Manchester United supporters hoping for the team to serve up an overdue festive feast of football were treated to a serving of the dregs of the leftovers.
Instead of innovation under Ralf Rangnick, the team looked more disjointed than ever with a performance which resembled an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer side from November.
If the performance in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle taught us anything, it is that the players should bear greater responsibility than before for their consistently turgid performances.
Looking at United’s woeful display, it is hard to narrow down the under performers, so we have picked out as many as five players who let the team down, and it really could have been a higher number.
Here is a look at the quintet of stars who failed to deliver post-festive cheer to expectant United fans…
Marcus Rashford’s night was summed up by a mis-kicked shot which went out embarrassingly for a goal kick in the second half.
Rashford’s performance was so bad that some fans on social media were comparing him to Dan James, with the Welshman lauded as a superior option.
It is now nine games in a row without a goal for Rashford, and in his last five matches he has managed only two shots on target.
Rashford was not helped by playing in a new role in which he was ill-suited for in the first half, playing behind both Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood.
But when he reverted to playing wide left in a changed 4-1-3-2 in the second half he continued to offer little, apart from one surging run, after which he shot when he should have passed.
It was a mini-miracle Rashford lasted all 90 minutes. His place should be in doubt for the next game.
Harry Maguire has been ruthlessly mocked at times for having the turning circle of a small ship, and while this seems like an exaggeration, it looked spot on for Newcastle’s goal.
Maguire was too slow to reach to Allan Saint-Maximin’s turn on the edge of the box and was unable to get anywhere close to closing him down or blocking his shot.
United expect better defending from the captain and this was a night where fans wanted to see positive signs a partnership may form with returning centre-back Raphael Varane.
Maguire failed to win a single tackle, make a single interception, or block a single shot against Newcastle, making only two clearances.
Cristiano Ronaldo has dragged United out of the mire on several occasions since re-signing, but this was not one of them.
This was one poor Ronaldo display which he was not able to gloss over with a late winner or a moment of brilliance.
Thankfully Edinson Cavani stepped up, and there will be games like this where Ronaldo is ineffective, he is 36 after all.
Ronaldo was a little too predictable in his movement, with and without the ball, and too easily frustrated when passes didn’t land at his feet. He had just two shots, with neither landing on target.
While Fred was the star of United’s first game under Ralf Rangnick three weeks ago, he was one of the fall guys from a woeful first half against Newcastle.
Fred was substituted off at half-time after completing just 78 per cent of his passes, with United far too generous in possession.
Rangnick explained how Fred’s substition was tactical rather than based on his individual display, with United wanting more attacking width.
But as the saying goes, ‘if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem’, and this applied to Fred’s 45 minutes at St James’ Park.
Bruno Fernandes was outstanding in Manchester United’s 4-1 win at Newcastle last season. This time he was anonymous by comparison.
Whether Fernandes is plainly out of form, or struggling to adapt to Ralf Rangnick’s system, or both, his place in the team is beginning to become a talking point.
Fernandes completed only 73 per cent of his passes and created only two chances, while failing to even attempt one shot at goal.
United are not making the best of Fernandes’ talents right now, and the star is a conundrum which Rangnick needs to solve.
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