Manchester United’s nightmare start to the season was brutally compounded by a razor-sharp Newcastle United.
The opening phases of play were largely uneventful for both sides, however the Red Devils were able to keep the ball a little better than what they have been serving up recently.
However, it would be inaccurate to say that the Mancunian club had any real control over the on-field events. The Brazilian captain for the night, Casemiro, had a decent shot from just outside the area. However, that was largely as good as it got for the Red Devils in the opening half.
Erik ten Hag’s team came out with a fighting spirit but that led to a series of clumsy tackles which resulted in both central midfielders, Hannibal Mejbri and Casemiro ending up in the referee’s book.
Hannibal in particular was rash as he was in trouble again after 18 minutes. The foul did not warrant a second yellow but it seemed a risk that was not needed at that stage in the game.
Unfortunately for United, they were made to pay for the young Tunisian’s foul trouble. In the 26th minute, Newcastle pounced on the ball from a careless Garnacho pass and the Magpies’ full-back Tino Livramento took full advantage. The summer recruit charged past Mejbri, who most likely would have taken one for the team if he hadn’t already been cautioned. Livramento then played a well-placed through ball and Miguel Almiron finished cooly past Andre Onana.
If the Old Trafford crowd were expecting a stirring fightback, they were to be disappointed, again. After a speculative shot by United full-back Sergio Reguilon, Newcastle found themselves 2-0 up. United were caught napping at a free kick and after a Harry Maguire headed clearance, Lewis Hall expertly volleyed past the United keeper.
The rest of the first half petered out from a United perspective apart from a couple of speculative long range efforts by Dalot and Mount. The Magpies’ fans were in festive mood chanting “you’re getting sacked in the morning” and cheering their own players every time they touched the ball.The half-time whistle was a welcome relief for a funeral atmosphered Old Trafford.
Ten Hag tried to change the game by making a double change at half-time, bringing on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sofyan Amrabat. This resulted in what could be described as a timid fightback as Antony Martial went close after good work by Wan-Bissaka. However, as has so frequently been the case for Manchester United this season, after some promising moments, they were cut to ribbons on the counter.
Sofyan Amrabat’s difficult start as a Red Devil continued as he lost the ball in a dangerous area and Joe Willock streamed forward and slotted past Onana once again. 3-0. Game over.
United knocked the ball about but their response could be described as all huff and no puff. Again, the Dutch coach tried to change the game by bringing on Marcus Rashford, Rasmus Hojlund and Bruno Fernandes. Sadly for the home crowd, not much changed. The team from Tyneside always looked comfortable and the team most likely to score. This was most obviously highlighted by Sean Longstaff´s strike that whistled past the post in the 75th minute.
Newcastle United also brought on their own reinforcements such as Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier. It must be remembered that the Magpies started with arguably a more rotated team than the Red Devils due to injuries and two enticing fixtures versus Arsenal and Dortmund to come later on in the week.
The game ended in a rather damp squib for the Mancunian crowd. Newcastle will not play many easier matches this season. Therein lies the problem for Manchester United. Members of the crowd could be seen streaming out with ten minutes left to play. Devoid of belief in a comeback and who could blame them? It never really seemed on.
Manchester United’s defence of the Carabao Cup is over with boos and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” ringing around Old Trafford. Sadly, just another night at the office for the 2023/24 version of Ten Hag’s side.
Starting XI: Onana, Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Reguilon, Casemiro, Hannibal, Mount, Antony, Garnacho, Martial
Subs: Amrabat, Wan-Bissaka, Rashford, Hojlund, Fernandes