Man Utd vs Newcastle Match Review (Nearly a Christmas hangover for the Utd defence)By: Ian | December 27th, 2012
Where on earth do you start with a match like this? If you were forced to sum up the Utd mentality this season, it may be something along the lines of: ‘let’s go behind early, chaps, that’ll give us some motivation to score, won’t it? Only too happy to oblige, Utd’s shaky (shall we start ranking matches according to the Richter scale? – Yes, we shall!) defence continued this somewhat odd strategy to cope with the visit of the Magpies to Old Trafford on Boxing Day. And those people able to draw themselves away from their Christmas presents found a real cracker of a game.
Some fuss was made pre-game by the fact that squad rotation meant both old boys, Scholesy and Giggsy, started, alongside Carrick and Valencia in the middle. Chicharito and RVP up front (Rooney attempted a volley in training on Christmas Day – the extra turkey meant he was a bit sluggish to pull it off and he’s out a few weeks). Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans and Evra made up this week’s collender, sorry defence.
Utd started badly. [Copy from previous blog posts - which one? - any] Barely four minutes had elapsed when Carrick gave the ball away in the middle to Demba Ba. Whilst not really a threatening position, Ba hit it and De Gea, who looked really, really out of sorts in this game, parried it into the worse possible place, the feet of the advancing James Perch. Around the post for a corner would have be fine, or just pushing it wide. Poor keeping. Needless to say, Perch converted and Utd were one down.
Some further defence (in the spirit of Christmas charades, I think this is what they were trying to perform) was required to deter Newcastle pressure following the goal, with Cisse forcing Ferdinand into action. The rain, as it often does in Manchester this time of year, was chucking down and maybe this was distracting Utd from playing properly at this stage. I don’t know. Utd had a penalty shout turned down as they increased thier presence, but their first real goal threat produced the equliser. A Van Persie free-kick into the box was badly dealt with, Chicharito got a shot away, which was saved well, but Evans wanted it more and the defender converted nicely.
Evans liked the warm, fuzzy feeling this gave him and he prompty repeated the act, unfortunately at the wrong end. Simpson crossed in from wide, and Evans, trying to prevent the ball falling to Cisse, converted the chance well for an own goal. The linesman said Cisse was in an offside position, and the goal was disallowed. The Newcastle bench were furious, and the referee took the opportunity to consult his official, and created a situation of rarity in overturning the decision and allowing the goal. I was confused, Sir Alex was fucking livid (watch the videos – that’s the only way you can describe it, his haranguing of the officials before and after half time will probably get him some sort of charge/fine), but on reflection, by very strict analysis of the offiside rules and active players, it was probably the right decision. But it is a grey area, hence the controversy. 2-1 to the Barcodes.
Newcastle took the chance to pen Utd back, the pinnacle of this spell a Marveaux free kick that was within inches of making it 3-1 and maybe game over. But following the break, Utd did try to attack more (Van Persie trying to work with Giggs on the left). Then another one of those odd things happened. A random cross from RVP wasn’t cleared properly, the ball fell to Evra and he struck it sweetly into the bottom right of the goal with his left foot. That is FOUR goals for him this season, and 2 in 2 games. There are some strikers in the league who would pay for such a record. Madness.
But the craziness wasn’t going to restrict to a left-back scoring lots of goals. Oh no. It only took ten minutes before another hole was found in Utd’s back four. A chance for Ba preceded it, but former Red Obertan, used his pace down the wing, tapped in a slow cross, which was met by Cisse, greeted accordingly, and sent into the top of the net. 3-2 and a delight for the boys from the far North. At this point, I am thinking Utd may need to seriously map out some defensive chances, literally to experiment with some new things, because it is so worryingly there at the point. There’s too much space, not enough closing down, and if you go to somewhere like Madrid and play like that, you’re going to get slaughtered. Oh wait, we are going there.
Back at Old Trafford though, we still have some good attacking options. Another equaliser (Utd must have scored more equalisers than anyone else this season – must have) came through Van Persie. Valencia gave him a cross to attack, Krul saved, but quick-thinking Carrick gave it back to the Dutchman to convert smartly. 3-3. Time for equaliser?
Naturally there was. Came close to time, though. Chicharito had had an early chance having rounded Krul, but the barcode defence was too numerous. Van Persie came close to converting a Carrick ball, which would have made a lovely goal. Valencia also gave Hernandez another chance, this one with the head, that found the post. At the other end, Sami Ameobi came close to a winner for Newcastle after drifting through the defence and unleashing a very slow, but accurate shot, towards the corner of the goal. De Gea fell to meet it, VERY SLOWLY, but it hit the post and came back into his hands. Very poor game for De Gea – not alert at all, re-sign Van Der Sar in January).
Giggs, still working hard, did well to chip a ball in for Hernandez to header straight at Krul. He wasn’t having much luck, the little Mexican, but the fantastic Michael Carrick, more than making up for his mistake in the 4th minute, played a delightful ball into the box, for Hernandez to half-volley past the keeper as the clock ticked into its 90th minute. It kept on ticking too, but only for a bad injury to Newcastle’s Anita, and Utd, after all of the drama, ran out winners.
It was absolutely crazy game, compounded by the fact that City lost as well, so we actually opened up a gap of seven points at the top. Our goal difference is also joint top with Chelsea, which is quite amazing because if Utd had a solid defence as they’ve had in the past, we’d be well clear. There was a 4-3 against Reading too, and when UTD score four, you expect their GD to rise by more than 1. Nevertheless, it seems a shocking defence is here to stay, at least for the time being, and Utd’s firepower is helping them escape. It’s a very dangerous game to be playing, and I sincerely hope it’s fixed miraculously before we meet Ronaldo, Benzema, Ozil, Higuain and co. at the Bernabeu.
Utd return on the 29th against WBA. Comments on the match below.