There was a time when the mere sight of Newcastle v Manchester United on the fixture list would get the pulse racing for any warm-blooded football fan.
Who can forget Paul Scholes’s hat trick in Man United’s 6-2 win in 2003? Or the two insane 4-3 games, one in either favour in 2001 and 2012?
And Newcastle fans have never really stopped celebrating Philippe Albert’s chip over Peter Schmeichel as Kevin Keegan’s juggernaut complete with the likes of David Ginola, Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand flattened United 5-0 in 1996.
Sadly for Newcastle fans, a 50-year-old Ginola, Shearer and Ferdinand could probably still get a place in the Newcastle line-up. Let’s face it John Beresford could probably walk into Steve Bruce’s team right now.
As for Ole, he could be forgiven for missing the cosiness of Molde right now, he’s certainly not getting a lot of hygge at Old Trafford.
So, ahead of the sack race’s game of the weekend, we go school playground style and switch a few players up to see what happens.
Three Newcastle players who would make Man United better
The Switzerland international has marked himself out as a rare commodity at St James’ Park and would stand out like a sore thumb in Solskjaer’s side because he actually seems to give a shit.
Despite battling against injury, Schar managed to pull off an amazing overhead kick goal-line clearance against Brighton, which was basically worth a goal, and about as close as Newcastle get these days. This came hot on the feels of his goal against Watford, which was worth as much as a goal-line clearance.
What Man United fans would give for a player who runs around, puts his body on the line and seems to care whether they win or lose.
Everyone knows that social media posts of wonder goals in training directly equate to a player scoring a hatful of goals in the Premier League, so Saint-Maximin is a sure-fire hit once he manages to shake off whatever strange injury is allowing him to shimmy around defenders in training but flares up whenever there’s an actual match.
Some ever-patient Newcastle fans even laid into the Frenchman on Twitter after he posted a video of his training masterpiece, but surely Man United fans would welcome a tricky winger especially after the AZ Alkmaar outing which was could have been mistaken for a local walking football game.
Every fan wants at least one player in their team who will break legs if he has to and Hayden gave the ideal demonstration of that against Leicester when he made a valiant attempt to cleave Leicester’s Dennis Praet in half.
Walking away having been shown a very obvious red card, Hayden was seen mouthing ‘what’s the point in playing?’
So as well as some Roy Keane style challenges, Man United would be adding the rarest of things – a player who is willing to ask big metaphysical questions.
Three Man United players who would make Newcastle worse
Imagine growing up in Belo Horizonte, Brazil with the name Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos and opting to call yourself Fred. Literally any of his other wealth of names would have been a more glamorous choice.
That decision says it all really. Fred has looked every bit a Fred in his time at Man United and his style of samba football looks a lot like a beginner’s samba class in Gateshead. He’s every bit the kind of overrated export that would end up at Newcastle and would manage to make them look even less dynamic.
If last season it looked like Rashford was playing Nou Camp level, this season he’s been more like Newcastle level.
During the last campaign it felt he was always a threat, while since August he has largely been a threat to corner flags and First Goalscorer bets.
That free-kick against AZ Alkmaar when he tried to score from a physically impossible angle and hefted it over the bar is exactly the kind of thing that would win you a place in a Steve Bruce side.
Does Jesse Lingard still play football? We’re not sure. He was really good at it at one time, so we imagine he is still doing it, but there’s no evidence either way.
In any case if he can persuaded to leave his work 5-a-side team at Goals he would certainly fit right in at Newcastle as a player who you once thought could be world-class but now is just a guy you get sometimes on Match of the Day who then becomes manager of Oldham.