Newcastle vs Man United: Five things we learned as Man United’s misery deepens

The Norwegian's unsteady reign suffered another major wobble away from home

Manchester United: 2019/20 Premier League season preview

1. Sorry Solskjaer beaten once again

It is becoming difficult to find new ways of describing Manchester United‘s manifest problems. Again, there was a lamentable lack of creativity and imagination. Again, there were no options on the substitutes’ bench. Again, it was unclear what exactly Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is trying to achieve and how he expects to achieve it.

This defeat – their third of the Premier League season already - leaves United only two points above the relegation zone. Even if it is generally accepted that this is a season of transition at Old Trafford, one where young players are given opportunities to develop and an inexperienced manager is given time to prove himself, that should be alarming.

2. Bruce buys time with big three points

This time last week, Bruce was in a dark place. The 5-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium was not only a pitiful result but a pitiful performance, one which meant that any sort of reverse here would make for an uncomfortable international break and an uncertain autumn, with supporters sure to make their discontent known.

What a difference seven days makes. Powered by the direct play of Allan Saint-Maximin and the industry of the two Longstaffs, Newcastle were deserving winners. The three points lifts them out of the relegation zone, within just one of their opponents. This will not – and should not – placate angry fans, but that makes the victory no less welcome.

3. The other Longstaff punishes Solskjaer

United wanted to sign one Longstaff during the summer, before being put off by Newcastle’s £50m valuation. Perhaps they should have asked about the other. Matty, the younger brother of Sean, made his Premier League debut alongside his sibling after catching the eye in pre-season, but few expected it to be a match-winning display.

Even before the decisive goal, both Longstaffs kept United’s midfield in check, pressing and harrying their opponents. Sean was particularly tidy with the ball, but this win will be remembered for his 19-year-old brother, who was given far too much space on the edge of United’s penalty area and invited to slot past De Gea

Matty Longstaff celebrates scoring on his debut

4. United’s lack of depth disturbing

It was difficult to think of a weaker United line-up in the Premier League era that was not sent out in an end-of-season dead rubber. Solskjaer could do little about injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw, but the reason the squad is shallow is because of a failure to recruit properly in the summer.

This calendar year, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have all left without being replaced. United could have brought in new bodies without abandoning the admirable commitment to youth development that Solskjaer has shown. Instead, their recruitment strategy is being questioned again.

Marcus Rashford reacts during the defeat

5. Set-pieces required to provide attacking edge

For a team struggling to score goals and create chances, there is one obvious area in which Solskjaer’s side could improve. United’s last set-piece goal came against Romelu Lukaku against Crystal Palace back in February, some 220 days ago. That run should have ended just before half time, yet Harry Maguire sent a free header wide.

Set-pieces are an edge that almost every team can improve on. Few managers exploit them properly. Those that do benefit greatly. Given how uninspiring United’s attacking is in open play, it may be wise for Solskjaer and his staff to spend some time on dead-ball situations over the coming international break.

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