September 2001 was the last time Newcastle United beat Manchester United outright. Not anymore. The Toon put together one of their finest performances this campaign against the defending champs and title contenders on Wednesday, capping off a crowded holiday program with a game to remember. To be fair, Red Devils supporters will claim it was an off-day for their boys, but I'm not going to let any of that talk deflate my mood after such a splendid result.
It's telling that the team worked so well together that one could argue for any number of players as Man of the Match, and that's true in a game that gave us two wonder goals: the first a sublime touch from Demba Ba into the side netting, and the second a Yohan Cabaye free kick that found the upper 90. They passed as a team, working together to play a patient ground game instead of the hoofball that has characterized the play over the last month or so. The defending was spot on as well. Manchester United had the run of possession over the last 30 minutes or so, but Tim Krul was only tested a few times, and he came up large after an off day against Liverpool Saturday. Danny Simpson provided yet another goal line clearance against his old squad, and Fabricio Coloccini was all over the place.
The midfield was the story of the day for me, however. Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote were in charge from beginning to end (or at least until Cabaye was subbed off), and Ryan Taylor proved an adequate selection on the right wing.
I still don't feel great about this team headed into the Africa Cup of Nations, but this result will surely be a shot of confidence to the boys who now wear "Virgin Money" on their shirts as they prepare for life without Tiote and Ba. #CabayeIsLegend