On 23 December Rafa Benitez was down to the bare bones, a crucial relegation six-pointer at West Ham and amongst those unavailable were all of his central midfield preferences, leaving the United boss with no other choice but to play Mohamed Diame & Henri Saivet and hope for the best.

Seven weeks later and Mohamed Diame has never looked back.

The midfielder scoring and playing a pivotal role in that 3-2 win at the Hammers, Diame having started eight of the last nine Premier League matches now, with Newcastle having only lost to Manchester City in that period.

Against Manchester United he was once again immense, along with Jonjo Shelvey the pair bossed the centre of midfield with Paul Pogba eventually subbed off.

Quite amazing how much better Mohamed Diame is looking, you can talk about change of position, but to go from looking like a poor Championship player to very good Premier League performer (if keeping recent form up) is very hard to take in.

Newcastle fans though are just enjoying the moment.

From kick-off yesterday, it was clear, just as was the case at Old Trafford, that Newcastle were happy to try and press the opposition and play as much of the game as possible in the opposition half.

Mohamed Diame explaining Rafa’s tactics: ‘We tried to push and press them, not allow them to turn with the ball. They are the kind of team that if you don’t let them play, you can make them uncomfortable, that’s what we tried to do.’

At Old Trafford Newcastle took the lead and were very good for most of the first half, only to then drop off the pace and allow Paul Pogba far too much time and he exposed defensive frailties with Jamaal Lascelles missing.

On Sunday though, there was no letting Pogba strut his stuff and clearly he didn’t like it with Mohamed Diame in particular in his face.

Whilst Man Utd were always going to get some chances, Lascelles and his defence, in fact the entire team, defended with everything that they had.

It was enough, just.

With Slimani still to come in and Rafa indicating he was close to including him yesterday, suddenly the manager is now looking at having to make some very positive decisions in his team selection for Bournemouth in two weeks time.

Mohamed Diame talking to the official club site:

“A very good feeling…unbelievable.

“The kind of game that when you win it, with this atmosphere, the fans, the pressure we had before the game with the Huddersfield (beating Bournemouth and putting Newcastle in bottom three) result…it is just amazing.

“We have done brilliantly today.

“The team worked so hard –  in front of the goal, stopping every single ball.

“It was a big battle, a big fight, but we’re so pleased with this result.

“We knew they (Huddersfield) were winning against Bournemouth so we knew the situation before starting the game.

“But to be honest, we started well. We have been focused since the beginning and we just worked hard together.

“We knew that the fans would push us.

“Manchester United are the kind of team that if you don’t let them play, you can make them uncomfortable, that’s what we tried to do.

“We tried to push and press them, not allow them to turn with the ball, and I think we did well.

“It (the crowd) is helping you, it’s pushing you.

“It is giving you an extra breath, to give more and to work harder, and to keep on running even when you’re tired.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 0


Newcastle: Ritchie 65

Possession was Man Utd 64% Newcastle 36%

Total shots were  Man Utd 13 Newcastle 10

Shots on target were Man Utd 6 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Man Utd 10 Newcastle 0

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy (Atsu 84), Gayle (Joselu 80), Perez (Hayden 90+4)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Murphy, Merino

Crowd: 52,309 (Man Utd 3,000)

(Alan Shearer gives his reaction to the win HERE)

(Read Jose Mourinho’s reaction to the match HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the victory HERE)

(Match ratings for all Toon players after beating Man Utd HERE)

(Rafa Benitez verdict after beating Manchester United HERE)

  • TheNutJob

    Whats happened to SloMo, he` s a different player in the last month, all we need now is the Hoss to turn into the North/Easts Harry Kane

    • 8prestondave

      Agreed. Used to slag him off for being a slow lazy git but he has 100% changed my mind after these last few games. Think your pushing it with Hoss mind.!!

    • Peaky Magpie

      Agree about SloMo Nut but The Hoss…..😂😂😂😂

    • Rich Lawson

      He can easily injure Lejurne in training ?

  • Paul Patterson

    Diame or Pogba- £5m or £90m.

    • Peaky Magpie

      Just don’t get Pogba,not a patch on De Bruyne…as you say,crazy…..Man Utd’s Sissoko….

      • GToon

        He must have been ill. Did you see his face when he went off. Looked knackered yet he did very little. At their place he gave us a torrid time.

        • Peaky Magpie

          Will never be able to work out some of these French players temperament,they’re either right up for it or would rather be somewhere else…we should know we have had a few…thanks Graeme Carr.Your’re right however he may have been ill.

  • TheFatController

    imagine that team with Slimani…?

    Vardy is a great goal scorer, so no shame in being kept out of a team by Vardy.
    Slimani at 28 was valued at £29m. He’s now 29 and knows the PL. I’m presuming he can add something ?

  • GToon

    Yes Mo, the crowd does help. We have a song for this approach – get into them and “blank” them off. We’ll sing it. You do it!

  • Cockneytrev

    He has slowly changed my opinion,, I thought he was a waste of a shirt but I stand corrected, he has been pivotal for us in the last 3 or 4 matches,, long may it continue,,,

  • Phil Hill

    In the beginning I think Benetiz played him more as a striker which clearly now does not seem to be his natural position. He has a very rare talent of being able to dispossess opposition players with relative ease, most midfielders struggle to do that. Looks very solid, I would say even better than Tiote on his day.