Well, I wasn’t expecting that (Man U 3 United 2).

It was a Newcastle dominated week in regards to the events of Wednesday in Ponteland, and then a Kevin Keegan event on Thursday for me in London. You could be forgiven for forgetting that Newcastle had a massive game at the weekend.

For the moment, the pressure on the team is immense, having not managed to win a game so far the pressure will keep ramping up until they do. That is just the nature of the game.

I thought I was going to see us win at Old Trafford for the second time ever but it wasn’t to be. At half-time I would have taken a point, which probably shows you where we are as a fan base right now.

If you had to introduce someone who knew nothing about Newcastle United to the club, and you could only show them one game to explain what it is like supporting this great club, then this one would be high on your list I am sure.

The Match

Unless Newcastle score in the opening ten minutes of a cup final, then I think that is probably as good an opening ten minutes to a football match as you could ever experience, 2-0 up at Old Trafford. It tastes even better when you are expecting absolutely nothing from the game.

There is that old saying that you could score too early in a football game. While there definitely isn’t such a thing that you can score two goals too early. Then of course there is that other saying that a two goal lead is the most dangerous one to have. I mean, what sort of saying is that? Ludicrous. It was the perfect start.

One of the big positives for me though is that after his early goal, which he took brilliantly, Kenedy looked like he had gotten his mojo back. I hope he can put in a similar shift in his next game. He may have came off after an hour, having run himself into the ground, but that is good enough for me. If he can give you something like that every week, but after 60 minutes he comes off because he can barely run, then I would take that.

A few minutes later when Muto put us 2-0 up it was absolute delirium in the away end. I have stood in a lot of away ends and I’ve gone potty a lot of times. In fact, my earliest memory of a crazy away end was probably when Olivier Bernard put us 1-0 up at Old Trafford around 15 years ago. I was just a little boy, standing on the chair next to my dad and every time I go to Old Trafford it brings back that wonderful memory.

Both Muto and Perez put in great displays. In the first half, Man United didn’t know how to handle Muto as Shelvey frequently zipped the ball into his feet as he played between the lines to turn and put us on the front foot. Likewise, Perez, who I criticise an awful lot, put in one of his best performances in a Newcastle shirt.

Shelvey, who was the best player on the pitch by a good distance, then had a spectacular effort from long range, Muto missed what can only be described as an absolute sitter, and Newcastle should have had a penalty (I’ll come to the referee later). In truth, Newcastle should have been three or four up at half-time, and that is being conservative.

You knew in that second half that as soon as Man U scored that would be it. It was just a matter of making sure that first goal didn’t come. Man U missed a few sitters in the opening ten minutes of the first half, and Dubravka pulled off a good few saves, but in between 55 and 70 minutes we honestly looked fairly comfortable. Man U were of course putting the pressure on but it certainly didn’t feel like it was inevitable.

As soon as Mata’s goal hit the net that was that. Not only did the players look beaten but we were beaten in the stands too. Perhaps in a different era the fans would have got more behind the team but you felt the inevitable was on its way. That’s not to say they didn’t still sing and chant but that first goal hurt just as much as the second and third.

Martial‘s goal was well worked, and although now I have watched it back Dubravka arguably looked suspect being beaten at his near post, you certainly can’t criticise the guy as his overall contribution saved us more than once.

manchester united 3 newcastle united 2

The Sanchez goal, well I didn’t see much of it being at the other end of the ground but it was just so inevitable, with Man U overloading on the Newcastle defence on the back post. It was a sickener of course, but it was coming, and so when the ball hit the back of the net, it wasn’t as hard a pill to swallow than some other goals I can think of (I will always go back to that 3-2 Norwich game a couple of years back).

I don’t think there is any grand analysis needed as to why Newcastle lost the game in the second half. After an hour the Newcastle players were dead on their feet, especially Kenedy, Perez and Ritchie who had done most of the running defensively and going forward. Manchester United brought on Juan Mata, Alexis Sanchez and Fellaini off the bench. Newcastle brought on Atsu, Joselu and Murphy. You might say no professional side should be giving away three goals in the last twenty minutes of any game at this level, but when the discrepancies between the two sides are so huge, really, what do you expect?

