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A football club is measured by it’s strength of character away from home and the ability to fight hard and dominate at home. On last night’s evidence, Newcastle United have gone backwards this season, although it just might be under Keegan (although to play Manchester United twice after kicking out Sam Allardyce makes Big Sam’s reign look more fun by comparison)…you never know.
Whatever the case, Newcastle United have lost their bottle to fight in matches. Players like Damien Duff, Michael Owen, Alan Smith and Nicky Butt – proud, proud players – are frustrated and will demand a turnaround from their teammates. If this goes on much longer, these players could consider leaving, although I’m not so sure where 2 injury-risks and an old holding midfielder will go. Maybe Keano will buy Butt and Smith (Sunderland could use their bite in midfield)?
In any case, there was a gulf in class between the two sides, and even between the Birmingham City side that held Arsenal earlier yesterday and the Newcastle United side that was ripped to shreds by Manchester United later.
You need to see the goals, see Manchester United’s movement to appreciate what they did, but the same videos also highlight how much farther Newcastle will need to come if they want to stay in the Premier League. With the relegation battle a possible prospect (it’s no good when your manager starts talking about 40 points instead of a push back ahead into the top 10), they’ll need to show more of the spirit that they showed to score their consolation goal.
Of course, as Rooney and co. proved after that, they’re not at all equipped to handle the likes of Manchester United, not psychologically and not technically.
Who is responsible for this performance? Let’s put it this way – Sir Bobby Robson, while a bit old to manage a club at 75, wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. I have a feeling that even Sam Allardyce would have got his team to close ranks and attack better; one remembers last season’s 4-0 drubbing by Manchester United at the Reebok, where apart from the first 20 minutes and the last 15, United were on the back foot against a vibrant Bolton.
Here, Keegan’s Newcastle were powerless.
Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United (Rooney)
Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester United (Ronaldo)
Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United (Ronaldo)
Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester United (Faye)
Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United (Rooney)
Newcastle United 1-5 Manchester United (Saha)