Manchester United take on Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day
Manchester United take on Newcastle United in the boxing day fixture, with the home side looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford last December.
1) What have you made of Newcastle’s season so far at the halfway stage?
It’s been down, up and now down again. We started off badly with no wins in our first seven league games, and then we had 6 wins on the trot recently, including a win at the Etihad Stadium for the first time ever – but now we have lost three in a row. That includes being beaten last Sunday and it’s the first time ever – in 116 years of the Newcastle Sunderland derby – that we have lost four times on the trot to the Black Cats.
Injuries have been a big problem and we’ve been top of the injury league almost all season – at the moment we have 10 players out injured. It’s hard to know how we’ll do the rest of the season but we should do quite well when out big players return – like Siem de Jong, Tim Krul, Davide Santon and others.
2) Is Alan Pardew the right man for the job and what did you make of theill feeling towards him at the start of the season?
We had a terrible second half of last season and therefore we needed to get a good start this season – but we didn’t – and after seven games without a win there were big calls for Alan to resign and for Mike Ashley
to fire him. And then we win 6 games on the trot – but now we have lost the last three games.
With Alan Pardew it’s up and down and like being on a roller-coaster – and when it’s up it’s great – when it’s down it’s terrible. I don’t think he will be fired anytime soon.
3) Is there any chance that Newcastle will be battling relegation or are you confident you will finish mid-table or better?
We could have a bad time of it in the next four games until our best players return – but when everybody’s fit we have a very decent side – and we’ve had some good results – wins at Tottenham and Manchester City and we beat Chelsea.
It would be a surprise if we were in a relegation fight, but with Newcastle – anything is possible.
4) Ayoze Perez has hit the ground running – how good is he and how does he compare to previous Newcastle forwards?
He’s been a huge surprise on the positive side for us this season – and he was brought in to play in the Development squad. Ayoze has been great for us and as well as scoring four Premier League goals he works his socks off for the team.
It’s hard to compare him with other forwards right now – because he’s still improving – and one good thing about him is he listens closely to what Alan Pardew tells him – and he’s reaping the rewards – so are Newcastle.
He’s started the last 8 games or so. He’s also a great lad and Alan Pardew compared him on Tuesday to Wayne
Rooney – he’s more of a forward than a natural goal scorer – but for £1.4M – he’s already a great buy for us.
5) Newcastle have lost the last three matches following the great win over
Chelsea at the start of December – what has happened over the past few
We are short of players – mainly though injury but there have also been too many suspensions.
when we lost at Tottenham in the Capital One Cup six of our bench of seven had an average age of only 18 – and four of them had never played for the first team.
Jak Alnwick is the third choice goalkeeper, and had never played for the first team when he came on in the second half against Chelsea – we currently have 10 players from the first team squad out injured.
We’ve also picked up too many injuries in training – Pardew really needs to cut out that combat training (laugh).
6) What have you made of United this season and what do you make of claim
that the club can still challenge for the title?
I like Louis van Gaal and I love listening to his press conferences – and I give a pretty good mimic of his accent.
He’s a great coach – undoubtedly one of the best in the world – and he has an ego to match – but that’s OK – he may be as good as he thinks. And although Manchester United haven’t been playing well, they have still won six and drawn one of their last seven league games.
I don’t think you can win the title this season, but top four should be possible. Maybe next season for the title – and it will be some competition between Chelsea and United at that time.
7) Do you think Louis van Gaal was a better choice of manager than David
Moyes? Do you think you will be able to replicate the 1-0 victory from
Yes, because Louis has the experience of managing big clubs, and he has a huge ego too – so the job is not too much for him. I feel sorry a bit for David Moyes because it was very difficult for him – but he will be a better manager for the experience.
When Alan Pardew was having trouble early in the season I would have been happy enough to have David Moyes brought in as the Newcastle manager.
8) David Ginola, Peter Beardsley or Les Ferdinand – which one of the three would you take and drop into the present team and why?
Peter Beardsley – because he could score goals and make goals too – and he’s also a local lad.
There’s three good reasons right there – and Peter is now our Development Manager at the club.
He was one of the best local players we’ve produced at Newcastle.
9) Which United player do you fear most in the current squad and which
player couldn’t you stand through the Fergie years?
I’ve become a great admirer recently of Wayne Rooney because he’s such a great all round player – and he’s playing well this season – and seems to love being coached by van Gaal..
It’s good he’s the captain and he could grow as a player and as a person in the job – much like David Beckham did as he gets older – but he still loses his cool at times.
He gets so much criticism from the press – but that’s probably because he’s so good – if anything Wayne may even be under-rated as a player.
From the Fergie years Eric Cantona – because of his huge ego – although he was obviously a very good player.