After back-to-back defeats left Liverpool's top-four dream in tatters, Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to revive faint hopes with a win over Newcastle United at Anfield on Monday night. The Reds were in excellent form until successive losses to rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, but with the FA Cup victory in midweek having lifted spirits - Liverpool should be relishing the chance to get back to winning ways in the league, as the come up against John Carver's down-and-out Magpies fresh out of a painful loss to arch-enemies Sunderland. We spoke to Newcastle United supporter and Editor of the Gallowgate Group, Thomas Bore, to get his thoughts ahead of the clash.
Q: A lot has gone on behind the scenes at Newcastle United this season, but how happy have you been with your performances on the pitch?
TB: Even with the summer revamp that saw seven fresh faces arrive at our Benton base, our season has been below par. Injuries to a number of our key players, coupled with others struggling to adapt to the demands of the Premier League, has seen our season falter after an incredible spell between October to early December [7 wins in 9 games]. Other than that, we’ve been embarrassing this year.
Q: Alternatively, what have you made of Liverpool so far this year?
TB: After a slow start, Liverpool had done brilliantly to move back into top four contention. Recent defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United have seen them drift seven points from fourth but I don’t see that as a reason to deem their season as unsuccessful. Liverpool have managed to keep themselves in European contention having sold the Premier League's top scorer last season in Luis Suarez, with the runner up, Daniel Sturridge, hampered by injury and only starting a handful of games this season. Losing that level of production will cause any team to take a step back.
Q: A lot was made of Alan Pardew’s departure, and he has done rather well since moving to Crystal Palace. Is there any regret behind letting him go? Or was it the right decision?
TB: Alan Pardew played dull and unattractive football, he never connected with the fans and is tactically inept. Neutrals find it hard to see it from our perspective and criticise our ‘fickle’ fans yet sympathise with teams like Aston Villa and Everton in similar situations. We did enjoy a fifth placed finish under him. However, the following season we finished sixteenth and were in an unrelenting relegation battle after Pardew elected to enforce his own negative philosophy. The peaks and troughs under his management went from one extreme to the other.
Do I regret Pardew leaving? No, he’s enjoying his honeymoon period with a club he’s attached to. He has a connection with the Eagles fanbase and his decision to resign suited all those involved.
Q: Do you think John Carver could or should be given the full-time job at St James’ Park? And if not, who else would you like to see at the helm at the start of next season?
TB: Should? No. Could? Yes. Don’t forget, we are the club that gave Joe Kinnear a job - twice. Even though the departure of Alan Pardew was met by an overriding feeling of joyousness, it was quickly brushed aside as his right hand man was appointed to guide us the rest of the way. With just three wins in 13 games under Carver, you would expect the club’s hierarchy to look elsewhere when appointing the newest head coach but I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected when it comes to Newcastle.
If the board do recruit another head coach, Eddie Howe would be my first choice. A young manager who likes to play attractive football - exactly what the Geordie faithful want. Sadly, Bournemouth look poised to gain promotion to the Premier League - ruling out any chance of the 37-year-old arriving on Tyneside.
Q: There’s currently big social media movement behind a bid to boycott your game at home to Tottenham Hotspur in a few weeks time – what are your thoughts on that?
TB: It is about time the various fan groups united to force out the toxic killing our club. However, I feel their efforts will fall on deaf ears. Many fans will attend home games regardless of the club’s situation - it’s in their DNA. For as long as Ashley receives his share of the lucrative TV deals, he’s sticking around.
Q: You come into this game off of what I’m sure will be a painful defeat, do you expect John Carver to rally the team up for a rousing response on Monday?
TB: I would expect him to but I’ve been expecting that for the past few games. With only one win in the last eight games, I don’t see our fortunes changing at Anfield on Monday.
Q: Who do you think has been your best player so far this season? & Who do you see as your side’s biggest attacking threat at Anfield?
TB: Daryl Janmaat, without a doubt. Our top creator with six assists this campaign - more than Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran and Remy Cabella combined. The majority (41%) of our attacks come from the right-hand side due to the Dutchman’s overlapping runs and pinpoint crosses that cause the opposition problems week in, week out. Not only is he one of our biggest attacking threats, he also provides a vital defensive contribution.
Q: Up the opposite end of the pitch, which Liverpool player would you be keeping a close eye on?
TB: There’s so many to choose from. Raheem Sterling? Daniel Sturridge? I think it has to be Philippe Coutinho. His ability to pick out his teammates runs into the space beyond our makeshift defence is likely to cause us problems all evening.
Q: The end of the 2014-15 season is almost upon us, where do you see your side ending up in the league table come the final day?
TB: With Liverpool and Tottenham up next, I expect our poor form to continue. However, Leicester, West Brom and QPR succeed those games so I am hopeful for a change in our fortunes.
Q: And where do you see Liverpool finishing? Are our Champions League hopes truly out of the window?
TB: Any chance of securing a top four finish appears to have evaded Liverpool but, on a lighter note, Tottenham’s run in appears tougher than the Reds’. As a result, fifth place is my prediction.
Q: Finally, your prediction for the game?
TB: 3-0 to Liverpool.
You can find Thomas on Twitter: @thomvsbore, or you can read some of his work on the Gallowgate Group, part of Fresh Press, by clicking here. You can also read some of Thomas' contributions to the Metro here.