Man United 0 Newcastle 1: Four talking points as Magpies stun champions
Man United 0 Newcastle 1: What did we learn as the Red Devils were condemned to consecutive home defeats by the Magpies?
Robin’s return proves pointless
In the three games that Robin van Persie was sidelined with a groin strain, Manchester United failed to win – picking up only two points from a possible nine. Before the injury, the Dutch striker scored four times in as many matches and assisted a further two goals, so it can be argued that the former Gunner is the most important player in the squad right now. Today, however, he appeared to be far from match fit and it’s questionable after Wednesday’s defeat whether his return was rushed forward. Just as costly as his lack of a performance on the pitch, was Wayne Rooney’s absence from it. The 28-year-old was suspended after his fifth yellow card of the season and it looks as if Manchester United’s year will depend very much of these two players returning to their previous form.
Is it already too late for United in the title race?
Manchester United are now 12 points off league leaders Arsenal, which could increase after the Gunners play Everton on Sunday, and although there is still more than half of the season to go, David Moyes’ men have not looked anything like a championship-winning side so far. On Friday, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said: “If it was another club I’d tell you it’s impossible, but with Manchester United I don’t say that.” Well, after today’s performance it seems the Portuguese manager, who already has 20 club honours to his name, might be wrong about this one. The loss leaves them closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table and they have already dropped 13 points at home this season. United are undoubtedly in transition but this year is looking as if it will be the most competitive season in Premier League history, so the fact that these two events have occurred at the same time is perhaps painting a picture that is worse than it appears. There doesn’t seem to be much room for optimism in the red half of Manchester at the moment.
Team of the month?
As Alan Pardew and Tim Krul picked up the manger and player of the month awards for November, it seems to suggest that they were the form team heading into this week. They won four games in a row and where unbeaten for the entire month. However, the Magpies’ fortunes appeared to have change as their run came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday, losing 3-0 against Swansea but this was quickly put right with an historic win today. Newcastle had not won at Old Trafford since 1972 – which, taking nothing away from Everton’s victory, dwarfs the Merseyside’s team feat. After already beating Chelsea and Tottenham, Newcastle are proving this season that they can be a real threat to the top teams and if the disciplined nature of their performances continue, you can expect them to be battling for a European spot towards the end of the campaign.
Manchester need a midfield maestro
The Red Devils are undoubtedly one of the biggest names in football and the attraction of playing with the likes of Van Persie and Rooney in Old Trafford is surely appealing enough. However, Moyes failed to attract a creative midfielder in the summer and it is very much a lingering problem. Other than Adnan Januzaj, who shouldn’t be expected to carry a side in this stage of his career, no one seemed capable of supplying the forwards on a consistent basis. Shinji Kagawa might have added the creative element that was lacking, if he wasn’t unavailable due to illness, and obviously Rooney’s absence was another factor. It appears there is an opportunity for someone to either step up or be brought in to become a hero at the club – let’s not forget that that iconic number seven shirt is still vacant.