Well, a lot has happened since the last match preview. Mike Ashley’s interview, Jonas’ farewell, Carver being given the boot, the inevitable appointment of Steve McClaren and three new players; two of which exceed the £10 million mark. Now I’m at the front of the que of supporters demanding more incomings (central defender and cutting edge wideman plz) but I can’t help but be impressed with the calibre of these signings, these were players being watched by top European clubs and we bagged their signatures by finally showing a hawkish mentality in the transfer market. Those of you reading who participated in the Spurs boycott ought to give yourselves a pat on the back, I’m convinced that had it not been for your efforts this summer would mirrored previous windows where profiteering and mere player trading were the fruits of United’s labour. I don’t wish to speak for all supporters but I think most of us would rather see 3 thoroughbreds than 7 or 8 gambles/value for money/running down their contract players.
McClaren has come in and from the limited action I’ve seen during pre-season there seems to be a renewed impetus on playing from the back and flexibility in the attacking areas, its managed to get me onside immediately; there’s a semblance of a long term plan here and although the team will take time to adjust to this it’s far easier to be patient knowing there’s a progressive foundation to build on than it was under previous regimes where the plan appeared to be to lump 11 men on the pitch, keep it tight and hope for a bit of magic. Southampton will be a tough opening game but in many ways represents the perfect test of where the team is at the moment given what McClaren is trying to introduce up at NE1 is a similar style to what they’ve been playing for the last three years.
In terms of selection there’s a question mark over whether Mbemba and Mitrovic will start given their lack of game time, for me it’s a no brainer and they both need to start; the heart of the defence has been chaotic during pre-season and Cisse (who admittedly I’m not a fan of) hasn’t pulled up any trees and has the air of a man who knows his days are numbered on Tyneside. Given what we’ve heard about Mitrovic from both himself and those who have worked with him he doesn’t sound like the sort of lad who needs blended into things, get him on the pitch and let him set about defenders; he could be our very own Diego Costa. It looks as though either de Jong or Wijnaldum will be spearheading the midfield with two of Gini, Colback and Anita anchoring; Sissoko has played out on the right all pre-season and Aarons has looked really sharp although worryingly Obertan started the friendly against Gladbach.
Finally, it’ll be nice to be reacquainted with some familiar faces on Sunday; despite how sick, negative and repetitive we all get over the fortunes of NUFC even the most miserable of toon supporters (sits in the East Stand probably) would have to admit that this week is the most exciting of the calendar and that entering your pre match pub on Sunday is our very own adult/pisspot Christmas morning. Enjoy the season!