‘Something needs to give and this should be the Newcastle United team to face Manchester City’
It is always difficult to pick the Newcastle United team when it’s up against a side that is infinitely better than us, the opposition obviously having so much class across the pitch.
This Newcastle side has the basis of a decent team, a little bit of something here and there, but with a forward line woefully short on Premier League quality.
To set the side up to attack from the outset would be very foolish and it could easily end up being picked off at will by Manchester City’s quality.
In the early stages of last season’s excellent 2-1 win at St James Park, I got that sinking feeling when Sergio Aguero scored after just a minute and settled in for what I was expecting to be a long night with a pasting at the forefront of my mind.
However, I shouldn’t have worried.
The one hallmark of a Rafa Benitez team is that it simply will not roll over and be easily beaten. It would work hard and stay within touching distance during the game. The side this season isn’t as defensively sound and you get the feeling that if City score first, the game will be as good as done for the team in black and white.
It’s plain to see the team selections that Steve Bruce has been deploying thus far this season are not working. Maybe the defence can get by if the attack did its job properly and took the weight off the back line and goalkeeper for longer periods during a match. It’s certainly not a bad defence and doesn’t become one simply because Benitez leaves. That said, if Bruce is going to continue with the status quo up front then we will be in for a long afternoon on Tyneside today.
The triumvirate of Joelinton, Almiron and Saint Maximin is not working and to persist with it much longer would be utter madness. Something needs to give and the one player I feel needs to make way today probably won’t prove a popular choice among fans.
That player should be Saint Maximin and I’ll tell you for why.
Personally, I think he’s been our most potent attacking player so far this season and it would certainly be hard on him if dropped like I suggest, but he’s a winger, and I can’t see for the life of me why you would play wingers today, certainly not from the start.
Newcastle are best off setting up with a back five. A 4-4-2 simply leaves us too open and we will be cut apart at will by Guardiola’s lot if we play like that.
Up front it’s definitely time for a change and to get more from the attacking side of the team, we should be introducing another forward to help Joelinton out.
Whilst not a good Premier League striker I feel Dwight Gayle should be tried and ALONGSIDE Joelinton, rather than instead of. We will be sitting in and defending most of the game so Joelinton will no doubt be dropping back anyway with Gayle buzzing around up top, likely feeding off scraps and hoping to use his pace if a chance should arise.
Miguel Almiron stays in the team for me by default rather than on merit, as he’s simply the only real number 10 that we have, with nobody else good enough to replace him. Ideally I would have liked to drop him rather than Maximin but for the reasons I’ve already stated, he stays for me.
Further back in midfield, Jonjo Shelvey has shown nothing new to me to give the impression that he’s any more than a pedestrian midfielder and one that really shouldn’t be in the team. Ideally, I would like to see BOTH Longstaff brothers start together but feel we need the tenacity of Isaac Hayden to help out in the centre.
So with that in mind, below is how I feel we should line up at 12:30 this chilly Saturday afternoon.
Do I think Steve Bruce will go this way?
Unlikely, but to persist with what isn’t working is madness.
Let’s hope whatever team Bruce does pick can spring as big a surprise as last season.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]