United frantically seek form book as Alan Pardew’s enigmas come to town.
You’ve just lost at home to a northern rival for the first time in 21 years – a result your new manager rarely came close to achieving before crossing sides. Can’t get too much worse the following Saturday, can it?
MAN UNITED FORM
- Man Utd 0-1 Everton (Prem)
Spurs 2-2 Man Utd (Prem)
Leverkusen 0-5 Man Utd (CL)
Cardiff 2-2 Man Utd (Prem)
Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Newcastle (Prem)
Newcastle 2-1 West Brom (Prem)
Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
Tottenham 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea (Prem)
Well, there’s both good news and bad for Manchester United supporters. The good news is that, staggeringly, Newcastle haven’t won at Old Trafford since February 1972 – that’s an astonishing 31 games, and almost 42 years. The bad news... well, it’s exactly that. If seeing one hex broken might be viewed as unfortunate, then two in the same week would appear careless at best, but these are uncharted waters for United in the Premier League era and if there was ever a time for the Magpies to scent carrion at their least-favourite hunting ground, it would surely be now.
Not that Pardew’s side have an especially reliable nose for easy meat. A four-game winning run, including wins against Chelsea and at Spurs, had propelled them into top-four contention, but Wednesday’s defeat against a vulnerable Swansea conjured up nasty memories of early-season defeats at Manchester City and Everton – where Newcastle were, at times, little short of negligent at the back. Pardew celebrates his third anniversary as manager next week, but it’s hard to know what to make of his tenure. Promising signs have too often been followed by appalling capitulations and, while it ensures the collection of a few scalps, their erratic nature looks likely to see them bob around mid-table in the final analysis.
The media have tended to hold off talk of a crisis at Old Trafford despite United’s ninth place and David Moyes’ humbling at the hands of his successor. This was always going to be a year of transition, and United can make up some ground with a decent run of fixtures in the next month. But if Newcastle join Everton in throwing out the history book, Moyes may yet be in for an uncomfortably chilly winter.
Newcastle might be forgiven for thinking their time is now. Robin van Persie looks very unlikely to return from his groin injury for the hosts, but the bigger news is that Wayne Rooney misses this one through suspension after picking up a fifth yellow card on Wednesday night. Javier Hernandez will probably take his place, and there’s a case for Adnan Januzaj coming in to bring more flair into the mix. This game will probably come too soon for Michael Carrick, who should return this month.
Pardew should be able to recall Hatem Ben Arfa, who missed the defeat at Swansea through illness, but Papiss Cisse had to pull out of Wednesday’s squad and is a doubt. Ryan Taylor is out for the rest of the campaign.
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez (Man United)
United and Hernandez both need something, anything – and the Mexican looks certain to get his chance to make sure both finish up happy. It’s been a frustrating season for ‘Chicharito’ so far, his only league goal coming in the form of a late winner against Stoke, and the perennial super sub faces the difficult task of establishing a convincing rhythm before those ahead of him in the pecking order return.
Shot-shy in his most recent start, at Cardiff – where he did tee up Wayne Rooney’s opening goal – he should be better catered for by an obliging Newcastle back-line. Perhaps this is the time when we find out just how much the Mexican, no longer a youngster at 25, thrives upon responsibility.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Man U 4-3 N'castle (Prem, Dec 12)
- N'castle 0-3 Man U (Prem, Oct 12)
- Man U 2-1 N'castle (FAC, Sep 12)
- N'castle 3-0 Man U (Prem, Jan 12)
- Man U 1-1 N'castle (Prem, Nov 11)
There’s plenty of previous between this pair although, despite each being capable of his own brand of antagonism, it’s never really flared up. Moyes has the upper hand, with five wins from their 10 encounters – all of which came during his time at Everton, Pardew facing him with Newcastle, Charlton and West Ham.
Pardew has got the better of the Scot just twice, and might remember a defeat at Goodison in December 2006 that pushed him further towards the West Ham exit door, through which he was flung eight days later.
Facts and figures
Tips and trends
TIPS & TRENDS
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Man United have made their worst start since 2001/02 and have already lost four games, one short of last season’s tally of five defeats.
They have, however, won 14 of their last 20 home matches, recording 12 W/W results in that time and have won nine of their previous 11 games following a defeat.
Newcastle’s four-match winning streak ground to an abrupt halt as they suffered their heaviest defeat since their opening-day loss at the Etihad Stadium.
The Magpies have now lost 12 of their last 20 away matches and have failed to win at Old Trafford since 1972 (D8 L21).
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Traditionally this seems to be 'United showing us what they’re made of' territory, and we’ll go with that again. There are a number of points to prove in the home ranks, and a 2-1 win will begin the process.
Man United vs Newcastle LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone