Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies escape Old Trafford with a point

Newcastle produced another gritty away performance to emerge from Old Trafford with an unlikely point. Despite being reduced to 10 men for the last 15 minutes a fully committed display saw the Magpies avoid a second defeat in a week. Newcastle enjoyed more than their share of good fortune with an unlikely penalty decision going their way for the equaliser. But they will feel that they more than earned their luck with a performance full of courage with players putting their bodies on the line to prevent the home side taking all three points.

Newcastle’s long standing winless run at Old Trafford remains intact but they will feel that Saturday’s result was almost as good as a win. There have been few bright spots at the ground for Newcastle during the Premier League era but this will go down as one of them. The performance epitomised what has been the key to the club’s success this season with each player doing their job on the pitch to the best of their ability. Defensive lynchpins Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor threw themselves in front of every shot while Tim Krul once again increased his burgeoning reputation.

The young Dutchman has made few headlines in recent games with the defence in front of him keeping him well protected. But against last season’s champions Krul made a string of fine saves that his fellow countryman Edwin van der Sar would have been proud of. His close range save from Nemanja Vidic’s powerful header was probably the highlight of the lot. Alan Pardew’s decision to make him first choice ahead of Steve Harper appears to be fully vindicated with the experienced goalkeeper facing up to a future away from his long term club.

Manager Pardew felt that his side deserved the breaks that went their way against Manchester United. Demba Ba’s converted penalty was controversial with defender Rio Ferdinand appearing to make full contact with the ball. They also enjoyed another close decision in stoppage time with a ‘goal’ from Javier Hernandez ruled out for a very tight offside. The sending-off of Jonas Gutierrez could not be debated with the Argentine’s energy and team work sorely missed in the closing stages. He will now miss Newcastle’s next game against Chelsea.

The result was somewhat tempered by the news that former player Gary Speed passed away the day after the game. Speed was a key figure for the Magpies between 1998 – 2004 and will go down as one of the best midfielders to have played for the club. His professionalism on and off the pitch were exemplary with his aerial ability from set pieces one of his standout strengths. Defender Steven Taylor paid tribute to his former colleague saying: “I’m totally shocked. He was a top, top man and the complete professional. When I was coming through the ranks he was the player that all the young lads looked up to and he was always giving you advice and making sure you did the right things. His loss to football is immense.”

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