Poor Finishing Costs United Dearly In Disappointing Newcastle Draw

The good news: As far as goalless draws go, last night’s scoreless stalemate at St. James’ Park was about as entertaining as they come.

The bad news: Manchester United are perhaps in the entertaining business only in the preseason, and come late April and May, it’s 1000% results, 0% anything else.

And with that markedly more important objective in mind, United have picked a terrible time to suddenly forget how to put the ball in the back of the net.

On Saturday, United were blanked for only the fifth time in 51 competitive matches this season in the FA Cup semifinal defeat, with Dimitar Berbatov’s 15th minute horror missing sticking out as the miss of the day in in an overall forgettable 90 minutes.

Prior to that, United had scored – not counting any own goals – 98 goals in 50 matches (69 Premier League, 12 Champions League, 8 Carling Cup, 6 FA Cup, 3 Community Shield), and given that we hadn’t been blanked in competitive matches in more than two years and that the in-form duo of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez was once again starting up front against a suspect Newcastle defense and a reserve keeper, you’d have expected a real bounce-back effort on the attacking end.

Unfortunately, it appears that whatever bad vibes from the Wembley defeat carried over to last night, because to say that United’s finishing left something to be desired would be a serious understatement.

Newcastle did indeed put in a brave defensive effort, and Tim Krul and his head were quite handy for the home side, but United had more than a fair amount of clear chances and failed to convert a single one.

Those missed opportunities could have – and perhaps should have – proven costly had Newcastle not had their own finishing issues, but in the end, each side got a deserved result for what they did do and what they didn’t do.

Once again unfortunately, that result does more favors for Newcastle, who have hit the 40-point target that more often than not means Premier League survival, and with five games remaining, have the opportunity to consolidate a solid finish in the top half of the table.

The point takes United to 70, seven clear of Arsenal and nine clear of Chelsea, so for the time being, it stands as a point gained. However, those advantags could both be trimmed in the next couple of hours, with the Gunners visiting Tottenham and Carlo Ancelotti’s side facing the far easier task (at least on paper) of hosting safety-chasing Birmingham at home.

Not only does the result remind us of our previous issues with being up to the task away from Old Trafford, but missing out on the three points means that there’s a little less leeway to slip up from here, especially in the matches against our London-based title rivals. So hey, it’s easy to be a little nervous.

But should we be? With history on our side, with three home matches still ahead, and a side and a manager experienced in these kind of testy situations, to worry would be to underestimate, and by now, we should know that’s the last thing that anyone – and especially a supporter – should do when it comes to Manchester United.



  1. So have they handed Ronnie the cup over there in Madrid yet? Hahaha bet Messi is crying!

  2. I’m happy that madrid won the cup. Mou knows how to handle barca..I hope they do them in the CL semi-final so we can meet Cristiano in the final although I think he would destroy us… this nonsense of best side ever when all they do is pass you to death is annoying…I have started to get a disdain for them..lovely football at times but don’t flop and moan when the opposition plays physically within the rules…congrats real!

  3. @Craig Mc: No it was Di Maria seconds before the final whistle. I guess Mourinho just won himself an extension with Madrid and it is a scary thought. United need Madrid in the final this year – they are still work in progress and up for the taking. Barca is much tougher proposition for United at the moment.

  4. @Andrei: I meant tactically… what prevented Barca from playing their usual 70% possession strangle football? Did Madrid pressure constantly and playing with 2 DMs?

  5. United winning the title is as sure as Liverpool finishing outside the top 5…

  6. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Well it wasn’t constant pressure in a traditional way. But Madrid did an excellent job of closing up spaces and staying disciplined. That forced Barca to play a more direct football and put them out of their comfort zone.

    In a sense Madrid didn’t have to do anything exceptional. After all we are talking about Madrid not Inter here. Madrid already have most of the pieces to be the best team. Is it surprising to see this kind of performance from Alonso? Not at all as he is one of the best end-to-end midfielders in the world. Just look at what happened to Liverpool and Gerrard after he left. And I don’t even want to mention that they have Ronaldo…

    All Madrid need to do is to learn how to win and that is what Mourinho is good at. And unless Madrid bosses play Abramovich they may become unplayable in a year or two.

