What We Learned: Newcastle United 0-4 Manchester United


Juan Mata is finding his feet

There is only one place to start. Jubilant Manchester United supporters both in the away end at St James’ Park and watching around the world witnessed further evidence this afternoon that Juan Mata is not only fitting in, he is making the #10 role his own. After a slow start for the visitors in which they failed to register a shot, United were presented a glorious free-kick opportunity to attempt to at least trouble Rob Elliot, deputising in the Newcastle goal in the absence of Tim Krul. Mata coolly despatched to score his second goal in as many games. United’s record signing doubled his tally and the Reds’ lead just minutes into the second half, displaying great composure to round Elliot and pass the ball into an empty net after good work from Javier Hernández.

It is not only his creativity and ability to carve out chances for himself for which Mata deserves praise; his work rate in winning and retaining the ball was key today, and the Spaniard played an integral part in everything good that came from United. His awareness and vision to make just about any pass was highlighted in the build-up to the visitors’ fourth goal. After receiving the ball from Januzaj, Mata smartly backheeled it back into the Belgian’s path to set him up for a good finish. His link-up play with Kagawa meant that Hernández’s runs, all too often snuffed out this campaign, were found with ease. Man of the Match.

juan-mata-newcastle-united

Jones/Smalling is a solid and dependable partnership

The sterling individual and collective performances turned in by Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic against Bayern Munich on Tuesday offered a timely reminder of what United can expect to miss once their veteran centre-halves depart the club. Although no longer at their peak separately, replacing their hugely successful partnership, and attempting to emulate said successes and trophy hauls, will be no mean feat.

Whilst United will almost certainly look to bring in another centre-back in the summer, the combination of Jones and Smalling in the absence of Jonny Evans is blossoming. Between them, the pair offer a good aerial presence, aren’t short of pace and, whilst both have their shortcomings – Smalling’s composure on the ball leaves a lot to be desired and Jones’ bull-in-a-china-shop approach leaves him injury-prone – their appearances side by side have been largely impressive this season. Given more playing time together, the pair will naturally build up their understanding and, still young, will learn plenty in that time. David de Gea, despite becoming the team’s rock between the posts, needs a settled defence in front of him with which to build an almost telepathic relationship if United are to form a solid spine around which to create a team to challenge for titles again.

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Fellaini is aggressive… and not in a good way

Rewind a year. Marouane Fellaini, then at Everton, was a sturdy, imposing brute of a midfielder. Tough in the tackle and solid in the air, he dominated nearly any battle at the centre of the pitch. A threat at set pieces, and possessing the ability to pop up with a goal out of nowhere, we can pinpoint several occasions in history where United have been stung by the big Belgian – ask Michael Carrick.

We return to present day, where we witness a very different Fellaini. Now clad in red, he bumbles around the pitch aimlessly, is easily shoved off the ball, wins few headers and resorts to flinging out an elbow when he doesn’t get his own way. Stick a man on Fellaini and he becomes frustrated; that was evident in the 2-0 home win last season when Jones marked him out of the game. Is it a case of a small and frustrated fish in a very big pond? Fans will forgive players for their faults, for mistakes and errors made on the pitch. Roy Keane, known for his on-pitch “antics”, had the talent and work rate to back it up. He wouldn’t accept less than 100% from either himself nor any of his players. Fellaini’s price tag, although a hefty one, is of course not the Belgian’s fault; that is an unfortunate weight he has been lumbered with. But the work rate for which Keane was known for is not evident in United’s #31. Is he simply being overrun, or is he attempting to cruise along? The latter might not be the case, but that is how it comes across, and supporters will not tolerate laziness.

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United supporters, once again, were the stars of the show

Convincing team performances have been few and far between for the red half of Manchester this campaign, and this has made for painful viewing for the supporters in the stands. Home and away, the fans have refused to shy away as the players have so often done, and have constantly endeavoured to make themselves heard. Drawing praise from all corners of football, the supporters have not only banished the notion that all United fans are “fickle gloryhunters”, but have done the club proud. This is the way it should be. The team hasn’t always delivered the results these fans deserve, but the top tier of the Sir John Hall Stand was treated to some exciting attacking football today and a glut of goals – a rarity under David Moyes and a reward for their unrelenting support.

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Ready for Bayern? As ready as we’ll ever be

Following the energy-sapping 1-1 draw against the runaway Bundesliga leaders at Old Trafford, and with the second leg next week in mind, questions were asked as to the potential starting XI Moyes would plump for to take on an injury-ravaged Newcastle side. Expectations were relatively low, some predicting a narrow win, others less optimistic. Underused players were given a run out, youngster James Wilson was named on the bench, although did not feature. The 4-0 scoreline in United’s favour was a pleasant and very welcome surprise.

