Gary Neville is generally seen as one of the best TV pundits.

Even Newcastle fans who generally hated him for the dirty twisty faced player that he was, concede that he talks a lot of sense these days.

Although Neville did get the blood pumping when going over the top about the way Rafa Benitez approached the Manchester City match, even though the tactics and team selection almost earned Newcastle a point.

Gary Neville has now also made himself a talking point where Newcastle United are concerned this coming weekend.

Making predictions for the FA Cup third round, Gary Neville has gone for:

Man City 2-1 Burnley

Newcastle 1-2 Luton

Watford 2-0 Bristol City

Wolves 3-2 Swansea

Bournemouth 2-1 Wigan

Fulham 1-1 Southampton

Whilst I did find Gary Neville irritating on the subject of the Man City match eight days ago, I don’t think any Newcastle fan should be getting uptight because he has tipped NUFC to lose on Saturday.

It may be Premier League against League Two but that hardly tells the full story.

Even Rafa Benitez has admitted that the FA Cup is an unwelcome distraction to the relegation struggle.

Rafa Benitez asked whether Luton in the FA Cup will be a ‘welcome distraction’ from the relegation battle:

“Not really.

“We have two or three injuries and maybe they will need (more) time…we don’t have too many players.”

The United boss is happy to say he will be making major changes to his team to face Luton. He made 10 changes when Newcastle lost to Forest in the League Cup in August, only Chancel Mbemba staying in the team.

He is never going to admit it but Rafa Benitez is hardly going to be upset if Newcastle lose on Saturday. The fourth round games fall on the weekend before Newcastle face a crucial Premier League match at home to Burnley on Wednesday 31 January.

At best, Newcastle will have a makeshift team out, who would be a lower half Championship side at best.

In contrast, Luton Town may be League Two but they are absolutely flying. Four points clear at the top of Kevin Nolan’s/Shola Ameobi’s Notts County and 11 points clear when it comes to automatic promotion.

They have scored only two goals less than Manchester City (though Luton have played four more matches), their 62 goals being 42 more than Newcastle have scored this season.

They are being backed by almost eight thousand travelling fans on Saturday and their impressive young manager Nathan Jones has just signed a new contract on Thursday morning.

As you can see by the bookies odds below, they don’t exactly see Newcastle as a certainty, yes they are odds on to win at 4/9 but at 11/2 Luton aren’t seen as no-hopers. When the teams are announced on Saturday I’m guessing those odds will shorten on an away success.

I don’t want to depress any Newcastle fan who is still dreaming of FA Cup success but with the cards Rafa Benitez has been dealt this season, this is not going to be our year!

Only 12 months ago Newcastle were stuffed 3-0 by League One Oxford United and these 10 previous years of Mike Ashley have seen Newcastle only win four FA Cup games.

Enjoy the game!

All 18 FA Cup matches played so far by Newcastle under Mike Ashley:

Oxford 3 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2017 (Fourth round!)

Newcastle 3 Birmingham 1 – 18 January 2017 (Third round replay)

Birmingham 1 Newcastle 1 – 7 January 2017

Watford 1 Newcastle 0 – 9 January 2016

Leicester 1 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2015

Newcastle 1 Cardiff 2 – 4 January 2014

Brighton 2 Newcastle 0 – 5 January 2013

Brighton 1 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2012 (Fourth Round)

Newcastle 2 Blackburn 1 – 7 January 2012

Stevenage 3 Newcastle 1 – 8 January 2011

West Brom 4 Newcastle 2 – 23 January 2010 (Fourth round)

Newcastle 3 Plymouth 0 – 13 January 2010 (Third round replay)

Plymouth 0 Newcastle 0 – 2 January 2010

Newcastle 0 Hull 1 – 13 January 2009 (Third round replay)

Hull 0 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2009

Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0 – 26 January 2008 (Fourth round)

Newcastle 4 Stoke 1 – 16 January 2008 (Third round replay)

Stoke 0 Newcastle 0 – 6 January 2008

Newcastle v Luton Match Betting:

NUFC win 4/9Draw 18/5  – Luton win 11/2

NUFC win 1-0 15/2Luton win 1-0 21/1

All Newcastle v Luton betting HERE

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  • Paul Patterson

    With the side I think Rafa will put out, we STILL should be good enough to beat Luton.