  7. @[OPTI]Madschester United: They challenged them in the center of the park and were physical with them. Alonso and Khedira did a great job and Madrid tried to counter and were quite unlucky but their counter was not as rapier sharp like Inter’s was last year. Had it been, they would have won by two or three. Barca were better in the second half but you could tell the physical play had thrown them off their game. Then in extra time Madrid put the boots to them and controlled the game until Ronny scored.

    Yes they can beat Barca in the CL but it all depends on how well they play at the Nou Camp. If they play like this they will frustrate the Catalan’s and then kick their asses on the counter. But if they give up an early goal, then who knows.

  8. Well good to see Barcelona get beaten in a big game. But it will be a lot harder for them to prevail over two legs in the Champions League. But if anyone can do it, it is Mourinho. And what is wrong with counter attacking and defending. That is as much a part of the game as attacking. Barcelona got beaten and they can’t really complain about it.

  9. @Andrei: The one Achilles heel for Madrid was the aggressive play of Marcelo and Ramos. Too often they were caught up field and or too much inside and this allowed Barca to get out wide. Fortunately they are shit at crossing the ball or that could really have hurt them. Ramos especially really lacks discipline and is very reckless.

  10. @colver: And to be honest, I still don’t think Mourinho has exposed his “A” Plan for Barca. I think he still has a few tricks up his sleeve on how to stop Messi, Xavi and company. Help from the refs would be nice too.

  11. We can now win the league at the Emirates. I remember saying when Chelsea were miles behind us and Arsenal that Chelsea were still our biggest rivals.

    If we beat Everton on Saturday, we face our final challenge:

    Schalke away – grab goals, and stun Schalke, win the tie THERE (our away form in the CL is very encouraging 4 wins out of 5, no goals conceded)

    Arse away – we have our very own formation specially for them. A draw would be enough. A win would clinch the title

    Chelsea home – can’t say anything about this one. I really fear them so here’s hoping we’re in a position which can tolerate losing.

    Schalke home- take them apart

    Blackburn (away-but c’mon) and Blackpool (home) should be gimmes in fairness. I will talk of CL final when we get there.

    Mathematically, 3 more wins and we win the league even if we lose to Chelsea AND Arsenal. Just keep an eye out for GD.

  12. As for El Classico, man, I didn’t even have time for a tissue when Ronaldo scored 😆

    Ronaldo, with his power and pace, tearing the faggot pussies apart on the break, their impish attempts to climb over him and try to stop him had me in fits of pleasure. This is what I have yearned for teams to do against Barca since Jose’s Inter. Fucking do the dirty, kick them off the fucking pitch, push them around, I don’t give a damn if it’s anti-football, the Barca philosophy must be destroyed and strangled in any way seen fit.

    All hail The Special One!

  13. @Grognard: I agree Ramos is generally a liability for Madrid and I don’t think JM can easily fix that. This is something United could and should exploit if they get to play Madrid in the CL final.

  14. @Moscow is my heaven: even better, if Madrid beat Barca, there should be a good number of cards and suspensions for the final 😀 (I can hope we beat Schalke, right?)

    @Moscow is my heaven:
    Since Chelsea are home for the next two games, I will assume they win those games (so they have six pts).

    Everton (h): should win based on our home record

    Schalke (a) – MUST WIN big. We cannot afford to leave the game open for sandwiched game at OT. Scholes to start with Park and Carrick (and Flether)

    Arsenal (a): close game, but Arsenal (assuming we beat Everton) cannot afford a draw, so the counter attack should work well

    Schalke (h): need to rest players for Chelsea game – Rooney and Berba, Scholes, Smalling, Obertan, Giggs, etc.. to start

    Chelsea (h): Rooney-Chicharito seems to work well against Chelsea and we are at home. 50/50 for the win (as Chelsea cannot afford a draw). Carrick and Fletcher to start with Rio.

