Paul Merson has once again given us his expert opinion.
Talking ahead of Wednesday night at St James Park, Merson once more shows that he obviously does zero preparation for his job.
Forecasting how Rafa Benitez will approach the game, Paul Merson declares ‘Newcastle will put 10 behind the ball, it’s as simple as that, they’ll try to play for a 0-0 and a set play.’
I can pretty much guarantee that is not what the Newcastle boss will do, based on everything we have seen before.
Yes it won’t be a case of a vibrant all attacking Newcastle United, because we don’t have the players to do that, BUT it will not be the all out defence Paul Merson stupidly predicts.
Where is the evidence for that?
Yes against the very best, the likes of Man City and Liverpool, at times Rafa Benitez has had little choice but to stay very deep. Often the opposition giving little choice anyway during these matches.
But Manchester United? Yes they have some good players but what would be the point of just trying to defend against them?
Only four teams have scored more than Man Utd this season but only one club outside the bottom five have conceded more than them.
Everything points to your best chance against them to be scoring goals, not banking on a clean sheet. Even in this opening three game winning run, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen is team concede in every match.
Rafa Benitez has played Manchester United three times now as manager of Newcastle United.
In all three games he has sent his team out to attack Man Utd, obviously believing that you can get goals against them and it would be foolish just to sit back and try to defend.
At Old Trafford in October, Newcastle attacked from the first whistle and were two up in no time and could and should have been four or five in front with clear chances and the penalty shocker that wasn’t given.
In February, Newcastle pressed high from the start, were the better team and won 1-0. What’s more, they had been so dominant that Mourinho subbed all three of his central midfielders.
Then at Old Trafford last season, once again Rafa saw the value of attacking/pressing from the off, Dwight Gayle giving Newcastle the lead and the Magpies should have doubled that lead, only to then throw it away with some poor defensive mistakes in the absence of Jamaal Lascelles.
All three games Rafa Benitez had his team looking to get the first goal and they did in all three matches, Wednesday is another one where he won’t just have his team sit back.
I’m guessing Rafa will welcome this more attacking Man Utd team under Solskjaer as it will suit his players on the counter-attack.
Obviously if the visitors play to their very best then it will be a tough game but Newcastle deserved to win in February and also deserved at least a point if not all three in October. Just as in those two games, Rafa will need big performances from the likes of Diame and Shelvey in the middle of the pitch, if he gets that then who knows…?
Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:
“We’re watching Manchester United again.
“I don’t think they were that fussed before.
“To turn it on like they do now, Paul Pogba’s scoring goals in the six-yard box – I’ve not seen him in there since the start of the season.
“Is the manager saying don’t do that? Jose Mourinho’s one of the best managers in the world, surely you don’t tell a player not to play.
“They’ve got freedom, Nemanja Matic has passed the ball forward more times in the last three games than I’ve seen him do even when he was at Chelsea.
“Everyone’s willing to make runs without the ball and it’s refreshing.
“Newcastle will put 10 behind the ball, it’s as simple as that, they’ll try to play for a 0-0 and a set play.
“If they open the game up, I dread to think what the score will be.
“Bournemouth played high against United, but Cardiff sat back and they still played great football – they’ve got runners and when you do that, it’s a threat and they’ve got major pace.
“Prediction is Newcastle United 1 Man Utd 3.”