Paul Merson believes Manchester United will come away from Wembley 2-1 winners on Sunday, fearing Nick Pope’s could be a huge miss for Eddie Howe’s Mags.
This may actually be a good omen, however, as the Sky Sports pundit has a history of getting things badly wrong when discussing all things NUFC.
If the truth be told, it was this line midway through his piece that stood out for all the wrong reasons – “United are the team to beat in the final.” That old chestnut. Can someone tell Paul there’s two ‘United’s’ in this final?
Merson then goes on to say he’ll be “shocked” if Marcus Rashford doesn’t score and equally stunned if we win without our new goalkeeper, also declaring that we “don’t blow teams away” and will come home empty handed unless we score “two or three goals.”
He clearly has little faith in our ability to keep it tight without Pope – that is a fair concern given how influential our new No 1 has been – but to refer to Man Utd as ‘United’ twice in the last paragraph feels typically lazy of the former Arsenal man.
Here’s what he had to say during his prediction piece for Sportskeeda:
“If there was one player Eddie Howe couldn’t afford to miss in this final, it would be Nick Pope. He has won them so many points this season. I’d be shocked if Newcastle won this one without Pope in goal. He is that big for Newcastle United. Unfortunately, he is suspended and that’s going to cost Newcastle dearly.
When they’re keeping clean sheets, Pope is making big saves. Off the top of my head, in the draw against Arsenal, he made a world-class save to deny Eddie Nketiah.
Manchester United are going to create chances and they are going to score goals. Put Rashford down for one goal already. He is playing so well that you’ll be shocked if he doesn’t score in this game.
United are the team to beat in the final. Newcastle United are not a free-scoring side. They don’t blow teams away. If they don’t score two or three goals, they are not winning this one. I just don’t see them doing that against United on Sunday.
For me, the Magpies are desperate to win a trophy (more than getting into the top 4) and these players can attain legendary status if they win silverware. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that will happen.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United.”
Time to prove Merson wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time!