United apply pressure but fizzle in front of goal

Wayne Rooney still cannot end a goal famine after this effort against Newcastle is ruled out for offside.
Wayne Rooney still cannot end a goal famine after this effort against Newcastle is ruled out for offside.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester United 0
Newcastle United 0

LONDON • Three Premier League games into the new season, the most encouraging part for Manchester United is that they still have not conceded a goal even with David de Gea sitting in the stands, wishing for the day when he could wear Real Madrid's colours.

Yet, yesterday was a frustrating afternoon for Louis van Gaal's team who drew 0-0 with Newcastle United. Their inability to make the most of their superior possession and territorial advantage will only add to the theory that they lack the firepower to be considered authentic title challengers.

An easy line, perhaps, but van Gaal could certainly have benefited from the penetrative qualities of Pedro Rodriguez - who chose to join Chelsea from Barcelona - during an afternoon of almost unremitting pressure on Newcastle's goal.

Instead, his team played every pass apart from the killer one.

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

  • YESTERDAY

    Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 0

    Leicester City 1 Tottenham 1

    Crystal Palace 2 Aston Villa 1

    Norwich City 1 Stoke City 1

    Sunderland 1 Swansea City 1

    West Ham 3 Bournemouth 4

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  • 858

    Number of minutes Wayne Rooney's goal drought has gone on for

Their lack of incision must have been startling for a crowd imploring "attack, attack, attack". And, if Kyle Walker's own goal on the opening weekend against Tottenham is excluded, the fact is that Adnan Januzaj's strike at Aston Villa is the only time they have scored in their opening league fixtures.

Newcastle ended their wretched run of seven successive away defeats. Their improvement under Steve McClaren's management is considerable even if there were long, strained spells when they were pinned back into their own half.

They were spared what would have been an agonising defeat when Chris Smalling's header came back off the post in stoppage time.

Wayne Rooney was denied a goal because of a marginal but correct offside decision. Again, though, van Gaal must be troubled by his lack of dynamism. The forward has not scored for 858 minutes.

Newcastle had their best chance in the final exchanges, breaking three on one, only for substitute Papiss Cisse to drag his shot wide.

A goal at that stage would have been incredibly harsh on the more dominant side. Instead, it was a game that exposed why van Gaal's team finished last season with 62 goals, their second-lowest figure of the Premier League era.

"We can be satisfied with the performance but not with the result. We were unlucky," analysed van Gaal. "We did not make the right choices in the final third but we played fantastic as a team."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'United apply pressure but fizzle in front of goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe