Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle: We're in deep trouble now, folks

Richard Heathcote

Manchester United weren't awful against Newcastle, but they still suffered a 1-0 smash and grab defeat owing to a lack of imagination in attack. And now things are looking very grim indeed,

Manchester United were hardly at the worst they've been this season, but an underwhelming performance still resulted in a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle courtesy of a Yohan Cabaye goal. Anyone suspecting we might not win the league this year?

The first half had gotten off to a slow start, with United struggling to play out of defence or make the ball stick up front, although Newcastle were not looking particularly dangerous in attack either.

United came closest to a goal when fine work from the lively pair of Adnan Januzaj and Nani allowed Tom Cleverley to get into a good position from a pair of cutbacks, but the midfielder saw both of his efforts blocked by the Newcastle defence.

Januzaj was still looking like United's best source of a goal through either an assist or a finish, and did remarkably well to get a shot away despite heavy marking just afterwards, but his toe-poked volley was too close to Tim Krul.

United were finally increasing the pressure, and Nani did well to play in Rafael in a good position, but his excellent cross could not find the lethargic Van Persie, but was almost prodded into the net by Mike Williamson anyway. Fortunately for the visitors, they managed to survive the attack and continue.

Patrice Evra then struck the post from a corner, and United were unfortunate to be denied a penalty after the ball was prevented from rebounding into the net by Vurnon Anita's arm - although it was unintentional, and perhaps a grey area in the rulebook, but Andre Marriner chose not to award a penalty and play continued after a brief but fruitless goalmouth scramble.

Disaster then struck for United as, with the Reds enjoying more productivity up front, Newcastle took full advantage of the sapce at the back to launch a counter-attack. Moussa Sissoko burst down the flank to cut the ball back for Yohan Cabaye arriving late in the area, and he had plenty of space to pick out a shot which beat David de Gea by way of a minor deflection to stun Old Trafford.

David Moyes then made his substitutions to attempt to rescue the game, with Wilfried Zaha coming on to make his league debut at Nani's expense and Anderson replacing Cleverley. United appeared to strike back afterwards as Van Persie got on the end of Jones' flick from a set-piece to head home from close range, but the goal was rightly ruled out by a late flag from the lineswoman.

United's late charge, as it has done all season, failed to materialise, with no meaningful pressure being put on the Newcastle goal in the final minutes. Another in a series of increasingly worrying signs. Post-mortem to follow.

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