Tonight’s match against Northampton Town offers a huge opportunity to those at the football club to honour their word in regards to a new attitude towards the cup competitions. In previous years we’ve seen capitulations against Stevenage, Brighton (X2) and Cardiff amongst others whilst the paying punters have had to witness line ups that included players patently not good enough to wear the black and white. We come into this game with an air of positivity, whilst it would be wise not to go overboard when talking of Saturday’s draw at Old Trafford given the oppositions 70% possession and us being under the cosh for most of the match; it was still a mature performance which could well be the making of this team. One thing that is for sure, had that been a Pardew or Carver team we’d have been on a damage limitation exercise by half time.
Tonights match also offers the chance to give minutes to players who’ve had little pre-season or first team action this season and also to players who you could consider to be unlucky not to have started more games at the preliminary stage of the league season. A positive is that all things considered our squad looks relatively strong at the moment although as we all know this can change quite rapidly with a couple of injuries. Ayoze Perez who I thought put in a really lively performance particularly in the first half on Saturday should be given the chance to kick on from that whilst I’m sure Aleksander Mitrovic will be chomping at the bit to fill his boots against lower league opposition. I would expect likes of Tiote, Aarons and de Jong to be in the frame given their lack of minutes of late and McClaren will surely be thinking of giving these players a start as a way of encouraging them to seize a first team shirt.
Florian Thauvin showed some bright touches during his cameo in the Manchester heat, including making mincemeat out of Luke Shaw in our own half; forcing the full back to haul him to the ground in retaliation. It will be interesting to see if we give the Frenchman a first start in this one. Thankfully the noises coming out of St. James’ Park suggest we will be taking this one seriously despite reports that Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini will sit this one out, I would expect the same of Wijnaldum considering he’s been a constant in the starting line up since arriving over a month ago. Meanwhile the line ups should give us a big indication as to the futures of Mike Williamson and Yoann Gouffran with a non-playing role surely meaning curtains for their Newcastle United careers.