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Opinion

As predicted, Newcastle United create this little bit of history against Manchester United

3 months ago
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I wrote an article for The Mag on Friday that I rather hoped hadn’t put the Indian sign on Saturday’s match, explaining that Newcastle United looked like a good bet for a third consecutive win against Manchester United for the first time in over a century.

Save for an agonising few seconds after little Antony from Sao Paulo put the ball in the Gallowgate net, I shouldn’t have worried, although Erik Ten Hag thought his hapless charges would have been worthy of a point had the calamitous Harry Maguire not been stood in an offside position when the Brazilian pulled the trigger.

Late on, their £85m signing from Leicester found himself being directed to play up top, such are the problems facing the red devils these days. Where’s Wout Weghorst when you need him?

The brutal truth is that Newcastle United dominated almost to the end. Only some poor finishing, the woodwork, tired legs and the lack of reinforcements from the toon bench saving Manchester United from what should have been total humiliation.

I saw several references from Liverpool fans on social media last night, that it is possible for teams to come to St James’ Park and plunder all three points. That last ten minute collapse at the end of August still rankles, not just because it puts a horrible looking dent in our otherwise impeccable home premier league record, but because we had that game won and somehow contrived to throw it away.

Nevertheless, top of the table Arsenal have been put to the sword at St James’ Park, their only league defeat of the season. So have entitled Chelsea and now Manchester United. Aston Villa, who the media are clamouring to see finish above Newcastle United, were hammered on the opening day and in between, Palace, Burnley and Brentford have all been despatched. Away from that game against the Scousers, those seven wins have yielded seventeen goals with only Moussa Diaby and Raheem Sterling notching for any visiting team.

Our attention now turns to Everton on Thursday, who couldn’t do what we did to Man United last week, despite there being passages of play and chances aplenty, where but for some wayward finishing, they ought to have registered something.

It’ll be a tough game, not least because I worry about our ten outfield players, who save for a miniscule amount of time against Chelsea, will have played 360 minutes in less than a fortnight when the ref calls time at Goodison. And, they’ll be expected to do it all again next Sunday at Spurs.

Furthermore, our fixture congestion shows no sign of abating. I count another eight games in little over a month after we’ve been to North London, starting with what is shaping up to be a monumental clash with Milan on 13th December.

To say we need some of our walking wounded back is an understatement, but notwithstanding, we simply cannot afford any further absenteeism caused by injury, without an injection of fresh legs at critical points in these forthcoming fixtures, I do worry about the lads’ ability to hang on. In Paris and at the end of last night’s encounter, we almost resembled a punch drunk fighter, ahead on points but just needing the bell to sound.

Indeed we saw it at Bournemouth, although the circumstances on the south coast were very different and we weren’t ever ahead on points. However, with all due respect, we should be going to the likes of the Vitality and winning comfortably, given what we’re capable of and have achieved since that defeat.

In writing this, I feel that I’m not being as positive as I should be.

As I pointed out at the top of the article, we’ve just strung together our best run against Manchester United in over a century and are top six, only three points off the top four, with also the possibility of European football continuing into the new year and another League Cup semi final if we can win at Stamford Bridge the week before Christmas.

We need to be upbeat and positive. And rather than be defeatist about a run of fixtures we could only have dreamed about until very recently, that’s what we need to hold onto.

Two years ago to the day, we were rock bottom of the Premier League, having drawn seven and lost seven of our first fourteen matches. After failing to beat fellow relegation contenders Norwich City, it felt like we couldn’t buy a win, but Eddie Howe was at the helm and the juggernaut was just beginning to crank into action.

It’s gaining momentum with each passing week and will soon be unstoppable. HTL.

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