Rafa Benitez

I don’t think it was a case of bad tactics, or lack of experience. The players out there just looked dead on their feet. Rafa was probably forced into making subs because of that. I am sure that if he had his way he would have preferred to keep everyone out there, even if they were knackered, just to keep their shape and grind out at least a draw.

I saw a few fans afterwards on social media complaining about the negative tactics, especially in the second half. But really, what did you expect? I would also like to add as well that Newcastle still had attacking intent in the second half. They defended like dogs, but when they could get themselves up the field, they still looked for that third goal. Ritchie had a half chance at the start of the second half, Kenedy had a great chance around the hour mark on the counter attack, Diame nearly scored with a header and there were more than a few NUFC corners in the second half too.

I have sat at a lot of games, especially under Rafa, and thought ‘c’mon we are too deep here etc’ but Saturday was not one of them. I was thoroughly happy with the performance over the whole 90 minutes.

manchester united 3 newcastle united 2

The referee

I very rarely comment on the referee. I can’t remember a time when I have done a match report and blamed a result on the referee. I am not going to do that this time either but serious questions have to be asked of Anthony Taylor. First of all, the decision for him to referee the game in the first place borders on ridiculous. Taylor was born six miles from Old Trafford. To put that into context, it is the equivalent of someone from Blaydon or Wallsend refereeing at St James and claiming that they support Blyth Spartans. Even if Taylor has no attachment to Man U in anyway whatsoever, common sense dictates that he shouldn’t be refereeing Man U games.

Of course a lot of attention was placed on his decision not to give us a penalty. When do you ever get those at Old Trafford? As a qualified referee myself, even though you can forgive him for not giving the penalty, despite the fact you could see the handball from the other side of the stadium, his decision to not even give a corner is beyond belief. What was the linesman doing? What was the 4th official doing? If they can’t see that, if they cant say in Taylor’s ear “it hit the Man U players hand, definitely a corner, up to you if it was a penalty” then what is the point in them being there? I’m not a fan of VAR, I honestly don’t think we need it. What is needed in English football is basic common sense. Sadly, it went out of the window a long time ago.

The decision that really got me the most was the fact that Paul Pogba was still left on the pitch to play a key role in Man U’s comeback. In the first half Pogba made a foul and booted the ball away to the other end of the pitch. A basic, mandatory yellow card. One of the easiest yellow cards you will give as a referee at that level. Yet Taylor decided not to book him. Again, that is fair enough, maybe he just wanted to keep his cards in his pocket. Yet in the second half, Matt Richie was given a yellow card for taking a quick free-kick (apparently on purpose). Where is the consistency? It is those decisions which really grind on me.

Pogba would go on to chop down Deandre Yedlin while he raced towards the Man U goal. Those ones in which you ‘take one for the team’ are normally a basic yellow card. However, he shouldn’t have been able to make that foul in the first place, and on closer inspection, it was a straight red, with Pogba raking his boots down the Achilles of Yedlin. A potential career ending injury.

The result may have been the same, you never know, but don’t ever let a Man U fan tell you that decisions go against them.

The Fans

A sold out away end and one of the best away ends for a long time. Of course that had something to do with being 2-0 up at Old Trafford for most of the game. You can never knock the effort that goes into selling out any 5.30 fixture. For us, it involved paying a taxi driver double to hang around and wait for us near Old Trafford after the game so he could zip us back to catch the last train back to Euston.

The other fans

Another thing I never do is comment on the other team’s fans but I feel compelled to do so after Saturday. Man U I have never really minded compared to other teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Liverpool because their fans have generally turned up and Old Trafford in the 15 years I have been going there has been the best atmosphere out of the bigger sides.

manchester united fans

However, I thought their fans were embarrassing on Saturday. Perhaps they have just got fed up with not winning anymore? They didn’t sing a song until the game back to 2-1, no effort to get behind their team. All that success, all those glory days and it seems they have taken it all for granted. You could write a whole article (which I am obviously not going to do) on everything that is wrong with Man U at the moment, and you could dedicate a decent section of that to their support.

Last bit

I guess though the be all and end all at the moment is that Newcastle came away with no points, and we are still without a win.

Don’t lose sight of why we are here, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. There is only one man to blame for this mess and that is Mike Ashley. 100% Mike Ashley. Don’t lose sight of that.

