MANCHESTER UNITED 0, NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
Newcastle United followed Everton’s example on Wednesday in tearing up the record books by recording a first victory at Old Trafford in 41 years courtesy of a second half Yohan Cabaye goal to increase the pressure on David Moyes. It was Moyes’ second home league defeat in a row and United have now taken just a single point in three Premier League games and have lost their fifth Premier League game of the season before Christmas.
The visiting fans were very vocal, leading the pre-match applause for Nelson Mandela who died on Thursday night and revelling in the performance of their players. Moyes might not be getting “sacked in the morning” and United might not be “going down with the Mackems” but the visiting fans were also quick to point out the rapidly emptying Old Trafford at the end. “We can see you sneaking out.” was the war cry ringing in Old Trafford ears as United went out with a whimper and not with a bang at the end of a disappointing week.
Alan Pardew and Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul arrived at Old Trafford having just won Barclays Premier League awards for manager and player of the month for November wins against Chelsea at home, Spurs away, Norwich at home and West Brom at home despite a midweek blip at Swansea.
United manager David Moyes admitted in his match day programme notes that there was to be no hiding behind excuses following Wednesday night’s defeat to Everton at Old Trafford – their first loss in 13 games.
David Moyes rued United’s bad luck including a deflection that fell kindly for Newcastle’s goal, a possible penalty claim and a disallowed equaliser while urging the Old Trafford fans to keep backing the players and the club.
He said: “It’s disappointing to lose once again but we need something to go for us to give us a bit of confidence. We missed Wayne today but I hoped I hoped that Robin and Chicharito would get some goals.
“We have to play better, pass better and take our opportunities when they come. We haven’t been able to do that.
“The players are disappointed. we needed a bit of good fortune and it didn’t come today.”
“Their goal was a bit unfortunate, Patrice headed the ball against the boy’s head and it fell for him.”
United could have had a penalty claim when the ball struck Vernun Anita’s arm after coming back off the post while he was clearing it off the Newcastle line just before half time but nothing was given.
“His hand definately stops the ball from going into the net.” said Moyes.
Moyes urged the United faithful to stay behind the players, the same players who had won the title last season.
“The Manchester United supporters have been great to me and to the club. They didn’t expect us to have lost five games at this stage of the season. These are the same players who won the league last year.
“The challenge is the same.”
Moyes was ruthless in swinging the axe on the team that lost to Everton on Wednesday. A total of seven changes were made, Robin Van Persie returning to the fold after four games out and lacking match fitness alongside Phil Jones who was available after suspension, plus Johnny Evans, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Nani, and Adnan Januzaj making a more directly attacking line-up. Out went Wayne Rooney (suspended), Chris Smalling (hamstring), Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa (virus), Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini (bruised back).
The new look United side had pace on both flanks and up front with Jones in midfield alongside Cleverley but crucially they were outnumbered in midfield by Newcastle who seemed to be taking a leaf out of Everton’s book with aggressive tackling and forays into United’s half whenever possible. The Magpies pressed quite successfully and United were complicit with sloppy passes and lack of imagination from midfield even when Van Persie dropped deep to help out.
With only a shot by Jones to save, Krul was relatively underemployed in the first half, with all his team mates mucking in to win and retain possession and keep United off balance and restricting their clear chances.
Arguably United’s biggest shout was in the 42nd minute when Januzaj found Hernandez in the area and Collocini went to tackle the Mexican but withdrew his foot quickly after the ball had gone and Chicarito was on his way to the deck to claim a penalty which was not given.
There was a marked improvement for United after the break with a plethora of chances starting with Van Persie’s 50 yard pass from deep that Hernandez latched onto it but couldn’t beat Krul and neither could Januzaj a short while later when Cleverley’s headed pass found him.
Patrice Evra’s header took a deflection in the 55th minute looked to be going goalbound but seemed to come off Vernun Anita’s arm on the line.
United were indeed buoyed by the second half chances and committed themselves to more attacking but they were undone in the 61st minute when a long ball upfield was headed on by Evra against Moussa Sissoko but fell nicely for the Newcastle midfielder whose cut back found Yohan Cabaye ghosting up from midfield. His swept shot went in at the back post with a slight deflection off a United defender and past David De Gea.
It was another blow to David Moyes’ team but they had nearly half an hour to come back and they certainly began to throw everything at their visitors.
Van Persie thought he had equalised but he was offside from Evans’ flick-on of Januzaj’s free kick with 18 minutes to go.
United were in dire straits, hardly the ideal time for Wilfried Zaha’s Premier League bow a few minutes earlier but the youngster’s curled effort from the left wing went wide in the 74th minute showed a glimpse of his talent.
A free kick from the right by Van Persie evaded everyone and went wide at the back post in the 75th minute.
Normally in the last ten minutes at Old Trafford there is a final push by United. They certainly needed it but it never seemed to arrive and they faded badly in the final ten minutes.
The Newcastle fans loudly cheered everything that went their way in the last few minutes and it generally did.