the injuries we have in defence we can’t afford to just sit back. In fact, with Man United you never can. They’ll come at you consistently and they’ll score in the end.

What do you consider your biggest weakness going into Sunday?

As mentioned we’ve got a lot of injuries in defence at the moment. Tim Krul and Rob Elliot are both injured, and Steven Taylor and Fabricio  Coloccini are doubtful. So this has got to be the biggest concern for Newcastle fans.

Manchester United have a lot of fire power and we’ll have to be at our best at the back to contain it. Obviously when you don’t have your first choice back five this is something which is made very difficult. That’s not to say that the lads that have come in, such as Williamson and Perch, haven’t done a good job. But I’d much prefer to see Coloccini and Taylor back there on Sunday.

I’m also a little bit concerned about our ball retention. We’ve been sloppy in recent games with wayward balls that offer possession back to the opposition. If you gift the ball to Sir Alex Ferguson’s men then you’re asking for trouble.

We have been struggling with our defence so far this year. Do you expect Newcastle to try and exploit that with a lot of balls into the box or do you expect the game to be played with fast, quick passing?

That’s an interesting question because a lot of our fans have been left agitated so far this season by too much hoofing of the ball forward. We seem to have been playing a game of hit and hope (and it’s been more hoping than hitting).

I think Thursday night’s result against Bordeaux will have a massive impact on how we play. Beating a good European side, and deservedly so, will do a lot for the players’ confidence and I think that momentum will be taken into Sunday’s game. I expect to see more creativity and getting the ball on the floor and playing then we’ve seen in previous games so far this campaign. I expect to see players like Ben Arfa really getting into the match and running at the Manchester United defence.

How charged do you think the atmosphere will be given the history between the clubs as well as van Persie’s confrontations with Krul last season?

The atmosphere at St. James’ Park is always electric, and even more so when Manchester United are in town. I expect it to be no different this weekend. The game will be played in a high tempo and both sets of fans will be noisy – that’s a given. Van Persie can probably expect a few more boos, but I don’t think that situation will have too much of an impact as Harper will be starting in goal with Krul being injured.

How do you think you are going to line up on Sunday and finally, what do you think the score will be?

I’m going for Newcastle to edge it 2-1. I think Thursday night’s win was huge for us and I think Sunday could be the game that really gets our Premier League season going.

Our back four has pretty much picked itself because of injuries, if no one makes a miraculous recovery then I expect Simpson, Williamson, Perch and Santon in defence.

The attacking side of things will have given Pardew a selection headache though. Both Ameobi and Ferguson have impressed lately and many fans think they deserve their chance. Shockingly, Obertan also played really well on Thursday night too. I personally think Pardew will stick with the usual thought – Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba and Cisse.

You may also like