United started the season by losing to Everton away and Tottenham Hotspur at home. To have lost two games so early on was pretty damaging to our title hopes and with a difficult trip to St James Park, a ground we had lost at the season before, things didn’t look good. We were 3rd in the table, behind Chelsea and Everton, and a defeat against Newcastle would have meant we could have dropped as low as 10th.
Rio Ferdinand has revealed what the manager did ahead of kick-off to ensure they won and kick-start the winning streak that followed.
“Before kick-off, the manager showed us the league table to emphasise that point and it didn’t make pretty reading,” Ferdinand said. “I don’t really look at the league table until Christmas normally. When we all saw it that day, it hit home. We thought, ‘Wow, we need to shake ourselves up.’ Thankfully, it turned out to be a good day for us. Sometimes things just click into place and we just felt very secure in that game and it felt very much like the Manchester United of old, from a couple of years ago. Up until the game against Newcastle, we’d been a bit open and playing in that way of ‘We attack, you attack’. This league is unforgiving in that sense. If you’re not on your game in all areas you’ll get punished. But I think the performance against Newcastle signalled a bit of a change in mentality from us and hopefully that’s a taste of things to come for the rest of the season.”