STEVEN Taylor has warned Manchester City to write Newcastle United off at their peril.
Alan Pardew’s side complete their pre-season preparations this evening with a game against Braga at St James’s Park.
The club’s campaign kicks off at the City of Manchester Stadium.
After an intensive pre-season, long-serving Taylor, speaking at the launch of the new NINE bar at St James’s Park, feels United’s players will be ready for whatever City throw at them on August 19.
“Everybody is expecting Man City to take three very easy points – that’ll be everybody around the world and around the country,” Taylor told the Gazette.
“It isn’t going to happen. We go into it really confident.
“We have players who are really fit now. We’ve got no real problems, only Loic Remy has a slight problem, but hopefully he will be involved as well.
“It has shown in pre-season the intensity we have worked on this year. It’s through the roof. Anybody who has been at the training ground will tell you that.
“Fitness-wise, the lads are looking stronger and stronger. Now we look to continue that against Braga.”
Newcastle drew 1-1 against Rangers on Tuesday night in a fiercely-contested friendly at Ibrox.
While United weren’t at their best in the final third of the pitch – Papiss Demba Cisse had just one chance – they competed physically against spirited and feisty Rangers side with a point to prove.
“It was a bit of a kick up the backside, but it got us in the mood for the Man City game,” added Taylor.
“We started a bit slowly. It was a physical game, and it was something different for some of the lads, especially the foreign boys.
“For us, it was a good test and probably what we needed.”
Newcastle beat Braga 2-1 last pre-season in Faro, and defender Taylor is expecting a very different contest on the Football Association’s Sir Bobby Robson National Football Day.
“They are a very good side,” he said. “They keep the ball very well.
“I think they will be trying to make us chase the ball, but they will facing a different Newcastle team to the one they faced last pre-season.”
Robson handed Taylor his debut in a European fixture just over a decade ago during his time in charge of his beloved United.
And Sir Bobby – whose career is being honoured by events around the country – was a huge influence on Taylor in his early years.
“I remember him selecting me for the squads first time,” said the former England Under-21 captain.
“Speaking to him used to just give me a buzz, especially because I was just a young lad leaving school. To be talking to somebody just like him was amazing.
“I was left speechless half the time! I didn’t know what to say to a living legend at the time.
“He was an inspiration then, and still is now.”
Pardew is hopeful of a decent crowd at St James’s Park for the Braga game, and Taylor added: “We expect nothing less from the fans.
“That’s the respect that Sir Bobby Robson has got. It’s good that he will get the recognition before the game.”
Meanwhile, the new NINE bar at St James’s Park was opened this week.
It celebrates the club’s famous No9 jersey.
Taylor said: “It’s a celebration of all the iconic No9s Newcastle have had over the years. It’s got plenty of screens for the fans to watch games on.”
NINE bar is open until 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 12am on Friday and Saturday.