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Paul Merson makes Newcastle United confession as set to face Manchester City

2 weeks ago
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Paul Merson has been discussing Newcastle United ahead of the upcoming weekend action.

Eddie Howe and his players travel to the Etihad on Sunday, for a second weekend in a row they face one of the two title challengers.

Liverpool dominated at St James Park but came away with only a 1-0 win, the scousers hoping NUFC can do them a favour as only one point separates the top two with four games each to play.

That defeat last Saturday was the first Premier League loss at St James Park since…losing to Manchester City on 19 December 2019. It also brought to an end a run of six home wins in a row for Eddie Howe’s side.

Since that defeat to Man City five months ago, in 18 matches (all competitions) only once have Newcastle conceded more than one goal (5-1 at Spurs).

When you then factor in the fact that only Liverpool and Manchester City have accumulated more Premier League points in 2022 than NUFC, it is the cherry on the top of a lot of icing, that icing provided by a run of 10 wins (and only three defeats, one draw) in a run of 14 Premier League matches that have taken Newcastle United to safety.

No wonder Paul Merson now has to confess ‘Newcastle are a good team…’

Although, what he should be saying is ‘ Newcastle are a good team…thanks to Eddie Howe’

If ever you needed evidence of what influence a good (and bad…) manager / head coach can have, Newcastle United are a classic case.

At the end of October 2021, after the Newcastle United takeover and Steve Bruce sacking, Paul Merson had this to say after a 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea, just over a week before Eddie Howe took over:

“I worry for Newcastle United. They don’t have a manager, they’re in a relegation battle, and I don’t know what’s going on.

“It’s all right to come in with all this money but you need to have a plan. They’ve sacked Steve Bruce and they’re going into tough Premier League games without a manager.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing at the moment.

“Newcastle United are an absolute disaster at the moment.”

Well, ‘an absolute disaster’ would pretty much cover Steve Bruce and I think for sure, if he was still here, Newcastle United would have been already relegated weeks ago.

No surprise that Paul Merson talks mainly about the home team in his pre-match analysis as they have had an ‘interesting’ week, however, whilst I think I can’t disagree with his predicted result when Paul Merson adds ‘Manchester City will still win because they are the better team overall,’ at least now Newcastle have a head coach with a plan and who the players have absolute confidence in.

Merson predicts a 2-0 home win and that would make it 13 Premier League home wins in a row for Man City over Newcastle United.

Realistically, I think anything better than a two goal defeat would be a moral victory for Eddie Howe and equal further progress in the longer-term turn around, especially seen as Man City have won 20 of their last 24 Premier League matches and lost only one. Whilst Guardiola’s side have scored 32 goals in their last nine home PL matches.

We know Newcastle United aren’t the finished article yet but as Paul Merson confesses, NUFC are now a ‘good’ team under Eddie Howe and that is a massive improvement on the shambles he inherited only six months ago.

Paul Merson speaking to Sportskeeda:

“Manchester City will be absolutely devastated after the Real Madrid game as they were literally four minutes away from a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

“You can sing Pep Guardiola’s praises all you want, but I felt he ran out of ideas and his game management was atrocious.

“Last year in the final against Chelsea, he changed his team around and it backfired, so there’s got to be serious question marks over him.

“Real Madrid had three chances to score and took them all, but what I’m trying to say is that other teams get these opportunities too.

“It just boils down to the fact that they aren’t good enough to finish these chances, so City are by no means unbeatable.

“As I mentioned a few times in my other columns, I don’t really like the fact that they deploy a false 9. Phil Foden played there and looked a bit lost against Real Madrid – I don’t believe that’s the way to go against a big team. It’s alright when you play against the likes of Norwich and wipe the floor with them, but they need a #9.

“Erling Haaland has been linked with a move to Manchester City. I haven’t seen as much of him as I’d like, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out.

“I’d personally rather have Harry Kane as you’d be signing someone who guarantees you 30 goals in a Premier League season.

“Newcastle are a good team, but Manchester City will still win because they are the better team overall.

“That said, this is definitely one to keep an eye on as I’m not sure how much the UCL loss will affect them.

“Finally, on Pep Guardiola, winning the league should be a given for them considering how much money Manchester City have spent.

“They should have won the UCL as well this season, but they haven’t been able to make that step. Guardiola hasn’t won it without Lionel Messi in his team and City will have to wait at least another year to reach the promised land.

“Prediction is Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 0.”

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