Newcastle 1-0 Man Utd: Anthony Gordon impresses in Magpies win

3 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Just over two hours after Gareth Southgate learned who England’s group-stage opponents will be at Euro 2024 next summer, what promises to be one of his major selection issues was put into sharp focus at St James’ Park.

Anthony Gordon didn’t just score the winner as tNewcastle beat Manchester United, in partnership with Tino Livramento he was also responsible for taking the visitors apart down the hosts’ left flank, a status that lasted most of the game.

It did not go unnoticed that one of the reasons for this was the difficulty Marcus Rashford was experiencing after being switched from his preferred left side to the right, to accommodate Alejandro Garnacho.

Going forward, Gordon was everything Rashford wasn’t – incisive, threatening and dangerous.

Going backwards, Rashford failed to track Livramento and was exposed trying. As former Newcastle forward Alan Shearer put it on Match of the Day: “He didn’t look at it and didn’t look interested.”

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag didn’t want to get into the details around Rashford’s collapse in form. Opposite number Eddie Howe skirted around the whole England issue.

But it exists. Summarising the game for TNT Sports, Jermaine Jenas underlined the issue.

“Gareth Southgate has to give some serious consideration to selecting Anthony Gordon,” he said.

“We know he is loyal to players he has selected before, but compared to Marcus Rashford, his [Gordon’s] work-rate is far superior at the moment. You cannot ignore what Gordon is doing.”

Newcastle's Anthony GordonAnthony Gordon has made 36 appearances for Newcastle since joining in January

Ten Hag will talk to Rashford about form – not the media

Last season, Rashford scored 30 goals. In the post-World Cup period in particular, he was lethal. This term, he has scored twice, against Arsenal at the beginning of September and a penalty last week at Everton.

When asked about Rashford’s form by TNT Sports, Ten Hag’s reply was cryptic.

“I talk with him about that, not the media,” said the Dutchman.

Pressed further in his post-match press conference, Ten Hag was slightly more expansive, although it was in defence of a player for whom the underlying acceptance is that he is way below the standards he is capable of.

“I know this issue is coming up,” he said. “Marcus is investing a lot. We support him and he will return to his form. He will recover and he gets all our support.”

It is March before Southgate has to pick another squad and evidently form can turn around quite quickly.

However, it is impossible not to compare Rashford’s contribution with that of Gordon, who has now scored in four successive home Premier League games and added the name of Manchester United to that of Arsenal and Liverpool as proof of his impact against the biggest teams.

“He is playing at a very high level and has been all season,” said Howe. “Now he is getting the goals and you need headlines if you are to force your way into the England squad with the competition there is.”

Gordon has ‘burning motivation to be the best’

Gordon wasn’t an instant success after arriving at St James’ Park from Everton in January.

Indeed, until the last day of the season, when he scored against Chelsea, many wondered whether his end product would prove to be worth the £45m Howe committed on the 22-year-old, who is attracting admiring glances from the Scottish FA.

“You sign players because you like their ability,” said Howe. “When you bring them into the group, there is always a period where you have to earn their trust and them you.

“There was no stage where I didn’t trust him. He just had to learn how we did things.”

That process is complete, with Howe believing there is more to come from a player who has shown a pleasing attitude towards self-improvement.

“There is a lot more to come but I would say that,” added Howe.

“Anthony has a desire to get better every day. Sometimes we have to take him off the training pitch when we feel he has done enough.

“He has this burning motivation to be the best. We are loving working with him.

“There is an openness and inquisitiveness. He wants to ask questions, start dialogue and debate his game. That is great from our perspective.”

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