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Opinion

Liverpool fan gives the ‘view from the other side’ on Newcastle United and tonight’s match

4 weeks ago
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For any Liverpool fan with their team seemingly on course for a second straight Premier League title, and United in a dreadful run of form that has put Steve Bruce under significant pressure, you could be forgiven for thinking tonight’s game is a foregone conclusion.

However, one party trick NUFC have produced on numerous occasions over the past few years, is an unexpected win when we really need it.

Remember, the supposed crisis before Rafa’s Mags defeated defending champions Man City in January 2019?

Remember, when Steve McClaren (I still can’t believe he actually managed us) was facing breaking point and managed to somehow beat Klopp’s Liverpool 2-0 at SJP?

Who knows, maybe Bruce can pull off a much needed miracle, or maybe I am clutching at historical straws.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to my good friend, born and bred Liverpool fan, and co-host of The Goat Podcast – Tom Beattie (On Twitter you can find Tom @ThomasRBeattie)

We chatted about both teams’ season so far, classic Liverpool-Newcastle affairs and what will happen on Wednesday night.

Here’s what he thinks ahead of the game.

Jack: What have you made of Liverpool’s season so far?

Tom: Mixed really. I think we fell afoul of the fixture congestion and have not always been at our best. There has been a lull after Champions League games for sure. I think since then we have had a couple of draws.

Since we got through that group, our domestic form has been as inconsistent as we have been in a long time. We have seen a real mix in performance levels for sure.

We are not quite at the level we were at last season. We have almost been dragged into the chasing pack.

I think that’s a good thing for the league and the neutral. It’s certainly a lot different from last year where we ran away with it.”

Jack: What have you made of Newcastle United’s season so far?

Tom: Been an interesting one for you hasn’t it?

Obviously, you never seemed convinced by Bruce when he went in and I think, last season he had what was essentially Rafa’s team, and that was a well put together team.

But your problems with Joelinton obviously don’t seem to be going away. You look better without him to me. Even though he has come in for big money, possibly you need an alternative quickly.

Your still a tricky side to face though, obviously Calum Wilson is making a difference as well. The other thing with you is you seem to constantly have false dawns.

Like the League Cup game I watched the other week – you had a favourable draw (Brentford away). I thought you should get to a semi-final there and you could have then beat anyone.

The chance of a final was there and they blew it with an awful performance. Those false dawns most be the most frustrating thing. It is even frustrating to watch as a neutral. I can understand the reaction after that game.

Jack: Favourite ‘Newcastle v Liverpool’ memory?

(*I should point out we are both just slightly too young to remember the classic 4-3 in April 1996, widely cited as the greatest Premier League game in history.)

Tom: It’s a good question that – I think the Suarez goal for me (in a 1-1 draw at Anfield in 2012). That goal is just phenomenal, when he chests down that 60 yard pass and rounds the goalkeeper. That was what Suarez was all about for us as well, sublime skill, getting goals out of nothing.

I think the 5-1 win as well, back when we had Rafa in charge and were going for the title (at St James Park 2008-09). Gerrard’s two free kicks were brilliant. I remember Lucas running the show. We looked like genuine title contenders that day.

Also the Divock Orgi header in the 3-2 win in 2019, which I believe kicked us on for the second leg against Barcelona later that week in the (Champions League) semi-final.

My first memory against Newcastle, we spoke about this before, is Michael Owen equalising against you on the last day of the season in 2003-04, I was there that day and remember that clearly. It was actually Owen’s last goal in a Liverpool shirt.

Jack: Yes, that game should have been essentially a Champions League play-off (with the winner finishing 4th) but we bottled a 2-0 lead against Southampton a few days before (only drawing) to hand you 4th spot before we even played that game. A sliding doors moment really, as you ended up winning the Champions League in Istanbul a year later.
How about your worse ‘Newcastle v Liverpool’ memory?

Tom: I think Andy Carroll starring for you in a 3-1 defeat, when Hodgson was struggling, that was a grim day, particularly bad.

That period towards the end of the Hodgson reign was difficult and you were building a decent side at that time. I know you got rid of Carroll (to Liverpool) not long after, but the signs were there that you were building a very good team, and we were being dragged down into mid-table. It was my worst time as a Liverpool fan that period.

Also, I always remember Laurent Robert having belter games against us.

