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The pressure is on Newcastle United not Huddersfield Town ahead of SKY showdown

Examiner Football Writer Blake Welton argues the onus is on the Magpies to perform on Sunday as storm clouds gather around St James' Park

Could Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez feel the pressure in the coming weeks?

A packed-out stadium for the club’s first ever Premier League encounter in front of the SKY TV cameras – it would be natural for Huddersfield Town to feel the pressure to perform.

But perversely it’s their opponents Newcastle United who are more likely to feel the heat in the cauldron of noise at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Both clubs may have been promoted from the SkyBet Championship last season, but that is where the similarities end between the two sides.

While David Wagner’s men were making a name for themselves at Crystal Palace with an impressive 3-0 opening-day victory, Newcastle went down at home to Tottenham Hotspur the following day.

Much was made of Town’s club record signing Steve Mounié's contribution at Selhurst Park – one of nine new arrivals over the summer – in comparison to a pre-season of frustration for Toon boss Rafa Benitez.

After showing incredible loyalty to stick with the club after Premier League relegation at the end of the 2015/16 season, club owner Mike Ashley reportedly promised to back the Spaniard on the club’s instant return to the top flight.

So far promotion has proven to be a false dawn on Tyneside with Benitez known to be unhappy over the lack of progess in the transfer window and relations between the pair are strained, having not spoken since the end of last season.

The situation was further compounded with the 2-0 defeat to Spurs at the weekend which saw an already threadbare squad lacking in quality further dented by injuries to Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune – as well as the suspension of Jonjo Shelvey.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley (left) and Managing Director Lee Charnley (right) during the Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.

After a tumultuous 10 years at the helm, Ashley now appears to be controlling the purse strings with an iron grip as he desperately tries to re-coup as much as possible.

It has also seen embarrassing moves such as changing the stadium’s name to incorporate his parent business Sports Direct as well as last weekend’s bizarre Sky Sports exclusive interview.

There he appeared to apologise to all and sundry for past failings while declaring to Newcastle United supporters he would be at the helm for a long time to come – unless of course someone wanted to purchase the club from him.

This mixed message and apparent muddled thinking is systematic of a club where confusion reigns supreme.

The only current certainty is that if Ashley is intent on selling, then staying in the Premier League with a Champions League manager in charge is his only hope.

But as things stands Benitez’s demeanour portrays one of a man possibly ready to walk away in the next fortnight should he not get the support both he and the squad need to survive in the top flight before the transfer window closes on Thursday, August 31.

It is conceivable Newcastle United could be looking for their 11th different manager since Ashley became owner, with the club desperately hoping for a lucky break in the meantime to circumvent what could become a downward trajectory over the coming weeks.

The last time the Magpies visited the John Smith’s Stadium in March they came away with the three points to consolidate their position at the top of the SkyBet Championship, after a resolute defensive performance.

Should they bank on history repeating itself on Sunday, they will find a Huddersfield Town ready for the challenge and better prepared to deal with Benitez’s gameplan.

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