Before any trip to Old Trafford, a certain amount of taking stock is required for Newcastle fans.

It’s not impossible to get a result away at Manchester United, nor are they invincible, Newcastle fans saw a draw there last time out and that side went on to get relegated. We managed a draw way back in 2008 in another season where we got relegated. Heck, we even beat them under Alan Pardew in 2013, so on any given day teams can pick up results in the most unlikely of places.

That said, when we took the lead and even threaten to go 2-0 up on Saturday, the inevitable beating was still in the forefront of my mind.

It’s nice to see a Newcastle side not be overawed by the occasion when going up against the big boys, be it Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, Anfield etc and we did play some nice stuff in the opening half an hour against Mourinho’s men. Unfortunately, it was always going to be a case of a clean sheet being the most important thing and as it turned out, as soon as Manchester United restored parity, there was only going to be one winner.

Games against these teams are NOT a good gauge of where we are, they provide little more than a reality check for fans and players alike and give a character examination of players. If we do take the lead against them, it’s a case of how long we hold out or do we capitulate, obviously the latter being the case on Saturday. The games that we need to be winning are our bread and butter games, the ones against Bournemouth (lost), Burnley (lost), Brighton (lost), Huddersfield (lost), and Crystal Palace (won).

That will be where we find out if we are good enough to stay in this league, or if we are destined to suffer a second relegation in three years, and third since Mike Ashley bought the club.

There is still time to avert disaster, be that in the form of not sitting back but attacking teams we should/could beat, or in the form of buying players in January to give us a lift in the final four months of the season. The former is down to the manager, the latter is down to whoever holds the purse strings after the new year. If it’s (as I expect) Mike Ashley, then expect nothing. To anyone thinking he will put some money in to protect his Premier League investment then forget it, as he could have done that in the summer and we would be in an infinitely better place right now and his investment would be on far more solid ground.

Instead we have a workmanlike side that has a little quality here and there, but won’t/can’t score sufficient amounts of goals to get enough points, that is once again down to a lack of investment, in particular on a quality centre forward – something we haven’t done since we signed Demba Ba in 2011 or Cisse in 2012. Five years without signing a Premier League quality striker and is it any wonder we’ve struggled?

Kevin Keegan supposedly got a telling off from this club’s hierarchy in 2008 when he said we can’t bridge the gap between where we were at the time and the top four, insisting that the money simply isn’t there. Despite having stated in his press unveiling only a few months earlier that talks with the owner were good on the subject of finance and being backed in the transfer market. Now how many times have we heard that over the last ten years?

Back to there here and now and we have to forget about the Manchester United defeat – like I’ve said our season won’t be scuppered on that result or against similar teams.

Rafa will have to dust the lads down and reset to go again at the weekend but I hope he at least instructs the lads to go for it.

The opening half hour at Old Trafford showed enough to me to suggest that we can have a go at sides and nick a goal or two despite our limited capabilities. This is made all the more likely against sides that aren’t at the top end of the table.

On to Watford this coming Saturday…

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  • cmrowley

    Sensible post.
    Ashley may invest something in January but if he does it won’t be enough to alter the course of the season. Whatever happens we’ll be struggling and our target is to beat the teams you mention, so far the lack of a goal scorer has resulted in failure to do so.
    It seems fairly straightforward what is required.

  • anyobrien

    Like yourself I believe fat boy will still be at the helm January and tbh I think he will be next season as I don’t believe he will sell or should I say he will get greedy and blow it….. It’s imperative we buy a goal scorer we can all see it but will funds be released? Not a hope In hell, he’ll gamble like always and I truly believe that rafa will walk. And who would blame him.

    • Phil Yare

      guaranteed. it’s the same script as before. as always we are heading for an optimistic walk off a cliff

    • Down Under Mag

      I think he will sell if someone is willing to pay over the odds…which any sensible owner we would actually want wouldn’t be. He wil get stroppy again and walk away from negotiations and we will be told he “tried”…no doubt just after the january window closes so he can get away without spending anything. Until I see otherwise this is the amount of distrust I have in that guy!

