Rooney is left frustrated as United suffer Cup hangover

Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 0

Once more Manchester United failed to impress on the grand stage but, unlike at Wembley on Saturday, the dressing-room walls of St James' Park were safe.

The hole left in the wall in one of the national stadium's dressing rooms – for which the club has apologised – was a sign that defeat against Manchester City had stung. This was a mere disappointment, although as he prepares for his last stand in the north London derby, the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, might wonder how a side that has won as many away games as Blackpool could be cruising to the Premier League title.

Significantly, Ralf Rangnick, the coach of Schalke, based in Newcastle's twin town of Gelsenkirchen, would have watched this game from the directors' box and perhaps been less afraid of Manchester United. A first-half performance like this on the banks of the Ruhr might be punished rather more severely than it was on Tyneside. Schalke have Raul to lead their attack, Newcastle have nobody with the class to fill a No 9 shirt.

Manchester United had plenty. Wayne Rooney averages more than a goal a game here, and tried to reprise his stunning volley that settled a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford half a dozen years ago. But late in the second half his attempt was only good enough to whistle into the Leazes End. Another struck Cheik Tioté in a place that would have flattened most men. The Ivorian barely flinched while Rooney often seemed to be teetering on the brink of dissolving with rage.

Midway through the second half, Patrice Evra set up Ryan Giggs with a wonderful cut-back only for Giggs to screw a shot that screamed "goal" wide. The Welshman flashed a wry, ironic grin. Even banished to the stands, Sir Alex Ferguson noticed that a Newcastle defender had just touched the ball, which had the effect of fractionally putting Giggs off his aim.

Then came Michael Owen, whose lacklustre displays and enormous salary in a Newcastle shirt still linger painfully on Tyneside. He was howled down while Javier Hernandez's greatest contribution was to get himself booked for diving. If he did fling himself to the pitch in search of a late penalty, it is the first unworthy thing he has done since exchanging Mexico for Manchester.

Few imagined Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United's No 9, would start this game. Like Ruud van Nistelrooy and Dwight Yorke before him, he has learnt there is no telling when the coldness that marks Sir Alex Ferguson's displeasure might be felt on your cheek and he had made a mess of his return in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

However, few thought the man who is still the Premier League's leading goalscorer would fail to appear at all. He did travel to Tyneside but felt unwell on the morning of the match while Rio Ferdinand was not risked because of a calf strain.

It would have been tempting to say that the diffident, elegant, cigarette-smoking Bulgarian was not missed. However, this was a night that craved the kind of cleverness and inventiveness Berbatov displayed in the first half of the season.

After a distinctly uncertain first half Manchester United, presumably invigorated by Ferguson's words in the interval, gradually exerted a measure of increasing control over proceedings. All they really required to extend their lead over Arsenal's now faint challenge to nine decisive points was someone to finish things off.

Alan Pardew had suggested that Manchester United might be intimidated; not the Newcastle manager acknowledged, by the patched-up team he was able to field but by the atmosphere St James' Park might generate.

The season has probably passed the point where fear can be seen sauntering through a Manchester United dressing room – Rooney and Giggs were chatting among themselves as the teams lined up – and on paper they have come through fiercer cauldrons than this.

However on an otherwise gentle spring night by the Tyne, the masses in the Gallowgate had plenty to shout about. It may have been a decade since they last overcame Manchester United in an electric bare-knuckle fight that finished 4-3; their team may have been wrecked by injury but they displayed an often ferocious determination to prevent this match becoming a procession many had predicted. They are, after all, a team that has held both Arsenal and Chelsea here and beaten Liverpool.

In the stands, the old wounds surrounding Alan Shearer were picked open and left to bleed. In Newcastle they will never forget he turned Ferguson down to come home; in Manchester they always remember he won nothing by doing so. Had Pardew possessed a striker of Shearer's quality, they might have taken the lead before the interval.

However, Andy Carroll, the man who should have inherited Shearer's kingdom, had been sold to Liverpool for £35m and when Peter Lovenkrands was given the kind of free header the giant, pony-tailed Geordie might have buried, the Dane steered it limply wide.

The cross was provided by Joey Barton, who seemed anxious to use a big night to back up the statements about his own ability that somehow found their way into the pages of a French magazine. Barton may be a man with an ego but on nights like these, his talent seems too obvious to deny.

So is that of Jonas Gutierrez, who this time was deployed in midfield and showed Newcastle's intentions early by cutting past first Nani and then Michael Carrick before shooting low. There was a header from Fabricio Coloccini and a shot from Tioté, although Manchester United's defence, without Ferdinand, coped.

That Nemanja Vidic was unflustered surprised nobody. Few defenders win awards but the Manchester United captain, beaten to the PFA Footballer of the Year title by Tottenham's Gareth Bale, deserves some recognition.

Alongside him was Chris Smalling, who against Marseilles in the Champions League, had demonstrated he was rather more than Ferdinand's understudy and did so again in another city where life is measured out in football.

Man of the match Tioté.

Match rating 6/10.

Referee L Probert (Gloucestershire).

Attendance 49,025.

Remaining fixtures

Manchester United Saturday, Everton (h); 1 May, Arsenal (a); 8 May, Chelsea (h); 14 May, Blackburn (a); 22 May, Blackpool (h).

Arsenal Tonight, Tottenham (a); Sunday, Bolton (a); 1 May, Man Utd (h); 8 May, Stoke (a); 15 May, Aston Villa (h); 22 May, Fulham (a).





News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us