Watching the celebrating humbug resembling balloons supporting the toon on Warwick Road post match, I thought some of them were on the verge of giving birth, such was the vigour of the grunts and screams emanating from their mouths. I’m confident that today’s result will be soon etched on Newcastle United’s unburdened honours list alongside the signings of Kevin Keegan in 1982 and Alan Shearer in 1996, the 5-0 victory against United in the same year, as well as being the peoples champions when they blew a twelve point lead in the title race. Many years and many tears have been shed since then, enough to burst the banks of the Tyne and only the most churlish would begrudge them their day in the sun, like they had today. (trust me, if you’ve ever been to Newcastle, then anywhere south of Leeds is a day in the sun no matter what the weather).
United were woeful, absolutely shockingly bad. United played with a pensive hesitancy whilst a team as mediocre as Newcastle in their pretentious away kit, took the game to United and deservedly won. Like the Everton match the other night, the more the game progressed, the more the away team looked like scoring. The great paradox is that I believe Everton to be a better side than Newcastle, yet I thought United were unlucky to lose to Everton on Wednesday night. Not today though. United were crap and there were hints of desperation all over the team selection and substitutions. With Wayne Rooney getting booked the other night, he was ruled out of todays match due to suspension. David Moyes decided to play a clearly unfit Robin Van Persie instead of a fully fit Danny Welbeck. For Welbeck, this is as damning a snub as the one a fully fit Dimitar Berbatov received from Sir Alex Ferguson in April 2010, when he preferred a badly injured Wayne Rooney over him for a European Cup match against Bayern Munich.
A previously morose Old Trafford crowd suddenly woke up about ten minutes into the second half to create some atmosphere, it was if the United fans suddenly realised that the team badly needed them. It wasn’t to work alas. On 61 minutes, Moussa Sissoko beat Patrice Evra to the ball on the right flank before squaring the ball for Yohan Cabaye, who scored via a Nemanja Vidic deflection. After the goal, United attacked with all the threat and menace of a netball team. The most obvious sign of desperation was when David Moyes brought Anderson on for Tom Cleverley on 70 minutes. Talk about being between the devil and the deep blue sea? I don’t believe that a single person in Old Trafford expected Anderson to have a positive effect for United in the midfield. It was just a case that Cleverley was so poor that Moyes had nothing to lose in bringing Anderson on, in the hope that he had his annual blinder of a game. This wasn’t to happen. Two minutes before that substitution, Moyes brought Wifred Zaha on, in place of Nani. For me, that substitution has come about fifteen games too late.
Crowd and both teams commemorating the life of Nelson Mandela before kick off
Some people think that there’s a clear out needed at Old Trafford and I’d go along with that. I generally agree with the consensus of who needs to go too but can any body tell me how or why, Nani was given a new five year contract in September just passed? Was it because David Moyes (I trust he made the decision) thought that somebody would be soft enough to come in for him and thus, get some sort of fee? Nani scored a great goal at Leverkusen eleven days ago, we all know he’s got the ability but he has no consistency. That’s just about forgivable but the worst thing about Nani for me is that the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz had more heart than him. Nani and Anderson signed for United in the same summer as Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez. We all know what happened with Hargreaves, United were sold a crock by Bayern Munich, there were rumours that Bayern’s physiotherapist was laughing like Mutley when United signed Hargreaves. As for Carlos Tevez, he left United after two years as Dimitar Berbatov was preferred over him. Tevez disappeared into obscurity immediately thereafter, he’s now playing for some minnow club in Turin. Not to worry though, we have managed to hold on to Nani and Anderson for six fuckin’ years (and counting)
The highlight of the entire match came during the half time interval. A ten year old boy took penalties into the Scoreboard End net and looked far more accomplished at finishing than anybody else has done in a United kit over the last two matches. Then we had a presentation for the people affiliated with United who had recently climbed Mount Kilimanjiro in aid of charity. Amongst the many names given a roll call by Alan Keegan, the ex Palace nightclub karaoke compere, were Bryan Robson and Kevin Moran*. Just as Bryan Robson was about to answer a straight forward question from Keegan, the water sprinklers sprayed both Robbo and his twenty strong entourage at that very moment. Oh how we laughed, that was as good as it got today
Driving home from Old Trafford was the surreal experience of listening to the City match on Radio five in serene indifference. For years, me and most of my red brothers ignored City due to their insignificance. They have been on our radar since 2009 (give or take) due to their wholly organically engineered improvement. I’ve got some good news for my fellow reds, we can start ignoring them again as, for slightly different reasons, they are again no longer on our radar. There is however, plenty of reasons to be positive. We’re near the halfway point of the season and United are twelve points clear of the bottom three so we should be feeling pretty safe.
We now know what’s going to be the number one stocking filler in Newcastle and Gateshead this Christmas. It will have to be the DVD of Newcastle’s win at Old Trafford today, their first win against United at Old Trafford since their 2-0 win in February 1972. United this season have already lost at home to West Brom for the first time since 1978, Everton since 1992 and now Newcastle for the first time since in nearly 42 years. When Fenerbache inflicted the first ever European home defeat on United in October 1996, Alex Ferguson said he was pleased that the albatross of the forty year unbeaten home record had been lifted from his players necks. Under that logic, Sir Alex would be delighted with how this season is going then. There’s been three long unbeaten home records surrendered this season, enough albatrosses liberated to get Fleetwood Mac back in the charts.
*For the younger readers, the 1980s equivalent of Nemanja Vidic