The champions were left frustrated at Old Trafford as Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle held the Reds to a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the season.
Having gone 0-1 down to Obafemi Martins’ 22nd-minute opener, the Reds responded instantly through Darren Fletcher. However, United were unable to make the most of large periods of dominance over the 90 minutes.
This is a fixture that has traditionally produced a glut of goals - 11 in two games for the Reds last season - but it wasn't to be the case on Sunday.
Several key players were missing so this is far from a disastrous start to the Reds’ title defence. And, but for some loose marking for Martins’ goal, United could easily have walked away with all three points. On the positive side, there was a highly promising first start for Fraizer Campbell up front alongside Wayne Rooney.
Sir Alex approached the game with his attacking options significantly curtailed. Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha are both out injured, while Nani is suspended for the first two games of the campaign. Rooney’s return from a virus eased the problem, but there was a further blow before kick-off when it was confirmed Carlos Tevez would miss the match after returning to Argentina following a family bereavement.
It presented 20-year-old Huddersfield-born striker Campbell with his first competitive start for the Reds.
Despite the enforced changes, it didn’t alter United's attacking approach. Campbell, for one, was intent on grasping his opportunity with both hands. He almost grabbed a seventh minute opener after a brilliant Rooney cross. The young striker’s powerful header was stopped, somewhat unsuspectingly, by goalkeeper Shay Given’s head.
The champions kept on knocking, but Given was repellent