Manchester United 0 - 0 Newcastle United

There goes the 100% winning record. And even more worrying is the sign that this team still lack the final pieces to compete for the title. I honestly am disappointed with the way Rooney responded to the game. Started out with intent to prove a point but Rooney eventually faded off. 

Wayne Rooney faded in the game

This is the game that should tell Louis Van Gaal that Rooney is not a lone striker material, and he either find another player to fit that role or change the formation to suit Rooney. Because even after dominating the game, Manchester United could not score against Newcastle. But before I comment on the game, here's a look at the statistics of the game.

STATS:

1) Time of Possession

If the game were to be measured by ball possession, Manchester United would have won the game by a big margin. The Red Devils dominated the game possession with 70% against Newcastle who only managed 30% control of the ball.

Ball Possession shows United dominated 70% of the game

2) Shots

Manchester United had 20 shots with 8 on target while Newcastle only managed 7 shots without any on target

Manchester United definitely improved significantly in terms of the shots that they took but somehow it just doesn't convert into goals. With 20 shots while 8 on target, it's a respectable number but fans definitely prefer goals and points than an improved statistic.

Here is the summary of the match stats that might be useful for you:

Match Stats Summary

OVERVIEW OF MANCHESTER UNITED'S PERFORMANCE

While I've been reading a lot of negative comments on United's performance, I kinda agreed with Louis Van Gaal's comment on the game.

We can be satisfied with the performance but not with the result - we were unlucky...
We did not make the right choices in the final third but we played fantastic as a team. I like these kind of games when we work like this, but not this result.

The performance was one of the best in my period but we don't reward ourselves and there was only one club that wanted to win and that was us.

Anyway, there's a player that deserved a special mention in the game, and I think it is Juan Mata. He was at the heart of everything that United did today. But it was kinda disappointed that he missed the opportunity created by Memphis for him. Nevertheless, he has been very influential for Manchester United.

EXCITING BUT NOT THREATENING

The problem with the current United squad is that they might be playing exciting football at times but it's not threatening enough. I cannot agree with Paul Scholes' criticism on the team. While this is not the best United team we have seen, it's definitely a big improvement from last year and from what we have seen in the last 2 games against Villa and Spurs.

There were a lot of connection and rhythm in the midfield with Memphis seems to be growing in confidence after his last game. Januzaj appeared to be more calm and confident in his dribbling skills. There is also less unnecessary runs from the young Belgian. Mata was linking well on the right with Darmian while we can see a lot of one two passes. The midfield were always controlling the game, quick to intercept when United lost the ball, supported by the back four, led by Smalling.

Perhaps it was right to say that United need another striker but Rooney actually did score a goal, only to be ruled offside. From replays, it looks like the player was level with Newcastle's last man. Nevertheless, the decision remained. The problem with Rooney was that he eventually faded in the game. Probably it was the pressure to score a goal but it was definitely something that we did not expect from Rooney. 

It was great to see Hernandez back in the game but Tim Krul save was crucial. Hernandez perhaps might get more chances should Rooney's poor run of games continue. 

But on overall, I think the team played an interesting and exciting football. A lot of great attacking link up from the defense through the midfield, but perhaps like what Van Gaal said, United was not doing it right in the final third. 

NEWCASTLE WAS READY TO GET A POINT

Newcastle had a strategy and it clearly isn't to get the 3 points. While there was a great chance for the team in their counter attack, you could see the players holding back and ready to defend to get the 1 point from Manchester United. It was a good strategy but definitely needed more from the team if they were to fight for better position in the Premier League. Krul had a great game and I regret removing him from my Fantasy League. 

NOT THE TIME TO PANIC

I don't think there's a need to press the panic button. The press is quick to create the urgency for United to buy another striker but we have seen how Van Persie and even Falcao failed in the forward role. Perhaps, it's not the striker. While the midfielders are playing a lot of great passes and link up, Manchester United need to create more chances and show the intent to score, like what they did in the dying minutes. Perhaps having Fellaini back into the squad could have added another option for Van Gaal.

I think the team will come good given time. The form is already there and with such a strong fundamentals at the back four, Van Gaal could focus on fine tuning the attacking rhythm. 



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