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Season 2019-20
Manchester United (a)
Premier League


Thursday 26th December 2019, 5.30pm
Live on Amazon Prime

 Old Trafford

Conditions: Frantic, frightful, fruitless
Programme: 3.50

Manchester United


4 - 1




17 mins Dwight Gayle received the ball down the Newcastle left on halfway and played an excellent pass infield to Matty Longstaff, who was lurking in space infield. He clipped it forward to Joelinton who did well to keep possession outside the left side of the six yard box before feeding it back to Longstaff. He took a touch and found the corner of the Stretford End net from 10 yards.

The midfielder's celebration initially seemed inappropriate ("town full of smack heads" did come into our mind from days past), but young hipsters soon provided the explanation that he was aping US basketballer D'Angelo Russell and his "ice in my veins" party piece.

24 mins Andreas Pereira found Anthony Martial in space on the edge of the Magpies box and the home forward hit a low shot towards the near post. Martin Dubravka dived to his right and got a full hand to the ball, but was unable to keep it out. 1-1

mins A poor pass out to Fabian Schar from Dubravka was mis-controlled by the Swiss defender, who then compounded his error by passing straight to Mason Greenwood. He promptly fired a shot goalwards that flicked off Federico Fernandez and in off the crossbar. 1-2

mins Aaron Wan-Bissaka drifted past Jetro Willems on Manchester's right flank and crossed for Marcus Rashford, who towered above Schar and headed in to the top corner of the net. 1-3

Half time: Red Devils 3 Magpies 1

51 mins An awful attempt at a back pass by Sean Longstaff from some distance outside his box went straight to Martial, leaving him one-on-one with Dubravka. The Slovakian goalkeeper went to ground leaving the French striker with the easy task of chipping the ball over his legs and into the unguarded goal. 1-4

Full time: Red Devils 4 Magpies 1

We Said


Steve Bruce said:

"For half an hour, we gave as good as weve got, created the better openings, and then, all of a sudden, weve gifted them the first goal and the second one. And when you come here, you cant make those mistakes.

"That is the biggest disappointment we all feel. You can't make that many mistakes here. It is disappointing. The reason we have got a few results is the way we have defended. We made far too many individual errors today.

"You are never surprised about the character of Manchester United. That is the disappointment. No player wants to make the mistakes we did.

"We managed to keep it respectable, and with that, I thought they showed a bit of resilience in the last half hour. But, that fifteen minutes before half time was bizarre. 

"When you come here the one thing you can't do is gift Manchester United. I know it's Christmas, but we gave away more goals in half an hour than we have in three months.

"I don't think United can believe it. It's a harsh lesson for us that you cannot make the mistakes we have just made. We stuck at it, but it was a tough afternoon for us.

"Its a ridiculous schedule (to play again in less than 48 hours) but its the way it is. Well have to get ready and prepared for Saturday which is a big game again.

They Said

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said:

"(Scott) McTominay has done his ligament in the knee, probably. I don't know how bad it is. The boy has got the biggest heart of the lot. We'll find out tomorrow how it is.

"Mason (Greenwood) is a great striker of the ball. You know he is going to hit the target more times than not. The way he strikes it is nice to see and he is so unfazed by whatever happens.

"The three of them are a handful when we can get the space we did today. These boys will never give up, this club knows that towards the end we can nick a point or even three from losing positions.

"We're not going to see the best of Mason for a couple of years. He's learning, growing as a human being, he'll grow more and more.

(Rashford) sprung on the scene the same age and you see more maturity in his game.

"You saw the intent straight away. Newcastle made mistakes but we made them make them by pressing and we made it hard for them."



Newcastle once again wore their unfavoured white socks to avoid a clash with the hosts.

The Magpies conceded three goals in the first half of a competitive game for the first time since a 1-5 Premier League loss at Crystal Palace back in November 2015.

Matty Longstaff scored his second Premier League goal of the season - both of which came against Manchester United. He became the first Magpie to find net home and away against the Red Devils in the same season since Demba Ba in 2011/12.