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)

(Positives and Negatives from the match Here)

(A tale of two benches – Read Here)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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  • djcorl

    Im a Man Utd fan and believe me some Utd fans were happy at 2-0.
    I buy my football mad utd fan daugters 10 year old twins football shirts from everywhere and we spent many happy hours trawling charity shops in Newcastle for a shirt, its part of a weekend away to hunt a local shirt, and Newcastle is 1 (3 inc a goalie shirt which is pure class) of their faves.
    I like Newcastle cos like Man Utd the fill the stadium week in week out ( City pay attention) they always give it all and the fans always back the team if occasionally have a gripe against individuals. I think you also have a right to be a bit aggrieved after this weekend, definate corner and probably a penalty(other way round of course a penalty) not sure on the Pogba one I think some times a ref is ok to ignore trivial things like kicking the ball away.
    However 3-0 we don’t come back.
    I genuinely hope Newcastles fortunes turn they are in my opinion along with Man Utd, Arsenal , Liverpool, Spurs one of the Big Historic clubs (west Aucland) always have always will be.
    Best of luck for the rest of the season and see you at St James,s

    • Kneebotherm8

      Fair comments…..

    • Cockneytrev

      Thanks for that,👍 , makes a change from the trolls that come on here constantly,,

    • Toon

      Apologies from NUFC fans for this naff website

    • Ron

      Well said. We aren’t all that bad you know.
      I hope you let your daughters wear our shirts with pride.

  • David Craig

    I spoke to a handful of Man Utd fans in the community room for disabled fans before the game. They were all really canny and a few admitted that they wanted to lose, so they could get rid of Mourinho. I’ve never understood that attitude, but there you go. I joked with one lad that we were both playing so poorly the score may be minus 1 each! I was obviously over the moon at the first 70 minutes and couldn’t believe the start we had. I very nearly jumped out of my wheelchair when the second goal went in!

    Anyway, it wasn’t to be and my son and I were totally gutted. I have to say that throughout the game, a couple of carers for Man Utd fans were a disgrace. They were right next to us and hurled abuse throughout, one even having a real go at a young disabled Toon fan, when the second goal was scored. The stewards and police did nothing, just having a word now and then. They said that they would have been thrown out, but they didn’t want to eject the two they were supposedly looking after. When the game ended their fans suddenly found their voice and making our way to the car amongst them wasn’t a good experience.

    Most fans are decent people, who just go to watch their team, but there’s always an element of the lunatic fringe, who spoil it. At least our own fans didn’t throw stuff at us this time!

    • Themoscow72

      Sorry you had to put up with what was a couple of cowards and hope it does not put you off going in future. For some reason Man Utd fans seem to have a chip on their shoulder about Newcastle partly because of Shearer. They had a pop at the railway station last season and the fans queuing to get in and even on Saturday coming out still had to much to say for themselves not that it bothered me.

    • Steve Smith

      The majority of disabled people don’t need carers, even a lot that should have them don’t have them. Yet there always appears to be an abundance of “carers” coat tailing their way into the prime viewing areas. Funny that.

  • Dillon Tovak

    A whole section on bad refereeing decisions and then you say we don’t need VAR? Well I’m glad your opinion is irrelevant on the subject.
    Sounds like Man U fans are like all football fans then, why are they particularly embarrassing? The atmosphere in all grounds, especially ours, is pretty terrible these days.

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      I think given the circumstances at Man united, and the untold riches they have been blessed with, they should be getting behind their team and their manager when the going gets tough.

      also, yes as a referee myself I do know what i’m talking about to an extent of course. you don’t need VAR to use common sense.

      VAR is also there for decisions ref has missed (like handball) which as it says in the passage, it’s fair enough that ref missed some. grievance is with decisions he did see, and acted upon them incorrectly by letter of the law.

      but hey, don’t let that get in the way of your little rant?

      • Dillon Tovak

        Rant? Ok 👍

  • Toon

    Who this idiot? What’s the obsession with The Rag slagging off other sets of fans? If this happened the other way round then the writers on here would cry their eyes out. The atmosphere at some NUFC games in the past has been poor, I’ve witnessed booing at some of our better teams in the past because they hadn’t played well. Just arrogant rubbish this

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      What obsession? I think the comments are fair and stand by them.

      Your comments on NUFC fans and atmosphere is also true to an extent.