Saturday finished Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 2.

An ‘interesting’ match that was definitely one of two halves.

The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game, so here goes…

POSITIVES

First 45 minutes

We harried, we hassled, we pressed and we scored two good goals (AWAY from home!) – all in a controlled manner that was underpinned by Rafa’s usual game plan of keeping things compact and maintaining control.

Man Utd were woeful but we were positive from the off and caught them cold. We never looked in any danger for the entire first 45. Then along came the second half…

Martin Dubravka

Just nine months on from Dubravka’s arrival on Tyneside, it’s easy to forget just how much of a worry the goalkeeping situation had become for Rafa Benitez, with Elliot and Darlow both error-prone and unconvincing and Mats Sels completely ostracised.

The stats in the ‘goals against’ column don’t tell the full story of the Czech keeper’s influence on the side. A fantastic shot-stopper, Dubravka commands his area well and seems to instill a sense of calm and confidence in what was previously a shaky Newcastle defence.

In an era of inflated prices, with quality goalkeepers at a premium, Dubravka’s value will have already sky-rocketed past the paltry £4m that Newcastle paid to keep him at St James Park in the summer. Here’s hoping we never need to find out his true market value…

Kenedy on the up?

Hopes were high during the summer that Rafa might be permitted to finally break our transfer record to bring Kenedy back to Tyneside full-time after his impressive loan spell last season.

It says much about how poor the Brazilian has been so far this season that fans had recently been expressing their relief that we hadn’t blown big money on signing the erratic winger on a permanent basis.

Now, however, after a solid cameo at left-back at home to Leicester and a positive performance with a great goal at Old Trafford, is the potentially match-winning maverick’s form on the up again? Fingers crossed that his injury isn’t serious and he can pick up where he left off when we take on Brighton in two weeks’ time.

NEGATIVES

The Second Half

It’s an old football adage that 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline, while another suggests that it’s possible for a team to ‘score too early’. Unfortunately, both were shown to be true at Old Trafford.

While it’s difficult to be anything other than thrilled with a two goal lead after 10 minutes, it left Newcastle in a curious position with the vast majority of the game left to play.

Yes, Newcastle started well and controlled the first half completely but it’s important to note just how much of a shambles Man Utd were in the opening period. They simply didn’t turn up and were visibly shell-shocked in the aftermath of Muto’s strike.

Unfortunately for us, they were a different animal in the second half and once they pulled a goal back, the momentum swing was palpable. There was only ever going to be one winner from that moment on.

Lack of quality exposed

Even though Man Utd came roaring back from their calamitous start, it was still only poor finishing that cost Newcastle a precious three points. The Magpies should have been out of sight long before Mourinho had a chance to re-group at half-time.

Diame yet again missed a sitter when he found himself unmarked in the box, while Muto and Lascelles were also found wanting when presented with decent opportunities.

Kenedy’s untimely injury further blunted our threat before the Man Utd onslaught intensified – control having slipped from Newcastle’s grasp long since.

That Mourinho had Mata, Fellaini and Sanchez to turn to, while Murphy, Atsu and Joselu were thrown into the fray for Rafa’s men, says it all.

Trouble Ahead?

Our limitations are obvious, our shortcomings are becoming exposed with merciless regularity and we have amassed a measly two points from 24 on offer. Indeed, only goal difference keeps us off the bottom of the table as we head into the international break – the reasons to be cheerful are few and far between.

Failure to pick up three points at home to Brighton next time out would see us in deep trouble and under immense pressure with a series of more ‘winnable’ games on the horizon. With only Cardiff and Huddersfield looking as inept as us at this early stage, doubts are creeping in – despite Rafa’s confidence in his ability to keep us up.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 2

Goals:

Newcastle: Kenedy 7, Muto 10

Man Utd: Mata 70, Martial 76, Sanchez 90

Possession was Man Utd 73% Newcastle 27%

Total shots were  Man Utd 18 Newcastle 13

Shots on target were Man Utd 10 Newcastle 8

Corners were  Man Utd 10 Newcastle 6

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy (Murphy 68), Perez (Joselu 88), Muto (Atsu 78)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Clark, Schar, Hayden

Crowd: 74,519 (NUFC Approx 3,000)

(Alan Shearer blames referee for Newcastle not beating Man Utd – Read Here)

(NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s cruel defeat Here)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players for the defeat at Old Trafford Here)

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  • DeadToiler

    No positives when another defeat

  • Tweed Mag

    Whatever the positives and negatives, the result last night exposed the shortcomings of both teams. A win for NUFC would have papered over the cracks for a couple of weeks. We don’t have 11 premiership players to put out every game. Manure have umpteen premiership players, they just need to get on with Mourinho. He is spolit for choice, whilst Rafa has to make do. The first half was encouraging and the players embarrassed the opposition; Ashley was his usual smug self. He was brought back down to earth in the second half and even his legendary ignorance of the game must be wearing thin (pardon the pun). If Newcastle is still in the Premiership next season, it will be a miracle. Hope so.

  • Leazes.

    Three Positives
    1. The campaign against Ashley and his pathetic error prone PR.
    2. People and some journalists opening their eyes (obviously not Douglas, Ryder and Waugh)
    3. There is nothing left for Ashley to strip from the club.

    Three Negatives
    1. We are heading into November without a win.
    2. Rafa will go, or be sacked and replaced by a journeyman.
    3. Ashley and Charnley will continue doing exactly the same thing, the Fans Forum shows that Charnley believes he’s right in justifying all of his actions.

    The club has for two seasons now been positioned by the owner at 15th most valuable, and that is why they believe they won’t be relegated again, they are very stupid people. Businessmen are not intelligent by and large… they are driven, and often accompanied by unshakable self belief.

    The prime objective of Charnley isn’t football its balancing the accounts, after Spo*** Dir*** and Ashley have plundered resources…..

    We heard statements over the years from Pardew which made our jaws drop, such as ‘We can’t compete with Villa’….then ‘We can’t compete with Southampton’….. now it is ‘We can’t compete with Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield’….

    ….What we were witnessing was the systematic asset strip and plunder of the club…. and Pardew posturing to front it all….. the silence for the last eleven years was for a reason.

    Rafa isn’t in an enviable position, he’ll have to buy to survive until May… but he’ll be buying for the club not himself…. doesn’t that just explain Charnleys absurd suggestion that Rondon was his first choice. Rafa sacked his agent for not finding the ‘golden handcuffs’ caveat in his contract….the club has stitched him up good and proper….. he’s not going to go through this again, not with these owners who are working against the club and its fans.

    • Wor Lass

      Couldn`t agree more!

  • Kenny

    We have a 45min team, a 90min one costs about another £80m-£100m
    needless to say we won`t be getting one anytime soon.

  • George

    I am a Man United fan, but since your Keegan days, have had a soft spot for NUFC! It is a great club with great support that deserves better than the current predicament.

    Newcastle fans should not kid themselves. In the first half, United were asleep and made you look good. Once Man United woke up, we saw the real Newcastle!

    You need Mike Ashley out as much as we need to get rid of Mourinho!

    I hope you do not go down come the end of the season!

    • Ron

      We need to kid ourselves otherwise we have nothing.

      I’d take another relegation if we could ensure it got rid of Ashley.