Saturday, December 7, 2013

Theatre of Nightmares: Newcastle United 1 - Manchester United 0 -- Game Recap and Player Ratings

Killapalooza 2: Nightmare on Elm Street
Photo by Double Feature on Flickr

Wilt Chamberlin scored his 30,000th point in the NBA, Jack Nicklaus passed Gary Player as golf's all-time money leader, and and Hank Aaron signed a contract for $200,000 per season, becoming MLB's highest paid player in the process.  To put it in context, these were the sports headlines the last time Newcastle United traveled to Old Trafford and emerged victorious over 41 years ago.  So while David Moyes continued to make history on Saturday, it was history of the wrong type, as Manchester United fell at home to yet another long deprived side, Newcastle United this time the beneficiaries of the Red Devils' generosity, with the home side looking exceptionally ordinary and slow throughout the entire contest. Seemingly devoid of ideas, pace and passion, United suffered another inevitable defeat at the hands of a lone second half goal, with Yohan Cabaye's tally being all the visitors needed to emerge with three points.

Once again it was the middle of the park that looked confused and muddled, as the home side had plenty of possession but played with little incisiveness.  Attempting to redress the problem, Moyes called Wilfried Zaha, Anderson and Antonio Valencia off the bench to replace starters, but the situation failed to improve as the clock ticked toward full time.  It's unclear as to whether or not the latest dispiriting defeat meant Moyes has lost some of the dressing room, but clearly he has lost some of the sides' many fans, as a large number of the  attendees at Old Trafford streamed out of the stadium to an early exit: the late game magic seemingly gone for the moment at least, as is the level of fear opponents feel when coming to Old Trafford -- a theatre of Red nightmares this week.  

Herewith the individual player ratings after a game in which a discouraging sense of  defeatism seeped into the team's performance:

De Gea: Snoozefest until just prior to half, but was alert and equal to the danger. This is getting repetitive, but there was little he could have done on Cabaye's winner. 6.0

Rafael: Quiet game for the second time in a row. Never a threat going forward. 5.0

Evans: Little to do. 5.5

Vidic (C): The lack of cover in midfield left his lack of pace exposed. 5.0

Evra: Stormed forward on numerous occasions but also fell asleep and was beaten more than once. Again denied on a set piece, this time by the post and a Newcastle hand. Should have done much better against Sissoko on the play leading up to the winning goal. 4.5

Nani: Frustratingly inconsistent, and unwilling to dive into any challenges. The only thing consistent about his performance today was making the wrong decision -- every time. 4.5

Jones: Punishing performance in midfield.  The only player who seemed to care. 6.5

Cleverley: Was clearly challenged by the Manager to play more forward passes, yet faded in the second half and failed to establish any influence on the contest before being given an early hook. 5.0

Januzaj: Lively early, but all sizzle and no steak today. 5.5

Van Persie: Not nearly as involved as he would have liked and was offside when he inevitably put the ball in the net. 5.0

Hernandez: Fast like a gazelle, worked on both sides of the ball, but his embarrassing dive shouldn't be overlooked. 5.5


Zaha (Nani), 68: Shot the ball, which was more than most. 5.0

Anderson (Cleverley), 70: No better than the man he replaced. 4.5

Valencia (Rafael), 77: N/A

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