Allow us to provide a quick round-up of Manchester United’s weekend…
1: REMEMBERING LIAM MILLER
The club was extremely saddened to learn of the tragic death of Liam Miller on Saturday morning and, in tribute, the first-team squad wore black armbands against Newcastle United on Sunday.
Sir Alex Ferguson led the tributes to the Irish midfielder, telling us:
“I am very sad to hear that Liam has died. On behalf of all my staff who worked with him, we send our deepest sympathy to his family.
Michael Carrick also tweeted:
“Terribly sad to hear the news of Liam Miller passing away. Liam was at Utd when I first signed. Same age as me. So very sad. Thoughts & prayers with his friends & family.”
We can confirm that the Old Trafford flags are flying at half-mast today, in recognition of Miller's funeral taking place.
That was unfortunately the score in Sunday’s Premier League match at St James’ Park, where Matt Ritchie scored a decisive goal on 65 minutes that lifted the Magpies out of the relegation zone. The Reds missed a string of chances and debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was annoyingly excellent in the home goal, denying Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick.
Video: Newcastle 1 United 0Video
3: PROFILGACY AND GOOD GOALKEEPING
Jose Mourinho praised Newcastle after the final whistle and admitted his team simply could not score in the north east, telling Match of the Day:
“My verdict is we could've been here for 10 hours and not scored a goal. Newcastle played with their lives and defended with their lives.”
Rafael Benitez also acknowledged his goalkeeper, Dubravka, had a storming game.
“He can buy the lottery and win today,” the Spanish manager said.
“He was composed and that gave confidence to the team. All the players worked hard, so it is not fair to say just the goalkeeper played well.”
4: THE IMPACT ON THE TABLE
United are still second, but leaders Manchester City now hold a 16-point lead and Pep Guardiola's team can mathematically win the title with a victory in the derby at the Etihad Stadium on 7 April. Meanwhile, Liverpool are now two points behind us in third following their win at Southampton.
Mourinho's match verdictVideo
Ander and Marcus missed the match at Newcastle due to small muscular injuries that Mourinho does not believe are serious.
“I don't think so, but let's wait a little bit,”he said.
“When it's little tweaks in muscles you never know until you know for sure, but it's not possible for them to play.”
The Academy League North leaders slipped to a rare defeat as Mace Goodridge snatched a win for Newcastle in injury time. Tahith Chong had a penalty saved, after he had earlier scored for the Reds to cancel out Elias Sorensen's opener.
7: LOAN STARS IMPRESS
Sam Johnstone kept a clean sheet for temporary club Aston Villa as they beat local rivals Birmingham City on an emotional day for manager Steve Bruce, who sadly lost his father earlier in the week. Axel Tuanzebe was an unused substitute at Villa Park, where John Terry and James Chester started at centre-back.
Demetri Mitchell scored as Hearts secured a 3-0 Scottish FA Cup success over St Johnstone, for whom Matty Willock played for 61 minutes. Tim Fosu-Mensah started for Crystal Palace again but could not prevent a 3-1 win at Everton. James Wilson was an unused substitute in Sheffield United's 2-1 win over Leeds, while Andreas Pereira and Charlie Scott did not have fixtures with Valencia and Hamilton.
Our next match is Saturday's Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Huddersfield, who brought their five-match losing streak in the Premier League to an end with an emphatic 4-1 home win over Bournemouth. David Wagner remarked:
“We said before the game that this is massive for us and that after losing at Old Trafford we had the difficult fixtures behind us. It was one of the performances of the season.”