Having won the reverse game 1-0 at SJP, Newcastle once again proved unable to complete what would have been their first league double over the Red Devils since the 1930/31 season.

Home player Scott McTominay was booked for lunging at Sean Longstaff after just 24 seconds.

Steve Bruce came up against one of his old clubs for the fifth time in seven games (Villa manager, Sheffield United manager, Burnley apprentice, Palace manager, Manchester United player).

His eleven appearances in the visiting dugout at Old Trafford have resulted in ten losses and a draw.

NUFC Boxing Day Record - last 20:

2019/20: Manchester United (a) lost 1-4
2018/19: Liverpool (a) lost 0-4
Sheffield Wednesday (h) lost 0-1
2015/16: Everton (h) lost 0-1
2014/15: Manchester United (a) lost 1-3
2013/14: Stoke City (h) won 5-1
2012/13: Manchester United (a) lost 3-4
2011/12: Bolton Wanderers (a) won 2-0
2010/11: Manchester City (h) lost 1-3
2009/10: Sheffield Wednesday (a) drew 2-2
2008/09: Wigan Athletic (a) lost 1-2
2007/08: Wigan Athletic (a) lost 0-1
2006/07: Bolton Wanderers (a) lost 1-2
2005/06: Liverpool (a) lost 0-2
2004/05: Blackburn Rovers (a) drew 2-2
2003/04: Leicester City (a) drew 1-1
2002/03: Bolton Wanderers (a) lost 3-4
2001/02: smoggies (h) won 3-0
2000/01: Leeds United (h) won 2-1
1999/00: Liverpool (h) drew 2-2

Halfway - 19 games in, last 10 PL seasons:

2019/20 25 pts, 10th (scored 18, conceded 28)
17 pts, 15th (scored 14, conceded 26)
2017/18 18 pts, 15th (scored 19, conceded 29)
2015/16 17 pts, 18th (scored 19, conceded 34)
2014/15 26 pts, 9th (scored 22, conceded 28)
2013/14 33 pts, 8th (scored 29, conceded 24)
2012/13 20 pts, 15th (scored 23, conceded 30)
2011/12 30 pts, 7th (scored 26, conceded 25)
2010/11 22 pts, 13th (scored 28, conceded 29)
2008/09 22 pts, 12th (scored 25, conceded 27)

Magpies v MUFC @ Old Trafford - Premier League era:

2019/20 lost 1-4 M.Longstaff
2018/19 lost 2-3 Kenedy, Muto
lost 1-4 Gayle
2015/16 drew 0-0
2014/15 lost 1-3 Cisse(pen)
2013/14 won 1-0 Cabaye
2012/13 lost 3-4 Perch, og(Evans), Cisse
2012/13 lost 1-2 Cisse (LC)
2011/12 drew 1-1 Ba(pen)
2010/11 lost 0-3
2008/09 drew 1-1 Martins
2007/08 lost 0-6
2006/07 lost 0-2
2005/06 lost 0-2
2004/05 lost 1-2 Ambrose
2003/04 drew 0-0
2002/03 lost 3-5 Bernard, Shearer, Bellamy
2001/02 lost 1-3 Shearer
2000/01 lost 0-2
1999/00 lost 1-5 og(Berg)
1998/99 drew 0-0
1997/98 drew 1-1 Andersson
1996/97 drew 0-0
1995/96 lost 0-2
1994/95 lost 0-2
1993/94 drew 1-1 Cole





Having made a North West passage from China (and tweeted photos of his Christmas tree and his dogs on Christmas Eve), it's a fair bet that Rafa Benitez found time between playing cards and eating chocolate to switch his telly on around 5.30pm on Boxing Day. 

What unfolded 50 miles away from his Wirral home though may have left him wondering whether he'd actually stumbled on footage beamed in from some parallel universe, or perhaps a new game show.  

It certainly wasn't Premier League football as he'd known it less than eight months before and as for the team he formerly managed, their off-the-cuff approach probably caused him to have a seizure.   