    I agree, we should win the last two games.

  15. I agree three wins will be enough.

    But we’ve dropped points all season against sides weaker than us and while our home record has been good we have drawn a few. Also Blackpool are fighting for survival so will be a lot more motivated than our lot who couldn’t even psych themselves up for a FA Cup Semi against our city rivals!!

    So I think our priority has to be to get those draws against Chelsea and Arsenal. Because we can and will drop points against weaker teams.

    The difference here is that it is totally ok to drop two points against Chelsea and Arsenal because it will mean they will also be dropping two points.

    I’m not going to bank on us beating Everton, Blackpool and Blackburn.

  16. @[OPTI]Madschester United: You are now the seer of all things, hope your vision is right, mate. In all honesty this is fantasy and idealism.

    The rest of the season is critical, yes. But the way way we’ve played all season long, cries out for taking each game, one at a time.

    There is no real reason to believe we can wind this all up – after all, the team that shows up for each game doesn’t have the ability to dictate it’s own terms, does it? This thing is far from over and far from being the shoe-in that you think.

    Chelsea have now figured out that the virgin, lady-boy is best kept under wraps. Because of that they are far more dangerous than the the make-believe team Arsene is talking up.

    Without trying to burst whatever bubble you are blowing, United are a long way from the finish line – and a long way from being a convincing champion.

  17. @Redrich: “Convincing” champion means nothing. Ask Chelsea last year — 1 pt winners.

    Also, Chelsea have lost and drawn more away games than they have won (7- 5- 5). We have not lost at home (15-1-0)

  18. @[OPTI]Madschester United: It means, “take absolutely nothing for granted”.
    I don’t think that any of our final games are “gimmes”, mate. This will be a fight and a struggle, and if they’re up for the fight, we have a real good chance.
    This is not a great team or a dominating one. Vulnerable at the back and erratic on attack, this will be a very hairy run-in.

    Could go do to the last WE.

  19. @Redrich:
    You can’t always get what you want, And if you try sometime you find, You get what you need…

    United will get what they need…

  20. @Moscow is my heaven: You said it mate. It was a master class on how to get under the pretty boys collective skin and makeup. I thought that the way Villa reacted like he had just caught the bullet for JFK in the motorcade was truly disgusting. Honestly, do any men play this game or are they all transsexuals?

    Barca were totally dismantled and if not for a few bad breaks, a few wide shots and a goal post, it would have been worse. Yes Casillas made a few big saves too but still, you never really got the feeling Barca were in the game. They reminded me of us vs Man City a few days back.

  21. @Andrei: With what, overlapping runs that lead too nothing by the useless Evra? It will only cost us as he is caught yet again way out of position when Ronaldo will find a free header or Ramos has hours to cross a ball because Evra is nowhere to be found. My point is that even though Ramos is a liability defensively, he has an end product and can exploit defenses. Evra only exploits Man Utd.

  22. @Redrich: And Fergie and the boys will no doubt not allow us to win with ease. They just know how to make it an adventure and keep us holding our breath right until the last day and minute. Lack of quality = lack of killer instinct.

  23. Anyone seen the newest average wage rankings in the sports world. In football world, Barca and Madrid lead by a hefty margin.

    Average player’s weekly pay:
    1. Barca (95.1K/week)
    2. Madrid (88.4K)
    3. Chelsea (72.4K)
    4. Inter (72.1K)
    5. City (70.4K)
    6. Munich (69.5K)
    look at the top two… no wonder they are attracting world’s top talent… United is not even on the list (Glazers are happy, I guess!)


  24. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Yeah, two draws are good for us here.

    Lets assume we beat Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal win their matches. Even if Chelsea and Arsenal win the weeks we’re playing the other one, we’ll have a 4 point lead with 2 games to go.

    Beat Blackburn away, win the league.

    If either Arsenal or Chelsea lose to us, it’s league over.

    It’s even more important that we finish Schalke off in the first leg (2 or 3 nil) as the home leg is between the Arsenal and Chelsea matches.

