5 Observations From Newcastle United v Manchester United

After a devastating 3-0 loss to Newcastle United, Manchester United has suffered back-to-back defeats in the Barclays Premier League for the first time since March 2011 and now trails league leader Manchester City by three points at the top of the Premier League table.

Newcastle was better than the visitors in every department of the game. They controlled the midfield superbly, patrolled the defence with aplomb and when scoring opportunities came, they didn’t waste their chances.

United’s frailties were once again exposed and it may what prompt Sir Alex Ferguson to make moves in the January window for defensive cover. There are problems on so many fronts – the vulnerability at the back, toothless midfield, goalkeeper conundrum, striker selection and much more. Newcastle was resolute and nonchalant at the back (apart from Danny Simpson’s goal line clearance, the defense was not stretched and tested) and showed great qualities when needed.

1) Spot on, Alan Pardew: Alan Pardew was spot on with his tactics yet again. His message was simple — gain the upper hand in the middle. This was helped by the industry and class of Tiote and Cabaye, who outclassed their counterparts with great élan. Also, they narrowed the pitch making life difficult for Nani and Valencia to make considerable inroads.

Ameobi after the match said “We saw what Blackburn did against Manchester United a few days ago, so one of our main tactics was to get in behind them and squeeze them up the pitch and it has worked.” Further, the tactics of testing the United defenders with long balls worked for Pardew. The physical presence of Shola Ameobi created space for Demba Ba to exploit. In the build up to the first goal, Tim Krul’s long ball was superbly flicked on by Ameobi into the direction of Demba Ba. The Senegal international volleyed the ball home in stunning fashion. Also in the buildup to the  second goal, Ameobi created space for Ba by dragging the defender with him. Jones fouled the Senegal striker, conceding a free kick 25-yards out. We all know the outcome. Though you might say those two were outstanding goals and sometimes you can’t do anything if that happens.

2) Lack of communication at the back: Phil Jones has scored three goals for United, two of which have found his own net. Jones is a hot prospect and he might go on to be the best defender in England. But, he looks better at right back or central midfield than at the heart of defense. The problem he faces is communication with the goalkeeper and taking decisions as well. He hardly has any understanding with De Gea. And tonight we saw there were more communication gaps as well, this time with Anders Lindegaard. He was caught in two minds as to whether to deal with the long ball from Krul or let it bounce through to Lindegaard. In the end messed up, big time. He was all over the place defensively. Still, he will learn. He’s an outstanding talent.

3) Need to buy a central midfielder: Ferguson needs to buy a central midfielder, even if Tom Cleverley gets fit in coming days. This current crop is simply not good enough. Darren Fletcher is a long term absentee and the midfield is left with Carrick, Anderson and makeshift yet versatile veteran Ryan Giggs to control. The FACT that Rooney has to get down deep to control the midfield is a pathetic sight. In fact they need two types of midfielders – creative and industrious. How about Cabaye & Tiote?

4) What has happened to United’s strikers? Injuries to strikers at different points of the season have harmed the strike force of Manchester United. Rooney has to come deep to influence the game from behind. Hernandez and Welbeck haven’t been firing on all cylinders and it is left to Berbatov to handle the striker department — the same Berbatov who was been struggling to get a game in the early half of the season.

5) Loss of Demba Ba: Newcastle will be losing Demba Ba for the next one month due to his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. It is a big blow to the Magpies but they have to cope with it. Only van Persie has scored more goals than the Senegalese international in the past 12 months. Pardew is left with an onerous task of getting the best out of his backup strikers. Maybe he could change the style of Newcastle’s game play?

Today I leave you with two questions. For the Newcastle fans, where will Newcastle finish at the end of the season? For the United fans, please shed light on what buys you think are needed in the January transfer window.

Follow Saikat Mandal on Twitter @Saikat_SAnchor

16 thoughts on “5 Observations From Newcastle United v Manchester United”

  1. And to add to United’s worries, the in form team in the league, the Spurs, will by most accounts draw level with United on the 11th.

  2. Who is this Alan Pardew? Seemingly back from the dead, this Pardew is proving to be a first rate coach with an eye for a player (e.g, Cabaye), getting the most out of his team with good tactics/formations. Keep this up and he is putting himself in the England frame if Redknapp doesn’t take the job. Newcastle are as enjoyable to watch these days as during the first Keegan era. They look like a real team playing for each other and believing in their manager. In contrast, United look a complete mess. That midfield is the worst since Fergie though he saw something nobody else did in Djemba-Djemba. Unless they get an early goal, they seem to lose confidence, the tempo drops and all they have left is a few potshots from Shrek when he is not moaning at the referee.

