Bookies slashed odds on David Moyes getting fired as Manchester United were condemned to back-to-back home Premier League defeats for the first time in 11 years, with Yohan Cabaye's goal giving Newcastle a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
Having lost to Everton at home for the first time since 1992 in midweek, it was the turn of Newcastle to snap a long winless streak as they took three points from United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972.
That second appalling result in the space of a few days prompted bookmakers to cut Moyes's odds on being manager on January 1st to just 4-1, with legendary retired manager Alex Ferguson quoted at just 11-2 to fill in as manager at some point this season. Moyes is also listed at just 5-2 to be sacked before the end of the season.
Moyes had hoped for a response after a defeat to his former employers but United, bar the bright Adnan Januzaj, were disjoined in attack and limited to half chances from Tom Cleverley and a cynical piece of simulation from Javier Hernandez in the first half.
Newcastle, reinforced with a three-man midfield, were disciplined and restrained but Mathieu Debuchy twice got the best of international team-mate Patrice Evra in first-half injury time to test David De Gea with a firm drive and a header.
Evra hit the post with a header on 54 minutes as United began to take charge of the contest but then, on 61 minutes, Newcastle took a surprise lead when Moussa Sissoko squared for Cabaye and the midfielder’s shot took a deflection off Nemanja Vidic to nestle in the corner.
Another damaging defeat leaves United struggling badly in ninth place, and Arsenal’s 12-point advantage could become 15 by the end of the weekend.
PRE-MATCH: Wayne Rooney was absent for Manchester United as he was suspended but the in-form Phil Jones returned to the midfield alongside the rather less in-form Tom Cleverley. Robin van Persie was also in the starting XI, despite fears over his fitness and rumours, from Mark Lawrenson of all people, that he handed in a transfer request on Tuesday.
42’ – PENALTY? A moment of semi-controversy as Hernandez appears to go down after Coloccini throws out a wafty leg in the box. The ref remains unmoved and replays show Coloccini moved his leg away. It was a very cynical dive. How was Hernandez not booked?
45+1’ - CHANCE FOR NEWCASTLE: Debuchy nips in behind Evra to collect a diagonal ball and smashes the ball at De Gea from a tight angle as the keeper bats it away.
45+2’ – DEBUCHY THREATENS AGAIN: Now the right-back gets to a cross ahead of Evra, again, and forces De Gea into a save with a decent header.
51’ – HERNANDEZ GOES CLOSE! Van Persie picks out Hernandez with an absolutely stunning diagonal ball. The Mexican pulls it down, takes a touch and sees his drilled effort saved by Krul.
54’ - EVRA HITS THE POST: The left-back gets his head to a cross and his angled effort comes off the woodwork before apparently striking the arm of Anita, who was guarding the post! No penalty and the home players aren’t happy.
61’ - GOAL! Man Utd 0-1 Newcastle: Oh dearie me, just when they looked to be dominating… It’s Cabaye who slots home with the help of a deflected. Sissoko beat Evra to the ball on the left before squaring for his team-mate.
72’ - GOAL DISALLOWED: Van Persie has the ball in the back of the net with a header but he is rightly ruled offside when collecting a flick-on from Jonny Evans from a free-kick.
Manchester United had not lost back-to-back PL home matches since March-May 2002, when they lost 1-0 to both Arsenal and Middlesbrough.
Alan Pardew celebrated his third anniversary as Newcastle boss. He is the second longest serving manager in the Premier League after Arsene Wenger (17 yrs).
Manchester United hit the woodwork for the seventh time in the Premier League this season – only Liverpool (eight) have done so on more occasions this term.
Manchester United have won just 11 points from their opening eight top-flight home matches this season – their lowest top-flight total for home points at this stage since 1976/77, when they won just nine points from their first eight home matches.
TALKING POINT: What other records will Moyes break? Visiting teams are now enjoying ending their long winless streaks at what used to be fortress Old Trafford – but what other tricks does Moyes have up his sleeve? United’s lowest ever Premier League finish? It’s currently third, so almost certainly. Lowest points tally? Nailed on. Worst managerial reign at Old Trafford? Well, you can’t quantify something like that precisely, but unless something changes fast it could well end up that way.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United): This was a triumph of the team rather than the individual with both centre-backs and the two central midfielders playing crucial roles. However, Coloccini was marginally the pick of the bunch though, leading with authority and defending stoutly.
Man Utd: De Gea 6, Rafael 6, Evans 5, Vidic 6, Evra 5, Nani 5, Jones 5, Cleverley 4, Januzaj 7, Hernandez 5, Van Persie 5. Subs: Zaha 5, Anderson 5, Valencia 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET