(Matt Ritchie scores his first Premier League goal since his days at Bournemouth in the 2015/16 season)
“They fought like animals,” Jose Mourinho praised Newcastle United after their 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday with Mourinho’s men missing out on the opportunity to close the gap between themselves and Champions elect Manchester City.
The Red Devils were denied of any points courtesy of a wonderful Newcastle team goal finished off by Matt Ritchie in the 65th minute, and anyone who has watched the Magpies this season will know how few and far between a good Newcastle outing is.
For Newcastle United, it was a historic 3 points with victories an irregular occurrence at St.James’s Park, while it was Ritchie that got the goal it was January signing Kenedy on loan from Chelsea that stole the show. The Brazilian dazzled with sublime skills and outrageous passing, meanwhile regular Newcastle star Lascelles was a rock at the back for the Geordies keeping the combined £100 million United attack at bay.
While the 3 points may aid Rafa’s relegation woes bringing the Magpies from a season low of 18th to a sky-high 13th by Newcastle’s current standards it only increases the gap between Manchester City and the rest of the Premier League.
Jose’s men looked shaky at best for most of the game with David De Gea having to produce another show-stopping save from Jonjo Shelvey to deny Newcastle an early goal, and the Spaniard’s opposite number Martin Dubravka made some fantastic saves between the sticks for Newcastle looking defiant and confident in the Magpies goal.
If only United’s attack was as good as their goalkeeper, wasteful is the only word that springs to mind when describing the performances of Lukaku, Martial and Sanchez. This was all optimised by Sanchez’s open goal miss after being played in by Romelu Lukaku, yet the Chilean was denied following a brave block by French defender Lejune.
(Jose rues chances missed while Rafa praises Ritchie finish)
For all Manchester United’s immense spending power Paul Pogba seemed wasted in the heart of the Red devils midfield with fans denied of any box to box play from the dynamic Frenchman and instead was only limited to defensive work, Pogba didn’t even seem to do that producing only a single tackle, a 66% pass accuracy and even making Mohammed Diame look good.
His 66th-minute substitution was not surprising but sparked rumours of a potential falling out with boss Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman was seen in a heated argument at the sidelines after their 2-0 loss to Tottenham and tensions seemed to flare once more on the United bench.
Pogba has not completed 90 minutes in his last three Premier League appearances for Manchester United, when asked about whether there was an injury to the French International Mourinho replied,
“There was no problem with Pogba,” he continued to explain his reasoning for the 66 minute substitution stating “I wanted a better way to come out against a compact team by bringing on Michael Carrick. He makes everything simple.“
(Pogba breaks down on the United bench after spending most of the game in Jonjo Shelvey’s back pocket)
Only time will tell how the Pogba problem grows at Manchester United, the Red Devils next face Chelsea in what could be the battle for 2nd place. Meanwhile, Newcastle look to their next clash against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth who currently sit in a bewildering 10th and stunned Champions Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, to pull away from the relegation fodder Rafa must capitalise on this big win and get the three points on the South coast to slip away from their relegation rivals.