By Rob Stewart
Former Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder believes that his old club can only record a first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United in almost 40 years if Alan Pardew’s players are brave enough to halt the Premier League champions.
The Magpies have not won at the Theatre of Dreams since 1972 and Roeder, who once guided West Ham to a rare win at the ground during his Upton Park tenure, will believes the St James’ Park have to be at their very best to stand any chance of shocking Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
“You need to catch them on an offish sort of day and have your team play slightly above themselves,” Roeder told Goal.com. “Nothing is impossible but they will need a lot of luck on their side on the day if Manchester United are in full flow.
“The way to stop them being in full flow if to have a team of brave outfield players who are willing to run and chase and harry to close them down and stop them building up their attacks from the back and making passes.
“Then you hope their key players – such as Wayne Rooney who is massive for them - also have an off-day. If they turn up and all play to their absolute maximum then it could be their day.
“It has to be an all-action display with everyone performing at their best and you will still need a few lucky breaks.”
Newcastle are currently fourth in the Premier League table just two places behind United but will need to bounce back from their first defeat of the campaign when Pardew’s side lost 3-1 at leaders Manchester City last weekend.
“If the supporters don’t believe they can win there and more importantly if Alan Pardew and the players don’t believe that then no they can’t win,” Roeder added.
“But if Alan and the players genuinely believe when they step on to that pitch that yes we can win here today then that increases their chances greatly because the one thing that Manchester United will expose is any players who are not playing with bravery.
“Bravery is not kicking people from behind or making fouls, it is about running hard when you are up against it and retaining possession when you get the ball because that is the hard thing to do at Old Trafford.
“Like Barcelona, Manchester United are just as fantastic out of possession as they are when they have got the ball because they make sure they win the ball back ASAP and away they go again.
“You are not going to beat them if they are at their very, very best from the start but no one normally dominates a game for every minute and there will be periods of play when the momentum swings your way. In that phase you have to take advantage and score a goal or two to get a result.”
Roeder, who also captained Newcastle during his playing days where he made his name as a cultured centre-half, believes that Pardew’s defence will be crucial.
“The key will be not to fall behind early on but, and this hasn’t always been the case, Newcastle go there will a very good defensive record overall even though they lost 3-1 at Manchester City,” Roeder said.
“They have traditionally been a team that scores goals but lets plenty in which is bad news when you are going to Old Trafford because Manchester United will always find weaknesses in defences.”
Roeder also heaped praise on Pardew for Newcastle’s promising start to the season but warned a trip to Old Trafford represented the ultimate test.
“He might not have been the fans’ immediate choice as manager but Alan Pardew has done a fantastic job,” Roeder continued. “They might not have been doing hand-stands over his appointment but it is nice that he has won them over with good management.
“I am pleased that Newcastle are doing well. It is good to see them high up in the table. The supporters make it a great club and it can’t be described as great based on achievements over the years.
“The last time they won a domestic trophy was when they won the FA Cup in the year that I was born in 1955. That is why it is still such a fantastic club because they still attract 50,000 fans to home games despite the lack of success and I bet that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
“I always thought there was an extra edge about that fixture home and away. It is a fixture that Newcastle fans look out for after the local derbies against Sunderland. The games against Manchester United are the matches to test yourself in.”
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