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Q&A: Wigan Athletic vs Newcastle United

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The Newcastle United players and fans acknowledge a minutes applause in honour of the late Gary Speed prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at the Sports Direct Arena.
The Newcastle United players and fans acknowledge a minutes applause in honour of the late Gary Speed prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at the Sports Direct Arena.

Been a long time since we heard from the opposition fans, but its a nice time to hear from a club, which I will admit i have a great deal of respect for. Newcastle United have been the story of the season, playing great football and winning consistently which to many is a shock and surprise. But to the Newcastle fans it feels like where they ought to be.

A big club in England that has never really fulfilled what they could have and should have done in the past few season, but they are getting close now. Alan Pardew has carried on what has been a great turn around at the club and with Champions League football on the horizon, its no wonder why John Murphy from Coming Home Newcastle was feeling confident as he spoke to Pie Eaters Footie.

Fantastic season and it doesn’t look like stopping what do you put that down to?

I think there have been three key aspects to Newcastle’s success this year. First, we have an incredible manager and front office. Derek Llambias, Graham Carr, Steve Stone, Alan Pardew, and even the Fat Cockney Bastard himself all deserve heaps of praise for the way they’ve completely and totally transformed this squad since promotion two years back. We feel now like we can compete with any team in league, and we’ve got some results (2-0 over Liverpool, 3-0 over ManU) to prove it. I think the second key reason is that our schedule happened to have a pretty amazing ebb and flow to it, which, granted, is lucky. We had a relatively easy run to start the season, had to weather the storm through December and January, and have since been able to "coast" into the position we’re in currently. That being said, our final four are a DOOZY (@Wigan, @Chelsea, ManCity, @Everton), so we’ll see how the schedule plays out. The third and final reason is a simple one, "Confidence begets confidence." By having such a successful run to open the season, Newcastle began believing in the "impossible." The impossible is real now, and we’re all incredibly excited to be along for the ride.

Alan Pardew has bought well and gotten the best out of a group of players many thought would be mid bottom half of the table (about 14th), but who have you seen has your most improved/surprise performer?

I agree that Pards has bought very smart, but it isn’t like he’s brought in scrubs. The list of major talent Graham Carr has brought in during his three seasons as Newcastle’s chief scout is mind-blowingly impressive: Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, and Davide Santon have all made a major impact in their short time at the club, and long standing stalwarts like Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, and Jonas Gutierrez rounded out an impressive pot of players. As far as surprises go, that’s a tough nail to hammer down. We all knew Hatem Ben Arfa was going to be good, but seeing make some of the incredible runs he’s made this year have put him on a whole different plane, one I doubt many members of the Toon Army were really expecting. Our back line, ravaged early by the injury of Steven Taylor, has also seen some very impressive play by Mike Williamson and James Perch, both of whom Newcastle fans had all but given up on just a few months ago. Given our position, you could say the whole team has been a surprise, but those three definitely stand out.

Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan both left saying they were moving to bigger and better things. Do you think they would still fit into your side?

It’s hard for me to speak about this without getting arrogant and vindictive. Kevin Nolan left on very good terms down to West Ham, and was a gracious gentlemen in defeat. He knew that we was dropping leagues (he’s a bit of a sandbox bully, that one, but we love him). Barton is awful... I hate him, I loathe him, and I would relish QPR getting dropped this year. He was an ungrateful git during his time at Newcastle, overplayed the "warrior" facade to where he just came across as an asshole, and perpetuated an awful and petulant image for the club. The other high-profile departure this summer was LB Jose Enrique, who bolted to Liverpool for "bigger and better" things. He ended up playing in goal at Sports Direct (formerly SJP) because Reina netted a red card. To see Jose panicked, livid, and mortified in goal as the crowd roared and Newcastle to a 2-0 victory and a firm command ahead of Liverpool in the table was poetic justice indeed. Barton and Jose can soak their heads, they’re not welcome back. If Nolan would like to come back, we’d love to have him... but between friends, Cabaye is actually quite an upgrade.

In January you brought in Papiss Cisse, who I have highlighted as your main threat, how much of an important signing has he been and will he be, can he live up to the great Alan Shearer?

I’m prone to hyperbole, but words honestly cannot describe the impact he has had in his short time at the club. 11 goals in 10 games is absolutely bonkers. He will be our #9 for the foreseeable future, especially as we begin to push for runs in Europe, and he will definitely be our target man with that deadly foot of his. The energy and excitement he brings to the squad seems infectious, and it’s clear that he is having a blast playing football in the black and white. It’s way too early to start throwing the legend’s name around yet, but Shearer has commented on how impressive Cisse has looked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if #9 Redux ends up having a very prolific career Tyneside.

Who will cause Wigan trouble out of the Newcastle line up?

I think the thing to watch out for is our front three. Even though Demba Ba has hit a horrible goal drought recently, he has still been relatively effective on the left wing, at least drawing pressure away from Ben Arfa and Cisse. It’s the right side of the line that can burn you. It’ll be interesting how we attack the 5(ish)-back line, since in theory, Caldwell, Alcaraz, and Figueroa could each take one apiece. The issue there, however, is that Cabaye and Tiote can be deadly playing in an Attacking Mid/Rebounder role, as they proved last week with great flair against Stoke. It’ll be a handful for Wigan, but they can handle the combo of Rooney and Chicharito, anything is possible.

Out of the current Wigan squad which player(s) would you have, and why?

While the thought of having hot prospects like Victor Moses and James McCarthy is enticing, the issue that Newcastle is already a bit glutted in the midfield already. Any of your triplicate defenders (Caldwell, Alcaraz, and Figueroa) would serve as solid insurance to our incredible injury prone back line. I think Alcaraz has the most talent of the bunch, and it’d be curious how effectively he played in a primarily two-back set.

What is your result prediction? And how do you think the match will play out?

I think Newcastle will continue to roll, and with all due respect, I don’t even think it will be that difficult. I think NUFC will come out expecting a stout, solid, and somewhat desperate Wigan squad, and will respond accordingly. I could see Newcastle quickly jumping down the throats of Wigan on a counter in an effort to send a message, and being effective in that goal. 3-0 Newcastle. A brace from Cisse, and Ba finally breaks his goalless streak tomorrow at DW Stadium.

And finally what is your favourite flavoured pie?

Mackem Flavored, cooked well-done, scorched even, then unceremoniously thrown out along with the kitty litter and dirty bath water.