EPL: Manchester United left to rue striking deficiency
Star striker Wayne Rooney’s goal drought stretches to 10 games as Red Devils are held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle United at home
Manchester: Manchester United's early-season goal-scoring problems resurfaced in a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United on Saturday that left them with just two goals from their opening three Premier League games.
Man United's Wayne Rooney (right) reacts after speaking to referee Craig Pawson during their EPL clash against Newcastle United. Pic/AFP
The result comes after a week in which they failed to land Barcelona forward Pedro, instead seeing him being snapped up by rivals Chelsea.
The spotlight will inevitably fall on England centre-forward Wayne Rooney, who has now gone 10 games without a goal for his club and was once again operating as the only striker in manager Louis van Gaal's formation.
The attacking shortcomings were plastered over in the 3-1 Champions League play-off defeat of Club Brugge in mid-week, only for former assistant Steve McClaren to frustrate his old employers on his return to Old Trafford as Newcastle manager.
United had to wait until the 80th minute to truly test Tim Krul as substitute Javier Hernandez latched onto a deflected Juan Mata shot, only for the Newcastle goalkeeper to jut out a leg and produce a breathtaking stop.
The game burst into life in injury time, with Chris Smalling heading against the post for the hosts, Newcastle debutant Florian Thauvin almost toeing in a low cross and United substitute Michael Carrick shooting just wide.
The home team had started the contest at an electrifying pace, with the visitors immediately on the back foot, and Rooney saw an early effort chalked off for a marginal offside.
But it helped Newcastle that the final pass was often lacking from the home side or, when shooting opportunities presented themselves, they resulted all too often in routine shots directly at Krul.
Memphis Depay, Rooney and Mata, from a promising free-kick outside the area, were all guilty of that in the opening exchanges.