United's best performance so far this season

Posted by Ravi Ubha

Stu Forster/Getty Images"United will stick with [De Gea]," said Shaka Hislop. "I think they have to. They've put a lot on the line with him."

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson sought a response from his team after last week's unexpected 3-2 loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford. He got one. A win ensued in Romania in the Champions League, and the Red Devils were full value for their 3-0 victory at Newcastle on Sunday. It was comfortably United's top outing of the young season in an always hotly contested fixture, and the clean sheet will be a relief for Fergie and his back four.

"It was a great result," Ferguson told Sky. "To win 3-0 against a very aggressive, powerful team, you have to perform and keep control of the game. I think we did that."

Some thoughts:

Not how to mark
Newcastle entered the match without its two starting central defenders and starting keeper. Further, Davide Santon was shifted from his usual left back to right. The instability didn't help in conceding two goals within 15 minutes, although the basics of defending were forgotten.

Jonny Evans didn't make a particularly dazzling run, but it was plenty good enough to evade Mike Williamson for the headed opener in the eighth minute. In the 15th minute, Patrice Evra outmuscled Demba Ba on a second header. Williamson and Ba, too, held the height advantage. What shouldn't be forgotten, though, were the accurate deliveries from Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney on both corners.

A quarter of an hour gone, and realistically, game over.

Heavily criticized for his performance against Tottenham, Rio Ferdinand looked more assured alongside Evans. Rooney, meanwhile, flourished in a free role in a game that United started without a recognized winger. He was always on the move – at both ends of the pitch.

The clean sheet despite De Gea
In goal, Ferguson continues to play musical chairs, no doubt hoping that Spaniard David De Gea will come good. De Gea made his first Premier League start since the end of August and produced one of the saves of the season when he palmed away Papiss Cisse's close-range header. It was another occasion begging for goal-line technology, since no one could be sure that the entire ball didn't cross the line.

But it was De Gea's flapping at an aerial ball, nothing new, that led to the chance in the first place. Indeed, Newcastle's finest opportunities came on De Gea errors. His performance wouldn't have instilled an overflow of confidence in Ferguson, even if Ferguson claimed afterwards that his keeper did OK.

Newcastle counterpart Steve Harper wasn't short of blame, either. Only Danny Welbeck's miss spared his blushes when the veteran tried to waltz past the England striker – losing possession – and later, a clearance fell straight to a United player.

Tom Cleverley's effort that made it 3-0 in the 71st minute left Harper with little chance, though it was one of those that keepers hate to see fly past them. Cleverley appeared to be crossing for van Persie but the ball sailed into the top corner.

Cleverley would like to face Newcastle every week. He scored in the 2-1 League Cup win at the end of September.

Still no cohesion

When Cisse scores, Ba can't. And vice versa. Neither was on target or exceedingly threatening Sunday.

In his current form – five goals in his past three games – one would have expected Ba to do better from Yohan Cabaye's lovely ball in the 55th minute.

When it was time for one of the two to come off, Cisse gave way to longtime Magpie Shola Ameobi in the 64th minute, a reversal from last season. Netting 13 times in 14 league appearances in 2011-12, Cisse is still waiting for his first league goal this campaign.

Almost boiling over
Referee Howard Webb tried to control proceedings, although it seemed he was losing his grip when he brandished five yellow cards in the first half. He missed several incidents.

Webb didn't punish battering ram Cheik Tiote for a stamp on Cleverley, Evra got away with a clear shirt tug on Cisse in the box, and -- already on a yellow card -- van Persie was fortunate when no one appeared to see him catch Cabaye with an arm.

ESPN Conversations