Yes, the opposition, missing their danger man in Loic Remy and a host of other first-choice players, were poor in possession, lacked impetus and momentum and offered little threat up front. However, you have to beat what is in front of you. This was another good win away from home for a United side which has fared better on its travels this season. The players will return to Manchester ahead of their trip to Munich in deservedly good spirits, knowing that a sterner test awaits them on Wednesday.

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About Chelsi 7 Articles
I like Michael Carrick. If you like Michael Carrick too, let's be friends. And if you don't, well, just lie and say you do.

12 Comments

  1. Nice write up,i love everything you pendown here especially on fellaini,he doesnt deserve the red shirt of manchester

  2. After all this time i have been bangin on and on about giving Kagawa and Mata both the opportunity to play with each other… Is this finally proof that it is a world class partnership!!!

    and i stand by the fact that a midfield without Carrick is the best thing!!! We held fantastic possession, could spring into attack at will… Gave good defensive support and just dominated the game. And i believe there is still more greatness that can develop!

    fellaini was decent, but has too much of a tendency to switch off. His size is a great asset, i still believe he COULD be a fantastic signing, but i definitely agree he needs to step up if he wants to really deserve his position in the team.

    2nd leg
    de gea
    jones smallin vidic buttner
    fletcher
    Valencia Kagawa janujaz
    chicharito welbeck

    welbeck can have a slightly deeper midfield assistance role, but we have to play attacking. Bayern have shown they have a real defensive weakness… And today we saw just how dangerous the Utd attack can be… Play to our strength and exploit bayerns weakness… We can defend, don’t go overkill defensively and try and play Bayern at theyre own game, the possession game. But i believe we have a greater ability to be defense splitting. Bayern struggled with that and so were forced into more long range shots.

    we have to take the game to Bayern!!!

  3. What else did I learn?

    Moyes tactics got it right again. Whoever said he doesn’t have tactics?
    Moyes and company can bring back ManU to the top again.

    ManU needs Fellaini. ManU needs an enforcer to strike fear to the opponents. Opponents will be afraid because Fellaini will kick their ass if they mess with his teammates. He will keep the opponents in check. Just like Detroit Pistons during the Isiah Thomas days. Nobody messes with their star players because if they do, Rodman, Laimbeer, Mahorn, etc. will punch them in the face.

    Fletcher is better in midfield than Carrick. Carrick should be moved to central defender position.

    Evra lost his pace and Buttner must be given a chance to take over his position.

    ManU don’t need RVP. ManU plays better without him.

  4. Funny things injuries.

    Last week, the injury to RVP forced Moyes hand and he had to shift Rooney from the no.10 slot to striker, where he should be anyway. That allowed Kagawa to play and link up with Mata.

    This week, Rooney’s absence and the resting of Welbeck, gave Chicharito the chance to show what he can do up front. Add to that, the early withdrawal of Young through injury, forced the early introduction of Januzaj.

    The result of these injuries? An attacking force of Mata, Kagawa, Chicharito and Januzaj ripping into the Geordies. A decent amount of flair and pace, the two things which have been notable for their absence in Moyes’ teams so far this season.

    The inventiveness, guile and precision passing of Mata, Januzaj and Kagawa linked to the energy, pace and sharpness of Chicharito gave United a positive, attacking platform from which to control the game. Virtually for the first time we saw these players in their best positions, playing well together and enjoying themselves. Gone, the touchline hugging, bench warming duties of previous matches.

    Was the Newcastle game a sign of things to come or merely an opportunity for Kagawa and Chicharito to showcase their wares for the transfer market? I have no confidence that Moyes is up to the job but we can have a decent last few weeks of the season. Plus, you never know what might happen on Wednesday.

  5. Has Iwan gone holiday? Lol…normally look forward to his ‘what we learned’ articles

    Mata been playing well, a lot has to do with his link up with Kagawa in my opinion

    I’m a fan of Carrick and have always backed him however in recent games his been rested and our midfield has played pretty well… Is our centre mid better without him?

    Totally disagree with your point on fellaini, firstly his playing a complete different role to his role at everton. He has made our midfield more physical… People talk about him not winning headers, well he does but people concentrate on the ones he doesn’t but who wins every single header anyway? Him going up for headers when opponents keepers hits it long helps our defenders this is because they do not compete for it against the strikers allowing them to keep their position. The same ploy utd used against Everton last season when they let jones deal with long ball.