  25. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Woops it seems I have the fixture list in slightly the wrong order…

    The three most important points about the run-in:

    1) 3 wins and it’s No 19
    2) Kill of the Schalke tie in the away leg
    3) Win against either Arsenal or Chelsea and the league is over

    And hopefully, as you’ve put so well, a good old El Classico punch-up at the Nou Camp (2nd leg), with Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta all getting season ending injuries and red cards, Mourinho and Pep getting stadium bans from the final will do very nicely indeed.

    Oh and hopefully Mourinho plays a gruelling system which gets his Real team to penalties (and absolutely smashed with fatigue) and win. Leaving us with the task of the jammiest CL win of all time, and the sight of Bebe lifting the Champions League trophy crowning what was a daylight robbery of a season from us. The sweet feeling of undeserved and jammy victory, achieved through cowardice and a ridiculous winning mentality. Just the way we like it 😀

  26. @Moscow is my heaven: I doubt fatigue will be an issue with either Madrid or Barca as they can rest players for the last two games if needed as La Liga is pretty much Barca’s with 2-3 games to go.

    Injuries or suspensions are much more likely and relevant here.

    Agree on your (and Traverse’s) three important points.

  27. No way do we finish Schalke off in the away game. They are a good side who have beaten Valencia and Inter Milan. We will play it safe in the away game get the draw and try and finish the job off at home. And it goes without saying that being in Europe puts us at a disadvantage to Chelsea and Arsenal who don’t have that to worry about. So do not underestimate the European factor.

    Away wins have eluded us for most of the season so there is no guarantee we will beat Arsenal let alone Blackburn.

    But if we win our home games against Everton and Blackpool and draw against Chelsea that should be enough because at this point in Chelsea are our only credible rivals and are more than capable of winning all their remaining games unless we stop them by taking 2-3 points off them in our tie with them.

  28. @[OPTI]Madschester United: I think too many on here are obsessed with getting some kind of justice from the game’s governing bodies. WAKE UP! We get no justice or fairness from our elected governments and you expect a privately owned and operated money maker like the FA or UEFA to treat everyone fairly when at it’s root, corruption and manipulation is what it’s all about? Naive to say the least. We need to get past this whining about refs, and rules and double standards because nothing is going to change anytime soon. Fergie just needs to build a better club that can deal with the adversities it faces and that offers up less chance of being screwed because they just become that much harder to beat. UEFA will always favor the Spanish giants as well as the two Milans. It’s just the way of the world. The FA will always look down on the north and favor London teams and referees will continue to poorly trained, show moments of incompetence and corruption and frustrate us all, but life goes on and we must be strong and endure it because nothing we do will make a hill of beans difference. So lets concentrate and become more vocal with the Glazer’s and with Fergie and demand a better club that can cope better with all the adversities it is to face. Christ, I’m just so sick and tired of wasting time on this blog reading people’s rants about refs and UEFA and FIFA’s unfair double standards. It’s just the way it is.

  29. @colver: We always play it safe and we always sell ourselves short away from home. Expect us to win 1-0 or draw yet again at 0-0. Hell, Schalke might even beat us 1-0.

  30. @colver: Chelsea have the following matches left:

    West Ham (h) (London Derby)
    Tottenham (h) (They lost this fixture last season)
    United (a)
    Newcastle (h)
    Everton (a) (not easy)
    they should win their remaining home games – maybe struggle against Spurs (blame Gomes!). However, their away games are difficult at Old Trafford AND Everton…. I fancy no more than a draw against Fellaini and Company, which effectively rules them out of the title race as United would have to lose 3 of the last 5, which will not happen.

    Arsenal have 3 away games left and home games against United and Villa. NO WAY they will win all 5 games.

