Friday, 26 December 2014

THE BETTER UNITED

In the end, the three points turned out to be a formality. United were probably as suspect at the back but despite Newcastle playing two forwards all game, we were hardly troubled and only lost the cleansheet because of a needless challenge by Phil Jones in the box late on. That was as good as it got for Alan Pardew.

Louis van Gaal on the other hand will be thankful that crucial elements of his team came to the fore. For starters, Radamel Falcao was a pleasant nuisance in Newcastle's side. He displayed the hunger and desire that you feel he will need on a consistent basis to lure United into paying another £43m for him next July. His unselfish assist for the opener will not go unrecorded from LVG's writing pad. One hopes that the only reason he was taken off today is because he is a shoe in to start on Sunday.

Juan Mata is the other player who crucially turned up on the day. He did his part in the Number 10 role as brilliantly as he seems to do at home. Question marks still hang over his ability to replicate that form away from home. He is one of those we need to maintain that form into Sunday if we are to record a similar result. Take nothing away though from his brilliant inter-passing movement today. His assist for the second was a peach.

The biggest disappointment was how United tailed off after that third goal. Maybe it was down to conserving energy for the programme ahead but it reinforced the manager's frustration that United are not dominating games for 90 minutes.

Ultimately, today was a further stat added to our brilliant home form that has seen us win all but a couple of games there this season. We might achieve little this season by our standards but making Old Trafford a fortress seems well enroute to being accomplished. There's an air of routineness about games at home these days. That's fantastic.

It therefore begs the question how much better off we would be if our away form was better, which leads nicely into Sunday's fixture. For starters it's an away game. Then it's at White Harte Lane. It will be interesting how LVG counters Spurs' strength but most importantly, how he manages the squad for a second game in 48hrs.

But we can be thankful for another Boxing Day win today----the 50th in English football. We've opened up a gap, albeit small, between us and fourth, and have kept the summit of the league table on the horizon. It was all we could ask for today.

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