Newcastle prepare for a trip to Old Trafford on Saturday on the back of a meal with owner Mike Ashley on Wednesday evening.
During the meal, Ashley stated to the squad that he has no intentions of selling this season. The Newcastle owner also reiterated how important Rafael Benitez is to the club. However, in the words of club legend, Alan Shearer, “Copy and paste”. Ashley has said similar statements over the last few years, leading him to sound like a broken record. Having seen the last two games, maybe Ashley now realises how bad the situation is.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is under huge pressure heading into this game. This is a massive game for both sides, arguably bigger for Mourinho’s side, with the former Chelsea boss’ job reportedly on the line. If there was ever a good time to play Manchester United, it may just be now. Mourinho’s men drew 0-0 with Valencia in midweek, in a game where it was clear for all to see, a lot of the players are not playing for the manager.
Mourinho’s rift with Paul Pogba has undoubtedly disrupted the rest of the side. It remains to be seen which one will leave the club first, but it is clear that they cannot work together. However, Paul Pogba is expected to start despite his ongoing rift with Mourinho.
Meanwhile, Newcastle will be without striker Salomon Rondon through a thigh injury, while Florian Lejeune continues his recovery from an ACL injury. Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett have both trained this week having missed the Leicester City game. Both players are expected to be in the squad for the trip to Old Trafford, which will be a huge boost for Rafa Benitez. The Newcastle manager has a huge decision to make, Perez or Muto? Perez has been in poor form recently, while Muto came off the bench to impress against Leicester.
Newcastle have a woeful record against Manchester United in recent history, yet the Magpies did come out on top in the last meeting between the two sides. However, at Old Trafford, Newcastle have only won once in 36 matches in all competitions. That victory came back in 2013 thanks to a goal from a Yohan Cabaye.
Possible Starting Line-Ups:
De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Fred, Matic, Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy, Muto, Joselu
Rafa Benitez may see this as a “free game” especially with the run of fixtures coming up after the international break, which are a lot more favourable for Newcastle. If Benitez does choose to go with Muto ahead of Perez, expect a lot more energy in the final third. It is abundantly clear that something needs to change for Newcastle, bringing in a hungry player like Muto from the start, may just be the change that kick starts Newcastle’s season.
Despite the troubles at Manchester United, this is still a very tough game for Newcastle. The Magpies will have to be at their very best to get anything from this game. Unfortunately, I can’t see Newcastle getting anything from this one (Hope I’m wrong). Manchester United 3 Newcastle 1