Louis van Gaal has now been managing Manchester United for over a year.
In that time he has made an almost compete overhaul of the squad.
And, with the composed and technically astute signings that he has made, there is now clearly a greater measure of ‘control’ in this Manchester United team.
They keep the ball very well and the possession stats have rarely been higher for Manchester United.
But the problem remains that they aren’t doing enough with the possession that they have.
As with the David Moyes era, Manchester United players are opting to go backwards more often than not. The tactic seems to be that you can’t score when you don’t have possession so, rather than make a risky forwards pass, United players are instructed to pass backwards and build again.
But does this work in The Premier League?
Certainly Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams weren’t that concerned with the amount of possession they had but the speed at which they got forward when they did have the ball.
Indeed, it could often be seen as an advantage to let the opposition have the ball and then hit them on the break.
Manchester United are more defensively solid under Louis. But, after a year at the club we are beginning to wonder whether his style of management actually suits this team or this league.
Because, far all Manchester United’s pressure against Newcastle – they had the opponent pinned in their own half for most of the second 45 – The Toon Army weren’t particularly troubled by United.
The Newcastle players always had time to get back into position and they never really looked at sixes and sevens.
United failed to get behind the defence regularly and we can’t remember one decent counter attack in the whole game.
This tactic of zig-zagging the ball in a pedestrian fashion up to the opposition penalty area just isn’t paying dividends right now.
What is needed is a faster pass forward. A more direct style of play.
Because Manchester United’s best way of scoring right now seems to be boring the opposition to sleep.
The performance certainly didn’t please Manchester United legend Paul Scholes who said:
‘He said “fantastic” a few times. I didn’t really think there was anything fantastic about it at all,’ Scholes said on BT Sport. ‘You are at home to Newcastle, you are expected to win the game. The visiting keeper has one save to make. Fantastic? No, not for me.’