It is anticipated that there will be a real carnival atmosphere around Newcastle city centre today and hopefully that positivity will make it's way onto the pitch. The buzz around the place is unlike anything we've had for years. In his short time at the club Rafa appears to have united a previously divided fan base as we all look to get behind the team and create an electric atmosphere at St James' Park.
There are three major football clubs in the North East. Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Despite the fact that Sunderland and Middlesbrough are competing at the top level this season while we are in the second tier, we have sold more season tickets than both Middlesbrough and Sunderland combined. This is testament to the fantastic work Rafa Benitez and the club under his guidance have done off the pitch.
In terms of the on the pitch action, we head into this on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Fulham. Rafa has described that as a 'wake up call' to his players and they are fully expected to respond by emphatically beating Huddersfield today. The performance at Fulham wasn't awful and there are positives to take. It is likely that it was just a bit of an early season blip and we'll improve greatly going onwards.
Huddersfield lost to Shrewsbury in the League Cup on Tuesday night. Ivan Toney assisting the winner. There previous Championship game was a 2-1 victory over Brentford.
Remember to wear black and white, bring your scarf and be in the ground at least half an hour before kick off. Today is going to be a special day!
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Rafa Benítez wrote:The atmosphere that the fans create already is amazing, but for our fans to organise something like this shows the huge passion of the Geordies to support their team. I know it will make the noise and the atmosphere in St James’ Park even more special than usual, and that will be fantastic. I would like to thank everyone involved with this project (gallowgate flags) on behalf of myself and the players. It is things like this that can really make the difference for us over a long and challenging season ahead.
To see 52,000 fans shows how important the Club is for them, and we want to be sure that we give them as much as we can. Sometimes you can win, sometimes you draw and sometimes you lose, but the main thing to be sure is that the players and everyone give everything to make sure we are where we want to be at the end of the season. When I was talking with some of the players to bring them here, they were telling me about the stadium, the fans and playing in front of so many people. That is a situation that we want to be an advantage for us. This initiative of the fans has to be crucial. They are key for us because we are together until the end. Even if we make mistakes, if they support the team it is easier for us to play better, it is easier for the players to have more confidence and quality to win more games. It is for the benefit of everyone that we stick together from the first day to the last day. We have to give everything, they (the fans) will give us everything, and that is good for the future.
Because of the fans, because of the stature of our Club, we know that every game will be more difficult. But if you want to go up, you have to adapt to these situations. We know that they (Huddersfield) will give everything, so we have to do the same and hope that we are better than them. We know that we have to improve (from Fulham) and the main thing is make sure that every time we are improving a little bit and that we are much better. Then, we can approach games with the confidence that we can win.
Referee:David Wagner wrote:As long as nothing extraordinary happens to him, Mark Hudson is fit and fresh and he will be back in the starting eleven to lead us out. With his experience he knows how to handle different situations on the pitch and he knows how to communicate that to people. He knows how to make people relax and he knows how to make people accelerate the game when they have to. He is able to deliver these messages to all the players and it’s important to have someone in this position. It’s important, also, that he has quality and Huddy is strong in the air, he is a great defender one-on-one and he will make sure it’s very tight. Newcastle have quick and mobile people and we don’t want them to have too much space. We have to build up a fighting zone against Newcastle and Huddy is a real fighter. He feels a responsibility not only for himself but for the whole team – he is very unselfish. After signing his new contract, he knows he will be a big part of the next three years here and also of developing the atmosphere in the squad, which is very, very good. He is an important player for me on the pitch, but also off it as well and we are very happy to have him.
I thought the first half against Shrewsbury was good – it was almost exactly what we had done in both halves against Brentford and the only problem was we didn’t take the chances. In the second half, though, we didn’t continue to do these good things any longer. We didn’t keep the ball and we didn’t move enough without the ball. We made things too complicated and we didn’t have good balance after we lost the ball to avoid the counters. For me this was simple stuff we have spoken about and it’s why I was angry about the defeat, because our problems were caused by ourselves for one half of football when we have played three good halves before that.
Prediction:Ian Holloway wrote:I tipped Huddersfield to go down at the start of the season and I could end up with egg all over my face. They played really well last week against Brentford.
But I think the support at St James' Park will carry Newcastle to the victory. It's an immense ground, and while opponents can raise their game when they visit, it might just be too much for Huddersfield.
I do apologise to their fans, though, because I only see them getting better, and that pre-season prediction could be the biggest mistake I make all season!
Newcastle United 2-1 Huddersfield Town.
A full house at St James' Park creating a cracking atmosphere led by Gallowgate Flags will should spur the side on. This should be the best atmosphere witnessed at St James' Park in many years. Maybe the best since Shearers testimonial. It truly is amazing what one man, Rafa Benitez, has done to the city. He's completely transformed the atmosphere, belief and outlook across the Tyneside region in such a short period of time.
I can't see anything but a convincing Newcastle win. Newcastle United 4-0 Huddersfield Town. Gayle hattrick and Ritchie with the other.
St James' Park:
The game is sold out. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 14:30 and are encouraged to bring scarves. There will be a flag and scarf display starting half an hour before kick off. This fixture is expected to break the all time record high Championship attendance record. The previous record was set by us when we welcomed Ipswich to St James' Park in 2010, that day 52,181 were in attendance.
No UK TV coverage.
No overseas TV coverage.
No national radio coverage.
BBC Newcastle (Locals can tune in on their radio. Those outside the region can listen via this link http://tunein.com/radio/BBC-Newcastle-954-s18219/)
Championship Highlights - 21:00 - Channel 5 (Repeated on Sunday Morning - 10:30 - Channel 5)