Thursday, January 05, 2012

We all live in a Demba syrup dream*

Newcastle Utd 3 - 0 Man Utd

Three goals, three glorious goals, ensured we got 2012 off to the best possible start as we defeated Man Utd for the first time in a decade at St James' Park.

The Silver Fox made two changes to the team who lost to Liverpool, with Big Lad coming in for Haris Vuckic to partner Demba Ba and Raylor pushed forward into midfield to replace Obertan Kenobi, Davide Santon taking the vacant left-back spot.

The visitors too made changes from the side who capitulated at home to Blackburn, welcoming back Rio Ferdinand and Shrek and finally dropping David de Gea - bringing in Anders Lindegaard (who in five previous Premier League games had yet to concede a goal).

The game itself started at a frenetic pace, with Ba failing to connect with a Simpson cross and Shrek fluffing a good chance when played onside by Sideshow Bob. The best early chance fell to boyhood Newcastle fan Dimitar Berbatov, whose header deflected off Santon and on to the post.

While the pace of the game never slowed, we steadily began to impose our game plan of playing long balls to our big strikers and then pressing the play high up the pitch to starve the visitors' attackers of possession. The work rate of the team steadily paid off, with Mr T and Dreamboat chasing down everything in midfield and gaining the upper hand on Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick. On the flanks, Raylor and Spidermag both put in hardworking performances which denied Park Ji Sung and Nani much room to manoeuvre.

At the back, Tim Krul had to make one save from Nani, but otherwise the visitors struggled to create any chances. Going forward, however, Newcastle slowly began to cause the visitors problems and when Ba was played into the box he was brought crashing to earth by Rio Ferdinand. Staggeringly Howard Webb ignored our claims for a clear penalty (which Man Utd fans will claim is payback for the penalty Rio gave away at Old Trafford when cleanly tackling HBA), but thankfully we didn't let the disappointment get us down. A few minutes later Tim Krul launched a long ball from the back and Big Lad rose above Phil Jones to flick the ball on. Ba pulled away from Ferdinand to smash an over-the-shoulder volley (think David Platt against Belgium in 1990) past Lindegaard and inside the post to give us a deserved lead.

At half-time Taggart clearly lost patience with his players, sending them out early for the second half and presumably with instructions to get their act together. All of which was rendered meaningless in a matter of minutes as Ba was cynically taken out by Jones about 30 yards from the Gallowgate goal. Having already seen one free-kick sail over the bar in the first half, Raylor left this one to Dreamboat and the Frenchman duly took three steps and hammered the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the goal. Even though the keeper got a fingertip to it there was nothing he could do, and the ball bounced down, well over the line.

Inevitably, Fergie's mob pushed themselves forward and with Taggart throwing on Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez they looked to force their way back into the game. Thankfully, though, the defensive resilience which has been a significant feature of our season was again evident, with Danny Simpson marking his 25th birthday by blocking on the line the only shot to have beaten Tim Krul, our clean sheet remaining intact.

With injury time arriving a long free-kick from Krul saw Jones, under a bit of pressure from Leon O'Best (on for Big Lad), bundle the ball past his own 'keeper, the Man Utd man stooping to head only for the ball to ricochet off his knee and into the unguarded net.

All in all, a fantastic start to the new year. Sadly Mr T and Demba Ba, both outstanding last night, are now off to the African Cup of Nations and will be missing for a few weeks. Still, at least we now know the secret of Ba's success, the player revealing to Sky in a pre-match interview that he loves strawberry syrup. Hopefully he's left some for Big Lad and O'Best to have while he's away.

Aside from our two departees, Dreamboat was also brilliant and he and Mr T's tireless running and closing down played a massive part in the victory. At the back we again looked solid with Santon also enjoying a number of strong forward runs. However, credit for this performance goes to the whole team, and to the Silver Fox, who got his tactics absolutely spot on and made it a real night to remember.

A Man Utd fan's view: We All Follow United

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

*credit for the headline to @IWantCurlyHair2 whose hashtag this was on Twitter last night.

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Blogger Ben said...

Brilliant performance, worthy victory. If only we'd shown the same amount of commitment and conviction against Liverpool, we might have got a result there.

Hard to single out players after a display like that, but Ba, Dreamboat, Mr T and Sideshow Bob were all exceptional. (Given Man Utd's ineptitude in central midfield I wouldn't be surprised if a bid for Mr T isn't forthcoming...) Santon looked convincing on his first full appearance, while Big Lad gave us the vital extra dimension and O'Best did very well to harry and hustle the Man Utd back four at a time when the last thing they wanted to be doing was defend.

Now let's not blow it with an FA Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn...

1:26 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

For those of use not familiar with the David Platt goal mentioned in the post.

Big day for keepers named Tim taking shots on net with Tim Howard scoring and Tim Krul's big boot that lead to the own goal... Must have been really windy yesterday.

8:09 pm  

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