NEWCASTLE UNITED v HUDDERSFIELD TOWN - 13 AUGUST 2015 - 15:00 KO.
The season is underway and most Town fans would hope the table reads the same come May. Yes we're in a play-off place, enjoy it while it lasts! And whilst there is positivity following the opening day win against Brentford, Tuesday nights defeat in the EFL Cup to Shrewsbury brought expectations back to reality.
Town do now have a squad worthy of competing in the Championship, yet that defeat on Tuesday night highlighted some major issues. Without Jonathan Hogg we lack the intensity in midfield, Martin Cranie is simply not suited to playing right back in the system we play, Sean Scannell is on thin ice if his performances and end product don't improve significantly.
Most worrying is the striker situation. Michael Hefele was sent on as an emergency striker as Kachunga and Wells are far too similar. Town need something different to change a game - ideally a mobile yet physical striker. Oh and there is the supposed Nahki Wells transfer saga to deal with, if in fact there is one.
So as it stands still more questions than answers which leaves Saturday's fixture in the balance. Newcastle started off poorly against Fulham despite having kept the fat Spanish waiter as their manager and signing talent such as Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie. The home tem will be favourites, especially with a sell out at St James' Park (Sports Direct dot com at St James' Park Arena - to give it it's full name).
Town are still without three of the four four (Whitehead, Billing, Bunn) who missed the opening day win against Brentford. It is also very unlikely that any of those who were given a chance against Shrewsbury will start after a disappointing second half which ended in defeat. Wells should once again be on the bench with Kachunga in goal scoring form.
Despite a good start in the league for Town and Newcastle's disappointing defeat at the hands of Fulham - you have to side with the team that has the extra quality and that's Newcastle. Town may struggle, especially as they still haven't rectified the issue of a third striker who offers something different from Wells and Kachunga. Newcastle 2-0 Town.
THE OPPOSITIONS VIEW
Dan McPherson - @dan_mcpherson7
TC: With the biggest budget the Championship has ever seen, this season should be a dawdle shouldn't it. Or is the club still not in a stable position to really move forward?
It is absolutely vital we go up this season, 100%. For years now we've needed a fresh start from the dark days of Pardew post-finishing 5th, John Carver's horrendous short stint and, yep, Steve bloody McClaren. I don't think anyone really thinks it'll be a breeze. We can sign who we want and play how we like, doesn't change who we are, what club we support, we're specialists in disappointment. Let's be honest, though, we should really be "up there" come the end of the season.
TC: How much blame needs to go in the hands of Mike Ashley and his ownership of Newcastle's current situation or do other people have to take responsibility, especially those who chose to recruit exclusively from abroad?
He really needs to take full responsibility. It's not so much him interfering with the football side of it, he doesn't get involved, but, he puts his trust in all the wrong people. Joe Kinnear, Alan Pardew, Graham Carr and Lee Charnley. He's put trust in these men who just aren't up to the task of running us. Graham Carr is the man who "scouted" our players and basically decided upon whether not we sign them, that's all gone now though, it's all Rafa's choice. Carr would exclusively scout France, and yeah, it had some success. But, Yoann Gouffran, Sylvain Marveaux, Romain Amalfitano, Remy Cabella and Florian Thauvin, all signed under the advice of Carr. Somehow aswell, while spending all this time in France, we somehow missed players like Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante.
TC: Despite the animosity at Newcastle, the biggest ever crowd for an English second tier game is expected on Saturday. Are you surprised that fans have stuck with the club despite a clear division between the fans and owners?
As typing this, we've actually just completely sold out Saturday's match. I think that proves to everyone around the country, we're not these success hungry fans the media and popular opinion have us out to be. Since Rafa came in there has been a real bridging of the gap between fans and management and that can only be a good thing!
TC: Rafa Benitez seems to have kept a good core of players in this transfer window while also splashing some cash. How would you asses the comings and goings?
It's been a near perfect window in all honesty. We still however desperately need a winger, and maybe a left back as Paul Dummet can do a job there, but Massadio Haidara is permanently injured, so he's a bit pointless really. The "cherry on top" now would be ridding ourselves of Moussa Sissoko, he is absolutely the most horrendous footballer I've ever came across in terms of attitude.
TC: Which Newcastle player(s) should Huddersfield fans worry about?
The obvious one, for me, is Matt Ritchie, he genuinely is a class above this division and I still don't understand how we actually got him. Away from the obvious, I have to say Rolando Aarons, just signed a new 5-year-contract so should be on a real high come Saturday.
TC: Which Huddersfield player(s) stands out to you?
I think we are expected to dominate possession on Saturday, so I can see yous being a danger on the counter attack. And for that reason, I have to say Nahki Wells, with his pace, we need to play Chancel Mbemba to counter act that. Also, Van La Parra, I watched him a few times for Wolves and though he actually looked solid. This is obviously when you tell me I'm completely wrong, and he is in fact, absolute crap...
TC: What is your prediction?
I think we'll win, I really do. I think a lot of teams will find it hard coming to St James' this season and hopefully that starts on Saturday. I'm going 2-0 Newcastle with Ritchie and Gayle scoring the goals!