1. Back to back defeats for Manchester United against teams we should not be losing to. Blackburn have been woeful this season and Newcastle have had a pretty poor record at home. We are of course missing important players but that isn’t a good enough excuse for not getting the wake up call we should have had after the Blackburn result. It was a poor performance from United and we deserved nothing from the game.
2. Little over a year ago, Wayne Rooney held the club to ransom and we gave in to his contract demands. You do that for special players, for your top scorer, for players who score in European Cup finals and for players who make your team work. Rooney ticks those boxes for us. Then this week he wasn’t fit to train after apparently having a bit too much to drink when out with his team mates and their birds. As punishment, he missed the Blackburn game and we lost. His first game was against Newcastle today and he wasn’t at the races. Our best two chances fell to him and for both of them he hesitated. It’s a bad few days for him. He needs to book up his ideas in the remaining 18 games of the season.
3. Anders Lindegaard had a decent game for United and will be sad to lose out on his cleansheets record in the Premier League. Ahead of kick-off, I noted that he picked up these cleansheets from games against Norwich, Villa, Wigan, Sunderland and Fulham, whilst David de Gea had made crucial saves against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. To be fair to him, there was nothing he could have done about any of the goals and he was let down by the central defensive pairing.
4. Rio Ferdinand probably could have conceded a penalty in the first half, despite one replay looking like he touched the ball first. He will be disappointed he didn’t get in front of Demba Ba for the opening goal but it was a great strike taken early, which Phil Jones should have cut out, but he lost out on the header which set it up. The second goal was conceded thanks to a sloppy Jones foul and the third was a shambolic own goal from Jones. Jones was poor against Blackburn but was far worse tonight. I suppose he was due all of this after all the rave reviews so early on. I’d take him out of the centre of defence as soon as possible though. He looks good in midfield but a liability at the back, which surprised me tonight, given he had the experience of Rio alongside him.
5. Whilst there are plenty of criticisms I can level at United (and I will, don’t worry), it has to be said that Newcastle actually just played well. They were solid defensively and made it very difficult for us to break them down. Their chances on goal were largely from distance, although most of them were on target, and they scored two spectacular goals. United never looked like producing anything special like that so fair play to the geordies.
6. You wouldn’t have really known Dimitar Berbatov, Danny Welbeck or Chicharito got a run out tonight. You can’t take away from their poor performances but then I suppose you have to look at the service they were getting too. I’d love to see some stats on how many crosses United attempt and how many reach their target. Being honest, you did know Chicharito came on, but that was mainly because you were shouting his name when he got flagged offside, again. The lad is twice as fast as anyone who would mark him, so why does he need to play the offside trap so closely? He could give most centre backs a five yard head start and he’d still get to the ball first. It’s so frustrating.
7. What a difference a few days make and it’s not over yet, with an away trip to City in the Cup to come this weekend. We’ll be torn apart if we play anything like we did tonight. Did this 3-0 defeat give us the wake up call the Blackburn defeat didn’t? You’d like to think so. But there didn’t seem to be much fight about that team tonight. So, Fergie, over to you…