Manchester United played their best game so far in the Premier on Saturday against Newcastle. But they only have one point to show for it as the game ended in a scoreless draw after the linesman robbed United of a goal in the first half.
Manchester came out flying at Old Trafford and played with an intensity that we haven’t seen in a quite a while. The passing was crisp, the players were fast in their movements, and they pushed the Newcastle defense deep.
Wayne Rooney and everyone in the stands thought that he had scored the opening goal in the 5th minute. Rooney made a great run and placed the ball in behind Tim Krul in the Newcastle net. But the Red Devils captain was deemed to be offside and the goal was waived off. On the replays of the situation, it was clear that Rooney was actually onside and that the goal should have been given.
That situation put a black mark on the game as Manchester tried to break through once more and have it count. They had five shots on target (six with the disallowed goal) in the opening 18 minutes. It was total domination from Louis van Gaal’s men and it seemed like it would be just a matter of time before they pulled ahead.
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Manchester dropped off a bit in the second half, but had a couple of chances to put the game away. Chris Smalling had a header that went off the post and Javier Hernandez had a golden opportunity when he came in.
Newcastle managed to absorb the pressure, and Krul had a fine game, including an incredible save on Hernandez’s chance inside the penalty box. Bastian Schweinsteiger played his first game from the start and was crisp in his passing while doing a great job breaking up plays and winning the ball back. Van Gaal spoke to MUTV about Schweinsteiger who was substituted for Michael Carrick in the 59th minute.
“I’ve said already in advance that he [Bastian] should play 60 minutes,” van Gaal said. “In the other matches, Michael Carrick played 60 minutes and now it was the other way around. I need to build up both. Michael Carrick last year was injured for a lot of matches and now he’s not and that’s a big benefit for the team. It’s the same for Bastian.”
There’s no doubt that Schweinsteiger needs to be introduced into the side slowly with regards to his injury troubles to start the season. He showed in flashes that he will be a key player for this side. Carrick did a good job coming off the bench and the central of midfield feels a lot more solid compared to last season. Morgan Schneiderlin has come in and solidified himself in the starting lineup right away and he works well with both Schweinsteiger and Carrick.
After the game, van Gaal was asked if the game had changed his view on if the team needed another striker. United has only scored one goal in three league games, with an own goal being the decider in the opening game against Tottenham.
“No, that I have said already because, as a fan, you have to see how we have played this match, van Gaal said. “The performance was good and the fans were always behind the players. It was a fantastic match to watch but we were unlucky. We have to score our chances and, in the next match, we shall score maybe a goal out of three chances and that is better. The performance today was better though.”
Van Gaal is right in that United played a lot better than they did in the two first games of the season. The team seemed to have a bit more confidence, and it’s likely that the midweek win over Club Brugge in the Champions League qualifiers gave them a boost. But they could use another top-level striker in the side. Van Gaal will be asking a lot from Rooney, Hernandez and James Wilson as they will have a pretty packed schedule if they make it to the Champions League group stage.
It’s not cheap to go and get a goalscorer, and preferably it would be a player that has already proven himself in the Premier League as the transition would take less time. Last season’s loan of Falcao was a fiasco, and you have to wonder if it wouldn’t had been better if they would have just kept Danny Welbeck instead of shipping him out to Arsenal.
The performance against Newcastle was a huge step in the right direction, as they were doing everything right except score. They now have to find a way to keep this standard as well as find a way to start scoring