By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Alan Pardew bemoaned a disappointing opening spell as Newcastle suffered a 3-0 home defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.
The visitors raced into a two-goal lead early on thanks to defenders Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra, and having a mountain to climb, Newcastle struggled to get bck into the contest after that, despite plenty of possession.
Tom Cleverley added a long-range third for the Red Devils midway through the second half, and Pardew was left to reflect on the uncharacteristic nature of the goals his side conceded.
"As much as we wanted to try and force the issue at the start of this game, Manchester United had a golden period at the start of the game," the Magpies' manager told nufcTV.
"In that first ten minutes we couldn't get near them. We were trying to put pressure on the ball and they were just bouncing it around us.
"But at the end of the day it's not a bit of magic, it's two set plays - something we pride ourselves on and something we are good at.
"Those are the first goals we have conceded from set plays this year, and that's disappointing.
"They got another break because the guy (Cleverley) puts a cross in - there's no doubt about that - and it goes right in the top corner, and suddenly it's game over.
"It's a disappointing result but there were periods in the game where I thought we did well."
One of those encouraging periods for Newcastle saw Papiss Cisse think he had scored a close-range header, only for referee Howard Webb to rule that goalkeeper David De Gea had stopped it crossing the line.
"It's so close to call. I've looked at it about seven times and I still can't make out whether it went in or didn't," said Pardew.
"(If it's a goal) you've got a different scenario then and the stadium would have gone mad. Suddenly we would have had great pressure and they would have got a bit nervous.
"Unfortunately it didn't go in, and when they got that third goal they were on cruise control then."