Exactly a year earlier he'd returned "home" to Anfield with his Newcastle side, leaving 90 minutes later with only the sympathy of his former fans as the hosts scored four goals without reply and the visitors remained in their own half for the most part; rigidly drilled in the task of damage limitation.

Fast forward 12 months and it's unclear what game plan successor Steve Bruce had for returning to his own stamping ground - but it probably didn't include defending of the suicidal variety he witnessed....

For a side scoring less than a goal a game so far this season, there's a certain irony in Newcastle creating two for their opponents, plus aiding and abetting in the other two the home team bagged.

A combination of injuries, fitness concerns and the hectic run of fixtures meant that lineup changes were anticipated, but consigning Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden to the bench proved to be too much of a sea change after an initial burst of forward momentum.  

In came Dwight Gayle and the Longstaffs - plus Jetro Willems for the injured Paul Dummett - and in the most frenzied of starts, the black and whites looked absolutely lethal on the counter attack.

Both Miguel Almiron and Gayle had put credible shooting chances wide before Matty Longstaff opened the scoring as he had against the same opponents at Gallowgate back in October.

And with Joelinton having his most effective passage of play since signing, showing measured aggression and throwing himself towards the ball, Newcastle looked both fluid and dangerous in complete contrast to their leaden-footed showing at Turf Moor a fortnight before.

After the fleeting ecstasy of going ahead here for the third successive season, reality quickly intervened and the side with the best Boxing Day record over-ran the one with the worst.   

Sadly though there was a rather large area of the field uninhabited by black and white shirts; roughly the size and shape of the centre circle. And once Solskjaer's team cottoned on to our 5-0-5 pattern, their offensive trio willingly filled that void and raced upfield towards Dubravka time and again.

The Magpies custodian won't recall the equaliser with any fondness, while Fabian Schar had a look away now moment soon after in another calamitous and self-inflicted wound. And by the time the ball nestled in the Newcastle net for the third time in 24 minutes it was game over - and we were back to the damage limitation of not killing the goal difference like we had at Leicester.

Disaster then struck again soon after the break when Sean Longstaff's weak back pass set Martial in for 4-1. The floodgates threatened to open fully at that point but thankfully once Martial had hit the post rather than complete his hat-trick, the home side took their foot off the gas and stuck at four.

With the outcome beyond question by then, both sides seemed content to save themselves for Saturday's games, making substitutions to rest key players. The black and whites had created absolutely nothing in the opposition half after the interval and finished with Christian Atsu and DeAndre Yedlin flanking Joelinton in an irrelevant front trio.

So, for the third season in a row a lead at Old Trafford was squandered before conceding three or more goals. But this time the inability to hold onto the advantage and shut up shop against a faltering side was particularly exasperating, as was our unwillingness to do anything about it.

Despite the price tags of the home players, form suggested that this wasn't quite the foregone conclusion that the footballing runes suggested; the averageness of Solksjaer's side on Tyneside earlier in the season on show once again more recently in a deserved defeat at Watford.

Ultimately though, the side fielded lacked experience, guile and leadership in crucial areas. This was certainly more entertaining than than losing 0-4 to Liverpool a year ago, but the outcome was only too predictable; heading back across the M62 empty-handed once again. 

In no way was Bruce's task today comparable to that of Rafa 12 months ago, when 15 places and a whopping 31 points separated us from the league leaders. At kick-off here it was only goal difference. 

That day Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon were benched and Joselu and Muto started at Anfield. Similarly, many of those on the bench today didn't look to have any chance of being brought on - although we'd have been warming Hayden up at 1-2 to try and plug that gaping hole in midfield. 

Newcastle remain in the top half of the table after completing half of the season's fixtures, but that situation may not last for much longer, with two testing home games over the coming days. Those excused duty today really do need to be at it on Saturday.

That means there's no time to dwell on our latest post-Christmas hangover, but today encapsulated much of what we've seen this season: occasional moments of joy amongst ongoing mediocrity.


Page last updated 12 January, 2020