MANCHESTER UTD 2 NEWCASTLE UTD 0
MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic,Heinze (Evra 31), Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney,Solskjaer
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Brown, Saha, O’Shea.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Harper, Carr, Ramage, Moore, Taylor,Milner (N’Zogbia 45), Butt (Martins 62), Emre (Pattison 69),Parker, Duff, Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Krul, Luque.
Glenn Roeder sent his troops into this fixture with one attitude: ‘keep the score down’, and he can blame Newcastle’s defence for wilting (as he did) but the ex-West Ham manager wants to take a long hard look at himself.
‘You don’t go to Old Trafford and attack’, said Roeder after the game. But we will cover those comments elsewhere on this website. Instead we will give you a run down of events that was watched by the highest attendance for a Premiership game, 75,664.
Newcastle went to defend – Man U went for the throat – and there was only going to be one outcome. Three points handed to the home side before a ball had been kicked.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored twice and the Red Devils hit the woodwork three times, and that just about sums up a result that probably had Roeder ecstatic, yet the travelling Toon Army felt betrayed.
It wasn’t a contest, it was a massive disappointment. Newcastle barely contributed as an attacking force and sat back and took the pressure. Ameobi lead the line, and Martins was dropped, which in itself said it all. Yet Roeder defended his decision after the match.
Nicky Butt made his first appearance at Old Trafford since leaving United two years ago, and looked a pale shadow of the days he once graced this fabulous stadium. But he wasn’t the only one to disappoint. Damien Duff was probably worse!
But every player on the field was overshadowed by Ronaldo, who continues to respond to the jeers of opposition fans. Did the aftermath of the Portugal/England World Cup game turn him into a man from a spoilt schoolkid? In many ways I think it has boosted his career because he looked the most mature player on the pitch on Sunday.
Fletcher struck a 20-yard shot which thudded against Harper’s right-hand post. But just as it seemed the Mags would reach half-time on level terms, their defence was exposed by Ronaldo’s quick thinking.
The Portugal winger darted across to take a short corner and, after exchanging passes with Patrice Evra, embarked on an arcing run to the edge of the area. Once there, he let fly with a shot which proved to be the first of three shots from Ronaldo alone which came crashing back off the frame of the visitors’ goal. On this occasion, Solskjaer was on hand to tap home the rebound.
While the Norwegian could rightly claim his own poacher’s instinct was responsible for that effort, his second was purely a case of being in the right place at the wrong time as far as Newcastle were concerned.
Vidic is still waiting for his first United goal but the volley he unleashed from Rio Ferdinand’s knockdown two minutes after the restart might have opened his account. Instead, it struck Solskjaer, then looped into the corner.
Harper saved superbly from Fletcher, with Ronaldo blasting the rebound against the bar when he should have done better.
Ronaldo struck the post yet again when, not for the first time, his mesmerising skill outwitted Stephen Carr.
I don’t suppose many Toon fans expected a win here. But I can tell you one thing … they at least expected their team to try!