The Soccer Desk

Breaking that Old, Red Devil Magic

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The spells around Old Trafford are breaking.  In September, West Brom claimed victory at Manchester United’s home stadium for the first time since 1978.  Last week Everton broke their twenty-one year winless streak at Old Trafford with a 1-0 victory.  This week, Newcastle United played spell-breaker, winning away against the Red Devils for the first time since 1972.

A second-half strike by Yohan Cabaye and a clean-sheet performance by the back four and November’s Barclays Premier League’s player-of-the-month, keeper Tim Krul, broke the Magpies forty-one year winless streak at Old Trafford.

“I saw Everton waited twenty-one years to win here so we are double that,” said Toon boss Alan Pardew.  “It was a great victory for the club.”

Pardew, Barclays November manager of the month, played a significant role in the victory.  He turned away from his two-forward formation that claimed four out of five victories.  Instead, he secured the midfield, going with a 4-5-1, inserting Vurnon Anita in the middle and leaving second striker Shola Ameobi on the bench.

It worked.  Newcastle secured the middle of the pitch leaving Manchester United frustrated.  “We needed to retain possession,” Pardew said,  “and Vurnon Anita was brought in to maybe control the midfield area and I was really pleased that kind of worked out for us.”

Though Cabaye scored the goal, Newcastle won through a hard fought, group effort.  If anyone deserved man-of-the-match it was between Cheik Tiote who frustrated the Red Devil offense and Mathieu Debuchy who was involved offensively and defensively up and down the sideline throughout the match.

David Moyes’s side did some record breaking of their own—recording back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2002.

However, while winning at a stadium for the first time in forty years, or twenty years, lifts morale for clubs and fans alike, what it really shows is Manchester United’s domination of the league.

Newcastle, Everton and West Brom have placed that domination into the past.

Times have changed.  The 2013/14 campaign is up for grabs.  Defending champs Manchester United are grasping at straws.  Moyes made seven changes from the starting XI he fielded in his loss to Everton in his failed attempt to stop the damage against Newcastle.  His ship is leaking points.  If Everton and Newcastle are not contenders for top of the league, they are certainly frustrating those who are.

Men of the Month, Tim Krul and Alan Pardew (photo courtesy of Barclay's)

Men of the Month, Tim Krul and Alan Pardew (photo courtesy of Barclays)

For Toon fans, November left them much to be grateful for.  The Magpies won all four matches.  Pardew and Krul deservedly won manager and player of the month.  While December began with a loss away at Swansea, their rapid return to form in their victory at Old Trafford, breaking their forty-one year drought at the home of the defending champions, proved to fans that their team can rebound from a loss and keep the momentum they’ve built up going.  It looks to be an exciting holiday season for the Toon Army.

(Feature Photo courtesy of The Independent.)