Next up is a long midweek trip North to take on Newcastle United so TEB had a chat with the guys at NUFC FANS FOOD BANK to get their view on the season so far, thoughts ahead of the game and much more.
Q. What did you make of the game between the two sides at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
It was an excellent away win with Callum Wilson and Joelinton starring up front and scoring the goals. We are always better when JonJo Shelvey is pulling the strings and we deserved the points.
Q. How is this campaign been for Newcastle so far?
It has been in three distinct parts really. We started well beating West Ham away and winning four and drawing two of the first ten League games winning fourteen points out of thirty and reaching the League Cup quarter-finals. Then the Covid outbreak struck the camp and the injuries and fatigue issues precipitated a dreadful spell where we crashed out of the cup and only managed five points out of the next ten games yet hopefully Saturday’s win was the turning of the corner to brighter times and our true quality.
Q. It is hard to disguise the struggles under Steve Bruce and even though the media seem to love him, are his days numbered at St James’ Park?
No, I don’t think so. Bruce has got the backing of Mike Ashley and the St James’ Park hierarchy, who understand fully the Covid-related reasons behind the recent bad run and stuck by him allowing him to bring Graeme Jones in as his number two to boost his staff after one of his main coaches suffered with Covid and the others father, Ray Clemence, died so they’re supporting him through it all. Like Pardew before him, he’s up against it in terms of popularity but results will keep him in it.
Q. Can fans see a future beyond Mike Ashley at the moment what with the high profile failure of new owners coming in earlier in the season?
Yes, the club needs a takeover and injection of money to fulfil the potential it showed under Sir John Hall and Kevin Keegan in the ninties and Freddy Shepherd and Sir Bobby Robson in the 2000s. Mike Ashley actively wants to sell the club now and hope is growing again on Tyneside that the original Saudi PIF-backed takeover could be back on in the near future with the clubs court case against the Premier League’s blocking of it going ahead. Yet the worry is if there is Government-level opposition to it and the world judging by last summer, it’s still a case of believing it when it happens after so many disappointments in the past. The other group that are being linked with buying us are RedBall Acquisition Corp with Richard Scudamore and Billy Beane involved which would be an exciting development as well.
Q. How was your business in the January transfer window and do you have needs that have not been addressed?
I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon so there has not been much yet except speculation about the arrival of an all-action midfielder like Hamza Choudhury from Leicester or Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham which would give us the extra power and dynamism Bruce has felt for a long time we need in midfield. We have also been linked with Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles who I would take for his versatility. Another goal-scoring striker never goes amiss yet as long as Wilson is fit we will be okay. I was impressed with Palace’s capture of Mateta and I’m a big fan of Eze, both of whom I’d have loved to have seen arrive at Newcastle in the last two windows.
Q. Who has been the stand out player for Newcastle so far this season?
Callum Wilson without a doubt, ten Premier League goals so far speaks for itself and as Match of the Day pointed out, he’s played a part in 67% of our goals this season and at his best, he leads the team from the front exceptionally well like he did at Everton and now his partner in crime Ryan Fraser is getting back to fitness, it bodes well for Newcastle.
Q. What do you make of Palace this season?
It seems a mixed bag from outside looking in from great wins like that one at Old Trafford at the start of the season to the 7-0 loss against Liverpool. There have been ups and downs along the way without a great deal of consistency despite a lot of good players like Zaha, Eze, Townsend and Batshuayi. It’s a strange season with games so regularly and in empty stadiums so loathe to judge too harshly.
Q. It has been a tough time for everyone but football fans and clubs have certainly played their part during the pandemic and pulled together which has been particularly pleasing, right?
Absolutely! The NUFC Fans Food Bank is going strong throughout the pandemic due to typical Geordie spirit more than making up for the lost matchday Food Banks outside the ground. The stand-out event was the Charity Not PayPerView movement which originated from Newcastle fan, @ToonPolls. We were heavily involved in making it happen on a national scale uniting fans against it from every Premier League club through social media and the Fans Supporting Food Bank network which resulted in PPV being scrapped, showing the power of football fans together.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
Allan Saint-Maximum is due a big contribution with every game he plays and we will have to watch Mateta if he plays. He is an an unknown quantity in the Premier League although Newcastle had scouted him.
Q. …and finallly, your all important prediction?
A 2-0 win for Newcastle – we have turned the corner at just the wrong time for you.