Carrick: Title is in our hands
Michael Carrick has reminded his Manchester United team-mates that a 19th League title remains in their hands despite a disappointing night on Tyneside.
The leaders emerged from a tough 90 minutes at St James’ Park on Tuesday having to make do with a point from a hard-fought 0-0 draw despite creating enough chances to have won the game and extend their lead over second-placed Arsenal to nine points in the Barclays Premier League table.
However, a seven-point advantage ahead of the Gunners’ derby trip to Tottenham tonight is more than healthy, and with a showdown at the Emirates Stadium and Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford to come, they remain the masters of their own destiny.
Carrick said: "We are still in a good position. We have got tough games ahead, but they [Arsenal and Chelsea] have got tough games too.
"We don’t want to be looking at results too much, we want to be winning games ourselves.
"We just roll on. This is what we want to be doing, playing in the big games coming thick and fast."
United resume their bid for glory at home to Everton on Saturday, while the Gunners head for the north west the following day to face a Bolton side no doubt desperate to bounce back from their FA Cup semi-final mauling at the hands of Stoke.
The Red Devils, of course, also missed out on a return trip to Wembley at the weekend, although the fact that their treble hopes were wrecked by great rivals Manchester City simply increased the misery.
In the circumstances, the trip to St James’ to meet a side which has not beaten them since September 2001 seemed the ideal opportunity to pick up three points.
Sir Alex Ferguson was without central defender Rio Ferdinand and striker Dimitar Berbatov, who was taken ill before kick-off, as well as the suspended Paul Scholes, and made a total of five changes.
But that simply meant returns for the likes of Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, who were all to play central roles in a game which kept a crowd of 49,025 on their toes throughout.
The Mexican might have scored with less than two minutes on the clock when he connected with Rooney’s inviting low cross in front of goal, but was denied at point-blank range by stand-in keeper Tim Krul.
However, Newcastle’s response was concerted and it was they who largely held sway for the remainder of the opening 20 minutes.
Krul made an even better save from Rooney and Hernandez saw a shot blocked by Jose Enrique on the stroke of half-time as United gained the upper hand, and they were to maintain it for much of the second half.
Nani and Rooney both only just missed the target from distance, and Giggs fired narrowly wide when presented with a glorious opportunity to win the game from Patrice Evra’s 69th-minute cross.
With just seconds remaining Hernandez went down in the box under Danny Simpson’s challenge and referee Lee Probert, who had earlier waved away appeals for a penalty for Anderson’s clumsy attempt to dispossess Peter Lovenkrands, blew his whistle.
But to the Mexican’s horror and the relief of the bulk of the crowd, he produced a yellow card for diving.
Carrick said: "You can see it on the telly, there is contact.
"It’s disappointing when you don’t get them because we thought it was another late goal for us, but you just have to deal with it and move on.
"It’s not the end of the world at all, we are still in a good position. It’s not what we set out to do, but we move on.
"We need to bounce back with a big game on Saturday."
It proved an interesting evening for former Newcastle striker Michael Owen, who was roundly booed as he was introduced as an 80th-minute substitute and later responded to criticism of his spell on Tyneside via his Twitter page.