It was not quite "come back Sam, all is forgiven" but the thought must have crossed some minds. Newcastle United completed a week in which they lost their seventh manager in 10 years by being routed at Old Trafford last night. It was a dreadful response to the sacking of Sam Allardyce.
It is no shame to lose to Manchester United, who reclaimed their place at the top of the Premier League with six second-half goals, but the scoreline still did not reflect the gap between the visitors and the champions.
The ball was cleared off the Newcastle line four times and if Wayne Rooney's finishing had matched his inventiveness the result would have been even more embarrassing. Instead, a hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now scored 22 for the season, two goals from Carlos Tevez and another from Rio Ferdinand pushed Sir Alex Ferguson's team ahead of Arsenal on goal difference.
As if Newcastle did not suffer enough, they were lectured by Ferguson in the programme. "I would say Newcastle are the most difficult club to manage in the game," he wrote. "Their list of sacked managers reads like a who's who of football."
Listing Jack Charlton, Kevin Keegan, Sir Bobby Robson et al, he added: "Surely one of that distinguished band of legends would have been successful if the directors, supporters and media had shown a little more patience and given the guys in the hot seat time to plan and build."
In the first half Newcastle clung on and had grounds for complaint when Michael Owen was wrongly given offside but in the second they were simply swept aside. And, as if shipping six goals in 45 minutes was not enough, Newcastle's captain, Alan Smith, was sent off in stoppage time against his former club for dissent, his second booking.
"Whatever could go wrong did," said Nigel Pearson, Newcastle's caretaker manager. "We came up against a better team than us who were in a ruthless mood and we compounded that by making mistakes at the wrong time."
Ferguson, meanwhile, could luxuriate on a job well done. "There were too many individuals in the first half, we were trying to walk the ball in the net," he said. "But once we increased the tempo of our passing and movement the players were outstanding. We were fantastic in the second half."
The tone of the match was set in the third minute when Rooney, released by a glorious pass by Michael Carrick, shot just over. This was the first of four opportunities in the first 15 minutes for the England striker.
With Ronaldo, however, Ferguson has a player who can alter games in a second. A free-kick was awarded for a barely perceptible clip on his heels by Smith and, with the ball on the edge of the area, it seemed unlikely he would be able to get it over the defensive wall and into the net. Ronaldo must have thought so too because he aimed low and the Newcastle players, accommodatingly, jumped over it.
A Newcastle defensive error is never far away these days and one duly arrived five minutes later. Shay Given, who otherwise was outstanding in goal, slammed a clearance straight into Claudio Cacapa, the rebound fell to Ryan Giggs and he pulled the ball back for Tevez to tap in.
Newcastle were in disarray and it was merely a question of how many the home team would score. The goal of the game was a glorious one-touch move involving Rooney, Carrick and Tevez that gave Ronaldo his second in the 70th minute, but that was only marginally better than Ferdinand's volleying in of Rooney's clever pass. Ronaldo got his third with two minutes to go and Tevez completed the scoring in stoppage time.
That brought the slaughter to an end but there was still time for Smith to receive his red card for abusing a linesman after earlier being cautioned for a foul on Ferdinand. His sad walk to the tunnel summed up a bad night for Newcastle. Even the ritual cries of "Shearer, Shearer" had a hollow ring by the end.Reuse content