At the start of every season now, Manchester United is always the one game that I try and get to. I’m not quite sure why to be honest, perhaps it is the history of growing up in an age where we were battling them for the league and so it is just a big game. Or perhaps it is about going to the biggest ground in the league, after all, they are the biggest team in England by a country mile.
On top of that, Man U is always a good trip because you can generally put the score at the back of your thoughts. You are going there knowing you are more than likely to get beat, so when we do get beat, it doesn’t ruin the mood of the day. Ironically, I have now seen Newcastle at Old Trafford seven times and only seen us lose three times (in two of those we scored three goals, 5-3 and 4-3) so I actually have a pretty decent record! Maybe that’s why I like it then…
I think most of us were shocked by the team news, especially the fact that he went with Joselu and Gayle up front. I fully expected Perez to play out left, with Rafa sticking to his usual 4-2-3-1. I guess it worked for a short period, but we were too narrow in the end, as we provided support inside for Shelvey and Hayden. This would ultimately allow Manchester United to dominate the game, and win it, from the flanks.
The inclusion of Jacob Murphy was another one that raised a few eyebrows, it was a bold decision by Rafa. Regardless of his individual performance, it is still good that Rafa gives him the chance. Although, what does it say for Mitro? Yes, him and Murphy are different positions and so not directly relevant, but if Rafa is willing to give Murphy a start, a player who has been very poor so far in an NUFC shirt, then it shows the lack of trust that he still has in Mitrovic, he can’t buy a place in the starting line up for love nor money.
It was always going to be a hard, all I could ask for is that we scored a goal, and that we didn’t get battered. We obviously scored a goal, however, I’m still not sure if the result wa s a fair reflection.
We got off to a brilliant start. This is a common theme at Old Trafford for Newcastle down the years, we always seem to have a go at them early on, and this was no different. This Manchester United side aren’t the type to come out of the doors flying, so early on was our best chance to be able to grab a goal.
Watching Newcastle in a big game, especially at Old Trafford, is all about those brilliant moments. Those moments of sheer ecstasy. You can’t beat it. I have a friend from Hong Kong who was also in the away end yesterday, we saw him at the station after the game, and he was a bit gutted about the result. I told him not to be, I told him to be happy, because he got to experience those brilliant moments of seeing Newcastle go 1-0 up at Old Trafford. We may have got battered in the end but you still can’t take away that feeling when Gayle put us 1-0 up.
It was a brilliant finish by Gayle, who deserved the goal based on his overall performance. His first touch looked sharp, and fitness wise, he looked as comfortable as I have seen for a while now! Jacob Murphy could have had a chance to put us two up but he didn’t take it. It was another disappointing performance from a young lad who just looks way out of his depth at the moment. A loan move would be good for him in January to get back to playing football.
Even up until the equaliser, Man U never really posed that much of a threat or had any clear cut chances. It was almost a surprise (although we knew it would happen) when they equalised through Martial. For me, the game was as good as over when they scored just before half time. It knocked the stuffing out of us in the away end, and it would have done the same to the players too, who were just holding on to half time.
Even then, we could have equalised straight away but Hayden would miss what can only be described as a sitter. It then didn’t take too long for the game to be totally over, when Pogba made it 3-1 just after HT. From that point, it was all about keeping it respectable and to an extent we did that. 4-1 was a harsh result in the end.
The fans, and especially the media, have made too big a reaction to the result on Saturday for me. A lot of focus has been placed on the amount of money Manchester United have spent on their team compared to Newcastle. With all due respect, they are Man United. We could spend 200 million in January, and we would still always struggle at old Trafford, because they are Man United. A complete overreaction with the pressure being put on the manager and the players, thanks to continued takeover talk.
For the moment, I think Rafa could do with everyone not talking about money or takeovers and just getting on with picking up points in the Premier League.
I’m not really in a position to criticise Rafa’s team selection on Saturday, it wasn’t the team I would have picked it, but they certainly did ok for the first 40 minutes.
I do still think changes need to be made for Watford though. For me, Darlow would come in for Elliott, and if we are going to stick with 4-4-2, I would like to see Mitrovic given a chance ahead of Joselu.
3,100 of us created an absolutely brilliant atmosphere in the away end. It may have been freezing but were certainly warmed up with beer, a buoyant mood and an early goal!
I’ve lost count now of the amount of times we have outsang 70,000 at Old Trafford. You wont find many better travelling fans than the Toon Army that’s for sure!
We were never going to win anyway were we? Just for context, Newcastle have only won at Old Trafford three times since WW2 (I think), and we couldn’t even do it under KK or Sir Bobby!
Although it is three defeats on the trot now, I am still confident about the rest of the season. A win next week against Watford and at least a point away to West Brom would be massive, just to be able to give the lads some space to breathe ahead of what is a tough December.
Hey, if you can’t smile about Newcastle this weekend, then lets all laugh at Sunderland instead!
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1
Newcastle United: Gayle 14
Manchester United: Martial 37 Smalling 45+1, Pogba 54, Lukaku 70
Possession was Man Utd 65% Newcastle 35%
Total shots were Man Utd 16 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Man Utd 7 Newcastle 5
Corners were Man Utd 11 Newcastle 4
Referee: Craig Pawson
Elliot, Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie (Aarons 66), Shelvey, Hayden, Murphy, Joselu (Mitrovic 71), Gayle (Diame 77)
Darlow, Gamez, Perez, Mbemba
Crowd: 75,035 (Newcastle 3,100)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)
(To read what Jose Mourinho said after the game go HERE)
(To read NUFC Match Ratings from the game go HERE)
(Gary Linker gives message to Newcastle fans after defeat at Old Trafford – Read HERE)