    • gallowgate26

      Exactly, he won’t risk Lascelles but no reason why the likes of Lejune, Saviet, Aarons shouldn’t play when they’re not getting enough games.

      • Mitros gotta start

        Of course there is….he is too stubborn to be proved wrong….aarons saivet mbemba and mitro will be nowhere near the team on saturday

  • Mitros gotta start

    Will Rafa the liar live up to his name….didnt he say he was gonna respect the cups and put out his best teams?

    • Scott wood

      I’d rather stay in the prem atm then be in the fa cup

    • East Durham Mag

      Bit harsh, “Rafa the liar” ? A cup run or Premiership survival? I would take the latter.

      • Mitros gotta start

        Rafa…..mitrovic has a back injury….wont be available untill january..
        Mitro….i have never felt better, i am ready to play.

        Rafa the liar

        • Paul Smith

          And you don’t even know the date of when Mitrovic actually sat down for that interview where he said said “never felt better” do you.. Neither do you know if he was being honest..

          This is the same Mitrovic that tried to claim he didn’t deserve to be sent off against West Ham earlier in the season after elbowing Lanzini in the head..

          “It wasn’t even a foul in the game. I have three or four incidents like this every match, so I don’t understand it, I was really surprised.”

          If he can’t be honest with himself do you really believe he can be honest with someone else in an interview ?

      • Michael Lisle

        It should not be one or the other. We have been blackmailed into believing this for the last 10 years. A Cup win could bring some confidence/momentum and evn more important-some joy for long suffering home fans.

  • NUFCDan

    He won’t risk any first team players. He may not even risk backup players he may want to sell in January like Mitro, Saivet, Haidara, Mbemba. I can see a full team of U18s/reserves plus possibly Aarons and Dummett.

  • Leazes

    Pay your Taxes Michael Tabor.

  • Rich Lawson

    Apart from a blip against Port Vale,Luton are on fire with a huge away support behind them,put a weak team out against them and their locked on to win ? Do we really need 7 days rest for (most of) the 1st team before Swansea ? Ffs make a game of it,even for a ten quid ticket.

  • TheFatController

    It just shows the futility of punditry…

    ‘None of us have any idea what team Rafa will put out, it could be anything from the first team to the U23s, but whatever, Luton will win 2-1’

    If he’s asked, he has to give a prediction I suppose, but you lose credibility when making predictions with minimal data to base them on…

    • Rich Lawson

      But they all do anyway for a handsome pay packet ! As you say it’s anybody’s guess but hope is what keeps us going.

      • TheFatController

        Yes, but it’ll probably surprise nobody if it’s a bit of each team – 4 first team, 4 fringe, 3 U23 or maybe more fringe and fewer first team…

        • Rich Lawson

          Well in truth it wont,but I’m old(sadly i am) fashioned and think the club owe it to the supporters and the prestige of the F.A.Cup to treat it with a bit more respect. (Mind you it’s not just us !)

  • TheNutJob

    we`re as good as out before the draws even made, Fatty probably has £20 grand on the opposition every year.

    • Rich Lawson

      To pay for whatever the daft bonus promise was if we win the Cup !

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    If Rafa does not take this seriously with nearly fifty thousand fans in the ground
    then there will be hell to pay. We need a good cup run to keep the season going.
    We should have enough to beat a fourth division team. Lose in the third round of the cup and for many fans it will be the final straw with Rafa. It is a week till the Swansea game so play a full strength the Geordies do not like going out the cup.

    • scotty63

      “for many fans it will be the final straw with Rafa” – for you and clarko maybe otherwise give your head a wee shake against a brick wall – it may not cure you but it will be a source of amusement for all those behind Rafa and the lads.

  • gallowgate26

    I have a good feeling about Saturday actually. I certainly think Neville’s predictions are all reasonable. But I feel that he’s wrong and we’ll win this round.

  • Leazes

    Don’t be suckered by this adformercial…. its an advertising click-bait.

    Boycott Betvictor