  3. May I point out that there is more than one “United” in this article. It is an offence to EVERY other United in the EPL when Man U are referred to as ‘United’ when playing another ‘United’!

    Quote “Today I leave you with two questions. For the Newcastle fans, where will Newcastle finish at the end of the season? For the United fans, please shed light on what buys you think are needed in the January transfer window.”

    Today I will leave you with 4 questions;
    Are both these questions for Newcastle UNITED fans? Is the second question to both sets of fans? Is it disrespectful to write and or refer to man U simply as ‘United’?

    And finally….. Wasn’t it just brilliant to watch the Toon Army smash Manchester United?? (YES!)

    Thank you and God bless Newcastle UNITED!!

    1. Geordie, as a City fan, I completely agree (Swansea City, that is, not Manchester). The same thing happens to my team all the time.

      However, in this case, it’s perfectly fine. The writer lists Newcastle United first. And then asks United fans what they think about their team. It’s pretty obvious he’s talking about the red half of Manchester.

      Congrats on the win. Thoroughly well-deserved. And what about those goals? Brilliant!

      The Gaffer

  4. I hope Newcastle will push for a Europa League place. CL it will be very hard, now that they are without Steven Taylor.

  5. There is only 1 observation and that is Fergie in denial that his team needs improving. Manchester United have ridden their luck with an average midfield and now it is catching up to them.

  6. Manchester United need fix only a seven things and they will be back on top, they are:
    1. Hernandez needs to keep from being offsides “all the time.”
    2. Sir Alex and Ferdinand need to retire.
    3. Rooney needs to grow up.
    4. Vivic needs to return…even with a cast on his leg he’s better than what they have now.
    5. De Gea and Lindegaard need to run away.
    6. Nani needs to learn how to pass.
    7. Scholes and Van de Sar need to come out of retirement.
    That’s all they need to do.

  7. ” What has happened to United’s strikers? “: I don’t think Manchester United’s strikers’ form is ought to be questioned. Lack of proper service has been the problem. It is not that their strikers have been poor in terms of movement, finishing, etc.

  8. “For the Newcastle fans, where will Newcastle finish at the end of the season?”

    Hopefully above Sunderland. As a fan, my loftiest ambitions for the club under Ashley are to be the “Best of the rest” i.e. 6th or 7th, beat Sunderland consistently, and to really go on a decent cup run, which has not happened since we lost in the semi finals against Chelsea under Sir Bobby, until somebody with money and a bit of class about them buys the club and gives it it’s soul back.

    No NUFC fan really thinks we are going to challenge for the CL places with the lack of depth we have, and there’s nowt a Geordie loves more than the chance to win the FA cup!

  9. I expect Newcastle United to finish between 7-10; probably closer to 10th. I’m worried about Stoke, Fulham, Everton, and to a lesser degree mackems, moving up the table. They’re also going to need Ben Arfa & Best to score some goals in Ba’s absence, and Guthrie, Gosling or Abeid to fill in for Tiote. I expect Cabaye to become more defensive-minded while Cheick’s gone.

    This is assumes NUFC buy an adequate CB during the transfer window. Ashley & Llambias saw the drop off when Colo, S Taylor & Williamson were hurt, and as cheap as they are, I think they’ll open up their wallet for a young, promising, somewhat obscure and likely French-ish CB. Unless they find a good value purchase at another position (expiring contract, etc), I think a CB will be the only major addition in January.

    If NUFC don’t add a CB and if Colo and/or Williamson were to get injured, I could see them finishing as low as 15.

  10. How does Newcastle Utd do this? They were in the 2nd division a year and a half ago. Pardew has been incredible because he looked terrible managing at his previous clubs. Granted Ba has been a big spark, I look to see how they cope without him. I still see Newcastle winning its share of matches though.

  11. Central midfield is the root of our problems snd until we Properly fix it we are going to struggle. We need a ball winning midfielder who will get stuck in and break up play then start counter attack and a creative midfielder to play along side him. We have been overrun in the middle of the pitch in so many games this season a blind man could see it’s a problem.

    The fa cup game on Sunday will be won in the middle of the park and I fully expect utd to start with a 5 man midfield of nani-Anderson-jones-carrick-Valencia, with Barry suspended and Toure not available Its going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

    3 points behind with 18 games to is nothing to worry about, our lack of toughness in the midfield is.

  12. I loved seeing Ba get into it with one of ManU’s defenders, then turning around and putting away a top class strike like that. You could see it coming as soon as the pass was made. Truly a wonderful goal.

    Delighted to see ManU go down like that, but with so many injuries, you almost have to feel sorry for them. Almost. :) Hats off to Newcastle for coming out guns blazin’ and picking up the well-deserved win.

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