Everyone take a breath.
Ferguson’s lineup drew well founded criticism — the partnership of Scholes and Carrick were being outplayed by a Newcastle midfield comprised of James Perch, Gael Bigirimana and Vurnon Anita. Three minutes in Papiss Cisse gathered a Carrick giveaway, forcing a save from David De Gea. The rebound fell into the path of Perch, who made it 1-0 for the visitors. For the fifth time this season Manchester United trailed. Craziness ensued.
The goal scoring dynamo that is Jonny Evans made it 1-1 in the 25th minute — he trails only Branislav Ivanović in goals by defenders. Jonny Evans made it 2-1 in the 28th minute, this time for Newcastle, in one of several controversial moments in the match. Initially the goal was ruled offside — Papiss Cisse was lodged in an arm jousting battle with Evans and offside to boot. Mike Dean and his assistant had a brief chat before the goal was declared good. Rule 11 from the FIFA book of laws:
“Interfering with an opponent” means:
- Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball. For example, by clearly obstructing the goalkeeper’s line of vision or movement
- Making a gesture or movement which, in the the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent. The opponent must be reasonably close to the play so that the blocking, deceiving, or distracting makes a difference
Cisse did all of the above. I’m not sure how one can draw the distinction between distracting and deliberately distracting.
Fergie’s anger didn’t subside during the break. His confrontation with Dean and his assistant before the start of the final interval will make for an interesting couple days in the tabloids. Patrice Evra improved the mood at Old Trafford in the 58th minute, collecting a loose clearance and slotting the ball past Tim Krul.
United’s weak defensive play would plague them once again. Gabriel Obertan streaked past Chris Smalling, playing the ball into the box and finding a wide open Cisse — Evra nowhere to be found. 3-2. Rain pouring. Fergie’s piece of gum undergoing a beating.
Robin Van Persie — dropping to a deeper position in the second half, a place where he’s found so much success — equalized in the 71st. Krul deserved better after stopping the initial Van Persie drive, his defence was non-existent. The words cool, calm and collected will never be used to describe Danny Simpson and Michael Williamson.
From then on it was target practice for United. Van Persie had chances, Javier Hernandez had chances — a winner was coming. A great ball in from Carrick — who was Pirloesque with his crosses today — found Hernandez unmarked in the box (paging Danny Simpson). Chicharito made no mistake. 4-3. Game over.
Newcastle assistant John Carver took over for Ferguson in the angry old man department after the game, attempting to get at the officials only to be restrained by Evra of all people.
Damn, that was fun. For the fifth time this season Manchester United fell behind only to come all the way back.
The other Manchester team didn’t fare as well. For the third consecutive time Manchester City fell to Sunderland, with old hand Adam Johnson coming back to haunt his former club.
Surely a seven point gap is too much to make up for Mancini’s men. Surely the scarfed one will be gone in the summer. Where have we heard that before?