    Fellaini puts in a shift however coz of his style it seems as though his “cruising” about. He intercepts, wins headers and passes the ball simple… That’s his role. Yes he has flaws…. Fair to say a few too many of our players have this season.

    I think fellaini has fallen into the same category as fletcher and Carrick were in many years… A team needs players who will do the dirty, to allow flair players to flourish. Baffles me how people criticises him when we’ve drawn 1-1 against Europes best in Bayern and a 4 nil against Newcastle away!

    • very true… i personally feel fellaini could be soo good… my only personal concern is his sudden ability to switch off around our own box!!! i believe both him and carrick were to blame for the equaliser. they both ball watched and didnt cover that area!!!

      im sooo torn for the squad vs bayern!!! we have such an amazing squad!!! i genuinely believe its better than citys… but the idiot moyes does not understand his players or how to rotate!!!

      i was sooo happy with these injuries to rvp and i hope roony cant play vs bayern!

      everyone keeps sayin rooney a no 10… but hes not!!!! hes not good enough as a no 10!!! hes a striker all day long!! janujaz… i consider him a winger, the one game he played as a no 10 he looked too lost. he is far better cutting in from the wing.

      i think if i had to choose the squad vs bayern… i would probably now pick this

      de gea
      jones smalling vidic buttner
      fellaini fletcher
      welbeck kagawa janujaz
      hernandez

      pace… passing skill…. great first touches… and lethal attack.

      fellaini doesnt deserve all this criticism…. but he does need to try harder!!!!

      i think he partners well with fletcher who needs a more stable defensive role… he cant push up and come back that much. he hasnt got the legs. but the problem is… carricks a sure starter.. and this is where we wont play to our best.

      carrick is a long ball player… vs bayern he played like 11 long balls. long balls for us are a waste of time… we dont have the physical team for that, and its become a very outdated tactic. it costs us possession. and i dont think carick had any assists this season so far

      vs newcastle, it was short range pass n move… pure brilliance!!! the football i have been screaming for all season!!! kagawa and mata were the heart of everything attacking! it was one, the other or both!

      carrick can not fit into this style of play. cleverley can, ive seen him have fantastic link up play with rooney before. but carrick cant!!! he doesnt like to much of the ball, and cant cope with too much pressure. he needs time and space to pick out a pass. and thats why our midfield struggles when hes there!

      if moyes doesnt choose carrick…. i will respect him regardless of the result.. but i know it will make victory that much more likely!

      dont get me wrong… i respect carrick has been very valuable and done a great service… but thats with a different squad of players when the style of play was very different. carrick does not suit this squad at all, and can you really name any other elite team that he would fit in????

      ur comment on fellainis flaws is perfect tho… look at janujaz passes today… terrible is to put it kindly for quite a few of them lol… if that was fellaini… internet would crash with all the gifs. people have to look more at all the good stuff he does… because yes he does… but i personally feel his main issue is switching off in the wrong areas. but the more i think about it… the more i think he does need to play vs bayern.

      oh and buttner… he is really growing on me… i think he has amazing potential! just a huge shame with rafael so far… really want jones smalling to be our main partnership… i prefer them over evans and one of them.

  6. Generally it was a sweet performance although our defence needs a grip at the back cause were it not for Anders we would be talking of a different story..
    I like Carrick personally cause he always has triple C whenever he plays; cool, calm and collected.. He’s intergral to what United want to achieve and to see Fletcher holding down the fort when he’s away is remarkable, considering Fletch’s career..
    What I want to see now is more of Nani playing, when under no pressure at all, he can have the world bending at his skills. The gaffer needs to make him a regular, he could be important when we get rid of Bayern in Europe..

  7. OK it was middle table Newcastle with injuries but hay this was United without Roon&VP and the old rearguard.It was a joy to watch for a change.Good to see Nani back on the field.Will probably revert back to Vidic,Ferdinand,Carrick,Fellaini wellbeck,Young on Wednesday.Moyes ought to go for a couple of quick goals and they all need to be super mobile.No Giggsy or Ferdinand or Fellaini.I learned that United can play well up front and not a bad defence with Jones&Smalling.

  8. I think I have found the problem with Fellaini. Nobody has told him to put his clock forward an hour as he is always 60 minutes behind play. We play with 10 men every week! Does he not realise that you get out what you put in. He is not worthy of putting on the shirt

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