Man United slumps to 1-0 loss to Newcastle

Manchester United slumped to back-to-back home defeats in the

Premier League for the first time in 11 years by losing 1-0 to

Newcastle on Saturday, deepening the troubles facing the champions

in David Moyes’ first season in charge.

Yohan Cabaye’s 61st-minute goal earned Newcastle its first win

at Old Trafford since 1972 and ensured United has picked up just

two points from its last four games to slip way off the pace in its

title defense.

Without the suspended Wayne Rooney, United lacked inspiration

and creativity in another lackluster performance that will severely

test the patience of fans who are intent on giving Moyes time after

replacing Alex Ferguson in the offseason.

”They understand there’s a big transition going on here,”

Moyes said. ”I don’t think they or me expected us to have lost

five games by this time of the season, but I think they understand

there is a change going on.”

After Wednesday’s 1-0 home loss to Everton, Moyes’ former club,

United slumped to ninth place in the standings – 12 points behind

leader Arsenal – with its title defense already appearing in

tatters. Moyes’ side could be even further adrift come Sunday night

after Arsenal hosts Everton.

Fears are even growing that a top-four spot, and therefore

Champions League qualification, may be difficult to secure and this

setback will hardly convince supporters that the immediate future

is bright.

”Because we are Manchester United, we have to be better,”

Moyes said. ”Play better, pass it better, create more

chances.”

Dissent festered throughout Old Trafford as United labored,

often resorting to long, hopeful balls forward. Robin van Persie –

back after a month out with groin and toe problems – lacked

sharpness, although he had a goal disallowed in the 73rd minute for

offside, and Rooney’s absence was keenly felt.

Newcastle deserved its win, though. Its ball retention was far

superior to the champions and its defense, which often has been

suspect this season, stood firm as a late rally from United after

Cabaye’s goal failed to materialize.

”We won’t get the headlines because for poor old David, it’s a

disappointing result for them. But we deserve the headlines,” said

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, whose side has also beaten Chelsea

and Tottenham this season.

Newcastle came into the game off a sobering 3-0 defeat at

Swansea, which ended its four-match winning run, but grew in

confidence as the match wore on and almost took the lead late in

the first half when right back Mathieu Debuchy nipped in behind

Patrice Evra and had a low shot saved by David de Gea.

Tom Cleverley had spurned an early opening for United, stabbing

a weak shot at Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul, but the hosts looked

flustered and passes were misplaced with alarming regularity. One

from Van Persie toward Adnan Januzaj went straight into touch and

the groans from the crowd were audible.

Moyes stood in his technical area with his hands in his pockets

for much of the first half but he was almost jumping in celebration

in the 52nd when Javier Hernandez, filling in for Rooney, ran onto

Van Persie’s pass and drew a smart save from Krul.

The crowd found its voice and United responded, with Evra

heading goalward from a corner only for the ball to hit the post

and rebound onto the arm of Vurnon Anita. No penalty was given,

though.

Newcastle was coming under pressure but broke out to take the

lead in the 61st when Evra’s poor header set Moussa Sissoko free

down the right and he crossed for fellow Frenchman Cabaye to

sidefoot a finish into the bottom corner.

Van Persie had a header ruled out, but Newcastle saw the victory

out with surprising ease, sparking a smattering of jeers and boos

from United fans.

”The best thing the club can do is stick by him in these

difficult days,” Pardew said.