x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Manchester United refuse to 'panic' after shock defeat to Newcastle

Goals from Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and a Phil Jones own goal hand Newcastle victory and Manchester City the initiative in the Premier League title race.

Newcastle forward Demba Ba, centrem celebrates with teammates after scoring against Manchester United.
Newcastle forward Demba Ba, centrem celebrates with teammates after scoring against Manchester United.

Sir Alex Ferguson insisted there was no need for panic after seeing his Manchester United side humbled at Newcastle United.

The Magpies ensured that arch rivals Manchester City remain three points clear at the top of the table by beating the champions 3-0 on Tyneside as the run of surprise results for the main contenders over the holiday period continued.

However, Ferguson was taking a measured approach when asked about the impact of a potentially costly defeat.

He told Sky Sports: “It’s not a time to panic or anything like that. We have got the experience to cope with that.

“Losing a game at this time of the year, you don’t want it, but it sometimes can happen - you have seen some of the results recently.

“But obviously, we need to get the show on the road in terms of the run-in, particularly in March and April.”

Even with Wayne Rooney back from his exile and Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs also restored to the starting line-up, United were able to make little impression on a Newcastle side looking for just their second win in nine league games.

Striker Demba Ba, in his last game for the club before heading off to the African Nations Cup with Senegal, blasted the home side ahead with a delicious 33rd-minute volley - his 15th goal of the season.

With Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote, who will also be on duty in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, determined to sign off in style, the home side were good value for their half-time lead, and there was further cause for celebration within two minutes of the restart.

Phil Jones, who had been beaten in the air by Shola Ameobi in the lead-up to the opening goal, barged Ba to the ground 30 yards out and then could only look on in horror as Yohan Cabaye curled a superb free-kick home off the underside of the bar.

Ferguson said: “It was a marvellous hit on the volley, and the second one just after half-time was the killer for us. It was a marvellous strike from the free-kick.

“But we didn’t make enough of our possession of the ball anyway. It was one of those nights.”

Jones’ misery was complete in the final minute of the game when he could only bundle keeper Tim Krul’s long free-kick into his own net having wrong-footed keeper Anders Lindegaard.

Alan Pardew was thrilled with the display of his Newcastle side.

He admitted the loss of Ba and Tiote will be huge, but remains confident his squad has what it will take to maintain the fight for the seventh position they currently occupy.

Asked if Ba in particular is irreplaceable, he said: “You could argue that, but we thought that about Andy Carroll last year and we didn’t do too badly without him.

“I am not going to hide away from the fact that Cheick and Demba tonight were probably the two outstanding players on the pitch for us.

“They were going away - whether that was part of an extra motivation for them and the champions were here...

“We are going to miss them - I can’t hide from that. But what a way to go out.

“We will look forward to seeing them in six games’ time or whenever it is.”