There was a substantial amount of trepidation by Newcastle fans heading into today's match at Old Trafford. Coming off of a particularly poor performance last week against Swansea City and without an actual RB to field against Memphis Depay, there's plenty of room for understanding exactly why that was. For 25 minutes, the match gave all indication that it would realize the worst of Newcastle's fears. Manchester United moved the ball about easily and with confidence, keeping the Magpies under considerable pressure. They were able to weather the storm, however, and managed to slowly get a foothold in the match. Once they did, they stayed there.
While we are figuring out exactly what Steve McClaren's Newcastle is going to be it feels like assessing performances is a necessarily binary process. Encouraging, discouraging. Today, we were back to encouraging. In his first start for the club, Aleksandar Mitrovic managed to not get himself booked and actually offered up a level, consistent performance that will likely see him carrying on in a starting role moving forward. A first half header hit the bar off of a wonderful cross from makeshift RB Chancel Mbemba on one end and was vital in weathering the early tide of play with his tracking back and active support of his defenders. Speaking of Mbemba, he did a more than adequate job against Memphis and demonstrated again that he does have a knack for making a challenge as several times he made attack-killing and cross-blocking tackles. Newcastle United as a team were credited with 12 blocked crosses for the match overall.
- Fabricio Coloccini fueled the fire that is frustration with him with another excellent performance. Speaking of binary, it seems that it's either colossal performance or terrible performance with him. No in between.
- Florian Thauvin made his debut and in his 20 minutes gave encouraging signs that the long wait to see him in black and white was worth it. He had some excellent interplay with his teammates (notably Mbemba close to the end) and tracked back willingly if not always effectively.
- Tim Krul was probably as close to his best as we've seen since *that* performance at Spurs. Two big saves (Mata, Chicharito) really kept the point in Newcastle's hands.