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The real Manchester United show up this Tyne

Manchester United put last week’s disappointing performance behind them as they romped to a 3-0 win at Newcastle.

It was the perfect response after the appalling display against Spurs last Saturday, and it was nothing short of what United deserved for their defensive effort and twenty, scintillating minutes of attacking football.

United had failed to score in their last two league outings at Saint James’s Park and were trounced 3-0 when they last visited Tyneside back in January.

Coincidentally, that defeat came after United had lost 3-2 at home, not the most comforting of omens going into today’s game.

Sir Alex Ferguson had unveiled an attacking United side against Cluj in the Champions League and decided to adopt a bold approach against Newcastle as well.

David De Gea returned to the starting XI in the league after missing the last two games as Fergie continued his puzzling exercise of rotating the two goalkeepers.

The Spaniard and Lindegaard are both extremely talented, but it takes a huge stretch of imagination – or blind faith in Sir Alex – to see how the process could beneficial rather than detrimental.

An unchanged back four provided cover for a midfield comprising local lad Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa, with Wayne Rooney supporting Danny Welbeck and Robin Van Persie up front, with Antonio Valencia on the bench and Nani not even included in the team.

The line-up represented not only a bold approach but also perhaps the biggest tactical leap United have made in years as rather than a traditional 4-4-2 they lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Welbeck and Van Persie switching positions up front.

A week ago against Spurs, United had registered their first attempt after 45′ minutes, today they had two in the first seven as Danny Welbeck and Robin Van Persie forced two saves from Steve Harper.

Welbeck should have done better after Jonny Evans’ brilliant back-heel had opened the space for him, while Van Persie’s flick won United a corner, through which they scored their first of the day.

Van Persie’s delivery was brilliantly met by the head of Jonny Evans – a former Sunderland loanee, a fact surely not lost on the home fans –
who put United in front with only eight minutes played.

Newcastle were rocked and United pushes forward producing some fantastic football.

Rafael exchanged passes with RVP before rushing into the penalty box, only for his shot to end a whisker wide of Harper’s far post.

On the subsequent goal-kick, Danny Welbeck forced Harper into a mistake and dispossessed the Newcastle keeper but couldn’t keep his composure and his shot bobbled wide with an open goal at his mercy.

A minute later Wayne Rooney forced a fantastic save from Steve Harper, with a well struck free-kick.

From the resulting corner Patrice Evra profited of some atrocious defending by the home side to head home United’s second of the game.

Evra has long been considered a liability at the back, but his performance today was as authoritarian as any since he joined the club.

With Newcastle shellshocked, United, perhaps understandably, sat back a little inviting on the pressure from Alan Pardew’s side.

Gutierrez saw his shot ending just wide of De Gea’s post as United withstood an aerial bombardment, despite the young Spaniard looking far from comfortable when dealing with high balls.

The Magpies started the second half in the same fashion and thought they had pulled one back as Papiss Cisse headed towards the goal after Demba Ba’s header had rattled the bar.

Cisse’s header was saved by De Gea with the ball seemingly not entirely over the line, as United escaped.

Five minutes later Ba headed wide and Valencia replaced Shinji Kagawa to bolster up the midfield where United were starting feel the wrath of Newcastle’s physicality.

With an hour gone, Tom Cleverley fired over the bar after some excellent work from Danny Welbeck on the left flank.

Welbeck today confirmed what has been known for quite a while, his runs and movement are excellent – his pressing high-up the pitch denied Newcastle an easy option to begin their plays with – but his finish and composure under pressure still need to be polished.

Wayne Rooney forced a good save from Steve Harper before Tom Cleverley sealed the three points for the visitors with something in between a ballistic masterpiece and a fluke as he found the top corner from 25 yards out.

There was only time for Wayne Rooney – superb in a deeper role today, a roaming Rooney with license to dictate the tempo could be immensely more effective and dangerous as the Liverpudlian tends to get frustrated when he’s not involved – and Robin Van Persie to be replaced by Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and for the superb travelling fans to poke fun of their Geordie counterparts as they compared Alan Shearer and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s value for money.

A first win on Tyneside for two years, a clean sheet and the feeling that this line-up could give United the opportunity to regain the “fear factor” that had somewhat vanished in the last few weeks.

Dan (@mufc_dan87)

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Ian

    7 October 2012 at 19:35

    I’m really really happy with what I saw today. The work rate of everyone was increased/improved 100%. Welbeck and Cleverley didn’t stop running all day, it was due to their pressing with Rooney and RvP in the opening 15 that killed Newcastle, they bottled it once they realised we were up for it and weren’t giving them a second on the ball. The way I think the vast majority on here have been pining for us to play for a long time. Press high up the pitch, pressure the opponent, don’t let them get comfortable in the game right from the start, and when we’ve got the ball, make good decisions and get yourself in space for a team mate. Simple stuff but so effective.

    AND…..we’ve worked on corners and got ourselves organised and a taker who can beat the first man and deliver pin point quality CONSISTENTLY.

    HAPPY FOOKING DAYS!

    • AS

      7 October 2012 at 22:27

      @Ian: Well said but I can’t agree with you regarding welbeck, any player with a high standard of fitness can be coached to press, and he really brings little else to the team.

      • utd_fc

        8 October 2012 at 06:25

        @AS: OH come on now! He’s still a kid! That lad has fine skill on the ball and his touch shows class. We need patience with him and De Gea, the result will come trust me. Love both of em

        • Moscow

          8 October 2012 at 13:27

          @utd_fc: His touch in front of an open goal was real ‘class’.

