Ferguson offered no excuses for the defeat, which was wise given he had none. A physical, determined and relentless Newcastle seized upon the chinks in the United armour and exposed them brutally. The whole world and his wife knew what Newcastle had in mind when they started with Ameobi and Ba upfront, but United had no answer to the uncomplicated, direct but undeniably effective long ball approach from Newcastle.
Ba was given the big build up prior to the game courtesy of his stellar form, and he duly obliged with a performance suffused with power, grit, intelligence and no little quality. His goal was a finish of the finest skill, but before and after that he was constant menace to the United defense. Ferguson said Newcastle’s front two did not tear United`s defence apart, but they were not far off.
The absence of Vidic was sorely missed as the Serbian’s relish for these kinds of games would have come in handy but United would still have been disappointed with the way they coped. Ferdinand showed he can still cover the ground quickly enough when required, but even before the first goal he was lucky not to concede a penalty. Jones has won numerous plaudits but the last few games have shown his inexperience.
The United midfield has taken numerous criticisms ever since it was demolished by Barcelona in 2009. Yesterday again it came off second best as the cultured Cabaye and the jackal like Tiote took control. It used to take a midfield but of the highest quality to capitalize on the United`s flimsy engine room and it would have galled United fans to see two talented bargain buys inflict such misery on their team.
United flaws in this middle of the park are clear as day but the question remains of United`s finances to fund an expensive and proven acquisition or if Ferguson’s recalcitrance is blinding him to his teams needs. United remain only three points adrift of City but consecutive defeats to teams they would normally expect to beat half asleep does not bode well for the rest of the season. They face City in the F.A cup this Sunday at the Eithiad and its difficult to rate their chances of winning the game any more than 30 percent.
On current evidence this looks the weakest United team for over 5 years although their winning mentality and experience should ensure they push City close. However the fact now remains this is the `noisy neighbors title to lose rather than United`s win` and that in itself represents United`s stunted progress. Quality signings are notoriously difficult to purchase in January but sooner rather than later United will have to pull out the stops to procure at least two midfielders of the highest class.
For Newcastle this was a worthy and memorable win although the loss of Tiote and Ba to the African cup of Nations will be hard to compensate for. Nevertheless that should not dampen the wonderful work Pardew has done since he was appointed in acrimonious circumstances.
Yesterdays result reminded everyone that the Toon Army are on the march once again and with the squad they possess a Europa league spot is a realistic aim.
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