Chris Hughton has the task of preparing the Newcastle side for the crucial Premier League game against World Club Champions, Manchester United, tonight at St. James’ Park.
Chris Hughton – difficult game tonight
While Manchester United were winning the Carling Cup Final on penalties on Sunday, they will field a side with maybe 7 or 8 changes from the side that played in that game, and beat Spurs, so their players, unfortunately, will still be very fresh.
To say they have a very strong squad is an understatement and they could probably field several sides that would be too good for Newcastle tonight.
Once thing we want to preserve tonight is our decent goal difference. Well, let’s say it’s decent among the relegation sides at -10, and that could be important to us in the run-in if things get tight at the bottom of the league.
Last year Manchester United hit us for 11 goals in our two Premier League games, and we only scored one so those two games cost us -10 in our goal difference, and a big defeat is the very last thing we need tonight.
Chris Hughton seems to be looking for at least a point and he spoke to the Newcastle Journal this morning:
“It’s very important,” “We’re under no illusions as to how difficult a game it will be. With the injuries we have, it will probably be more so. And there’s the form Man United are in.”
“But there are various things we can get out of the game. The first objective, the most important, is some sort of result. Secondly is to get some sort of pride from the performance.”
“It threatens to be a backs-to-the-wall mission, but Newcastle must get the balance right.” “We can’t play too open and expansive a game because, with the players they’ve got, that’s a recipe for disaster,”
“We’ve got to be compact enough to restrict their opportunities and space. But we also have to have a threat ourselves. If we don’t, it’s only a matter of time before they break you down.”
We shouldn’t over-estimate Manchester either, although what they’ve achieved so far this season, makes that rather difficult to do.
We’ll have to hope that for once they have an off day, and that Newcastle can manage to score against them, which hasn’t proved easy for many teams these last four months or so.
The Manchester defense hardly ever concedes goals these days, and in fact Edwin van der Sar hasn’t let in a goal since November 8th, so he’s obviously due to let one in tonight, if he plays.
A draw seems the best we can do – but football can be a strange game at times, and we at least expect the lads to be ready for this one.
There’s not much to do right now, than hope for the very best.