        • Ray

          8 October 2012 at 20:46

          @Moscow:

          No, he just showed a lack of composure – understandable for a 21 year old kid who’s still learning his craft. Get off his case.

      • Ian

        9 October 2012 at 07:28

        Pressing isn’t about coaching, it’s an attitude. You can coach any player on ‘how’ to press but only certain ones do it with a purpose.

  2. Kingz

    7 October 2012 at 20:05

    @BlackWhite:

    What happened to “2-0 Newcastle. Demba Ba is going to kill your defenders! Wait and watch.” Fucking mug. Don’t worry about De Gea, worry about your mug of a goalkeeper pissing about trying to dribble past Welbeck and getting tackled, almost costing you a 4th goal. Joker.

  3. Opti

    8 October 2012 at 03:49

    After matching game + BBC match of the day, I have the following observations:
    1) Rooney, Evra, Cleverley, Carrick, and Rafael were sublime today.

    2) De Gea is low on confidence but a clean sheet can do wonders… does he have problems jumping up? I don’t understand why he doesn’t come out swinging on crosses to claim the area and ball. Didn’t they fix his vision? Keep him in goal, nonetheless. I understand that Lindegaard is injured (again)… blessing?

    3) Welbeck was really poor. I don’t see how “pressing” qualifies as a good performance from a striker who misses 2-3 great chances. Being in right position is good, but the chance after taking ball of Harper says it all to me: poor balance, poor clinicality, poor awareness, and poor decision-making (pass to RvP was obvious or take 1-2 touches towards goal or dive after poor tackle from Harper almost knocks him out). We should loan out welbeck and give him 6 months to hone his shooting / decision skills.

    4) Would love to see this tactic more often but with this front 6 (changes from today in bold):
    —- RvP—Roooney
    ——Kagawa——–
    -Cleverly—–Valencia
    —— Carrick ——–

    Let’s keep it up — damn the Internationals!!!! — and sweep Chelsea in our two-game series… use youngsters in League cup to rest RvP and Ferdinand!

    Glory Glory Man United!!!

  4. Jay wire

    8 October 2012 at 11:16

    Some of the assessments on players are quite shocking. Cleverly average? The boy ran that midfield hands down. Personally I don’t think anyone’s a poor analyst. Just that our expectations are not realistic. The way the team was setup, it was clear the playmaker was Rooney,supported by Welbeck and Kagawa,to create chances, largely for RVP. The midfield was given the usual role of possession and providing relief to the attacking players. Simply to give them a platform to attack. And for the first time this season in the league we played a holding midfielder. You cannot begin to understand the joy I got from that. Later with that. But more relevantly, Cleverley’s job was literally to pass and move. I was thoroughly impressed. The way he combined with Rooney was really encouraging. The kid learns pretty fast. I remember him losing possession once and won’t be suprised if his rate is above 90%. It’s amazing how goalposts shift when we do get things right. In case some of your were too distracted to notice, we were playing a midfield with Tiote and Cabaye. Not exactly, the worst in the league. To be able to run the midfield against players like that, away from home, is not what I’d call an “average” performance. On the holding role. Remember the League Cup we played Fletcher in a holding role. Solid performance. At Cluj we played the same midfield. Solid. We reduced the home side to half chances and counters. And for the first time this season, we played the holding midfielder in the league. Solid. Apart from De Gea’s panic moment, Newcastle had zero clear cut chances. Besides that, Carrick playing deeper, gave the other players greater confidence to move forward. Both fullbacks attacked with purpose and frequency and we were not left exposed at the back. We actually did press occasionally and this put possession in our favor. Not gloating or anything, but really, this is all I’ve ever demanded. Leave the width to the fullbacks. Play a holding player. Get the attacking players as close to one another as possible. Press. Pass and move. “So you saying you are a better tactician than Ferguson”? You bet your hard earned tenner I am. And so is anyone who simply agrees with these completely elementary football principles that the rest of the world is following. Of course, there just has to be one illogical thing with our bench. Kagawa being quiet is not a mystery. Round hole, square plug. At worst, we should have played him from the left,a role he can play competently, but dislikes. I think, it was better to start Nani or Valencia if we’re not going to play him through the center. We’ve seen what he can do when playing behind the striker. Or else, give him an Iniesta/Silva role, to accommodate Rooney. Apart from that, well played Ferguson and co. Welbeck was just poor in the box, not anyone’s fault apart from Danny Welbeck

  5. Moscow

    8 October 2012 at 13:22

    Jonny Evans is a better striker than Welbeck.

    • Stephen

      8 October 2012 at 17:53

      @Moscow: He has more goals this season, which is glaring stat….

      • Opti

        8 October 2012 at 20:12

        @Stephen:
        On goals this season:
        Evra + Evans + Rafael > Rooney + Welbeck + Chicharito 😀

        • jos

          9 October 2012 at 06:50

          @Opti: Aint that great news. Sir Alex Ferguson now has the “flexibility” to play those 3 up front and the “other” three at the back… exciting times

  6. jos

    9 October 2012 at 07:11

    Anybody thinks the recent tactical changes (playing thru the middle) will bode well against Stoke. Would you rather play the diamond against them or 4-4-2?

    Also how would hte likes of Nani & Valencia (our last two players of the season) fit in!!!

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