Home » Three things we learned from Manchester United’s goalless draw vs. Newcastle

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s goalless draw vs. Newcastle

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United faced Newcastle at Old Trafford today, with Erik ten Hag and his players looking to build on wins against Everton and Omonia.

The Dutch boss fielded an XI without Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford. The Dane was ruled out with sickness with Rashford deemed to be ‘under the weather.’

In their place, Fred partnered Casemiro in the heart of United’s midfield, while Jadon Sancho slotted in on the left flank.

Here are three things we learned from the Red Devils’ goalless draw against Newcastle

Underwhelming first half

By the standards set since Ten Hag arrived at the Theatre of Dreams, the opening 45 minutes were a far cry from what fans have become accustomed to recently.

Ten Hag’s men struggled against a physical and aggressive Newcastle side that had no problem showing their superiority. In midfield, United’s men in the middle of the park were regularly outdone by Bruno Guimarães and Joelinton.

The Magpies registered the best chance of the first half, with Joelinton first hitting the upper woodwork and then the side post, both attempts coming seconds between each other.

The Reds did not have any clear-cut chances. Antony was the most lively attacker and had a battle on his hands against Dan Burn.

Cristiano Ronaldo, as has become the norm when he’s on the pitch, was reduced to a passenger, barely contributing in any way. The same could be said of Bruno Fernandes and Fred who failed to aid Casemiro in taking control of the midfield.

Ten Hag would have heaved a sigh of relief to head into the break with proceedings level, but will undoubtedly be annoyed by the players’ inability to put into play his instructions and tactics.

Christian Eriksen was a big miss

United’s worst performer in the first half was Fred. The Brazilian looked uncomfortable on the ball and was running around after shadows for most parts of the game.

His desire and drive for the team can never be faulted but against decent opposition like Newcastle, the player needs to muster more than passion and drive.

As Eriksen’s replacement, Fred was tasked with the Dane’s usual responsibilities and failed spectacularly at them – highlighting Eriksen’s vital importance as one of the club’s most significant players.

Many supporters have been calling for the 29-year-old to be more involved but on evidence of his showing against the Magpies, he did not have a successful audition.

His lack of technicality was screaming and unless he tidies up, his days under Ten Hag may already be numbered.

United were victims of terrible officiating (Again)

While United were not their best against a resolute Newcastle, the referee of the day Craig Pawson helped Eddie Howe’s men to get a share of the points.

More than once, the referee was swayed to decide against the 20-time English champions even when all reason suggested the contrary.

Sancho was denied a clear penalty in the second half after being brought down inside the box. The referee wrongly judged that there was no case to answer for Newcastle.

Ronaldo at one point, in comical fashion, nabbed the ball off Nick Pope, which was actually in play from the free-kick spot, and guided it into the back of the net. As per the rules, this was a goal but Pawson failed to uphold it. Instead, he brandished a yellow card for Ronaldo for protesting.

Many of Newcastle’s players committed offences and even tactical fouls over and over, which the referee refused to punish. When a United player did the same, as in the case of Fernandes and Casemiro, they were immediately booked.

So bad was Pawson’s officiating that at one point the Old Trafford faithful cheered ironically when he awarded United a freekick.

Unfortunately for United Pawson’s embarrassing refereeing adds to a long string of such incidents and events that have gone against Ten Hag and his players this season.

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