Quinn: No night­mares at the The­atre of Dreams...

RAFA WILL HAVE THE RIGHT GAME­PLAN FOR A POS­I­TIVE RE­SULT AT OLD TRAF­FORD

The Chronicle - - Front Page -

IT’S for oc­ca­sions like this one that New­cas­tle United toiled through a 46-game Cham­pi­onship cam­paign for. Last sea­son was a real slog, but the Mag­pies squad were able to get through it, know­ing that if they achieved their goal they’d be vis­it­ing some of the most-iconic sta­dia in the world again this sea­son. Manch­ester United away is among the big­gest of them all. Ev­ery time you walk on to the Old Traf­ford pitch as a player, no mat­ter how many times you do it, it is a special oc­ca­sion.

I played there five times dur­ing my ca­reer – we lost four times, there were a few ham­mer­ings in there too, but I also ex­pe­ri­enced the joy of win­ning there – though never with New­cas­tle.

The only time I ever tasted suc­cess at Old Traf­ford was for Derby County in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the Youth Cup.

Be­fore the game our man­ager, Tommy Do­herty, told us we’d get a £100 bonus if we won. For ap­pren­tices who were pick­ing up just £16 a week at the time, that was a heck of a lot of money.

And it was my goal that won us the game in the end. The score­line was 2-2 be­fore I popped up with the win­ner in front of more than 10,000 fans for a Youth Cup game – and that was one of the sweet­est goals I ever scored.

New­cas­tle play­ers can­not be daunted by the chal­lenge; if they turn up ten­ta­tive and fall be­hind early, then they could find them­selves on the wrong end of a thump­ing.

In­stead, the Mag­pies should go there with con­fi­dence. For a start, they have a master tac­ti­cian in Rafa Ben­itez who knows ex­actly how to set up in these huge games.

Ac­tu­ally, the more I think about it, the more I get the feel­ing this game could be set up per­fectly for New­cas­tle.

Man United will want New­cas­tle to go at them, but Ben­itez will cer­tainly not play a gung-ho style. He’ll look to frus­trate the Red Devils, get a foothold in the game and then build from there.

Romelu Lukaku is go­ing through a drought at the mo­ment – he is a patchy striker like that, who scores in flur­ries then strug­gles for a while –

and I hope New­cas­tle can shackle him.

Ja­maal Las­celles’ likely ab­sence is a blow, but Ciaran Clark is a morethan-able deputy.

Clark needs to stay close to Lukaku, limit the Bel­gian’s space and then get into a phys­i­cal bat­tle with him, be­cause I think that’s where the Man United for­ward strug­gles a lit­tle.

The for­mer Ever­ton man’s close-con­trol isn’t the best, so the Mag­pies must iso­late him and not al­low Mar­cus Rash­ford or An­thony Martial to cre­ate any gaps on the break. As for New­cas­tle them­selves, I hope that Dwight Gayle starts in at­tack. He can stretch the Man United de­fence and make sure the vis­i­tors are a real threat on the break. This will be a huge test for New­cas­tle but, as I say, I am con­fi­dent it is one they can pass. If they lis­ten to Rafa and fol­low his game­plan to the let­ter, then a pos­i­tive re­sult is cer­tainly pos­si­ble. Mick Quinn

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