This week’s Opposition View comes from Dave (AKA ‘The Fish’) from Toontastic.net. Questions posed by Michael Steede.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley made a very controversial appointment for Director Of Football in Joe Kinnear. How do you feel about this and how it has apparently undermined Alan Pardew?
Livid. Ashley has employed a buffoon to act as a buffer between himself and Pardew/Carr. That’s fine in principle but when you take a moment to think of better candidates I’m sure you already have three in your head before I finish this answer. There’s also the (reasonable) belief that Kinnear will take over from Pardew whenever Pardew’s position is untenable.
Newcastle were quite inactive in the transfer market this summer, only signing Remy. What do you think of this and should Newcastle have added more signings in preparation for the coming season? Where do you think you needed strengthening?
Last season the management team admitted they’d made a mistake by not strengthening sufficiently in the summer, which they had to redress in January. They’ve not learnt from that error; a few injuries to key positions and we may well be facing another relegation fight. A good window would have seen us sign at least one striker, a right back and a centre half all to challenge for a first team spot. An “all right” window would have seen a striker and a back-up right back. We got nothing. One of the key problems with Newcastle United is our back-room staff. We need quality coaches to get the best out of players like Cabaye and Sissoko. Instead, we have a roster of ex-pros who’ve stumbled into coaching.
In the 2011/12 season Newcastle were the surprise package, playing some great football and finishing just 4 points off Champions League football. Why do you think the wheels fell off last season and who was to blame?
In short, we benefitted from a perfect storm in 2011/12. Liverpool and Chelsea both had poor league seasons, two of the promoted sides finished higher than expected, we managed to keep the same back five for loads of games and our strikers were on fire. It went wrong when we didn’t strengthen at all in the summer. If we’d bought Sissoko, Debuchy, Gouffran, Haidara in the summer and then a striker at Christmas we’d not only have avoided the relegation worry, we’d have properly challenged for the Europa League trophy.
How do you think you will do this season with regard to the final finishing position in the league?
This season? Well, if we strengthen at Christmas we’ll finish about 12th. If we don’t, 14th-17th. There are too many poor sides in the league this season – Stoke, Palace, Hull, Sunderland etc.
Regarding the Villa, what do you think of the “project” underway at Villa Park, with Paul Lambert’s policy of only buying young, hungry up-and-coming players instead of experienced pros?
It’s fine in principle; I think Lambert is a decent coach but I’ve no idea about your scouting. Benteke is a find (clearly) but bear in mind we bought young and hungry and they’re happy enough playing for you for a while but when the truly massive clubs come calling, don’t expect them to hang around for the project’s completion.
Villa managed to keep hold of our star player in Benteke and got him to sign a new four year deal after he (or his agent) submitted a transfer request. How good do you think he could become?
He’s big, powerful and quick, he’s got a good touch, a good finish and he’s good in the air. How good can he be? He could be great but he won’t achieve that level at Villa. No offence. He needs to be playing in the Champions League, alongside and against the best players in the world, instead of facing Curtis Davies on a rainy Wednesday at Hull.
What are your feelings about Aston Villa as a club and about its fan base?
As most have said, before that relegation game I didn’t really mind you lot. You’re less bitter than the Everton fans and more knowledgeable about football in general than the Tottenham fans. I’ve a mate who’s a Villa fan and he was apologetic on behalf of the fans who went OTT. I expected chants and a bit of banter but making the effort to prepare a banner? That’s just a bit weird if you ask me, a bit like the Mackems doing the Poznan at Manchester United when Manchester City won the league. I actually visited him recently and, when we were talking about the upcoming game, obviously that game cropped up. Some of his mates were actually proud of being the ones that relegated us, saying that we deserved it. When pressed, they couldn’t come up with any reason for the enmity beyond the Sky Sports clichés: deluded, shirtless, massive club etc.
Where do you think Villa will finish in the league this year and why?
Between 8th and 14th. It depends if Benteke stays fit as I’d worry where the goals were coming from without him.
Benteke aside, which Villa player would you like to sign for Newcaslte?
Weimann, I reckon, but, as I said above, I think our first team is better than yours.
Who do you feel will finish in the top 4 and bottom 3?
Top four will be the usual with Spurs instead of Arsenal. Bottom three will be Palace and Hull and then one from Sunderland, Stoke, Fulham, Cardiff and ourselves, probably Sunderland given Di Canio’s imminent implosion.
Finally, what is your match prediction?
You’ll set up to hit us on the break, we’ll set up for the draw. If Hatem Ben Arfa isolates Luna I’d expect him to cause the Spaniard problems. If Cisse finally remembers where he left his shooting boots, we could get a win. If not, I still fancy a draw.