It started as a bit of an up and down campaign, but has accelerated predominantly downwards since mid-December with Steve Bruce’s Magpies on a run of two wins in 20 games in all competitions at present.
United currently sit just two points above third bottom Fulham, with a significantly worse goal difference, although they do have a game in hand on the Cottagers.
Here our writer Liam Kennedy has pored over the ratings from the opening 29 fixtures and averaged out the best and worst performers. To get a rating each player must have started at least five Premier League games, cup appearances or bench showings are not included – a rule which cuts out recently restored Martin Dubravka, Geordie duo Matty Longstaff and Andy Carroll (all four) and out of favour and out of form striker Dwight Gayle (two).
1. 22. Joelinton - 5.23 average (17 starts)
The big Brazilian has had a real mixed season with some better performances at times but very few goals or shots to show for it. Looks seriously lacking at Premier League level and it makes you wonder if he'd been bought for one tenth of the price whether he'd even be under first-team consideration.
Photo: MIKE HEWITT
2. 21. Emil Krafth - 5.25 (nine starts)
The Swede is another who looks nowhere near good enough to operate at Premier League level. Does not defend well enough, or offer anything going forward. With the Joelinton signing, Krafth should raise huge alarm bells at United re their transfer and scouting policy.
Photo: Stu Forster
3. 20. Jeff Hendrick - 5.41 (17 starts)
The Irishman has added little to nothing to United's already weak central midfield department since his free transfer arrival. Fans have been particularly critical of the former Burnley man given his skill for going missing for large chunks of games.
Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic
4. =18. Jonjo Shelvey - 5.42 (20 starts) & Joe Willock - 5.42 (seven starts)
It is no surprise to persistent under-performer Shelvey in the low-mark mix. Arsenal loan man Willock after a bright start has been ineffectual of late. This is two of the three players manager Steve Bruce is relying upon, week-in, week-out at the moment - and despite undoubted talent neither, for very different reasons, are having much of an impact. Inexperience of a relegation battle and entering a toxic environment could work as an excuse for Willock, Shelvey on the other hand...
Photo: Clive Rose