The Newcastle United fans and players gave their best and it just didn’t fall our way.
NUFC didn’t get the breaks, Man Utd had touches of luck (Botman deflecting Rashford shot that was going wide for second goal) and marginal decisions from the match officials (such as the free-kick that was given for the opening goal and whether or not Casemiro was offside, part of his arm certainly looked like it was and that is the daft minimalist margins they usually apply these days).
The second half, Man Utd shut up shop and Newcastle United couldn’t break them down. This is what Man U have done a lot in recent months and it is what Newcastle United have done so often this season as well.
Sadly, many Newcastle United fans falling for media spin after this Carabao Cup final defeat.
There is an old and very true saying that victory is written by the victors.
Now with football, it is also true to say that for the vast majority of lazy / unreliable journalists, football match ‘reports’ are written by the final scoreline.
In other words…
Instead of starting at the beginning when the match kicks off and telling the story of what happens, they do it the other way.
Start from the final scoreline and then go backwards, building their report of what (supposedly) happened during the game, from the often distorted perspective of who the victors were and the end result.
After Sunday’s events and the reporting, I think far too many Newcastle United fans falling for this.
What doesn’t help either, in my opinion, is that plenty of Newcastle United fans get massively carried away and build things up to a ridiculous height, so when the fall comes after something like this defeat at Wembley, they start thrashing around looking for who to blame.
Rather than just accepting it as a tough game that was always going to be a potential defeat.
I was happy with how we played overall but obviously not with the result.
I said before the game that it would be largely about whether or not we would take our chances or not.
In the first half ASM had his effort saved and Burn missed a sitter, they scored a good goal (which could have been a VAR offside) and a lucky goal.
That decided the match.
They packed their defence and wasted time second half, then had space to hit us on the break (which we would have done if scoring first and leading…).
This is where starting from the final scoreline and working backwards, so distorts what was really the truth of Sunday’s final.
Much has been made of Newcastle having loads of possession and shots (see stats below) but failing to score a goal, whilst at the same time also a lot of focus on how many shots on target Man U had (10) in comparison to Newcastle United (two).
This is looking at things the wrong way round though.
The match was won…and lost, in that first half, simple as.
It was an open game before the break, both teams attacking, both sides guilty of giving up possession far too easily on many occasions, I reckon it must have been a really good watch for neutrals.
It is when the game was so open that it was decided.
ASM gave Dalot the run around, the Man Utd right-back fouled after only nine minutes for a really cynical foul. ASM cutting inside on the halfway line and running and running infield and away, only to be taken out by the Man U player.
I think ASM was arguably the best player on the pitch in the opening half and looked the most dangerous. It was outrageous skill when he sprinted past a stationary Dalot in the box at 0-0, only to find David De Gea did everything right to stop the opening goal. Only seconds later Rashford won the soft free-kick that Man U ended up scoring the (possibly offside) opener from, such small margins. Six minutes later and whilst the NUFC defending could and should have been better, BUT outrageous luck for Man U.
At the game you thought how hasn’t Karius saved that? Seeing the TV replays later you see Rashford’s shot is poor and going hopelessly wide, only for a very unlucky Botman touch to divert and give the keeper little chance of correcting his position / motion to save it. Karius set to deal with the original shot but no time to change and save the deflection.
Again, such small margins.
Sadly though, for many Newcastle United fans, especially after feeding on so many lame media match reports afterwards. Sunday’s performance becomes rubbish, never turned up and so on.
The truth is, if ASM scores then I think Newcastle win, if Burn scored that sitter just before half-time then NUFC would have probably won as well, in my opinion. That would have been enough for Man U nerves and not able to be so defensive protecting only a one goal, not two goal, lead. Whilst the Newcastle United fans and players would really have something to get them going.
Since the match I have heard / seen many Newcastle United fans claiming this game is ‘proof’ of ASM not good enough and/or not a good fit for Eddie Howe’s NUFC. How Miguel Almiron was shocking, how Kieran Trippier was shocking and has been for some time, his set-pieces so poor now that they never create real opportunities, and so on.
