Date: 27th November 2007 at 1:31pm
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Former number nine and now local radio pundit Malcolm Macdonald has come out and added to the growing concern over the state of play at SJP. With toughies against Blackburn and Arsenal looming the next couple of weeks are set to be a massive crunch period for Sam and his side. Speaking to the Ronnie, he said:

“The first thing that must happen is to get pride back into the side. Then we must look for an injection of flair and pace. The dreadful thing about the last two home games is that United went down to heavy defeats without a whimper. Fans won`t stand for that. Liverpool were rubbing their hands. It was like taking candy from a baby. How much does it hurt some players? It looked like a few weren`t bothered.

It`s little over five years ago that Bobby Robson had Newcastle third in the Premiership, a country mile ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea. And United have always been seen as a bigger club than Portsmouth. Yet a classy Pompey won 4-1 in a stroll and Liverpool 3-0 when it could have been a cricket score. I was looking for signs of something to build upon on Saturday but there wasn`t anything.

United have played 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and now 3-5-2 and never looked comfortable. Perhaps the players cannot master different systems and don`t know what to do. We have three former defenders on the coaching bench – Sam Allardyce, Nigel Pearson and Steve Round – yet the back four have been awful all season regardless of personnel.

And the immediate future looks bleak. United play two very differing sides in their next two games but both will test them to the full in their own ways. Blackburn, first up on Saturday, will rattle them and run them all match and right now United aren`t up for a scrap. Then Arsenal will look to outplay them at St James`s Park and Newcastle`s confidence will not stand such great touch football played at pace.

Big Sam has talked about this being a blip. I just wonder if he really understands the Geordie fans because if he underestimates them or dismisses them it`ll be the biggest mistake he has ever made.”