    United have the following games:
    Everton (h)
    Arsenal (a)
    Chelsea (h)
    Blackburn (a)
    Blackpool (h)
    Based on our home record, we should sweep Everton and Blackpool off the map. Our great record against this Arsenal team coupled with our average away form should seal a draw for us (1-1 prolly). Our amazing home record and recent results against Chelsea should also seal at least a draw. This would put Chelsea (assuming they WIN all their games) 4 pts behind us with 2 games to go. So all we need to do is get three points from two games, which should be more than doable.

    United will win this title. BEL19VE!!! UNI4ED!!!

  31. @Grognard: When did you take such a lax approach to FIFA/UEFA/FA? Sure, RoM is exaggerating with their FA Swear Watch but how quickly Iniesta gets cleared is beyond me…

    It’s impossible to create a football team that can withstand such bias from footballing associations. Essentially removing top players at will and strengthening opposing sides…

  32. I’m reading rumors that we are once again looking to sign Karim Benzema. Christ, how I hate this unsubstantiated rumors created by blogging ass clowns who have nothing better to do than to make up shit. Even if Berbatov leaves this summer, why would I spend top dollar to get Benzema, and why after finally becoming comfortable in Madrid would Madrid sell Benzema and even more so, why would Benzema want to leave?

    Next is the idea he wants to leave in order to get more playing time. Apparently he is upset with the amount of playing time YabbbaDabbadour is getting yet the truth is that Benzema has been coming back from an injury and he is still the number one guy now that Higuain is injured. He has settled in well in Madrid and has been scoring at a Ronaldo like pace of late. As if coming here would guarantee him more playing time. Ahead of who, Rooney and Chicharito? I think not. I just find these lies on the Internet so ridiculous because the authors have not used their pea sized brains to even conjure up something that makes sense. And if by some remote chance the rumor is true, it only strengthens my belief that most star footballers have brains the size of sunflower seeds. Rather than leave for a team that will guarantee you the playing time you crave, they go to another loaded and ambitious club only to find their asses warming another bench. Daft as monkeys.

  33. Here’s my prediction for final top 3 (pretty conservative and un-OPTI-like of me 🙂 ):
    1: Utd – 79 pts
    2: Chelsea – 77 pts
    3: Arsenal – 75 pts
    4-20: bleh

    This considers United beating Everton and Blackpool but drawing all three other games and Arsenal winning two away games and Chelsea beating spurs but drawing Everton away.

  34. @Grognard: are you as tired of it as some of us are of reading that the glazers invented debt and united is going down the toilet and we will be 5 place end of the season. you can do like others do and skip posters who you dont agree with.

    or you can cry about it 🙄

  35. @Grognard: Jose doesn’t like him, and they are bringing in Llorente to partner Higuain, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drogba turn up there too. No game time + only one team bigger than Madrid = Benzema to United*!


  36. I don’t see Benzema at United. Rooney, Chicharito, and Berba are all better. Though Benzema is French and Fergie likes young frenchies…

  37. Michael Owen needs two more appearances to qualify for a Premier League medal.

  38. Biggest joke this season: Parker wins FWA Footballer of the Year. (bigger joke than Bale winning PFA FotY)

    Parker, who from August-December was unable to get his team out of relegation zone, but *suddenly* after heavy january influx of players, West Ham was winning again (though still 19th) and this is supposed to be due to Parker??

    LOL 😆 😀 😀 hahahaahahahahahaha!

  39. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Mmmmm I think it very much depends on WHO will be refereeing our games. We have to win ALL 3 of our home games and a draw at Arsenal we would win league surely. Referee’s are less likely to cheat us at OT – although it depends if it is Atkinson or the numptee who sent Evans off at OT but didn’t send BUTCHER Carragher off at L’fool! The United crowd need to be in full cry for ourhome games as fans are in away games – we have to ROAR the lads home and it won’t be by chanting for Anderson!

  40. @colver: We don’t let Arsenal or Chelsea BEAT us – simples! Then again it will all come down to the bias of fucking referees where Man Utd are concerned. Poor refereeing did us last season where PL concerned!

  41. Newcastle game was a very minor blip (not even that to be fair). The Reds aint gonna slip up now. Plenty of strength in the team and title once again going to Old Trafford.

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