Despite the frustration of Saturday’s result, I actually left Old Trafford more encouraged by the Reds' performance than I had been for a few weeks. The last 20 minutes or so were, in many ways, vintage United. It was an attacking onslaught. Newcastle had to repel wave after wave of attacks. We’ve seen it so often over the years – surely a goal was going to come, it was just inevitable. I still can’t quite believe it didn’t. The Reds did everything but score and were undone by a combination of heroic defending, brilliant goalkeeping, errant finishing and just plain old bad luck.
A United winner would have let linesman John Flynn off the hook after his terrible error of judgement let Newcastle into the game. The reaction of the players, the crowd and the fact that the referee gave a corner after Rio Ferdinand’s exemplary tackle surely must have set alarm bells ringing in Mr Flynn’s head.
I’m all for linesmen helping out referees but that’s the second Barclays Premier League game in a row at OT in which an assistant has erroneously given a penalty against the Reds. Thankfully the decision was overturned in the Sunderland game and the referee should have backed his own judgement on Saturday but he caved in to his assistant. The ref had much the better view and it surely told the officials something when Demba Ba who was five yards from the incident didn’t even bother to appeal for a penalty. It really was a shocker. And when Chicharito was denied by a marginal offside decision in the closing moments you just knew it wasn’t going to be United’s day.
The best part of the day for me actually took place on the TV gantry before the game. Alan Shearer was up there watching the action after taking the short walk from the BBC's Match of the Day studio at Media City. My MUTV co-commentator Paddy Crerand spotted him and went over to him in a flash to berate him (in a friendly way) for not joining