Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a happy and relieved man on Saturday night.
Under immense pressure after a poor start to the season, Manchester United came to St James Park desperately needing a win.
Only three points from three Premier League games and that courtesy of a very undeserved win at Brighton, Man Utd had conceded 11 goals in those opening three matches and the defence has looked so poor.
He must have thought it was going to be a long night when Newcastle fluked a lead in the opening two minutes when Krafth’s cross deflected off Shaw and past a bemused De Gea.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must have been astounded and relieved when, instead of taking advantage of that fluked lead and up against a defence that has been abysmal, Steve Bruce instead employed his usual dismal negative clueless tactics. The whole team defending so deep and handing total control to the visitors.
That allowed Man Utd to totally dominate and record 28 shots, 14 of them on target.
It was the most shots any team has had in the Premier League this season and it was the most Man Utd have had in an away game in the PL for five years.
However, it did actually prove a very long night for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the luck they had used at Brighton very much deserted them here.
Manchester United battered the hosts and after NUFC were relieved that a VAR offside saved them from an equaliser, that was swiftly followed by a deserved leveller when Harry Maguire was allowed a free header from a corner, with poor Newcastle defending, still three quarters of the game left at that point.
Chance after chance came, Karl Darlow made save after save and the packed defence made block after block.
Even their obligatory gifted VAR penalty didn’t bring them the lead, Fernandes seeing his effort brilliantly saved by Karl Darlow.
Newcastle even had a chance of their own, an excellent ASM cross and Wilson was only able to get a prod on the ball as he stretched but it still brought a brilliant De Gea save, as the Man Utd keeper not only stopped it crossing the line but also pushed the ball away as otherwise it was an easy follow up for the Newcastle striker.
It wasn’t 2-1 until 86 minutes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could rest easy as a sweeping move was brilliantly finished by Fernandes. The other two goals giving the scoreline a more realistic look and in truth, still flattered Newcastle.
Dismal tactics by Steve Bruce as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had taken a massive gamble, playing a weakened team with half his outfield players changed with PSG away in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Defeats at PSG and home to Chelsea next weekend could potentially have seen Solskjaer sacked if also losing to Newcastle but his luck was in, Steve Bruce inviting Man Utd to dominate and score goals, which they ultimately did.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talking to the official club site:
“It was a test of character after the 6-1 defeat [against Spurs] last time and going 1-0 down so early on made it even more so. But it was great resilience, inspired by the captain.
“I thought he [Harry Maguire] was excellent, he scored a goal and led by example [and some]great defending.
“When we’ve got the ball, he’s so calm and we can control it with him. And he had some great chances as well.
“He’s always a good character around the place and I’m very happy for him because he’s had a couple of tough weeks since his last game for us.
“We have so many games coming up and you pick a team that you think is going to get a result in that game.
“You look at the opposition and you look at yourself and what is the best balance and I thought we found the right one today.
“There were some very good performances from the ones who came in since last time and the ones who came off the bench did really well. The ones who stayed on the bench as well – they were our supporters tonight so there was a great attitude and team spirit.
“The more chances we created and the more pressure we were building, I felt it [the second goal] would come.
“It was just about looking for the extra pass maybe and not the finish too early. Don’t panic, don’t rush it. We spoke about this at half-time and five minutes before time, that’s plenty of time [to score it].
“It [the Fernandes goal to make it 2-1] was great speed, tempo, quality, timing. I thought they kept their heads really well and that’s testament to their characters in a difficult game at a difficult time for us.
“Paul [Pogba]had some back and hip problems when he was away with France so it wasn’t right to start him today. We’ve got many big games coming up. Everyone has to perform when they come on, we’ve got competition for places. I’m delighted with everyone today and Paul put a good performance in when he came on.
“What a centre-forward’s performance [by Marcus Rashford].
“He didn’t get too many balls to work with into his feet but he was working for every single one of them. He was running in behind, he was pressing, he was tackling, winning headers, everything a centre-forward should do.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Saturday 17 October 8pm
Shaw OG 2
Maguire 23, Fernandes 86, Wan-Bissaka 90, Rashford 90+6
Stats in brackets are from half-time:
Possession was Man Utd 64% (64%), Newcastle 36% (36%)
Total shots were Man Utd 28 (13) Newcastle 7 (2)
Shots on target were Man Utd 14 (6) Newcastle 4 (2)
Corners were Man Utd 7 (5) Newcastle 0 (0)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Newcastle United team v Manchester United:
Darlow, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis, Shelvey, Hayden (Schar 49), Hendrick (Almiron 88), Joelinton (Fraser 72), Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Gillespie, Carroll, Manquillo, Murphy
(Steve Bruce excuses are worse than his tactics after Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Read HERE)
(Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s defeat – Read HERE)
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