1. That really was a terrible decision by the linesman. I am not going to rest on this as the focus point of the reaction to the game but it is impossible to not hold it as the defining moment of the match. Some have questioned the vigour of Rio Ferdinand over recent months following the rise of Jones and Smalling into the defensive frame but his overall performance and slide tackle in question on Ben Arfa was spot on – you won’t see a better sliding tackle in the box. How the referee felt that the linesman had a better view of him despite the fact that he was only 8 yards away from the game is a bit of a travesty really but, unfortunately, controversy and football are far too intertwined in the modern game. It is something that we have grown accustom too and we came off worse in this game, by far.
2. We should have won the game through our own means rather than concentrating on the deficiencies of the officials. We had 23 shots on target and pummelled the Newcastle goal but couldn’t get a second game. Rooney once again failed to penetrate in the deadly fashion that he showed in the earlier stages of this season but Hernandez seemed to be doing everything right apart from scoring more than one. He was our main threat without a shadow of a doubt and even bagged himself an uncharacteristic shot from outside of the box with his left foot. Interestingly enough, he has now scored 19 goals for United in 39 appearances – Carlos Tevez managed 19 in 68. Is there any part of his body that he won’t score a goal with? If it wasn’t for Danny Simpson’s sublime defensive clearance or for a dubious offside decision, then Hernandez would of single handedly won us the game on Saturday. As it stood, his goal still held it’s importance in making sure United avoided a home defeat.
3. Tim Krul a.k.a Brad Friedel v2. What a game he had. The young Dutch goalkeeper was easily man of the match at Old Trafford as he pulled out save after save to ultimately stop us from winning the game. He showed great agility, maturity and ability throughout the full 90 minutes and credit has to be given where credit is due. The save from Giggs, the save from Evra and the save from Vidic’ diving header are only three saves that spring to mind but it has to be said that the good defending didn’t stop with Tim Krul. Newcastle have built a fantastic season on tight defending and it showed on Saturday as their dogged approach kept us at bay by putting their bodies on the line. Hats off to them in that respect.
4. This midfield is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the Premier League. Anderson out until February, Cleverley out until Christmas – where does that leave us? Giggs started on Saturday and although he still remains an idol, he doesn’t seem to have the same impact that he did last season. Giggs should be used sparingly as a second half substitute to get the best out of him, in my opinion, leaving Carrick and Fletcher to start as our midfield pairing. They are our best central midfield choices with our thin squad but if anybody else gets injured, we should be prepared to see Rooney playing centrally week in week out, which won’t do our attack any favours whatsoever.