It is always special when Newcastle beat Manchester United.
I don’t know why. The media put them on a pedestal but I don’t. I’m usually not bothered about how they get on.
Maybe it is because I probably have more acquaintances who are Manchester United fans than any other team except NUFC. Not chancers either, proper Manyoo fans. From Salford.
Whatever the reason, it is always great to beat them, like it was on Sunday.
Obviously both teams are a shadow of their former selves. The football chat is heavily focusing on the reds demise and yes, they were awful.
With a handful of top players missing their team was more like an Under 23 team, full of great haircuts, much youthful promise but very little in terms of quality and know-how. I don’t care.
Many Newcastle fans have said that it was a good win but weren’t the Red Devils rubbish. I don’t care.
The worst Man United team ever? I don’t care.
They still had a team with a keeper and a striker which every team in the world would want if they became available.
They still had a £45million midfielder and an £80million centre back. They still had to be beaten. It’s got nothing to do with me what Manchester United are like over a season, it only concerns me when they play Newcastle United. At SJP at the weekend, they were beaten fair and square.
The pre-match music was turned up loud at SJP but it wasn’t needed, the ground was almost full and the fans were singing.
Newcastle lined up with a return to the player favoured 5-4-1. A slight difference in what that formation gave the team from earlier games was that Steve Bruce was able to count on two genuine wing-backs, players who are super fast but can’t defend, the 21st Century defenders model. The two wingers ahead of them were equally fast, the only pace on the pitch was wearing black and white and that was a crucial part of the game.
If the Premier League is about pace now then this game proved it, NUFC had it and the reds didn’t. Manyoo had Mata, a Rolls Royce of a player but a Rolls Royce that doesn’t have a fourth gear anymore, maybe not even a third gear. Newcastle only had slightly more possession than previous games but played more on the front foot and none of that was because the Magpies kept the ball better. They didn’t, they still gave it away far too easily. It was all because ASM, Almiron, Willems and Yedlin had the pace to get through Manyoo.
Newcastle won the first half on points. Almiron got to goal a couple of times and took too many touches and didn’t get his shot away when he should have. ASM’s tricky runs got him shooting opportunities which he took but got nowhere near the goal. Matty Longstaff hit the bar with a 25 yarder but that one great chance never materialised. It did for Manyoo but that was all they created. Harry Maguire headed wide from five yards when any other kind of touch off the squarest of heeds would have gone in.
‘Harry Maguire: The Manchester United and England centre half has had better days.’
The second half started more ominously. Manchester had possession and territory kicking up the slope but very little came of it except some decent corners into the Newcastle six-yard box which Dubravka was mostly equal too.
Then the game changed, either when Andy Carroll replaced Joelinton who had presumably been playing from the start, or when both teams controlled a succession of throw-ins out of play and then our teenage debutant decided enough of this nonsense was enough. Matty Longstaff won the game with what he called a ‘hit and hope’. A bit harsh on himself and an attack which had many of the basics required: pace, skill, composure, passing and a 20-yard grass-cutter that sliced through a Man Utd static line and past the dive of David De Gea.
The Spanish keeper later called his team’s performance as “unacceptable” but at least he was beaten by a decent goal.
The scene was set for some famous Man United huffing and puffing. It didn’t happen. At one point only De Gea was more than thirty yards away from our goal, the other twenty-one players scattered around our penalty area. It didn’t matter. Schar scooped the ball of Marcus Rashford’s foot for the second time in the match, both clearances every bit as important as Longstaff’s goal but that was it.
Supposedly last season Romelu Lukaku gave Marcus Rashford some extra lessons, though you have to ask yourself, lessons in what? Taking him out for 8 pints and a curry twice a week presumably because Rashford put in the sort of shift that made you think he had a sofa strapped to his back. Never mind, he was all they had, that was the charge. More the charge of the parking at Gosforth Shopping Centre than the charge of the Light Brigade. Atsu replaced the wayward but entertaining ASM, even Krafth came on for the last few minutes and didn’t do anything horrible. Steve Bruce, you know when it is your day.
If Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce questioned his players’ ability and desire to play for the club in after their 5-0 loss at Leicester City on Sunday then throwing a bit of experience on at the back, youthful endeavour into the midfield and a bit of pace on the wings, made all the difference.
Newcastle played well, not brilliant, it wasn’t Howay 5-0, not even Phil Jones heading it into his own goal to make it 3-0, but it was a step forward. There was pace in the team in wide areas, making up for a lack of quality with some extra effort and imagination. There were a couple of nashers in central midfield who also can play a bit, in Sean Longstaff’s case quite a bit. His little brother stole the headlines today but for me the second best midfielder on the pitch was the Longstaff Manyoo didn’t try to sign in the summer, Sean was a yard ahead of every one else in the middle of the park.
‘Sean Longstaff: £50 million dollar man’
Throw in a calm and collected goalkeeper behind a back line which for once looked like it knew what it was doing. In no small part down to Ciaran Clark who did what Ciaran Clark has always done in his time at NUFC, put 100% in, played as well as he could and did his job. He’s a 7 out of 10 man week in week out and I am pleased to see him back. On Sunday 7 out of 10 was all that was needed. It is most weeks.
Some much needed respite for the manager as well who should take the plaudits for having a game plan which looked like some time and effort had gone into it. He needed a bit of luck when Lurch Maguire headed wide but fortune favours the brave and picking Matt Longstaff, Ciaran Clark and pace on the wings paid off for him.
His “turning point” chat after the game may be a little premature and I would rather he stopped acting like every press conference is a war against the haters. There are very few supporters inside or outside the ground who actively want him to fail. There are many supporters inside and outside the ground who think that 16th in the table and an average of one point per game is where he is at, always has been and always will be.
Despite this win, NUFC are fifth bottom of a table which looks particularly poor this season. Bruce would do better to concentrate on showing us he can do better than that on a regular basis as opposed to counting his chickens after one victory, a mistake he made after winning at Spurs.
That can wait for another day though, the Stevolution did well this weekend and so did his team. The chickens were all in red and we only had to count to one to beat them.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 0 – Sunday 6 October 4.30pm
Matty Longstaff 72
Possession was Man Utd 69% Newcastle 31%
Total shots were Man Utd 12 Newcastle 12
Shots on target were Man Utd 3 Newcastle 2
Corners were Man Utd 6 Newcastle 4
Referee: Mike Dean
Newcastle team v Leicester:
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Willems, M Longstaff, S Longstaff, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 83), Almiron (Krafth 90), Joelinton (Carroll 56)
Darlow, Dummett, Shelvey, Gayle
Crowd: 51,198 – Definitely not that many actually inside St James Park (3,200 Man Utd plus however many amongst the discounted tickets given to local universities/organisations, competition winners and tickets happily sold by Mike Ashley to Man Utd fans in home sections)
(David De Gea says Man Utd defeat to Newcastle was unacceptable – Read HERE)
(Stan Collymore perfectly sums up the Longstaff brothers sinking Manchester United – Read HERE)
(Watch the official match highlights HERE)
(Gary Neville distraught after Newcastle expose how poor Man Utd are – Read HERE)
(An emotional Matty Longstaff interviewed after MOTM performance and winning goal – Read/Watch HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Man Utd 0 – Read HERE)
(Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players after beating Man Utd – Read HERE)