Newcastle United: 6 Lessons Learned from the 3-0 Manchester Defeat
In an exact reverse of the 3-0 score line Man United were on the receiving end of at St. James Park in January, Newcastle were taken apart by an ultra-professional Red Devils performance.
While Man U were excellent on the day, a Newcastle side hit by injuries were not at their best with manager Alan Pardew experimental in his team selection.
Here are six lessons Newcastle learned from the game.
Man U Were at It: The Empire Strikes Back
If anyone doubted Man United’s title credentials after the Old Trafford loss to the Spurs last Saturday, think again.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were organized, efficient and played with the intensity that has been the hallmark of Ferguson’s 12 Premier League title wins, killing the game inside 20 minutes with two set-piece goals.
Combative in midfield and tightly marking all over the pitch, Man U minimized Newcastle chances and interrupted their passing game in a commanding display.
The Importance of Danny Simpson
Newcastle are a different animal with Tim Krul, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini in the defence.
All were out injured yesterday, yet equally reliable right-back Simpson was an unused sub.
Despite leading the EPL with seven goal-line clearances last season—four more than any other player—Pardew preferred Santon and Shane Ferguson as full-backs.
With Man U seeking to bounce back from a 3-2 home defeat to Spurs last week and avenge the 3-0 loss at St James in January, this was not a game to experiment in and switching Santon to right-back led to further confusion in a defense already ravaged by injury.
The former Man United full-back was a virtual ever-present last season as the Magpies kept 14 clean sheets in the League.
Newcastle Should Have Kept Fraser Forster
Newcastle’s keeper situation was placed sharply into focus when the man they let leave for £2M in the summer received his first call-up to the England squad last week.
Especially last night as in the absence of Tim Krul, Newcastle’s elder statesman Steve Harper had a shaky game for the Magpies, being dispossessed by Wellbeck who should have scored and beaten from distance by Cleverly.
All major teams need at least two top class keepers and Fraser Forster, the 6'7" Geordie keeper has impressed enough in the Champion’s League with Celtic to earn his first England call-up by Roy Hodgson.
2012 Bordeaux Is Not A Vintage Year
Expectation levels were raised on Tyneside after an all-too-easy 3-0 win against Bordeaux in The Europa League on Thursday.
Yet the French side with a big reputation who had gone 17 games unbeaten and are currently sixth in Ligue 1 were a pushover on the night and no preparation for Sir Alex's men.
This led to overconfidence in the Newcastle ranks that Man United took full advantage of.
Ba and Cisse Are Yet to Gel in a 4-4-2
Demba duo Ba and Cisse are individual goal machines, yet the Double Demba partnership has yet to fully click.
Ba scored 16 goals when the attack was set up for him in the first half of last season, and Newcastle’s electrifying run in the second half of the season guaranteeing Europa League football was based on a 4-3-3 with Cisse as the focal point in which he netted 13 goals.
Both Senegalese forwards are natural predators—perhaps too similar—and thrive when playing off a foil like Shola Ameobi or in a more dynamic formation.
Pardew must solve this striking dilemma and get the best out of them if Newcastle are to hit the heights this season.
Shola Ameobi Must Start Vs Sunderland
With archrivals Sunderland at The Stadium of Light up next for the Magpies, it is imperative that Shola Ameobi plays instead of either Ba or Cisse.
He was left on the bench in the last Tyne-Wear derby in May yet still managed to score a 91st-minute equalizer after Demba Ba had squandered an earlier penalty that Ameobi had won.
Being a local lad, Shola knows what this game means to the Geordie public and reserves his best performances for Sunderland boasting a 7 in 12 goals per game record against them, which is bettered only by legendary striker Jackie Milburn.
Newcastle's No. 23 must be given maximum opportunity to continue to put the Indian sign on his favourite opposition. October 21st is Shola's time.