Manchester United at Old Trafford, usually a frightening place to visit for Newcastle. This time though, it felt different.
Eddie Howe’s side were brimming with confidence following back-to-back convincing wins. There was nothing to fear, such is the mentality shift in this Newcastle side since Howe’s arrival. “Intensity is our identity” a phrase Howe likes to drill into his players.
The Magpies pressed from the off, hustling and harrying Manchester United. This was a different Newcastle and they weren’t there to just make up the numbers.
Newcastle’s last victory at this famous ground was in 2013, thanks to Yohan Cabaye’s strike. Before that, you have to go all the way back to December 1972. Needless to say, not a happy hunting ground for Newcastle.
It was another good result for the Magpies, who have now drawn with both Manchester clubs and have only lost once this season—that defeat coming in controversial fashion at Anfield.
Joelinton, who was Howe’s only change, should have put Newcastle in front. With David De Gea on the floor having tried to save the Brazilian’s initial header from Kieran Trippier’s cross, all Joelinton had to do was get his effort on target.
Sadly, he saw his second effort hit the post. Just as Miguel Almiron rushed his second-half shot from a pre-planned corner routine and blazed it into the Stretford End when he had time to do much better.
Nevertheless, on a ground where they hardly win and have not even secured a point since 2015, this was an impressive display from Newcastle.
Manchester United did get the ball in the net twice in as many minutes after half-time but in both instances, Ronaldo’s effort was ruled out.
The first was clearly offside. The second was laughable from the home side.
Ronaldo and his teammates swarmed Craig Pawson and argued Fabian Schar had rolled a free-kick back to Pope, and as a result, the ball was in play. In reality, Schar was moving the ball to where the free-kick should be taken. Pope did not move as Ronaldo closed in, suggesting he thought the kick was still to be taken.
Pawson agreed with the England keeper. Ronaldo left frustrated, and received a yellow card for his troubles before being replaced by Marcus Rashford.
In the closing moments, Casemiro released Marcus Rashford who rounded Pope but on passing to Fred the midfielder’s effort went narrowly wide. With virtually the last kick of the game, Rashford somehow missed a point-blank header, letting Newcastle’s rare lapse in concentration off the hook.
Newcastle are back at St James’ Park on Wednesday night, followed by another tough away fixture at Spurs. This is the week that will really show how far this side has come. Should Newcastle come through this period unbeaten, a top-six finish wouldn’t be out of the question.
Howay the lads!