Steve Stone was one half of the dynamic duo who almost got Newcastle relegated in 2015.
After Alan Pardew walked out halfway through the season, only two wins in 18 matches, including a club record eight Premier League defeats in a row, left NUFC going into the final game against West Ham on the brink of relegation.
A Jonas Gutierrez inspired win saw Newcastle and John Carver & Steve Stone survive, only for the pair to be relieved of their posts and another disastrous appointment to be made in the shape of Steve McClaren.
Steve Stone was a childhood Newcastle fan but introducing an interview with him, they have also credited the former NUFC coach with a playing career at the club…
‘Former Leeds and Newcastle winger Steve Stone fancies the Whites to beat the Magpies on their home turf this evening.Here he explains how he thinks Garry Monk’s play-off chasers can do it.’
A bit of a shame that he didn’t actually play for Newcastle rather than coach, as he was a very good top tier player and made nine England appearances on the back of that.
Playing for Leeds as his final club before retirement, Steve Stone has a foot in both camps, so wants the two to be promoted.
As for tonight’s game, Steve Stone says ‘I make Leeds favourites tonight, I really do’, pointing to what he believes will be a nervous Newcastle United.
The former coach believes that ‘even the most die-hard Newcastle fan would admit that this season has been hard work’.
Well at times it might have been but certainly not a patch on that second half of the 2014/15 season!!!
Steve Stone talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:
“They (Newcastle) have been efficient but they haven’t been great – that little bit of quality is seeing them through.
“They have been doing enough but even the most die-hard Newcastle fan would admit that this season’s been hard work.
“I have seen plenty of games where they’ve been second best but they’ve got the advantage of that extra quality which most teams don’t have.
“Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, they are all £10m players and the number of times those three have made the difference in games which could have gone either way, shows you what £10m players are worth in the Championship.
“That for me is one of the main reasons why Newcastle are where they are. You couldn’t say they’ve bulldozed the league.
“The one thing Leeds can’t afford to do is let Shelvey have his way, he will kill you if he gets the run of the midfield.
“I make Leeds favourites tonight, I really do.
“It sounds strange to say that about a game at St James Park but I’d say they’ve been less up-and-down recently. There’s probably more nervousness at Newcastle than you realise.
“I don’t sense any huge pressure on the players at Leeds, even though they’d expect to get into the play-offs now. The look like a strong, powerful unit who know exactly how they’re supposed to play.
“The teams who’ve done well at Newcastle this season have all come here to have a go. They’ve come to St James Park and been really positive.
“If you let Newcastle play their own game you’ll not see much of the ball and you’ll be dead on your feet after an hour. Then you get picked off by the quality up front. I’m sure Garry Monk will be well aware of that.”
“They (Leeds) don’t want to be gung-ho and they certainly don’t want an end-to-end game because that sort of situation plays into the hands of Newcastle’s best players – but you need to be aggressive and you need to press high up the pitch.
“Newcastle will try to retain the ball from the start. It’s what they always do under Benitez. They’ll keep possession quite happily if you let them and that can wear teams out.
“The teams who’ve done well against them have been good at limiting their space, forcing mistakes and then taking chances. At the same time, you have to accept that even playing well against Newcastle sometimes isn’t enough.
“You might be the better side but someone like Ritchie or Shelvey can come up with something from nothing. That’s why they cost what they cost.
“It’s a fascinating game and a huge game and I still think there’s time for the table to change. I don’t think either club should be feeling comfortable yet. You’ll see in the intensity of the game how hard they’re fighting.
“I’m one of a lot of people who wants both clubs to go up.
“My Newcastle links are obvious but in my career I felt genuine affinity for every club I played for. I think it comes naturally and I felt it at Leeds, despite the fact I had terrible injury problems there.
“It’s a cliché to say that both clubs deserve to be in the Premier League but it’s the only level where they can ever realise their potential. It’s there for them this season if they want it.”