In all honesty, I'm sick of writing about how well Newcastle played away from home and how we were unlucky to lose. I'm even sicker of writing about losing 4-3 after leading away to the red shirt wearing teams of the northwest. But Newcastle gave their fans more than most expected today when they took Manchester United on whole-heartedly in their own backyard.
- Martin: Manchester United win thriller
- Pardew: We should have got something
It has been well over seven months since Newcastle last won away, and watching this game at the home of the Premier League leaders really makes me wonder why. We've been to far lesser teams than the bookmakers' favourites for this year's title and surrendered with less than half of the effort that was put in today.
Newcastle led the game three times. Three times they were ahead in the backyard of England's most decorated team, but still came away with nothing. I know how poor our defence is and so do you, but unfortunately the owner of the football club, the man who sees Newcastle United as a long-term revenue earner, didn't see the need to strengthen and build on last year's fifth placed finish.
Newcastle took the lead early on when a Demba Ba strike was poorly dealt with by David De Gea and James Perch, of all people, was on hand to score his first Newcastle goal. I'll be honest with you; at this point I was simply delighted we'd scored there. Then Ba lashed another shot in on 17, this one hitting Rio Ferdinand in the head and deflecting away from goal. No doubt Ferdinand's manager was furious, blaming Ba for attempted murder.
Davide Santon was adjudged to have fouled Antonio Valencia on 24 as the Stretford End refereed the game. It was never a foul, but Mike Dean gave it. Robin van Persie swung in the free kick and Johnny Evans equalised for the home side.
Evans scored a second within five minutes. This one sent Alex Ferguson and the travelling home crowd mental as a Danny Simpson cross shot was expertly placed in the bottom corner by the Northern Ireland centre half. The home side appealed because Papiss Cisse was standing beyond Evans but Cisse didn't touch the ball and it went straight in off the defender. Apparently the linesman didn't know the rules so there was a long discussion and then the goal was correctly awarded. The Manchester United manager and his players were happy to ignore the inactive offside when Evans equalized, but when it cost them a goal, they went mad. Either way, Newcastle led.
Five minutes before halftime, Newcastle almost put themselves two goals ahead when Sylvain Marveaux was fouled by the hapless Evans and the Frenchman's resulting free kick struck the crossbar.
When the halftime whistle was blown, the Old Trafford faithful vented their fury at the fact they were losing to the league's 15th placed side due to referee Mike Dean. Ferguson took this to another level as the teams re-emerged for the second half when he got in Dean's face with a furious tirade and then carried on ranting at the linesman. It was a very aggressive display by Ferguson, but sadly none of the officials had the spine to take any action. And to think that Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands there for kicking a water bottle in the same stadium! Football people are terrified of Ferguson, be it officials or journalists scared that they'll be barred from 'the Theatre of Dreams'. The day Ferguson leaves his post is the day the Premier League will become more fair and balanced.
Less than ten minutes into the second half, Fabricio Coloccini won a wonderful tackle against Javier Hernandez. The Mexican's theatrical dive didn't con referee Dean who stood firm.
Just before the hour mark Manchester United were level. Irregular scorer Evans was joined by Patrice Evra -- both of the defenders scored at St James' in the sides' first meeting of the season and both scored again. Marveaux was softly handed off by his compatriot Evra and Evra's shot went low past Tim Krul who should have done much better.
Incredibly, Newcastle took the lead for a third time on 68. Gabriel Obertan (a 65th minute replacement for Gael Bigirimana) raced down the right and cut the ball back inside to Cisse who expertly finished. If there was a goal to demonstrate exactly why Cisse should play through the middle and not as a winger, this top-class finish was it.
However Manchester United were level within two minutes. A goalmouth scramble led to a van Persie goal.
With five minutes remaining, substitute Sammy Ameobi carefully placed a shot beyond De Gea, but for a second time, the home team's woodwork was rattled. So close to leading for a fourth time.
Anyway, as we all know, the inevitable happened. Just like the 4-3 defeats at Anfield in 1996 and 1997, Newcastle succumbed to a late goal that lost a seven goal match. So predictable. Forever the plucky loser. Hernandez netted the winner. The Newcastle hoodoo.
The disappointment was made worse when an Antonio Valencia tackle on Vurnon Anita that would have seen Cheick Tiote banned for a month if he'd made it against an opponent, saw the Ecuadorian get away it with no punishment at all while the Dutchman left the field on a stretcher. Thanks for the consistency Premier League officials.
I expected a loss. Maybe 3-1. And maybe a 3-1 would have been better than this as far as the morale of the players goes. Then again, a team that pushes the league leaders like Newcastle did today shouldn't be in the bottom five.
The defence needs to be strengthened. I know that, you know that and although the manager knows that too, he wouldn't admit it.
Also, if we can do this at Old Trafford, there is no reason at all we shouldn't have won away in the past seven months.
Play as well as this at the Emirates and we can get a result.
(Sits back and waits for abuse from the Manchester United fans!)