After defeating Fulham, we've found ourselves in a bit of a dilemma. We fought tirelessly vs the Londoners on Sunday but now we face arguably two very tough games that will define our season. Will it be the season where we nearly made it in the Europa League or the season where we horribly underperformed, did relatively well in Europe but edged past the mackems?
Pardew is facing a choice. Stick or twist? Do we name our strongest 11 vs Benfica and pray that the footballing Gods are looking down on Newcastle with favour or do we sacrifice the game on Thursday night in order to maintain local pride and pretty much secure Premier League safety? Or do we attempt to do both? I want United to do both.
It’s achievable but sadly unrealistic. Fortune favours the brave however and I’d like to encourage Pardew to take a risk, be tactically daring and ask of his players two monumental performances. I want to see 11 men in black and white shirts give their all and even if we fall vs Benfica at least I’ll know that we give it a go. I don’t want to be in a ‘what if?’ situation.
The pressure is off Newcastle to an extent going into Thursday’s game due to us succumbing to a 3-1 defeat in Lisbon. Benfica are expected to progress and we’re expected to depart. This should theoretically be advantageous to us. If we don’t concede and score an early goal, Benfica will be worried and we have the players to hurt them.
They’ll attempt to push forward to score another which would leave gaps in their defence for the likes of Papiss Cisse and Sylvain Marveaux to exploit. As well as this our home form since the new signings have arrived has been brilliant – it’s become more of a fortress than it has been this season and we’ve proved we can defeat anyone at home.
We can do it but the players must believe. Tiredness will no doubt be a problem for the next two games but we need to fight through the pain and muster two huge performances. There’s dangers but as they say in the north east ‘shy bairns get nowt.’