It looked like it was gonna be a continuation of the wretched start the Red Devils had endured when Shaw put into his own net in just the first two minutes of the match. Man Utd didn’t come roaring back but they loaded. They loaded to an outstanding finish. First came from a set piece as the much maligned Maguire offered a spark for himself in a dark period. United dominated more but Newcastle still offered a threat, a reminder coming in the shape of a Wilson header that was quite brilliantly kept out by De Gea. A VAR-assisted penalty saw Bruno miss his first penalty in a few years but he made amends as he added the finishing touch to a sweeping counter attack move. To add the twinge of craziness, a first professional strike from Wan Bissaka made it three before Rashford completed the scoring in the final minutes of the game
Back to the Basics
In this fixture last season, the line up was quite famed for being particularly dearth of quality. Strangely enough, from that line up, there were only 4 changes. Shaw, Lindelof and Wan Bissaka missed those games with injuries so really the only big change was Bruno Fernandes for Andreas Pereira. It was a line up that signified the need for United to get the basics right and the comments from Solskjaer pre-match echoed as much, highlighting the need to fight as a team on and off the ball. The placement of Fred and McTominay in front of the back four was a clear signal to the fact that United have been far too easy to play through as a unit throughout the season. Funnily enough, the goal comes from the fact that United are guilty of the same things that have plagued our season – poor possessional retention; weak defensive play courtesy of the Swedish CB, Lindelof; Fred and McTom being untethered in their midfield positions and United’s backline again being to narrow, while shifting across too slowly. Shaw, yes, was unfortunate but it should have never come to that point. In ironic fashion, maybe that was just what was needed as United came out and played reasonably well, when you think of the performances that preceded it and Newcastle’s dire resistance. Moves were flowing quicker, in aid of Fred trying to input impetus. The Brazilian was very guilty of being loose in possession but a horrid feature of our play this season has been the slow paced football so seeing quicker passes into the front men was just a welcome sign. And really, that is all this performance was. United’s first three games were indeed that horrid that just going to players who may not have the ability to sprinkle magic dust at their best but will concentrate getting the basics right was seen as an improvement.
Writing Himself Into The Team
Mata’s blogs on a Monday morning were always seen as a strange quirk of a footballer but one that endeared him too many. Recently, those words have been missing as it has been put on the back burner as he has in the dying embers of his career. It isn’t a good sign but in those embers, Mata has been the undoubted best player of the season so far. Merely due to two competent performances in the League Cup vs Luton Town and Brighton respectively. In what should show you the dire straits of United’s season, a suspension to Anthony Martial meant that he was able to get into the team. Once again, he was the best player in the team. He did not need to do anything special either. The ability to have some sort of ball reception and intelligence, or higher than what there is in the squad, means that those around him can buzz off his passes and combination play. Then you see the second goal and his involvement in it. A sweeping move involving the Spaniard. The introduction of Van De Beek meant another like-minded player on the pitch and boy did you see it all click together. A fast break involving the new signing, Mata, Rashford and Bruno, who was the one to crash it into the net via the post.
His first goal almost came because of two skewed crosses that Karl Darlow had to deal with but in his 50th game for Man Utd, 95th in professional football, Wan Bissaka absolutely crashed the ball into the net with his right foot. Hopefully a sign of things to come with improved offensive play
This was more of the Rashford of old. Funnily enough, it came as the man up top. He worked the channels and there was an option to hit as he was able to exploit the inordinate amount of space that Newcastle left to play in. He capped it off with a typical goal off the shoulder, slotting past the keeper, after he had missed an earlier chance given to him by the man of the match, Juan Mata.