Manchester United travelled to St James’ Park to face a Newcastle United side who are also chasing Champions League football next season.
Erik ten Hag was hoping for refreshed performances after the international break, with a couple of Reds performing exquisitely while on duty.
The Red Devils are setting themselves up for a busy end to the campaign and will be hoping they can finish the Premier League season with as many points as possible.
Here are three things we learned from today’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle.
Erik ten Hag surprisingly selects McTominay to play in an unconventional position
It was fully expected that Marcel Sabitzer would partner the Scottish international in the midfield pivot but instead, Bruno Fernandes joined the Austrian.
McTominay played further forward in a more attacking minded role following his goal scoring spell during the break in club football where he managed to score four goals across two matches.
It is safe to say it didn’t work out quite as Ten Hag would’ve hoped, with the midfield lacking the energy required for a massive fixture like this one.
Weghorst didn’t play to the best of his ability partly because the midfield couldn’t provide the passes required with Man United losing the ball on numerous occasions throughout the first half.
McTominay came out in the second half to play a position he usually plays under the manager.
It seems unlikely that Ten Hag will deploy this tactic again after the experiment didn’t go quite to play.
Casemiro is deeply missed within this squad
With the Brazilian midfielder serving his second out of a four match ban, it was always going to be tough with the current options at the club.
Christian Eriksen, who is just about to return to match fitness, has also been out injured and it’s hard to not notice his presence.
Both midfielders are Ten Hag’s preferred options but couldn’t be of an use today and that really did reflect on the first half performance.
Fernandes was the deeper midfielder on most occasions throughout the first half and did perform well but couldn’t provide that pass for the assist United were crying out for.
It is fair to say that the midfield lacked intensity and any real attacking threat failing to get a shot on target.
Newcastle dominated the first-half and should’ve possibly scored if it wasn’t for David de Gea‘s save and a few missed chances.
In the second-half, United plummeted as they conceded a goal to go 1-0 down to the home team in the 65th minute.
Anthony Martial returns at a time United need him most
It has not been a good couple of weeks for Wout Weghorst after a ‘good’ start to his United career while on loan from Championship club Burnley.
Fans have been divided on whether he has what it takes to be the number nine Ten Hag desperately needs.
Throughout the Newcastle match, he failed to put his name on the game as he only managed around seven passes before the 60th minute mark.
Martial, who has had an injury-hit campaign following his loan spell last season at Sevilla, returned to action for the first time since January.
It’s great to see an enthusiastic striker return to action but it might be too late in his United career to convince fans around him that he should be in the starting eleven.
Even though he couldn’t contribute, today’s results reflect the need for a better attack going forward and his return could be timely if Ten Hag wants to win another trophy this season.