100213111317In advance of Thursday night’s Europa League clash with FC Metalist Kharkiv, Alan Pardew has confirmed he will be “picking a strong side”.

Exactly who will be in that strong side is another matter and whether the fans will agree it is a strong starting eleven is another matter.

It would be great to see the manager throwing everything at our Ukrainian opponent on Thursday with ten days until our next league match following that home leg. With the away leg it may be a different matter but first things first.

This is what Alan Pardew had to say today;

“I will be picking a strong side for Thursday, the new lads who arrived last month give us greater depth.

It is a competition we would all love to win, it is difficult to get through the group stage so we don’t want that hard work to all be for nothing!”.

On Sunday I wrote an article  Likely Newcastle Line Up v Metalist In Europa League about the kind of side I expected Alan Pardew to put out and despite the quotes from Alan Pardew I still don’t think it will deviate much from the team shown on this graphic.

Pardew’s comments about the new players giving greater depth may suggest a debut for left-back Haidara and if that was the case then Santon may switch to the right even if Danny Simpson if passed fit for the match.

Alan Pardew is never going to say any of his squad players are weak but I definitely think most fans would judge a ‘strong side’ by how many changes we’ll see from the starting eleven that played against Tottenham.

Mapou and Tiote look sure to play and won’t weaken the side but more than one or two other unenforced changes and some fans will judge the manager harshly if the result goes the wrong way.

NUFC To Beat FC Metalist 23/20
NUFC To Win 2-0 11/1
NUFC To Win First Half 15/8

(Prices can fluctuate up and down)

Sign up to BetVictor and get a £25 free matched bet

Click here

Big Al 1967
Big Al 1967 5pts

Winning the European Cup does not make anyone a big club, end of.

Qwaszx123 5pts

People say Paul Merson is a big football pundit, I'm not convinced.

toonrobbybobson 5pts

Guy be lucky if hes still got two brain cells. Dont listen to anything he says hes an embarassment to Skysports yet they allow it. He was average player for Arsenal and a rubbish failed manager. Based on those sorts of things we will see them sticking John Carver on the panel. I never had much against Villa until they celebrated us going down. Karma is a funny thing! One thing Merson lets see how much backing Villas fans give them in Championship. I dont see them bouncing back thats for sure.

grantham mag
grantham mag 5pts

Paul Merson average pisshead in a good Arsenal side say no more.

Sickandtiredstill 5pts

Oi, Merson. Check your stats, statto! Largest historical attendance for Villa when he was there ('98 - '02) was 36,937. Only averaged 40,000 (and 29!) once since 1950 and that was 2008. But, let's not let facts stand in the way of an 'expert' football opinion, eh?

Jezza_NUFC 5pts

"When I played for Villa we got 40,000 every week.....Not any more....The team’s no good. The football’s no good. So the people aren’t going.”

THAT in a nutshell is precisely why Aston Villa will never be anything like as big a club as Newcastle United. We are equally as bad as Aston Villa in every respect (probably worse if you factor in our loathsome and deeply unpopular owner) but the difference is we are still getting the crowds. That is what makes us a far bigger club. It's not trophies that make a big club it's the ability to pull in, week after week, 50,000 people who have never seen their club win a trophy. 

Hez 5pts

Untwist your knickers, do you really care?

emphraser 5pts

A lot of Merson discussions on this site.

Odd, considering.

DownUnderMag 5pts

@emphraser mainly because he seems to be fixated on NUFC and trying to convince anyone who will listen that his beloved Villa are bigger and better in every respect...regardless of facts getting in the way.  I think it's fair for some fans to take offence at that and look to defend their own club...albeit I wouldn't take notice of what this moron says anymore than I would rush to the advice of Pinnochio, or any other bell-end on Sky - they steal money for being the most biased unproffessional bunch of knobs in the history of sports coverage (and that's saying something considering what i'm used to over here for the Aussie Rules). Seems that the US philosophy of presenting unbiased commentary and opinion is a foreign concept lost on these clowns!

GToon 5pts

They never got forty thousand every week, that's rubbish. Back in the early nineties (92 I think) and they were going for the title against Man U their gates were so low that Doug Ellis said he would contribute money to buy hospital beds if they got over 30 thousand. That's how bad their fans are. I've lived in the midlands for years and have had this discussion with my mate who has been a villa season ticket holder since the early seventies when they were in division three (don't think we've ever managed that one either Merson). We got all of the stats together and compared every average attendance between the two clubs and used that as a guide. Needless to say we are miles in front of them. My mate is the first to admit how poor their fans are unless there's a sniff of silverware. They are a club with history and a nice ground but apart from that not much else. The only thing I'd say in their defence is their fans are exactly the kind of people the sky tv premier league breeds. No loyalty, no connection and ultimately no real support.

