The attention was on United following their midweek defeat to Everton, and United really had to win this game. Sadly, another game goes by with more lost ground on the teams around us after we slipped to our fifth defeat of the season, our third at home, which isn’t good enough if you want to win trophies.
Starting XI: de Gea; Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra; Januzaj, Jones, Cleverley, Nani; van Persie, Hernandez
Substitutes: Ferdinand, Anderson, Lindegaard, Young, Welbeck, Valencia, Zaha
On another day, United may have won this one, but in truth, they didn’t deserve to after struggling to break down a well organised Newcastle side, who restricted United to just a handful of chances.
Newcastle came with a game plan and stuck to it. They were fairly resolute in defence and energetic in midfield and up front. The 3 in midfield of Cabaye, Tiote and Anita did well against the United midfield, closing down the spaces and breaking up play well, whilst Gouffran, Remy and Sissoko stretched United’s back line.
In contrast, United were static and out of ideas for most of the game. Jones and Cleverley were outplayed by Newcastle’s midfield 3, with only Jones providing any mobility in the middle. Some of United’s better play came down the flanks with Januzaj and Nani, but the attacks never came to anything. The only player who seemed to be giving it his all was Javier Hernandez. The young Mexican was lively in and out of possession, chasing the ball and putting pressure on the back 4 and goalkeeper. But sadly, the service that Chicharito thrives upon was not forthcoming.
In truth, the game had few chances throughout. The best opportunity of the first half fell to the Geordies, as right back Debuchy hit a fierce shot from the right side of the area that was well saved by David de Gea.
United started the second half slightly brighter, and November Player of the Month, Tim Krul, kept out an effort by Hernandez, whilst a Patrice Evra header was saved by the combination of the post and Vurnon Anita.
Newcastle held firm, and in the 61st minute, took the lead. The energetic Sissoko broke down the right, headed into the box, and Yohann Cabaye cooly slotted home his cutback pass that found the gaps in the United defence.
After the defeat to Everton, the crowd expected an onslaught, but it never fully materialised. Robin van Persie had the ball in the net but it was righly ruled offside, whilst Premier League debutant Wilfred Zaha curled a shot wide of the post. And that was pretty much that. No back to the wall defending for Newcastle, no edge of the seat pulsating action for the fans. Just thousands of fans heading for the exits, well before the end of the game.
United slump to 2 successive home league defeats for the first time in over 10 years. 2 points from the last 12. No goals in over 150 minutes of football and little sign that any points or goals are on their way soon.
We were told by Sir Alex to stand by our new manager, but with the club laying in 9th place almost halfway through the campaign, David Moyes isn’t making it easy for fans of the club to stay positive. January is approaching, and signings are certainly needed, especially in midfield. However, it’s not just the personnel that are in question, because these players romped to the league title last year. Maybe Mr Moyes just doesn’t have the respect of his players, but the intensity and desire of our play just isn’t there at the moment, and that is fundamentally the thing ths needs to change the most.
At the moment it looks like the only way we will qualify for the Champions League is by winning the thing, so on Tuesday we turn our attentions away from the league as Shakhtar Donetsk come to town. If we avoid defeat, it will see us top the group, leading to a potentially easier knockout game in the next round.