Newcastle fans are looking for some light relief from the Premier League woes, when the team take on Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup.
Wednesday’s match sees United take on a mid-table Championship outfit, after comfortably beating League Two Northampton in round three.
Newcastle should be capable of progressing to round four, especially on home turf, but Saturday brought a triple warning against any complacency.
Whilst United’s defeat against Watford wasn’t down to headed goals, the defence was bossed all game in the air by the visitors, especially striker Troy Deeney.
Previously this season, Newcastle have had numerous problems dealing with crosses, conceding goals and never looking comfortable.
Meanwhile, down the road at Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday eventually emerged victorious 3-2 against Fulham in their Championship game at the weekend.
However, the visitors’ manager Kit Symons posted this warning ahead of our League Cup match:
“Poor defending from set-pieces and balls into our box cost us very dearly. That side of our game wasn’t good enough.”
All three Wednesday goals were headers, all three delivered by former Sunderland winger, 30 year old Ross Wallace.
Whilst I do think Steve McClaren has created a number of the difficulties Newcastle have experienced so far, he is in an impossible position on Wednesday.
With injuries and a below strength squad once again showing through, just what team can he pick with Chelsea at home in mind only three days later?
In terms of dealing with the ball in the air, it looks as though Mike Williamson is guaranteed to start the game, which should help – even though the centre-back is nowhere near as commanding as his height should ensure.
A big week ahead and two more massive home matches for Steve McClaren, two very different challenges.
The demolition of Northampton was sandwiched in between the two best performances of the season against Manchester United and Arsenal, let’s hope a decent show and win against Sheffield Wednesday can get the heads of the players in the right place before Jose Mourinho and his players arrive in town.