Jezza_NUFC 5pts

@GToon Correct, Merson only thought they were getting 40,000 crowds at Villa Park because he was seeing double due to the effects of the booze.

Frazer Phipps-Clark
Frazer Phipps-Clark 5pts

They reached about 6 finals in 8 years from late 60's to mid 70's they were a huge club back then. They were the team to beat.

Steve Cross
Steve Cross 5pts

Good call on Prince William, he can be their next messiah on the banner, last day of the season! Nice call as he knows both Ant and Dec as well. Still have Cameron as a fan which vito's any credence that may have provided.

GToon 5pts

Can't decide what to have on my banner. It might just be "hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha."

Stephen Johnson
Stephen Johnson 5pts

Why are Leeds bigger??? That's got me totally confused...

GToon 5pts

Because the people on this site remember them from their childhood as being the team of the moment in the same way my dad used to go on about Preston, Blackpool and Huddersfield and Wolves etc etc.

Stephen Johnson
Stephen Johnson 5pts

Prince William big villa fan. The future king I'd say that's impressive. When have Newcastle won the European Cup?

jimblag 5pts

It's impressive because they have a fan that came out of a rich persons ball bag? Ok!!!?

juliotaylor 5pts

@gwatkins100 and what about the population size of Birmingham and surrounding areas by comparison to greater Newcastle? Perspective.

juliotaylor 5pts

@gwatkins100 in any case club "size" isn't just about attendance. Just ask Liverpool or Chelsea.

gwatkins100 5pts

@juliotaylor also population nearly 300k in 2011 in Newcastle. 3rd of the population in north east but 6 clubs here instead of 1

EastStander 5pts

So all banter aside, why were your fans so happy and obsessed with us going down. Never got it as there wasnt a huge rivalry or major niggles between the clubs. Seemed a very sad act

Steve Cross
Steve Cross 5pts

Ah, good point about Jasper. I can't even think of a famous Villa Fan apart from David Cameron, or does he support West Ham? Actually, as David Cameron is a complete prick he supports my point perfectly!

EastStander 5pts

Apparantly prince william supports them. He was told to show favour for an average uncontoversial boring bag of shite with a ground still set in the 70s with no atmosphere. He picked well.

Stephen Walton
Stephen Walton 5pts

Jasper Carrot is a Birmingham City fan...........

Kenny Trainer
Kenny Trainer 5pts

Villa are a small club in the midlands these days....that's why there so bad because they lack investment from there owner because he's not interested in them now

Peter Lamb
Peter Lamb 5pts

Define big. Just how "big" of an alcoholic was he?

jimblag 5pts

Yeah when he was playing for villa, finishing about 7th or 8th we were finishing in the champions league spots, he couldn't get a game for England but we had the highest achieving England captain since....Bobby was in charge.

TonnekToon 5pts

Sad tw@t , Spouts nothing but sh**e .

wor monga
wor monga 5pts

Who gives a sh!t…let’s make sure we do our best to help the club stay up…and they can be the biggest club ever to go down…who gives a sh!t about this nonsense anyway?

Brownale69 5pts

cant fathom his comment about Boro...thought they were on the up

Itsyourround 5pts

To be fair, measurement of a big club doesn't just go on how many fans attend this year. Villa have a hugely successful history, they're 5th in the all-time successful English clubs list and influential in the creation of the football league.

Similar to Newcastle, they've had plenty of top six finishes, although mainly in the 90's. And similar to Newcastle have suffered with poor ownership.

Also, how many teams are there in Newcastle? Villa have WBA and Blues within 4 miles of each other. That's a lot of spread for the potential fan base.

Leazes_62 5pts

@Itsyourround & how big is Brum? There are well over a million people in the Birmingham area alone, Newcastle has a population of around 300k, & we also have another premiership team less than 15 miles away with 40k + attendances

christopher87taylor 5pts

Last seasons average of Villa plus Birmingham City attendance was same as just Newcastle.

The one club city narrative is silly, Newcastle is a small place in a sparsely populated region unlike Midlands. Yes there is local competition but there are more people.

Steve Cross
Steve Cross 5pts

Who cares? The fact is we'll love it when they do go down! Who's their next messiah? Jasper Carrott? Where's the shop for banners again?

Itsyourround 5pts

Jasper's a City fan, hence the need for humour!