Harry Maguire has warned Manchester United their need to be more aggressive if they are to achieve their ambitions for the season.
Erik ten Hag’s men slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday evening – their third successive loss in all competitions against the Magpies – and were decidedly second-best until they very nearly snatched a point they really did not deserve amid a late rally.
England defender Maguire, who was one of their better players on the night, admitted as much in the wake of a disappointing display and called for a reaction against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
He told the club’s official website: “We know we’ve got to do better, we’ve got to play better, the team’s got to perform better.
“We’ve got to play with a lot more intensity and tempo. We’ve got to win more duels – I feel that in the first half, we lost far too many duels. Every 50-50, we got beat in.
“We’ve got to be aggressive, we’ve got to play on the front foot, we’ve got to play at a big tempo and we just didn’t do that well enough tonight.”
Anthony Gordon’s 55th-minute strike ultimately settled the game at St James’ Park, although Kieran Trippier had earlier hit the crossbar with a fine free-kick.
The visitors thought they had snatched a draw at the death when substitute Antony’s shot was unwittingly deflected into the Magpies’ net by Maguire, but he was in an offside position and the flag went up swiftly to dash their hopes.
Maguire, who played in both last weekend’s 3-0 win at Everton and the 3-3 Champions League draw at Galatasaray, said: “The boys are disappointed. I don’t think we played to our level.
“It’s been a tough week – three away games in six days – but we don’t use that as an excuse. We didn’t play well enough, especially in the first half.
“We grew into the game in the second half and maybe could have got the point. We put a lot of pressure on them in the last 10 or 15 minutes but it wasn’t enough and, in the end, you’ve got to say Newcastle deserved it.
“We allowed them to get into our box far too easily, so it’s something that we need to work on – all of us as a team.”