demonstrated his faith in his manager on a largely unprecedented scale. Stability can only be good for the club and Pardew, who has served a touchline ban for shoving assistant referee Peter Kirkup, has certainly worked wonders since taking over from the popular Chris Hughton.
Star man: The Barclays Premier League's leading marksman Demba Ba has been on fire in front of goal this season - Newcastle's only issue seems to be getting him and Cisse to both score at the same time. A shrewd signing from West Ham, after he failed a medical at Stoke, the Senegalese striker is a powerful presence in attack and Sir Alex is known to admire his qualities. Of course, he netted in both games against United last season.
Sub-plots: The fact that the Tynesiders took four points from the two league games last season will still grate with Sir Alex. Pardew's side have made great strides and contain former Reds Gabriel Obertan and Danny Simpson in their ranks. Another reverse for United will no doubt lead to plenty of talk of a crisis in the media during the international break, even though the Reds are currently third in the Barclays Premier League table.
Quote/unquote: "You can bet your life this place is going to be rocking on Sunday after that performance [against Bordeaux], and it is going to be a tough game for us and a tough game for Manchester United for sure." Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager.
Rivals watch: Manchester City are away to the other top North-East team, Sunderland, in an early kick-off on Saturday while, later in the day, leaders Chelsea entertain Norwich and second-placed Everton are at Wigan. Liverpool meet Stoke, United's next opponents, on Sunday.