I remember losing 1-0 in 2004-05, when that season we were great in Europe but inconsistent in the league, the league form was out the window. We played poorly and Robert stuck in a gem of a free-kick.

Jack: Best player to play for both clubs? Beardsley? Barnes? Gini Wijnaldum?

Tom: That is a good question.

For me Beardsley was special wasn’t he? In that mould of an iconic number 10. I think he was similar to Gazza in that he was a very different type of English player. A proper creator and playmaker, so he’d be up there for sure.

John Barnes was phenomenal, but obviously with both him and Ian Rush you didn’t see them anywhere near their peak.

Jack: Yeah, they were both on their last legs by the time they came to us.

Tom: But the one I am going to go for, I think, is Kevin Keegan. For most people from both clubs he is an iconic figure. Obviously, he was with us in ’77 for the first European Cup win and although Dalglish replaced him brilliantly, Keegan got the ball rolling for us. He is that talismanic figure. The player that everything went through.

KK would be in the top 10, top 5 of the all-time list, for both clubs, so I’ll go for Keegan.

Jack: Who has been Liverpool’s standout player so far this season?

Tom: I think in terms of consistency, Gini Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson in quite a difficult period really, have been great. We have had a lot of injuries and they have been great at just keeping the standard high.

Sometimes when you get injuries the standards drop, but those two have managed to keep everyone going. They also have helped out the younger players coming through.

Obviously the goals from Salah and Mane take the eye but I think those two have been superb. It’s hard to separate the pair.

Jack: Do you think Wijnaldum will sign a new contract at Anfield, or is his return to St James Park inevitable!?

Tom: I wouldn’t be happy if he left us!

He is one of my favourites for sure. I would argue he is one of the most underrated players in the entire division. He has improved every year under Klopp. He is 29 but we have just signed Thiago who is 29.

I think we should move heaven and earth to get him to sign. I couldn’t believe people were comparing him to Ozil (at Arsenal), they are two players who couldn’t be more different really.

He makes us tick. To lose him to another top European side would be really damaging. You only get a side this good once in a generation, so letting a player like him to go to a rival (for the European Cup) would be a huge problem.

Jack: What did you make of Andy Carroll’s time at the Reds?

Tom: It’s possibly a reflection of the age I was at. I found him a very frustrating player for us, going through a long goal drought. He never got going at all really.

Having said that, his winning goal against Everton in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final was huge.

Jack: I was going to say, his stock in Liverpool must still be high from that alone?

Tom: Yeah it was a really special memory actually that.

People forget, at that point, Everton were a better side than us and finished above us, so to beat them at Wembley was huge. A really great day for the club.

He has a special place for that goal, he is not quite a cult hero, but fondly remembered in a strange way, even though some would still call him a flop.

Jack: That is the odd thing about big Andy. Despite a decade of inconsistent form and injury problems, fans of every club he has been at, seem to hold genuine affection for him.

Tom: Yeah, I think that comes from him being a genuine lad who gives everything for the club.

He really wanted to make it work here, so it’s a shame we didn’t win the FA Cup that year. I will never forget that goal against the Blues.

Jack: Where will both Liverpool and Newcastle Utd finish in the league this season?

Tom: Even without my Liverpool hat on, I think we are still the best team, although injuries could cost us. I’ll still plump for first. Realistically I can only see injuries stopping us winning it.

Newcastle is a bit of an odd one to predict. I don’t see you getting dragged into a relegation battle, you have too much quality with the likes of Wilson, Saint-Maximin etc. So I don’t see you being threatened by relegation.

I think you will finish around where you are now, you’re better than the teams currently below you, maybe with the exception of Arsenal.

I will say 14th, although that might be a little low.

Jack: Yeah, I think I would agree with that.

We have certainly have had worse squads than this year, that have stayed up reasonably comfortably, albeit with better managers in charge.

Tom: Yeah maybe 14th is a bit safe, but there or thereabouts.

Jack: Most of our fans would probably agree with that I’d say. Finally mate, score prediction for tonight?

Tom: It’s never easy going up to Newcastle, even without a crowd we still might find it tricky, but I’m going 2-1 to the Reds – but we’ll only edge it, I reckon it will be a good game. I certainly think both teams will score.

Maybe without fans it could be a little easier than normal, but I don’t know, I think it will be a difficult game.

Jack: Depressingly, I think based on our recent performances, that wouldn’t be a bad scoreline for us. Cheers Tom!

Tom: Cheers!

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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