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.”

  • Geordiegiants

    Can’t say I disagree with him on that one. I’d be surprised if we get a point.

  • 1957

    Merson might be an idiot but I don’t think he is that far off the mark, we haven’t attacked even the poorer teams in the league this season. We don’t have the players to attack from the off, we lack the technical ability and pace across the team to do that and they now aren’t restricted by the Mourinho factor. Be too open and they could take us apart.

    I think Benitez will as normal set up to be compact with only Rondon in an advanced position and look to get a goal on the break. If Jackie thinks otherwise she is more out of touch than Merson

    • Paul Patterson

      Agreed. This isn’t the same Man United side as a few weeks ago.
      Attacking them probably isn’t the wisest move..

  • KennySamsung

    We’ll beat them, I don’t care how we do it really. The beginning of our run up the league. They are confident but we have players that can confuse, frustrate and do the extraodinary 😁, ‘fighting under dogs’, harrassing, getting in their faces and ready for the kill.

    United 2-1 Manchester

    • Jezza

      I’d love to see United beat Manchester tomorrow but sadly can’t see it happening.

      • KennySamsung

        Agree .. I’m just trying to get my hangover apathy out of my system, however you never know. Ok we do know I suppose.
        I’m dreaming again.

        • Mr_Kinnear

          Keep up the good work😁😁😁

        • Wor Lass

          We’ll pager the Mancs!!

    • Gallowgate Dave

      Few Sherries last night was it? 😉

      • KennySamsung

        Whiskys, beer, wine you know the usual pleasantries and new year celebrations, plus being off work, helps to cloud your balanced thinking. I predict a win for the toon, all is set for the lads to listen and carry it out.

  • Paul Patterson

    I’d take a point now.

  • tom

    Not an unreasonable comment at all from merson. What does the author expect?

  • David2211

    Clueless, predicting we will lose, play defensively and if we open up we’ll get overrun.

    So he says exactly what everyone would agree with.

    These articles get worse.

  • Sumit Sengupta

    Sorry, not clueless but closer to reality.

  • Kenny

    Bunch of lowlife players who got their manager sacked, no matter what you think of your manager you play for the club & the fans,
    i doubt we can get a result with the squad we have but me, i`d go out and kick the schitt out of them,.

    • Paul Patterson

      Pogba should be ashamed of his £300k a week self.
      However we’ve got bigger problems than Man United..

      • Kenny

        We have 1 problem. King Rat

  • steve

    We played with 10 behind the ball against Fulham, the worst defence in the league bar none, why does the author think it will be different against a team which is scoring for fun.

    • Kneebotherm8

      We played with 10 men behind the ball?……….looked more like Fulham playing with 10 men behind the ball to me….

      • Mr_Kinnear

        Both seemed like 10 men behind the ball. Not one of the classic games.

  • Pezza

    I think I’d bet that we play deep and stay in the game, Merson pay have a touch more experience than Jackie Smithfield here.

    We went out on the front foot for 15 mins against Mouriniho’s team because Rafa knew what Jose would do (expected us to do) and wrongfooted him. OGS will play it all simple and attack, Rafa will want us in the game with an hour gone.

    • Ram Kishore

      You are right. i dont really understand why Mag writers constantly slag off Merson, Owen and others yet keep writing articles about their predictions. If Mag writers believe he’s so ‘clueless’, then why bother

      • Toon

        Click bait, easy articles, problem is it devalues the site but they don’t seem care about this fact

  • Mr_Kinnear

    Jackie did you actually watch the Fulham game? 5 at the back, at home against the bottom club without any clean sheets. Sorry but I see the moronic merson behind spot on. Man Utd are on a roll.

    • porciestreet

      Rollin uphill the morra…!

  • porciestreet

    Speaks he whose brains are in the bottom of a glass.


  • Toon

    Rather large arrogance from Jackie Smithfield, from her articles I doubt she knows your a#se from her elbow, Merson seems spot on with this and I’ll take his views over yours

  • Tomb

    that is how rafa sets up the majority of the time against the big sides though

  • Tomb

    Chelsea at home we were embarrassingly negative