Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Managerial Pedigree Is the Only Area Where United Now Compare with Man U; Red Devils' Quality Stacks the Deck in Their Favour - but Toon Still Have an Ace in the Dugout

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Managerial Pedigree Is the Only Area Where United Now Compare with Man U; Red Devils' Quality Stacks the Deck in Their Favour - but Toon Still Have an Ace in the Dugout

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHNGIBSON

PREMIER battles between the two Uniteds of Newcastle and Manchester used to be high-octane confrontations at the very pinnacle of English football.

Recall if you will the Reds' agonising 1-0 victory at SJP courtesy of Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona which highlighted the erosion of Newcastle's 12-point championship lead, the 4-0 Wembley humiliation in the Charity Shield and gloriously the 5-0 revenge slaughter of Fergie's title winners back up here.

In those heady days Man U were first and the Mags second in successive Premier League seasons - but early Sunday afternoon it will be a very different comparison on view.

The visitors, second in the table, will be up against a relegationhaunted Newcastle without a home win in their last eight league outings.

Significantly, in mid-November as the depressing downward spiral from sixth-top gained early momentum, this opposition gave the Magpies a goal start and a 4-1 whipping. Yet you have to cling to the belief that even though Newcastle could not beat Swansea, Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and Burnley on their own green, perhaps in a crazy world the elusive three points will come against the mighty guns of Man U. While the head will undoubtedly scoff, the heart can retain hope.

There is still a single comparison which can be made between two clubs who have gone in very different directions.

Where it used to be Kevin Keegan vs Alex Ferguson, it is now another heavyweight managerial confrontation - two Champions League winners, Rafa Benitez against Jose Mourinho.

It is a long shot that even the Benitez effect will be able to offset the megarich superstars in opposition - but then Newcastle need long shots to come up if they are to escape what could be the inevitable if they are not careful.

Benitez has said he wants to remain a manager into his seventies. …

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