I have little doubt that many of these same over the top critics, are the same ones who were hailing Miggy as the new Lionel Messi, when the Paraguayan was on his goal rush. The same with Kieran Trippier.
I am not saying that either of these were at their very best, on Sunday and in the other very recent matches, BUT to claim they were and have been shocking is just embarrassing. I actually don’t think anybody in black and white had a terrible game on Sunday, I thought they were almost all 6 out of 10 or better.
The stats back this up, 61% to Man U’s 39% possession, more shots 15 v 14, same number of corners 6 v 6, only that 10 v 2 deficit on shots on target, which I think there is a very valid explanation for (which I will explain later).
However, to answer the daft Miggy and Trippier (and ASM) criticism first.
I thought they both put in really solid shifts. However, in the second-half, they struggled to make attacking in-roads due to Man Utd defending so deep and in numbers, which the two goal lead allowed them to do.
ASM as well, he ran and ran at Man U in the second-half as well, but like everybody else, he just found a solid wall of bodies in front of him once getting close to the box. So little space to work in, no gaps to run into.
If the positions had been reversed and Newcastle United leading at half-time and Man U chasing the game in the second-half, then ASM would have had all the space in the world to work and run into, as Man U left gaps chasing the game, same on the other side where Almiron and Trippier could have worked their double act which has been the most productive source for NUFC chances and goals this season.
Instead, it was Man U hitting Newcastle on the break and exploiting the gaps and space left by NUFC getting numbers forward, chasing the game. I haven’t got the breakdown between the two halves BUT my eyes and memory tell me that the vast majority of those 10 Man U efforts on target were in the second-half, because they had that space and lack of NUFC numbers in defence to exploit.
As I say, it would have been a completely different second-half scenario if Newcastle hadn’t been losing, or maybe even if only one goal down.
Goals change matches and they change how the rest of a game is then played out.
As for set-pieces, I agree Newcastle need to vary it more on corners and free-kicks, maybe have somebody left-footed sharing the deliveries with Trippier, or maybe Bruno on them as well?
However, to claim that the set-pieces are all rubbish and a waste of time is just so wrong, so embarrassing.
Against Liverpool, a superb delivery from Trippier saw Burn miss an absolute sitter to bring it back to 2-1 just before the break.
Against Man U, a superb delivery from Trippier (after class combination play on a short corner with Almiron) saw Burn miss an absolute sitter to bring it back to 2-1 just before the break.
Quite amazing how some Newcastle United fans pick and choose their heroes and villains at times.
The reality is that none of the players let us down on Sunday, they all gave their best.
Their best proved not good enough to win on the day but so many other factors played a part and so many people refuse to acknowledge that especially in big games like this against quality opposition, just how important luck on the day is.
If that first goal had been at the other end, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see VAR call offside, whilst nine times out of ten Rashford doesn’t score with that off target effort.
The fact that Man Utd went so defensive that second-half and they then timewasted so outrageously, especially De Gea (should have been booked far earlier), is because Erik ten Hag and his team were so worried about the Newcastle United threat. I reckon against the vast majority of other PL teams, Man U would have came out that second-half intent on getting a third and then a fourth, rather than terrified of conceding against a dangerous NUFC who they knew could hurt them badly potentially, if getting one back.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 2 – Sunday 26 February 4.30pm
Casemiro 33, Rashford 39
Possession was Man U 39% Newcastle 61%
Total shots were Man U 14 Newcastle 15
Shots on target were Man U 10 Newcastle 2
Corners were Man U 6 Newcastle 6
Referee: David Coote
Karius, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff (Isak 45), Bruno (Willock 79), Joelinton, Almiron (Anderson 90+1), Saint-Maximin (Murphy 78), Wilson (Ritchie 90+1)
Gillespie, Targett, Lascelles, Manquillo
(Match Report – I’m calling out this main Newcastle United problem regardless of what people want to think – Read HERE)
(BBC Sport comments from ‘neutrals’ – Interesting on Newcastle United after Manchester United final defeat – Read HERE)
(Small margins conspire to cause huge divide between winners and losers – Read HERE)
(Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 2 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)
(Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 2 – The next morning NUFC fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)