The Soccer Desk

Next for Newcastle: Moyes and Man United Await

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Newcastle and Manchester United both come off mid-week losses as they prepare for Saturday’s clash at Old Trafford.  Although only one point separates the clubs on the table, each side enters the contest from very different perspectives.

David Moyes tenure as Man U’s boss has been rocky to say the least.  They enter the match coming off a loss to Moyes’s former club, Everton, at home and back-to-back draws against Tottenham and Cardiff.  Before that they beat league leader Arsenal which normally would be a good sign except, in Manchester, the only good sign is one where your club is at the top.  Second is unacceptable in Manchester (ask Roberto Mancini about that) let alone ninth where the Red Devils now sit.  The pressure is on for a win against the lowly (seventh on the table) Magpies.

Newcastle is another demanding soccer town, although it has had to settle for varying degrees of mediocrity in recent years.  Toon fans look to Saturday’s match still on a positive note despite Wednesday’s loss to Swansea.  Before their loss in Wales, the Magpies earned four wins in a row, propelling them all the way to the fifth spot at the close of November.  It’s a far cry from earlier in the season when talk of a top eight finish from the Newcastle board was met with the Geordie version of pshaw.

In short, Man United is looking to turn things around while Newcastle is looking to keep things going.

With Robin Van Persie unlikely due to injury and Wayne Rooney certainly out due to yellow card accumulation, Newcastle may be visiting Old Trafford at just the right moment if they can retain the form they demonstrated in November when they snagged all twelve available points.

What’s worrying for Newcastle, however, is that Swansea not only put an end to their winning streak, they also ended an eleven game stretch in which the Magpies scored at least one goal.  If Papiss Cisse is ever going to score again in the Premier League, this may be the perfect weekend to set Newcastle and Cisse, who scored eight goals last campaign and thirteen the one before, back on track.

While Man United fans will demand a win Saturday, Moyes and company ought not underestimate Newcastle.  Sure, Red Devil fans will say the Magpies overachieved and now its time for them to return to the mid-table and prepare to start worrying again about relegation.  But Newcastle has some talent, much of which is coveted by major clubs.  Arsenal hunted hard for Yohan Cabaye this summer.  Some serious Serie A clubs have been asking about Tim Krul.  Many teams will join the bidding for Loic Remy next summer if he keeps adding to his current eight-goal tally.

And let’s not forget Newcastle sits two spots above Manchester United on the table.  There’s a reason why they play these games.  This one will be worth watching.