Steve Bruce got this wrong in Newcastle United's defeat to Manchester United

Steve Bruce thought he had done the right thing by giving his players Christmas Day off.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 7:22 pm

Unfortunately, there was a Boxing Day hangover for Newcastle United, who were this evening beaten 4-1 at Old Trafford.

Matty Longstaff, recalled to the starting XI to play the team he scored against on his Premier League debut, gave Bruce’s side the lead.

But two errors from Fabian Schar, and mistakes from Martin Dubravka and Sean Longstaff, gifted Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side four goals.

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Bruce made four changes with Saturday’s home game against Everton in mind. The Longstaff brothers returned to the starting XI along with Jetro Willems and Dwight Gayle.

Gayle started up front with Joelinton, and this move, against a team of their quality, was bold. It just didn’t work. It left Newcastle were too open in midfield, and Bruce should think long and hard before playing two up front again given that this team has long been at its best with a single striker.

That said, things started well. The away fans were loud – and proud – as Gayle and Miguel Almiron put early chances over the bar.

And they got louder in the 17th minute after Matty Longstaff put their team ahead. The midfielder played the ball to Joelinton in the box with a looping pass and called for the ball back in space. Longstaff took a touch before beating David De Gea with a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

Matty Longstaff celebrates his goal.
Matty Longstaff celebrates his goal.

Newcastle’s lead, unfortunately, didn’t last. Dubravka could only get a hand to a near-post shot from Anthony Martial as he went into the net.

Things unravelled further later in the half, as a careless pass from Schar led to a 35th-minute goal from Mason Greenwood. Schar also beaten in the air for the home side’s third goal, a header from Marcus Rashford.

Paul Pogba replaced Scott McTominay, fortunate not to get a second yellow for a foul on Almiron, after the break.

And another individual error, this time from Sean Longstaff, led to a fourth goal. Longstaff’s poorly-judged backpass played in Rashford, who lifted the ball over Dubravka.

Newcastle must do better against Everton. If they win, this error-strewn performance will be all but forgotten.