First things first; the ticket prices for this match are nothing short of scandalous. Manchester United are charging £45 for what will effectively be a midweek reserve game that’s live on Sky Sports. Have we learned nothing from the Olympics? A quick look on Man Utd’s website reveals large sections of Old Trafford will be closed completely. Why not price it to attract a bigger crowd that would yield more or less the same gate receipts? It's actually possible to buy cheaper tickets for Man Utd’s forthcoming home Champions League fixtures! With Newcastle United also using the game to blood young players, would their development not benefit more from playing in front of a big crowd rather than a half empty stadium?
Anyway, rant over: the match. From Newcastle’s point of view I’d expect to see a team vastly different from the one that ground out three points at home to Norwich. Our second-string probably has a head start on Man United's as a lot of our fringe players have played three competitive Europa League games already. Pardew recently ranked the League Cup as a lowly forth on our list of priorities, acknowledging that the development of young players and protection of first teamers is what he’ll be using this game for. Having said that Coloccini could well start and certainly Tiote, as both look for match minutes as they return from injury. Tiote could certainly do with some judging by his bizarre 15 minute cameo on Sunday. He come on, made some signature tackles, picked up the obligatory yellow and almost incurred the wrath of the Gallowgate End when he attempted to dribble his way out of the box in the final minutes while Norwich players snapped at his heals.
Pardew recently ranked the League Cup as a lowly forth on our list of priorities, acknowledging that the development of young players and protection of first teamers is what he’ll be using this game for
Other players I’d expect to feature in black and white are the excellent trio of Sammy Ameobi, Adam Campbell and Shane Ferguson. Ameobi is a real flair player and has been deployed a lot on the wing. Long term I’d expect him to move up front but he has great feet, a trick or two and can hit them. Campbell has got a lot of people talking, a striker with a really similar playing style to that of Michael Owen (boy-wonder Owen rather than bench-warming racehorse-mogul Owen). The little red-head is still only 17 but seems to have a real hunger and passion for his boyhood club, watch out for his rapid pace and eye for goal. Shane Ferguson has been on the fringes of the first team for two seasons now and had it not been for injuries at the wrong times, he could well be a first team regular by now. The 21 year-old is both footed, loves to run with the ball and can play at full back or wing, he could well figure in place of Santon who I wouldn’t mind wrapping in cotton wool in a bid to maintain his excellent start to the season.
The rest of our current back four: Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson and James Perch could really do with a night off as well but if they’re shelved I’d expect to see a very inexperience defence which highlights the main weakness of our current squad. The recent performances of Buttner and Powell against Wigan are a reminder of how strong Man United’s second string are, not that we really need it. Their u18’s came to Newcastle last week and beat us 7-1!
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