Newcastle will not be at full strength in their second derby game of the season at Sunderland tomorrow.
Newcastle hammered Sunderland last October 31st, and it could be that – depending on how Newcastle play tomorrow – the Newcastle fans will have a chance to compare the two Magpie managers in the two games – Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew.
Chris could always inspire the Newcastle players in the big games, and probably his most successful feat in his magical 18 months as Newcastle manager, was getting his players to inflict the biggest defeat on Sunderland (5-1) since 1955 (6-1).
Not a bad result at all – but still not good enough to keep Chris in his job as Newcastle manager – as he was sacked just over 5 weeks later – we sadly have to say.
And Alan Pardew goes into tomorrow’s game after presiding over one of Newcastle’s most embarrassing defeats in their illustrious history, after they went down 3-1 at Stevenage with a surrender in the second half of that game – yes it was that bad.
Under Chris Hughton, we know Newcastle would roar back from that defeat, and this week the Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan has apologized to Newcastle fans for the Stevenage performance, and said they would make it up tomorrow.
We trust Kevin a lot, and we believe they will do well tomorrow, but it just depends on which Sunderland side turns up, as to how the result will go.
If it’s the meek and seemingly inexperienced Sunderland side that turned up the last time, it could well become another no contest.
And that’s an outcome Sunderland fans will be having nightmares about right now – and even more so if Sunderland are beaten once again tomorrow.
Why does that sound so good?
But Sunderland also had a poor time of it last Saturday, when they were beaten 3-1 at home by Notts County in the FA Cup.
So both North East sides are trying to recover from their ignominious defeats of last week, and if Sunderland go down again to Newcastle, it will have been a great season back in the PL for the all conquering Magpies – to be sure.
The Sunderland players and manager Steve Bruce – born and bred in Newcastle with his family all Newcastle supporters – – will no doubt be trying so very hard not to let that happen again.
It may be strange, but we see the keys of the game tomorrow, being the experience and maturity of the senior players in the Newcastle team – Nolan, Barton, Harper, Ameobi, Coloccini and Enrique are the players we see as key in this game.
And if these players can use their vast experience, and get the Newcastle lads plying well together, and not be over-awed by the occasion, which last time Sunderland were and Newcastle were not – then indeed it could be a second successive win for the Newcastle side.
In the last game Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole – at 22 years old – was just too young and inexperienced to captain the Sunderland team in such a massive game, and Lee even lost his head in the second half and had to be replaced by Steve Bruce.
Bruce was left with no option, as he replaced him before the referee sent him off with a second yellow card, or even a straight red card.
Lee was making wild tackles and arguing with Newcastle players – a clear sign of his inexperience and despair at the time.
Lee is a doubt for tomorrow’s game, but from Newcastle’s perspective we hope the former Middlesbrough man starts the game, because while he’s a gifted player, he lacks speed, which is one reason he has to commit so many fouls – as players get past him.
Newcastle have Andy Carroll out through injury, and Cheick Tiote also out through suspension, but we still think Alan Pardew will line up in a 4-4-2 formation and attack Sunderland from the start – because their strength is not in their defense.
It looks like Steven Taylor will not be fit from his hamstring problems, but that Enrique, Ameobi and Gutierrez are all fit to play, having all missed the game last week.
This is the side we expect Alan to start tomorrow:
Simpson Coloccini Williamson Enrique
Barton Smith Nolan (c) Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Perch Guthrie Gosling Best Ranger Routledge
This is the biggest game left this season, and always massive for both clubs.
But it is also a massive game for Alan Pardew too, as he tries to get past the ignominy of Newcastle’s embarrassing defeat last week, which was news around the world – and unfortunately the top news coming out of the FA Cup last weekend.
Another defeat would hardly be good, but another win and Alan will have secured 4 wins in the first 6 league games, and of course the FA Cup was never a real priority this season – was it?
A win for Newcastle, which we think is more likely than not, would be a great boost for the Newcastle side and the Newcastle supporters, at a time when we really need it.
And it would be Newcastle’s second double of the season, and take the lads to a fantastic 31 points in the league – just 3 short of our relegation total, and still 16 games to play.
A win tomorrow for Newcatsle and it will initiate huge celebration on Tyneside- and that’s what we are hoping for – big time!
Howay The Lads!!
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