Newcastle deservedly lost at St James’ Park this afternoon as goals from Johnny Evans, Patrice Evra and Tom Cleverley handed the Red Devils a 3-0 victory.
I’ve been trying to think hard for positives to come out of the game today and I just can’t. People will no doubt blame tactics like they are the be all and end all of everything, but to me that is taking a fair portion of the blame away from those responsible for this result.
I’ve said many times that I can handle defeat. I’m not one of these that will spit the dummy and get all reactionary over a result. I do however have one very simple expectation, and that is that the players who wear the black and white stripes give it all they’ve got. That’s why some of the “lesser lights” of the history of NUFC are my favourite players, because they gave everything. Today at least, not one of them did and for that they should be embarrassed.
To stand any chance of beating Manchester United you have to be on it from the word go and the Newcastle players just weren’t. Tactics, tiredness, motivation or just plain poor performance, or perhaps even a combination of all of them, ensured that Manchester United soon asserted themselves on the game.
Danny Welbeck should have put the away side ahead within five minutes but his shot from a Michael Carrick backheel was scuffed straight at Steve Harper from 12 yards out. That should have woken the home side up, but it didn’t and just three minutes later Manchester United were ahead courtesy of a thumping header from Johnny Evans who lost Mike Williamson at the corner.
Just four minutes later there was nearly more embarrassment for the hosts when Steve Harper decided not to clear Mike Williamson’s backpass. Under pressure from Danny Welbeck, Harper lost possession allowing Welbeck a shot at an empty net which fortunately rolled wide of the goal.
With 15 minutes gone Harper was once again called into action as Wayne Rooney fired a freekick towards goal that Harper palmed wide. However from the resulting corner the away side made it 2-0 through Patrice Evra who was allowed a free run at goal after being ignored by Jonas Gutierrez. The French fullback stole in at the near post and nodded past a helpless Harper.
It wasn’t until 18 minutes that Newcastle managed to get their first sight of goal with Jonas Gutierrez flashing a shot wide of goal from 20-yards which seemed to signal some form of fightback from the real United. Ba fired over from a Yohan Cabaye corner whilst Cabaye himself fired a drive over the bar. Further chances for Gutierrez, Ben Arfa and Cisse followed although none of them were exactly guilt-edged as half-time loomed.
Half-time: Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester United
Newcastle had to do something in the second half if they were to find a way back into the game, and they very nearly did within five minutes of the restart. Shane Ferguson lofted a cross into the box which David de Gea flapped at before Demba Ba headed against the crossbar. The rebound fell nicely for Papiss Cisse who headed towards goal only to see the Manchester United ‘keeper claw the ball away from behind the line.
To me it looked over the line in real time, but TV replays have shown that it might not have been the case. The rules state that the whole of the ball must be over the the whole of the line and to me, on closer inspection, that didn’t seem to be the case and, begrudgingly yet correctly in my view, nothing was given. If it was it might have been a different game…
Newcastle had their spell of dominance and Manchester United soon reasserted themselves. Demba Ba nodded wide for the home side while Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverley spurned chances for the away side. Robin van Persie then found the back of the net but was correctly judged offside. That happened on 65 minutes and just six minutes later the game was put beyond any doubt when Tom Cleverley’s shot found the top corner of Steve Harper’s net. Cross or shot? I don’t really care to be honest. It counted and that was that.
The game pretty much petered out from then on with everyone involved with the home side feeling deflated. Mind you the blame lies firmly in our court for starting off so slowly. You just can’t do that against Manchester United and they made us pay by pretty much killing the game off in the opening 15 minutes.
Up next, a two week international break, followed by THE derby.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle United: Steve Harper, Davide Santon, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Shane Ferguson, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba
Subs: Jak Alnwick, Danny Simpson, Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obrtan, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi
Manchester United: David De Gea, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Johnny Evans, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney
Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Scott Wooton, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez