St James’ Park

Sunday 27th October’19

2pm. Live on SKY Sports.

Sunday sees yet another trial by television, as Portuguese jumpy-jack, Nuno Santos brings his Wolverhampton Wanderers side to Town.

Our visitors suffered a poor start to the season, finding themselves rubbing shoulders with us in the bottom three after a few games. However, in recent weeks they’ve steadied the ship with wins at home to beleaguered Watford and more notably, at the Mancunian Death Star where they amazingly defeated City by two goals to nil. Their last outing only saw them stutter to a score draw with Southampton at Molinuex, where they were reliant on a Jimenez penalty to get them out the clarts. It’s felt in the Black Country that they are still well below their ‘18/‘19 best, with the amount of goals they’re shipping a real concern.

A reason for the slow start is also probably linked with their UEFA League campaign. They’ve already played eight matches in the Competition and a definite plus point for Steve Bruce is that they also have a 2,000 mile round trip to Slovakia on Thursday, as they take on group topping Slovan Bratislava.

Those of you with long(ish) memories will recall how such jaunts into Europe hampered Pardiola’s Newcastle side in 2012/13. We struggled with the Thursday / Sunday match routine back then, too. I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t an issue we’ll have to ponder any time soon, mind.

It’s a case of “Hello darkness, my old friend…” as Newcastle go into this one back in the relegation zone. Last time out, we attempted to ‘park the bus’ at Stamford Bridge, but unfortunately (and predictably) suffered late heartbreak as the handsome ex mackem road killer, Alonso finally broke our resistance. It’s not an embarrassment to lose by the odd goal away v a talented Chelsea side, but it once more highlighted our toothless travails up top. Kepa, the home custodian was a spectator for the duration of 90 plus minutes.

Joelinton is now looking a forlorn figure and the industrious Almiron has provided nothing tangible thus far. It’s a real problem. We have only scored five goals in the Premiership, and this is a feat only matched by the currently doomed looking Watford. If it doesn’t change, we’ll be goners.

What can our manager do? Well, I reckon he could think about taking our Brazilian out of the (non) firing line. I’d start with AC instead. He, at least can hold the ball up and give the opposition something to think about. And what of Dwight Gayle? If he’s too pissed off to play, surely he has to be peddled (& replaced, Michael) in January?

As usual, a United fixture is difficult to predict. Wolves howked us 4-0 a short few months ago in the Asia Trophy, but are showing signs of travel fatigue, with ‘hit & miss’ Premiership form. We’re looking more compact and organised but appear to be reliant on the odd goal coming from midfield or defence. That’s never going to be enough.

I, therefore think the most likely outcome is a low scoring draw and a plethora of empty, grey pews. For an absolute ‘must win’ game, neither are particularly welcome, I’m sorry to say….

Nick Clark