Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Ronaldo takes reds top as Bruce has NUFC in relegation zone

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Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Saturday 11 September 3pm

As expected, attack against defence.

Steve Bruce going for his usual default of having the whole team stationed in and around their own penalty area.

If it works and you survive for a goalless draw, then job done, not a great watch for anybody but a valuable point against the odds.

To be honest, leaving aside the 36 year old Ronaldo media circus, Newcastle United were facing a Man Utd side who had only scored twice in three and a half hours of football, including full games against struggling Wolves and Southampton sides. Picking up a lucky 1-0 win and 1-1 draw in those two matches.

Man Utd having pretty much all the possession (70%) and shots (15 v 6) in an uninspiring first half but Freddie Woodman not having a serious save to make in the opening 45 minutes. The home side putting a couple of headers wide but otherwise largely restricted to shots from distance.

Man Utd handicapped by having wide players in Sancho and Greenwood who prefer to cut inside and shoot, rather than crossing. With Ronaldo now reduced to standing waiting in the penalty area for chances to be provided, rather than length of the pitch runs of the past, it massively negated the home threat against a packed visiting defence.

Predictably, the odd encouragement when Newcastle managed to get up the pitch was provided by ASM, though De Gea didn’t have a single shot to save in that opening half.

I said Woodman didn’t have a proper save to make in the opening 45 minutes, well two minutes into added time Greenwood cut in from the right yet again and with Joelinton not putting the effort in to close him down, the Man Utd player got yet another shot in from outside the box. A slight Clark deflection but Woodman should still have dealt with it, instead of spilling it for a Ronaldo tap in. Oh dear.

Second half started in much the same way, no attacking threat from Newcastle and no real penetration from Man Utd.

Then out of nowhere on 56 minutes, Miguel Almiron, who had been United’s best defender, did brilliantly to carry the ball from deep and ride several challenges, a superb ball across to ASM and his touch beyond the last defender was coolly finished beyond De Gea into the far bottom corner by a rampaging Manquillo.

Some Newcastle fans were still picking themselves up from the equaliser when six minutes later…an excellent Ronaldo finish. Poor defending though from Hayden to allow the Portuguese superstar so much space, his left foot low strike through the legs of Woodman, who couldn’t be blamed this time.

On 67 minutes De Gea called into action, Ritchie put Joelinton in and the Brazilian worked a good opening but reminded us yet again that £43m doesn’t necessarily buy you goalscoring instinct / ability. His tame effort straight at the Man Utd keeper when he should have scored.

It was then three for Portugal but this time Fernandes the scorer, given a ridiculous amount of time by a static NUFC defence and smashing an excellent shot into the top left corner, Woodman no chance.

Yet another game goes by with Dwight Gayle not getting on the pitch, that is four Premier League matches with not a single minute. Joelinton staying on until the bitter end and the final sub seeing Jeff Hendrick on for Joe Willock…

The scoring then rounded off in added time, sub Lingard finishing a good passing move at close quarters but a very static seven or eight defenders bypassed.

Maybe my biggest take from today, was just how wasted Miguel Almiron has been under Steve Bruce. We saw under Rafa Benitez how Almiron transformed NUFC’s attacking play and today the Paraguayan showed just what he is capable of, even with such limited opportunities to get forward that he had today.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1 – Saturday 11 September 3pm



Manquillo 56

Man Utd:

Ronaldo 45+2, 62, Fernandes 80, Lingard 90+1

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Man Utd 65% (70%) Newcastle 35% (30%)

Total shots were Man Utd 21 (15)  Newcastle 12 (6)

Shots on target were Man Utd 7 (3) Newcastle 3 (0)

Corners were Man Utd 7 (4) Newcastle 3 (1)

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

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