Lambs to the slaughter. That’s what it felt like before kick off as Ronaldo walked out to face a Newcastle side full of square pegs in round holes.
The score line suggests we were stuffed, however there were some positives to take from a performance filled with more organisation and spirit than we’d seen in recent weeks.
Saying that, we still went on to concede four goals, with two coming from who else but Cristiano Ronaldo and one via a 25-yard stunner from Bruno Fernandes before Jessie Lingard rounded off the scoring.
Javier Manquillo equalised 56 minutes in, giving us just over half an hour to spoil the party with a surprise result, however Ronaldo put the Red Devils back ahead just over five minutes later.
4-1 is probably a tad harsh on us in the end, with us doing well at times to frustrate the home side – who looked set to go into the break at 0-0 before Woodman parried straight into you know who’s path.
It is another defeat, however, leaving us sat second bottom in the table behind only Norwich. It’s also another game where we’ve shipped too many goals, with us now conceding TWELVE goals in our opening four league matches so far – meaning we have the worst defence in the Premier League as things stand.
Bruce made four changes, seeing Manquillo, Hayden, Clark and Joelinton replace Murphy, Schar, Fernandez and Wilson. Many thought it would be another 3-5-2 formation, however it seemed more of a 5-4-1 at times, with Joelinton and Almiron often dropping into wide areas to protect Ritchie and Manquillo.
Ronaldo stole the headlines, however there were plenty in black and white who put in big shifts and strong displays. Miguel Almiron was outstanding – winning the ball back for our equaliser and being a constant pest at both ends – Sean Longstaff looked more like his old self and Javier Manquillo filled in well down the right, not only grabbing his first goal for the club but coping well defensively against the double threat of Luke Shaw and Jadon Sancho.
In all honesty, I thought we got the approach right. We looked to frustrate, stay compact and hit on the counter when we could, however our attack was missing one key ingredient in Callum Wilson.
At the other end, it was a day to forget for Freddie Woodman. He could and should have done better for both of Ronaldo’s goal, meaning his position could be under threat now Karl Darlow is fit again and back on the bench.
STARTING 11: Woodman – Manquillo, Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – S Longstaff, Willock, Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.
SUBS: Darlow, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Fernandez, Murphy, Gayle, White.