Ask The Opposition w/ GallowgateShots – Newcastle United vs Manchester City (Premier League)

After another two games, and yet more goals from the Champions of England, Manchester City return to Premier League action with a trip to the North East to face Newcastle United. On paper, we should be seeing yet another comfortable win for City, especially after looking at the recent meeting between these two sides. In fact, we haven’t seen a Newcastle win over the blues in the Premier League since 2005, and it’s fair to say both sides, especially Manchester City, were very different that day.

Ahead of this one, I took time out to speak to Kris from @GallowgateShots and the ‘All With Smiling Faces‘ Podcast. He gave us his views on a number of topics including the ongoing unrest at St James Park involving owner Mike Ashley and the running of the club.

Good afternoon Kris, many thanks for joining us ahead of tomorrow night’s game. St James’ Park is usually a ground with a brilliant atmosphere, potentially one of the best in the country. However, what has the mood been like around the ground this season?

Pleasure to feature Freddie! The mood has been downbeat; the fans are angry, sick and completely exhausted with the way the club is at the minute and it shows on the terraces. With the game being played on a Tuesday night, it’s only going to make the situation worse – 50,000 Geordies sleepwalking to St James Park after a hard day at work with expectations at an all-time low waiting for an inevitable beating by a superior club both on and off the field.

The unrest surrounding owner Mike Ashley has been heavily publicised once again this season. Has Rafa Benitez achieved almost all he can under the ownership of Mike Ashley?

There’s nothing else for Rafa to achieve at this club, what is there to achieve under Mike Ashley apart from surviving under a shoestring budget? Many pundits ands fans of other clubs will criticise Benitez for his approach against certain teams, but to fair to him the only thing he can do with the players at his disposal is look at a “damage limitation” approach to these games. Keeping the score down to a minimum may be worth an extra point come the end of the season and most of the time Rafa has executed this perfectly. It’s a shame to see a manager of his calibre, a man showered with trophies, working under such harsh expectations with no investment.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: A detail shot of a Mike Ashley Out badge pictured on a fans shirt before the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St. James Park on September 29, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

On the topic of Rafa Benitez, do you fear he may simply walk away from the club, especially considering all the issues off the field?

Rafa is gone and who would blame him? Why would he stay? What does he have to look forward to at this club? Under a Mike Ashley ownership there is no future, no ambition, no excitement – the man has stole all of that from us as a club. Rather than use the funds raised by the club on improving the squad he’d r other focus his attention on buying failing companies like House of Fraser and HMV but he has a failing football club right under his nose and he couldn’t care any less. Newcastle United is now just a giant advertisement for Sports Direct, nothing more, nothing less.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 14: Rafael Benitez manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Just three wins in the last 10 games in all competitions for Newcastle, with the most recent being an exit from the FA Cup, has the magpies sitting just two points above the relegation zone. How does the first half of the season compare to your expectations at the very start?

The media have this strange perception Newcastle fans, claiming that we expect the world. It’s far from the truth, last season we managed to grab tenth place which was a shock to everyone. Going into the season back in August, I would’ve snapped your hand off if offered a comfortable 12th-14th finish and another year in the Premier League to hopefully progress… Now at the end of January then you’d take 17th. It just shows how much the club have plummeted in the last decade.

What have you made of Manchester City’s start to 2019?

The top end of the Premier League has been great this year. With the main battle between the big boys being those Champions League spots. It’s always good to have two or more teams challenging for the title and Liverpool and Manchester City are doing just that and it’s great entertainment for the neutrals. I just hope it goes down to the last game of the season.

Newcastle have won just once in their last 24 meetings with Manchester City, with their last win in the Premier League coming in 2005. How do you see tomorrow’s meeting going?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St. James Park on December 27, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Defensive. Defensive and defensive. It’s what we do, and normally do it well. We don’t have the players to push on up the pitch with confidence, especially against a team like Manchester City. The best we can hope for is grabbing something from a set piece and then defending for our lives. Fingers crossed as a Newcastle fan I’m completely wrong and we look to talk the game to the visitors but I simply cannot see it.N

Can we get a predicted Newcastle starting XI and a score prediction?

It will be the same team that started against Cardiff in my opinion with a back three with wing backs looking to sit back and plug the holes down the wings. A fairly inexperienced midfield partnership in Longstaff and Hayden with Rondon up top by himself looking to feed off any scraps. I think we’ll hold on for a lot of the game but the goal will come for Manchester City due to an individual mistake. Newcastle 0-2 City.

You can follow Kris’ GallowgateShots and his podcast via the links here: @GallowgateShots | @AWSFpodcast

For more Manchester City content, you can follow us here: @City_Xtra

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