- United could only manage a draw on their return to the pitch following a sixteen-day absence due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Carrington. Truth be told, they hardly deserved more as Newcastle fought tooth and nail for every ball all over the pitch and arguably had the best chances over the ninety minutes. Newcastle took the lead in the first ten minutes, as their talisman Saint-Maximin danced his way around a couple of United players on the edge of the penalty area and his shot on the stretch found its way in the corner of De Gea’s goal, with the United keeper stunned. United tried to go on the front foot but the Magpies looked well drilled and pressed the United players into making mistakes when in possession. Indeed, the half ended without United having one single shot on target, such was the home team’s defensive effectiveness. Rangnick rang the changes at half time, with Cavani and Sancho coming in for Fred and Greenwood. The changes seemed to kick United into life and despite Newcastle having a great opportunity at the start of the half, United started grinding out chances and they could have scored before Cavani equalised on seventy minutes. That goal led me to believe that the momentum was now firmly with United and it was only a matter of time before we went into the lead. It was not to be however and surprisingly, Newcastle ended the match the stronger team and could have won it when Murphy struck a curling shot that beat De Gea but not the woodwork. Point won or two lost?
- One of the key words that Rangnick emphasised on day one when he arrived at Old Trafford was ‘control’. He expected United to control matches. Against Newcastle, United had seventy percent possession, which is massive in any match, particularly for an away team. Having said that, I am not sure that was the type of control that Rangnick was referring to in his first press conference and I’ll be surprised if he was happy with United’s performance. I am not saying that the United players lacked commitment but only that the Newcastle players were simply half a yard quicker to the ball on most second balls. It might have been that the United players were a bit rusty as a result of the long lay off or maybe the last six days of intense training took their toll but it would be unfair to take away the effort put by the Newcastle players. United are a work-in-progress under Rangnick and people – including pundits – have to give the new manager a bit of time to introduce his ideas rather than judging after each and every match. I saw some encouraging signs during the match, certainly the amount of vertical forward passes played from the back in between the lines is something which we did not see from United earlier in the season. Let’s give the project some time and support the team and the manager.
- De Gea gets my special mention today for the couple of excellent saves he made to preserve the one point gained by the team. He seems to have turned back the years to return to his best form for United.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.