  • Leazes Ender

    How many of our fans want us to join the elite group?

    Less than half?

  • Phil Yare

    i think putting aside investment for the moment most fans want to see our best 11 on the pitch and we need to start doing that otherwise we are going to be in the relegation zone by the new year
    I find it almost moronic that Gayle has sat on the bench this season with nowt to do when he is the only one out of him Perez, Joselu and Mitrovic that offers a goal threat and is the only orthodox striker
    The number 10 role seems to a fantasy role to justify perez’s inclusion as his assist record is dreadful but it looks like the penny might of dropped recently that he is useless. Most of us would like to see a centre forward along side gayle and we did that yesterday but 99% of fans would agree we went with the most useless option…..joselu
    while merino is injured we have no option but to play hayden along side shelvey, quite simply there is no one else, and I’d rather stick mbemba in there rather than play colback.
    If aarons is fit, we should definitely play him, its a pity we couldn’t swap murphy’s fitness levels for aarons as he is talented. He also is a good counter attacking player which suits rafa’s style. there has been too many times lately when newcastle can’t take advantage of a counter attacking situation because perez gets knocked off the ball or murphy can’t kick with his left foot and the other team score.
    Richie is struggling but has to play for me. the rule should be as long as hes not the worst on the pitch he shouldn’t be dropped, his left foot is too valuable to us – i think an adjustment to his playing position would help him massively, especially if we could get him in a more natural left position or left of central in a midfield 3.
    I still think clark and lascelles is our best centreback pairing as clark was player of the season which didn’t happen by fluke. But while all centre halves are fit I’d slot clark in at leftback as hes a natural left footer. I think mbemba or gamez would be a better option than manquillo
    Yedlin must play although I do think hes more of a wingback than a fullback.

    basically we need to drop the rubbish before any potential talk of new players come in.
    Joselu, Diame, Perez, Manquillo, Murphy are too weak and ineffective to play. it could be the difference in staying up this season because ultimately NOWT will be spent the next transfer window

    • Down Under Mag

      Gayle was coming back off a serious injury and was managed well by Rafa, he was low on confidence…not in his goalscoring but in his injury, he never looked comfortable that he could push himself. Now he’s been rested properly he looks a lot more willing to push and looking a good player again. But it doesn’t help that he gets no support from around him right now from Joselu, who I think is there as a more defensive option than a goalscorer…Mitro clearly out of favour and Perez just not good enough for the role being asked of him. I hope Merino comes back soon as we clearly need him, but again I don’t want him rushed back when he could then injure himself and be out the season.

  • Down Under Mag

    We played really well for the first half, scored a great goal and caused them some problems while limiting their chances. However, once the first goal went in for them it was only going one way and we lost our form and composure. It was just more quality in one side won out and we were unable to maintain our level of play for the full game. Not exactly surprising but apart from the scoreline, there were still some positives to take out of the game. Yedlin looked immense down the right, and I thought Murphy had a good game too, but Jose saw that was our only attacking threat and shored them up which meant we had no answer…that is not a slight on Rafas tactics but more that he just doesn’t have the options that Man Utd have.
    Hayden was dissappointing and while Joselu did the job asked of him, offered very little going forward yet again.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Swansea away won, southampton away drew. Bournemouth we were robbed. The games against brighton and huddersfield away were tight and could have been draws. Whilst I agree these are our bread and butter games there is too much negativity the lads are doing OK. Could do worse could do better. We are a workmanlike unit that is calm and tactically drilled. Id far raher be that than the mess that many clubs at the bottom have that looks very familiar to us 2 seasons ago. If Palace, west ham, everton, swansea think they are too good to go down… they should take a look at what happened to us. Mess throughout a club ends in relegation. Rafa is a very calming influence on our club and the fans need to buy into that for us to stay up this season as its likely not much will change in January and it cant be influenced by any of us. I still think longer term Rafa will see off Mike Ashley at the club and eventually get some funds to do his thing having well and truly earned it.