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Newcastle v Man Utd: Preview

A familiar foe awaits us at St. James’ Park. The mad Geordies have done enough to get their manager, Sam Allardyce, sacked without giving him enough time. Their messiah, and said familiar foe, Kevin Keegan hasn’t exactly had the messianic influence the fans have come to expect from him. Give him more time is their call now, apparently. Oh the irony!

But despite their horrendous season and poor recent form, we would be well advised to go and do the job to keep the pressure on Arsenal and, of course, hope they drop points. Really, we have to be doing the job of winning every game from now on if we have to entertain hopes of retaining the title.

Scott on Republik of Mancunia has done a fine job tabulating SAF’s record against Kevin Keegan and it does make interesting reading. On that evidence, they’ve squared off on 17 occasions with us winning 8, drawing 5 and losing 4. So 9 games have been points dropped which isn’t very nice to hear before today’s game. And yes, you never know with these kind of games — the Magpies were absolutely shite before they held Arsenal to a draw. So there is a good chance that they will cling for dear life as they look to arrest the downward spiral their season seems to be taking.

And so, it is essential that we get off the blocks from the word go to settle the issue early in the game — which brings us to the topic of much debate, in recent times: the formation.

There has been lots of dissenting voices criticising Fergie’s soft spot for the club’s veteran players. That is even clear now that he’s made public, his intention to keep Neville, Scholes and Giggs well beyond their playing careers at the club. Now words can’t do justice to their contribution to the United cause, but from recent performances, Scholes and Giggs have been a little off pace. This has been clear from the introduction of younger replacements during the course of the game, who have shown to be more than capable of freshening things up and bailing the team out. We have seen the urgency Anderson injects into our game every time he steps on to the pitch, and we have seen Nani turn in some mature performances of late — although, admittedly, he needs to do it more often to prove that he’s actually improved.

So the happy headache of the midfield situation would continue to dog Ferguson, so long as all are fully fit.

Since I’ve thrown in a reasonably elaborate discussion on our formation problem I’ll leave the actual formation prediction part out to you to debate on. Although, I would play a 4-4-2 with Anderson and Hargreaves/Carrick in the middle with Tevez and Rooney resuming their strike partnership. I would still play Giggs on the left (Ronaldo on the right, in case you have any doubts) because I can always bring Nani on as an impact player if things don’t go right. I guess that’s what impact players are for, aren’t they? Giggs has to either start or sit on the bench, because with his form, at the moment, he surely can’t be an impact player, can he?

And yes, I would always link to an article involving Keegan talking about what ‘might have been’. It’s the usual stuff, some things delusional, some things that partly make sense, and some repentant. Oh well, that’s Kevin for you.

Anyway, that is a longish preview, I think. So let me end it off with a prediction: United 2-0 Toon.

Come on you reds!