Harper told the Daily Star: “It’s always a special game because of the historical significance of the fixture. We had some bad days at Old Trafford when it was almost a case of lying down, getting our bellies tickled and if we lost 2-0, then it wasn’t the end of the world. But it was a very different story on home soil and Newcastle v Manchester United has produced some of the Premier League’s iconic games. I played in a 3-0 win when big Duncan Ferguson and Alan Shearer tore them apart and then there was a 4-3 win when Roy Keane was sent off in the dying minutes after squaring up to Al. And who can forget the famous 5-0 20 years ago? They’d beaten us to the title the previous season and it was the first time we’d played them since Shearer turned them down. Big games, great memories, wonderful wins – and we could certainly do with another on Sunday.
“To be fair, we haven’t come close to beating one of the big teams yet. What’s worrying is that most of the teams in the bottom half have managed to – Swansea, West Ham, even Huddersfield who beat Manchester United at home. And look at Bournemouth who are flying now after wins over Arsenal and Chelsea. Shock results like that give you momentum and the truth is Newcastle will probably have to upset the odds at least once to reach that magic 40 points. Now’s the time to do it.
“Mourinho’s the perfect fit for them but they’re not the finished article just yet and that means they’re beatable. Depending on what filter you look through, Newcastle are either playing well and not winning, which is a worrying sign, or you believe recent displays suggest it’s only a matter of time before results come. But to win this one Newcastle need a 90-minute performance, not 45 or even 70 minutes which they’ve had recently but a strong one from first whistle to last. The players will be up for it, the fans will be up for it and knowing the rivalry between the two managers, I’m sure Rafa will have a few tricks up his sleeve. So yes, I’m going for a home win – and another game to add to the collection.”