I know this isn’t the usual way to start a match report, but I’m actually still in shock. Little old Newcastle United once again defied all odds today and got a 1-1 draw away at Manchester United.
I’m going to start by congratulating the lads on how much fight and class they showed today. Not only did we get a point away at Man Utd, but we survived the very nervy last 10 or so minutes with 10 men after the red card of Jonas Gutierrez.
The first half began pretty slowly for Newcastle, and Javier Hernandez had a couple of early chances to put Manchester United in the lead but he could not find the back of the net. At around the 10th minute mark was when Newcastle changed the game and started to take control, and shock every commentator in the land, despite being 4th in the league.
Hatem Ben Arfa clipped an inch perfect ball over the top of the Man United defence which set Demba Ba through with a volley at goal, but the Senegalese international failed to get enough on his volleyed effort.
Our midfield was running the game at that point and then the game sparked to life when Wayne Rooney kicked out at Fabricio Coloccini twice, which got Hatem Ben Arfa to run 40 yards to get right in Rooney’s face. The French talisman lost his temper and got a yellow card, but it just showed how much the players care for each other.
The best chance of the first half was for Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs. Tim Krul pulled off a ridiculously good save at his far post after a glancing effort from the veteran. Newcastle had the final chance of the half when Yohan Cabaye saw his right footed volley comfortably saved by David De Gea.
The second half began at the same pace as the first, and Manchester United took the lead rather fortuitously when a Steven Taylor clearance cannoned off Hernandez leaving Tim Krul stranded. Man Utd loving commentators will try to tell you that it was meant, but no, pure luck on Man Utd’s part…. again.
This was the point where I thought that we would struggle and potentially crumble but the Newcastle team spirit was once again there for all to see. They rolled their sleeves up, and got on with it. David De Gea pulled off a world class save from Fabricio Coloccini who volleyed towards goal after a Steven Taylor knock down, I had a weird feeling that something was going to come, and it did.
Hatem Ben Arfa jinked past a couple of Man Utd defenders and made his way into the box where he was scythed down by Rio Ferdinand, well kind of, or not at all. Rio Ferdinand got a blatant touch of the ball and a corner was given by the referee Mike Jones, but to the surprise of everyone the assistant referee had his flag across his chest.
The Manchester United players did their usual and ran over to him and surrounded him trying to make him change his mind, while Demba Ba placed the ball on the spot with only eyes for the goal. Demba Ba sent De Gea the wrong way and stroked the penalty home in the 64th minute sending the travelling Newcastle fans into raptures.
Gabriel Obertan had run himself into the ground after his recent injury and was replaced by Sammy Ameobi just after the goal, to the delight of Patrice Evra who he was giving a good contest.
Our midfield was tiring and picking up bookings at an alarming rate, we had Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Danny Guthrie and Yohan Cabaye all on bookings for long periods during the second half.
On the 78th minute our task got even harder when Jonas Gutierrez flew into a tackle with Nani and got a bit of the ball, but also got a bit of Nani who did a triple twist that Tom Daley would have been proud of and Jonas Gutierrez got his marching orders.
Manchester United had countless chances after that and were denied by either Tim Krul, our defence or the excellent pair of posts we had at either sides of our net. Tim Krul pulled off the save of the game when he denied Nemanja Vidic with a header from point blank range.
With five minutes to go Ashley Young breached the Newcastle defence but was denied by the post with Tim Krul stranded. Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney had shots blocked by both Steven Taylor and Tim Krul respectively.
Danny Simpson who had an absolute stormer in my opinion, showed another piece of defensive class when he cleared a goal bound Javier Hernandez effort off the line at the last possible moment. The ex-Man Utd right full back showed great awareness to drop back onto the line and keep the scorea at 1-1.
Then the inevitable happened, the ball got knocked across the goal and Javier Hernandez was on hand to tap in the winner for Manchester United and run away celebrating, before the linesman stopped the celebrations for the narrowest of offsides much to the despair of the Man Utd fans, not that you’d have known as they were their usual quiet self.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle was blown and I heard a huge sigh come over the whole of Old Trafford, as well as various media stations and TV programmes. I was extremely proud as I imagine you all are.
Nobody let the team down today, Gutierrez’s tackle was rash and unnecessary but he’d put in so much work that he’s allowed a lapse of concentration once in a while. The centre halves Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor had another outstanding game, with blocks flying in left right and centre.
The full backs were also strong, and more notably Danny Simpson as he had Ashley Young in his pocket all game and kept the winger very quiet. Gabriel Obertan also made a massive difference to our right hand side and his pace caused troubles for Patrice Evra.
Tim Krul had an absolute blinder, he’s proving to be one of the best keepers in the whole of Europe. He’s up there with the best in the league at the minute and he showed that with the top class saves that he made today. The most notable from Vidic’s header and Giggs’ flick. He’s really proving that he’s our number one, by a long way. He was my man of the match, with Danny Simpson closely following him.
Danny Guthrie is really staking a claim for a regular spot after filling in for Cheik Tiote again, with relative ease. Guthrie should be given a new contract as soon as possible and given a chance in the first team whenever possible as he has a lot to offer to the team.
Yohan Cabaye was steady as usual, and Hatem Ben Arfa showed touches of class and a bit of his temper, but impressed me. Ben Arfa links up the midfield and strike force very well and allows us to keep the ball better and be cuter with our build up play. Ba once again tirelessly chased and won plenty of knock downs and held the ball up well. He also took his goal well, he must be getting penalty tips off of Shola Ameobi.
I also think that both linesmen had great games, Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias ran the line well and they managed to give us a couple of decisions which I felt were blatantly wrong, but I’m not going to complain.
I’ll once again say how proud I am of the lads, and todays point really just shows how far this team has come, after losing our “better” players in the summer. Alan Pardew is doing a cracking job and hopefully he’s in his job for many years to come, with his one year anniversary just coming up.
Just a quick message for a few other fans, firstly Sunderland fans, I hope you enjoyed today after your little laugh last week when we lost and you drew. 1 point from Fulham and Wigan at home, 1 point from Manchester City and Manchester United away, we all know who the top dogs are.
My final word is for Manchester United “fans”, you don’t like it when things don’t go your way do you? Why don’t you remind Rio Ferdinand of his hashtag, #stayonyourfeet.
Have we still played no-one?