Alexis Sanchez celebrating after scoring a goal (Photo Credit: Manchester Evening News)
By Alfonso Ogili
It was all about cheers and jubilation by the management and supporters of Manchester United football club of England all around the world following her 3 – 2 home win against Newcastle on Saturday. United’s management and fans are very much overwhelmed by the home victory following series of defeats of the club in recent matches.
It was indeed a celebration galore as Manchester United fought back from two down to beat Newcastle, averting a defeat that would have cranked up the pressure on club manager Jose Mourinho.
Pressure on Jose Mourinho had intensified after four games without a win in all competitions, although the club had dismissed reports he would be sacked regardless of Saturday’s result.
The hosts conceded twice in a lackluster first 10 minutes, with Kenedy and Muto breezing in to score. However, United briefly roused themselves with Marcus Rashford heading wide from five yards, but also needed David de Gea’s excellence to deny Muto his second and a potentially decisive third for the Magpies.
The hosts departed at the break to jeers – some of which were aimed at the club’s owner and executives, rather than the manager. But by the final whistle, it was the name of Mourinho that rang around Old Trafford.
According to Juan Mata, Manchester United fans do not “deserve everything that is going on” and hopes the last-gasp comeback win against Newcastle gives the team a mental lift.
Alexis Sanchez came off the bench to save his side’s blushes and secure a 3-2 win against Rafael Benitez’s embattled Magpies, who had held a two-goal half-time lead through early Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto efforts.
A pathetic first half made manager Jose Mourinho’s position look more perilous than ever, despite senior United figures denying a report in the build-up that the Portuguese’s job was in immediate danger.
But just as the Old Trafford giants – and perhaps their manager – began to stare down the barrel, substitute Mata swept in a free-kick that Anthony Martial smartly added to as the hosts made it 2-2 with 14 minutes to go.
It led to a grandstand finish and Sanchez headed home in the 90th minute to end a four-game winless run and give the club a shot in the arm at a time when background backbiting was compounding poor performances.
“It was special,” attacking midfielder Mata said. “We were losing 2-0, they created even more chances to score more goals and our confidence levels were low. We needed to change something and when you have nothing to lose you just throw yourself blindly.
“You push even more. We could not afford another defeat; we could not afford another disappointment, especially for the fans. I think they saw today we tried everything, and we came back and from the mental point of view it’s a very important three points”, he added.
Old Trafford was rocking in the second half as United fans stuck with their team and, on the whole, under-fire Mourinho.
“They pushed us,” Mata told MUTV. “They helped us to go more, to try more, to give this 50 minutes more and I’m very happy for them. I am very happy for the team, for us, but especially for the fans because they don’t deserve everything that is going on, so they deserve to see a team like today”.
“We felt that if we scored it was not impossible, especially at Old Trafford. If you score once you can score a few goals in some minutes; I’ve seen Manchester United doing that a lot of times over the years and today we did it”, he concluded.
Eric Bailly’s happiness at the win comes with a tinge of disappointment, though, after Mourinho replaced him with Mata after 19 minutes, meaning midfielder Scott McTominay fulfilled the role of a makeshift centre-back for the remainder of the half.
“Normally it happens if a team-mate is injured, but today we needed something,” Mata said of his early introduction. We needed to try to be more intense, to create a bit more and that is what we did. First half was difficult, but after the half-time rest we came back with everything and definitely that first half helped.”
While Mourinho’s Reds celebrated, second-bottom Newcastle let a first win of the season slip out of their grasp.
“We showed today that we have got some threat, certainly in the first half. We gave ourselves a chance and we’re disappointed not to have carried the performance out for 90 minutes,” he was quoted as saying by Press Association.