This is purely an away end perspective from Old Trafford…
A disappointing Boxing Day. despite early optimism. However, please remember I am writing this without the benefit of replays or reading reports, so it’s purely an away end perspective from Old Trafford.
Day started with a swift drive to Manchester, such are modern roads that leaving at 10am I was checked into a hotel in the centre of Manchester less than 3 hours later.
No time to hang about though as I was meeting up with a Man Utd supporting work colleague from Kent (yes Kent).
Catch up and a few beers later it was a taxi up to Old Trafford and unlike in previous years, the roads were quiet, so I was outside the ground a little too early!
Walking round the ground and properly observing the surrounding areas for once, it is clear that Man Utd are a huge attraction for tourists.
Over the years there was always a bit of an edge to this fixture but I honestly think these days Man Utd have outgrown their own fans as it really is clear there is more interest in photo taking outside Old Trafford than anything else!
This opinion of mine was confirmed by the complete lack of atmosphere inside the ground throughout the 90 minutes…but more of that later.
The away end however was rocking and clearly 99% of the visiting fans were well oiled to say the least. Old Trafford is generally a modern impressive stadium but conditions for visiting fans are as antiquated as the recently criticised Turf Moor! The concourse is cramped and the seats have less than enough legroom if you are over 5ft 6, not that anybody was sitting.
The game kicks off and Newcastle are surprisingly impressive, mind I will say I was not even sure of the team and I had forgotten my glasses so my neighbour told me Gayle and both Longstaffs were playing!
A couple of swift breaks nearly resulted in an early chance but they were snuffed out.
From where I was sitting Joelinton was playing behind Gayle and linking up play quite well, a few seconds later the pair of them manufactured a chance that Gayle ( think it was him) blazed over the bar….. collective groan!
However, just a few moments later delirium in the away end as Matty Longstaff scores at the other end, I have to be honest I have got no idea how this happened but off the field chaos ensued, chaos that went on for several minutes.
Ole was taunted with elongated but loud chants of ‘sacked in the morning’ , this gave me a feeling of foreboding gloom, and yeah you guessed it…within minutes we contrived to shoot ourselves in the foot, or should I say both feet!
First a shot from what looked like a narrow angle seemed to sneak through the normally reliable Dubravka, was the keeper to blame? From where I was I guess so but he wins us more points than he loses.
A few minutes later, the equally reliable Schar played a loose pass across the front of our penalty area and next thing the ball crashed in off the underside of our bar and Old Trafford wakes up.
Before half time another soft goal is conceded and I feared a rout, Willems (another normally reliable performer) was beaten with ease and the cross results in a third goal.
Half-time came and Old Trafford went back to its slumber. However, the talk around me was we were far from out of it and the next goal was crucial, unfortunately within five minutes of the restart we were further behind as a Sean Longstaff back pass fell woefully short and another goal was gifted.
At this point the floodgates threatened to open but two or three good saves from Dubravka kept it at four.
The Old Trafford atmosphere did not really improve but the away end as always remained loud and loyal throughout, some good old fashioned pushing and shoving resulted in police reinforcements being needed as tempers flared between rival supporters to our right, but it was more handbags than anything else, and peace was quickly restored as Old Trafford fell back to sleep. Indeed, droves of home fans left very early which contributed to the eerie silence in the home sections.
I know SJP gets criticised for lack of atmosphere but Old Trafford really has lost its soul. Fergie and Roy Keane were indeed right.
So full-time and a gloomy walk back to the city centre for more beers, it has to be said the City Centre was also flat, maybe too much indulgence on Christmas Day for our friends from Manchester!
So from where I was who played well? To be honest I could not single out anyone for praise. Bruce obviously picked a team with one eye on Saturday for what is a very important game and we have bounced back from each defeat, so here is hoping.
Joelinton for 20 minutes looked ok but got more and more frustrated and isolated as the game went on, Willems looked surprisingly slow, while for some reason there seemed to be a huge gap between the midfield and defence which was exploited regularly.
I am not going to be overly critical, mainly because my faltering eyes can’t distinguish between players without my £3 ASDA glasses.
Hope you all had a great Christmas!
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Thursday 26 December 5.30pm
Martial 24,51, Greenwood 36, Rashford 41
Matty Longstaff 17
Possession was Man Utd 74%, Newcastle 26%
Total shots were Man Utd 22 , Newcastle 7
Shots on target were Man Utd 10, Newcastle 2
Corners were Man Utd 5, Newcastle 0
Crowd: 73,206 (3,000 NUFC)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Newcastle United team v Manchester United:
Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar (Krafth 88), Lejeune, Fernandez, Willems, Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Yedlin 63), Joelinton, Gayle (Atsu 59)
Darlow, Carroll, Shelvey, Hayden
(Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compares Man Utd forward to Cristiano Ronaldo as plays down Newcastle gifts – Read HERE)
(Watch Matty Longstaff goal and what followed: Official Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 highlights – Watch HERE)
(Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Individual analysis on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)
(Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Thursday’s defeat – Read HERE)
(Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 as Steve Bruce luck finally runs out – Read HERE)
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