Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester United
1. Van Gaal is on thin ice
On paper, it was yet another disappointing result for Manchester United and it is one that heaps even more pressure on their manager Louis van Gaal.
The Dutchman’s tactics have come under scrutiny after the Red Devils’ recent poor form – where they have won just two of their last 12 games in all competitions.
Last night’s draw at St. James’ Park against 18th placed Newcastle followed a hollow 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Old Trafford in FA Cup third round.
BT Sport pundit and United legend Paul Scholes has insisted that they are a club that’s lost their identity, which has added to speculation that van Gaal will receive his marching orders if his side should lose to arch-rivals Liverpool this Sunday.
2. Possibly United’s best attacking performance
Despite the performances not matching the standards expected, and the manager being under huge amounts of pressure, we still think it’s fair to say that it was actually Manchester United’s best attacking performance of the season.
They started the match in a positive manner and raced into a 2-0 lead, only to throw it away and leave the North-East with just a solitary point.
However, the fact that there was some urgency and quality to United’s offensive play might – just might – buy van Gaal some more time.
They created plenty of chances, scored three goals and should have won the game, but they let themselves down defensively which we will touch on soon.
3. Newcastle have what it takes to stay up
Early indications suggested that Newcastle would struggle to stay in England’s top flight, however, it may still be a dogfight for them but they certainly look up for the challenge.
There is no doubt that the players are playing for their manager Steve McLaren and that the chairman believes in his manager as well.
The Toon seem to save their best performances for the big boys in the division, drawing at home to both Manchester United and Chelsea, winning at home against Liverpool and snatching victory away at Tottenham Hotspur.
They certainly have the quality in their squad to stay up, players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum are starting to prove their worth by chipping in with vital goals.
McLaren has even strengthened in the current transfer window, completing some shrewd business by bringing in Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea City.
4. Defensive frailties letting the Red Devils down
One of the main factors in Manchester United’s current demise is the state of their defence.
Not only are they conceding goals, but their back-line looks weaker than ever; they are missing players such as Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones through injury and natural wingers Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have regularly deputised at right full-back.
Even Chris Smalling, who has arguably been their best defender this campaign, had an evening to forget as a late strike from Newcastle’s Paul Dummett took an advantageous deflection from Smalling’s attempted block, only for it to hit the back of the net for the equaliser.
You would think that van Gaal would try to add some defenders to his squad during the transfer window, or maybe the United board don’t trust him with their money. After all, he has spent over £250 million since taking charge in 2014.
5. Rooney back in form
Up until the New Year, Wayne Rooney had scored just one Premier League goal and that was during the 3-0 win at Everton back in October.
However, since 2016 has been upon us, Rooney has scored three league goals – including a brace in last night’s 3-3 draw.
His other goal came in early January when he back heeled the winner in a 2-1 victory over Swansea, meaning that England’s record goalscorer has scored three goals in two Premiership games in 2016.