This was another disaster for Manchester United and a victory for Newcastle. After expressing confidence in his team’s ability to salvage the season following Sunday’s 3-0 demolition by Manchester City, Erik ten Hag may soon face serious job security issues as maintaining their Carabao Cup defense was a requirement.
be eliminated by Newcastle, even though Eddie Howe’s team had defeated City in the first round, and the vultures would swarm around the manager. However, this is exactly what happened on a night when every goal that United gave up was self-inflicted and indicated a lack of cohesiveness and confidence.
Ten Hag appeared to be stuck in the technical area, hoping rather than being able to influence his team, from the moment Miguel Almirón scored the first goal. If placing third, making it to the FA Cup final, and winning the competition was a triumph of overachievement last season, this term is rapidly going in the opposite direction, and the Dutchman needs to stop soon.
Unwantedly, a second straight 3-0 home loss closed the gap to October 1962, the last time this happened. In contrast, United had not lost five of its first ten games at home since 1930.
Ten Hag and Howe each asked a plethora of second-string players to step in and take the field, resulting in seven changes for United and eight for Newcastle. Ten Hag saw this as more of a risk given the difficulties on his end. One defeat in the previous four games was understandable from a positive perspective, but Sunday’s surrender and his players’ admission that they still don’t understand their manager’s strategy caused him to enter the phase that has befallen all managers who took over for Sir Alex Ferguson: the doubting of his intelligence.
Newcastle had to overcome the early loss of Matt Targett, who lined up to the left of Anthony Gordon in attack and was replaced by Almirón. They did: thudding the ball about between them, mixing up short and long range passing, as Gordon looked to peel off Victor Lindelöf when, say, Tino Livramento punted a high ball in from the back.
Even after Casemiro took a shot and Martin Dubravka made a save, the more than 7,000 travelling supporters of Newcastle continued to roar. The rare occasion when United supporters cheered was followed by Joe Willock winning a free kick, Joelinton controlling the midfield, and the bookings of Hannibal Mejbri and Casemiro.
Mason Mount or Alejandro Garnacho’s careless touches thwarted every offensive move made by the home team. They were also taken advantage of by such play. Once more, Garnacho misplaced the ball on his left wing. A lethargic Diogo Dalot was unable to stop Livramento from collecting and ghosting past Mejbri and Mount to turn the ball across to Almirón, who found the inside of André Onana’s left side-netting.
“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” Ten Hag was jubilantly informed by Newcastle’s crowd, whose mood soon skyrocketed further. The second goal was as embarrassing as the first for United, because Almirón made total mugs of Casemiro and Dalot by clipping possession between them to Willock. The latter crossed from the left, the ball came to Lewis Hall and he arrowed his volley in.
In the second half, Ten Hag substituted Sofyan Amrabat and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for Casemiro and Dalot, temporarily disregarding the bench players Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Rasmus Højlund.
The best United sequence to date included Antony and Wan-Bissaka, culminating in the latter’s ball in. So could they exert any kind of pressure? For a while, the response was unambiguously affirmative.
Garnacho, Mount, and Sergio Reguilón probed along the left channel. Harry Maguire skillfully ducked close to the goal to set up an attack that had United moving along the same wing, but Amrabat erred when he pulled the trigger after Mount dinked in. The Brazilian was all over Antony, blazing and clutching during a give-and-go. and his head, but at last United was involved in the match.
It was short-lived. Once more, this was self-inflicted stupidity. Joelinton took Amrabat’s ball and spun it to Willock, who danced through as United retreated and rolled the finish in from a distance, once more decisively defeating Onana. It was now undoubtedly too late when Ten Hag summoned Højlund, Rashford, and Fernandes.
Enthralled Newcastle supporters exclaimed, “We’re going to Wembley.” Ten Hag needs to effectively go back to the drawing board. If not, the thousands of seats that were cleared before the end suggest that his position might be in jeopardy.