Manchester United battled their way back in the second half to beat Newcastle 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Old Trafford.
The travelling side struck the first blow in the 7th minute when Kenedy scored after some calamitous defending from Manchester United. A throw-in deep in Newcastle’s half went completely uncontested by Manchester United and, with one pass, Pérez unlocked a lethargic Manchester United defence. Kenedy latched on to the through ball, turned it onto his left foot and whipped the ball past de Gea.
Muto doubled Newcastle’s lead just three minutes later with his first Premier League goal. Despite being surrounded by four Manchester United defenders, Muto had all the time in the world to control Shelvey’s cross before he turned and fired the ball past de Gea.
Manchester United proceeded to dominate possession for the rest of the half but failed to threaten Dúbravka in the Newcastle goal.
Manchester United started a lot brighter in the second half after some extensive tactical changes at half-time. The warning signs were there early on for Newcastle when both Matic and Rashford missed golden opportunities to get Manchester United on the scoreboard.
Mata inspired the comeback for United in the 70th minute when he bet Dúbravka with a sublime, curling free-kick. The goal energised Manchester United who tackled the remaining twenty minutes with renewed vigour and purpose.
Martial drew the sides level six minutes later with a beautifully worked goal when Newcastle failed to clear their lines after some Manchester United pressure. Martial picked the ball up on the left wing, played a one-two with Lukaku and thumped the return ball past Dúbravka to score his first goal of the season and a very important goal for Mourinho’s career at Manchester United.
The comeback was completed in the 90th minute as the ghost of Fergie time was resurrected once more. Manchester United were patient in their build-up play before Sanchez connected with Young’s beautifully weighted cross into the Newcastle box to nab all three points against a shell-shocked Newcastle.
Mourinho’s Last Stand
Manchester United went into the match today with no wins in their last four and their lowest points tally in years. Rumours about Mourinho’s future were rife before kick off with some journalists suggesting that the Portuguese manager was facing the axe regardless of today’s result. Despite the club refuting these claims within hours of them emerging, this will have done little to assuage the rumours given the fact United openly backed both Moyes and Van Gaal mere days before they were sacked.
Mourinho’s siege mentality has exhausted players and fans alike. The constant tension, suspicion and cynicism that Mourinho engenders in his teams may have galvanised his Chelsea and Inter Milan sides but his methods now look outdated with the likes of Pogba, Valencia and Martial being alienated by the manager in recent weeks. For their part, the players have done little to support their manager in these troubled times. From abysmal performances to barbed comments in the media, there appears to be an irreparable rift in the Manchester United dressing room.
Manchester United were completely uninspired in the first half. The players were constantly a yard short, lacking in ideas and looked afraid to take any initiative or responsibility. The midfield and attack were woefully impotent in the first half and they failed to muster a single goalscoring opportunity despite having the lion’s share of possession throughout the match. Manchester United’s defence was even worse. Bailly was hauled off in the 19th minute after an abysmal showing while Smalling’s performance will have many questioning how the player has remained a constant at the club for so long.
To Mourinho’s credit, he was brave at half-time and tinkered his side’s line-up and tactics. The changes worked well and Manchester United looked like a different team in the second half. They were much more fluid in attack and stole the game with three goals in twenty minutes proving that the fight, drive and desire is still there, somewhere.
Newcastle Still Searching For A Win
After a much-publicised meeting between the squad and the club’s hierarchy during the week, Benitez and his team rose above the drama surrounding the club to put in an admirable performance. Newcastle have suffered from chronic under-investment since their promotion to the Premier League in 2017 and they will be looking for a substantial cash injection in the winter transfer window.
Despite taking a two-goal lead within the first ten minutes, Benitez’s men didn’t shy away from the match and continued to threaten throughout. Their midfield was energetic and ambitious while their attackers utilised the acres of space they found themselves into great effect. Although Newcastle’s refusal to shut up shop earlier may look naive in hindsight, one has to sympathise with them as they continue their search for that elusive first win of the season.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba
Pogba was the force behind Manchester United’s comeback today. The second half saw the Frenchman occupy a much deeper role in a makeshift back three and, from there, he orchestrated every Manchester United attack. A selfless performance which underscored both his technical ability and spirit.