Man United’s injury problems this season have been well-documented, but the Red Devils’ fitness concerns pale into insignificance when
compared to a ravaged Newcastle unit, who were once again forced to dip into the club’s academy ranks to fill the bench at St James’ Park.
Nevertheless, Eddie Howe’s decimated side were a class above Erik ten Hag’s tepid troops on a freezing cold North East evening and got
their just rewards in the second half, when the lively Anthony Gordon met a Kieran Trippier ball into the six-yard box to tap home at the back stick.
Ten Hag’s men had enjoyed a revival of sorts in the top flight heading into the festive period, prevailing in five of their previous six top-flight battles and keeping clean
sheets in three on the trot before making the trip to Tyneside, but the under-fire Dutchman was under no illusions that his side were second best all evening long.
Also reeling from another Champions League capitulation versus Galatasaray, Man United have been bumped down to seventh in the Premier League table ahead of the
midweek round of fixtures, five points below Aston Villa in fourth place and only boasting 16 league goals in 2023-24 – by far the worst attacking return from any top-half team.
Eight of those strikes have come at the hosts’ Theatre of Dreams headquarters, where only two of their last five Premier League games have ended with
Man United coming out on the correct end of the scoreline, and if gameweek 14 is anything to go by, the Red Devils could take a leaf out of Chelsea’s book when it comes to showing grit and determination.