As all of you know it’s derby day, which is obviously one of the biggest (if not the biggest) fixture in a Newcastle United fan’s calendar in terms of excitement, tension and nerves. As we head into this fixture, we find ourselves sitting in the top half of the table knowing that 3 points will set us up nicely for a period of difficult fixtures, while Sunderland are left languishing at the bottom of the table with a solitary point knowing that they desperately need at least something from this fixture to get their season going. Both teams – as always – will be desperate for the 3 points.
We all remember last season’s capitulation at St Jame’s Park at the hands of our bitter rivals and I am sure most of us want one thing from today, and that is for the lads to give every last ounce of effort and leave it out there on the field today. If they manage to do that, no matter how well Sunderland play, we will come out on top. As the old saying goes, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard and we need to make sure that our talented lads – Cabaye, Remy, Sissoko et al – give it all on the pitch because for too long last season, it was our big name players who shied away from responsibility. We need leaders today, people who are willing to step up and reclaim the dignity that we lost last season. They managed to do it to a large extent last weekend with an excellent performance against Liverpool despite going down to 10 men, so I would hope that they can manage it again today.
I must admit to being slightly more nervous than I should be. I mean, regardless of whether or not it’s a derby, we are a much better side than Sunderland. No question about it. Yet, I have a gnawing feeling that they can sneak something today, and as far as I am concerned, anything less than 3 points against a team so horrifically lacking in confidence will be a massive let down.
I’ve been an ardent critic of Pardew in the past, so much so that I no longer feel he is fit for purpose as Newcastle United manager, but I am willing to put up with him due to the fact that the much wider problem at Newcastle United is the owner, and Pardew is but a product of that problem. However, while his default setting seems to be a defensive minded one, he has shown himself in recent games to go out and have a go. Away wins to Villa and Cardiff seem to be propping us up in the table in comparison to our rather poor home form, so hopefully we can notch yet another impressive away performance that culminates in 3 points today.
Pardew and the players have a chance to make up for last season’s disappointing derby defeat. How will they respond to this challenge?
What do you think? Should we be beating Sunderland easily? Or does derby day rip up the form book? Should we go for guts over glory in team selection today? Is a point enough for you today? I’d love to hear your views.