Chris Smalling's Man United career on the line and other things learned from Newcastle defeat

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Manchester United were handed a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Matt Ritchie’s second-half strike was what separated the two sides at St James’ Park.

The visitors missed a host of chances but their finishing wasn’t the only thing that was below par on the day.

Here are three things we learned from the encounter.

SMALLING’S UNITED CAREER ON THE LINE

Chris Smalling has always gone through patches of good form over the course of his time at United but apart from one season under Louis van Gaal, has never seemed like a reliable option in the back-line.

The Englishman had a horrendous outing against Newcastle. After a clumsy handball, he was lucky not to concede penalty for a tackle just inside the area and went on to dive, yes dive, in his own half, handing the hosts a free-kick that led to the goal.

It’s now eight years since he arrived at Old Trafford but he’s still playing like someone who could maybe be a really good defender.

Phil Jones has been in great form this term but is injury prone while Eric Bailly, for all his great qualities, shares the Englishman’s affinity with the treatment table.

As a result, Jose Mourinho could well spend big on a centre-back in the summer, particularly after insisting there won’t be any new arrivals in attack. In that case, Smalling could be the one to make way, perhaps along with Daley Blind who has already become surplus to requirements.

Chris Smalling

Off day against the Magpies: Chris Smalling.

UNITED’S MIDFIELD IN DIRE STRAITS

Nemanja Matic was drafted in over the summer in an effort to bring control and security to United’s engine room. To the Serbian’s credit, he did just that. Up to a point.

However, the defensive midfielder has notably gone off the boil a bit in the second-half of the season after being a permanent fixture in the starting eleven pretty much throughout the campaign.

He seems to be suffering from fatigue and needs a rest at some point. He was well off the pace in the first-half and was caught out by Newcastle’s energy in midfield on more than one occasion, although he gradually grew into the game and his defence-splitting pass created the best chance of the opening period for Anthony Martial.

Paul Pogba’s abysmal display on the other hand is a much bigger mystery. The Frenchman has all the attributes of a world class midfielder but hasn’t produced his best on a regular basis. Whether it’s down to him as an individual or the system he’s deployed in, United need him to come good.

Ander Herrera still remains out of favour with Mourinho, only making fleeting appearances while Scott McTominay can’t have too much thrown on him in his maiden campaign with the senior side.

With Michael Carrick expected to hang up his boots at the end of the season as well, perhaps Mourinho will have to invest in the midfield department again in the summer.

Paul Pogba

Poor performance: Paul Pogba.

SECOND PLACE UP FOR GRABS

Manchester City are well out of sight and have the title all but sewn up while United have been leading the way among the rest.

However, after back-to-back away defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle, the Reds’ second spot in the table is in jeopardy. With a 2-0 win away to Southampton, Liverpool have moved to within two points of United.

Jurgen Klopp’s side appear to have momentum on their side as well while Tottenham fall into the same bracket.

After United’s performance on Sunday, it’s conceivable that they could be dragged into a fierce battle for a spot in the top four with Chelsea and Arsenal also fighting to keep pace.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho’s men have lost their stranglehold over second place.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Everton set to arrive in Dubai on Wednesday for warm weather training camp

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Oumar Niasse celebrates his goal against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Everton will take advantage of a gap in their fixture list to complete a training break in Dubai this week.

The Blues will fly out to the UAE on Wednesday (February 14) following a star-studded Gala Dinner to celebrate 30 years of Everton in the Community (EITC) at St George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre on Tuesday night.

The Toffees are set to bring their entire first-team squad to Dubai, bar long-term absentees James McCarthy and likely Ramiro Funes Mori, who will stay at the club’s Finch Farm training base.

Here, we detail more information about the trip, which has yet to be officially confirmed, as the Premier League club follow the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Celtic in coming to Dubai in 2018:

WHY ARE EVERTON IN DUBAI?

Following Saturday’s 3-1 success over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park, the Blues’ next Premier League fixture is on Saturday February 24 at Watford.

This sizeable gap in the fixture list, aided by the fact Everton aren’t in the Emirates FA Cup, has provided the Merseysiders with the perfect chance to recharge their batteries with some winter sun.

It is anticipated the camp will last at least five days, with it being possible the Blues will have a behind-closed-doors friendly to help maintain match sharpness.

WHERE ARE THE BLUES TRAINING?

Though it is not confirmed, it is likely Everton will train at Nad Al Sheba, Meydan, known as the best training facility in the Emirate. It is owned by the ruling family in Dubai and the training complex is private, with a number of top European clubs having trained there in the past.

Indeed, Everton trained at the facility this time last year while the Red Devils spent some time there last month.

However, it should also be mentioned Sam Allardyce’s previous clubs, including Sunderland, have trained at Dubai Sports City.

WHERE ARE THE BLUES STAYING?

Situated a stone’s throw away from Nad Al Sheba, The Meydan Hotel will likely be the spot where Everton stay, given Ronald Koeman had his side based there in 2017.

The five-star hotel is ideal given stars can cycle to and from the hotel and training complex.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Jose Mourinho: Newcastle deserved win over Man United because they 'fought like animals'

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Jose Mourinho's men fell to a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle.

Jose Mourinho praised the manner of Newcastle‘s unlikely Premier League victory over Manchester United as “a beautiful thing”.

The relegation-threatened Magpies scrapped their way to a 1-0 win at St James’ Park on Sunday courtesy of Matt Ritchie’s 65th-minute strike, although they were indebted to fine goalkeeping from debutant Martin Dubravka and some last-ditch defending as the visitors launched an onslaught.

Mourinho told Sky Sports: “They fought like animals – and animal is a good word in football and I hope they take it as a compliment.”

He added during his post-match press conference: “I think first of all that the Newcastle United players and obviously staff, they gave what they have and what they don’t have and I think that’s a beautiful thing in football.

“I think they came here today to fight for a point, but they found themselves in the position of winning 1-0 and in that moment, they went over all the limits of the effort, of the sacrifice, of everything a manager likes to see in his team.

“I saw that in my team at 1-0, that desire to play and to try and to go until the last seconds, which we did.

“I can imagine that [Rafael] Benitez is more than pleased with the efforts of his players. Were they lucky? Yes, they were, yes, they were. But sometimes you attract that luck with your state of mind and at 1-0, the Newcastle players fought for their lives and I think that’s a beautiful thing in football.”

Matt Ritchie struck against the run of play in the 65th minute.

Matt Ritchie struck against the run of play in the 65th minute.

Ritchie’s decisive strike came in the midst of a storm as United attempted to turn the screw, and it could hardly have been more timely on a day when Huddersfield’s earlier win had plunged Benitez’s men into the bottom three.

The Spaniard said: “We knew that they had won and at the same time, we knew we needed to try to win the game, that’s it.

“We were very close in a lot of games, but we were unlucky; today, we were working even harder if it’s possible and then we were a little but lucky at the end.

“But it wasn’t because they won that we needed to win. We needed to win anyway and my message to our players before the game was to forget about the other games, just concentrate on this one and try to get three points.”

Victory eased the Magpies into 13th place in the table, while United now trail leaders Manchester City by 16 points.

Most popular

Related Tags