A lot of ill-feeling at Newcastle has been created over the last month or so. With the lack of signings, it has all been a little discouraging, and this is the last thing the players need.
Up there on Tyneside, once the supporters start to get down it feeds into the team very quickly. Don’t forget that many in this group were part of the side that went down in 2016 as well.
When things are going well, it’s very easy to play at Newcastle.
But can you play when the fans are unhappy? Will you still be demanding the ball when the crowd is ready to turn?
That’s my concern: at the moment they’re ready to turn, and I’m not sure Newcastle have players who are strong enough to cope with that.
There are definite questions regarding the personality of this group – one thing you need when you play for Newcastle, with those supporters, is strength of character.
When I was there, it was a constant theme in the dressing-room. Can you play in front of 52,000 supporters when they’re booing? Can you do it when they turn?
Because they will. There will be a period in the season when they turn, when the atmosphere isn’t good. They can switch just like that. Do you still want the ball then?
Newcastle fans like players who are brave, and they’re going to test you on that. And with everything that’s gone on, they’re ready to go – they’re not happy at all.
As a result, the game on Saturday is huge for the Magpies. But, it’s huge for West Ham as well – they had a win on Wednesday, and they really needed it in order to get things going.
They’ve spent a bit of money, but with the new stadium maybe you can give Slaven Bilic a little bit of slack. Their opening fixtures haven’t been ideal, either – but you have to get them out of the way at some stage.
Both teams desperately need a result, but at the present time you’d have to believe the Hammers will really fancy their chances. It’s a good time to be going to St James’ Park.
If I was Bilic, straight from the start I’d have my team get at Newcastle. Hit them with as much intensity as you can.
Ask them questions immediately and get that crowd on the home team’s backs. Then the game will take care of itself from there.