Newcastle United’s gameplan to frustrate and contain Manchester United was working and it looked like Steve Bruce’s side were going to get through the first 45 minutes unscathed, up until Freddie Woodman made a costly error.
The 24-year-old goalkeeper failed to cleanly collect a slightly deflected Mason Greenwood strike which meant Cristiano Ronaldo tapped home his first goal back at Old Trafford right on the stroke of half-time.
Karl Darlow was watching on as a substitute for the first time since recovering from coronavirus.
He was probably wondering he would have done better had he been selected.
Bruce might now be tempted to reinstate Darlow ahead of Friday night’s home clash against Leeds United following Woodman’s mistake.
Is now the time for Darlow to return?
Following Saturday’s game, Woodman hasn’t shirked responsibility for his error – he has accepted it, held his hands up and vowed to learn from it.
But is now the time for Bruce to take Woodman, who has conceded the most goals in the Premier League so far this season (BBC Sport), out of the firing line?
Like Woodman, Darlow’s last appearance in a Newcastle shirt came away at Manchester United where the Welshman was on the receiving end of a 3-1 loss, but that was seven months ago.
With Martin Dubravka still injured having not featured since Euro 2020, Bruce needs to either stick by Woodman or reinstate Darlow. He cannot afford to chop and change and unsettle his side further.
Darlow probably has the edge
With Newcastle’s poor form showing no signs of easing, Bruce doesn’t have the luxury of giving player’s time to prove themselves.
Darlow is the more experienced keeper and his presence might help the players in front of him to feel more confident and assured.
Woodman would have every right to feel hard done by if he was dropped, but as he said himself that’s the ‘life of a goalkeeper’, the question is will he be given the chance to learn.