Steve Bruce’s advice for Harry Maguire was to play his way out of this troubled period. Be a man and front up, said his old Hull boss.
Well, the Manchester United captain listened. And that, ultimately, was to Newcastle and Bruce’s expense.
Maguire’s response to a week of scrutiny in which he was sent off for England was to pull his side level with a clever first-half header, cancelling out Newcastle’s 2nd-minute opener.
Harry Maguire scored to put a tough week to bed to give Man Untied a 4-1 win at Newcastle
The United captain headed in a first-half equaliser to guide the Red Devils to victory
He then twice came close to scoring a winning goal before Bruno Fernandes belatedly fired the visitors in front four minutes from time. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford smashed a third and fourth in stoppage-time.
Fernandes’ classy finish after a sharp exchange with the outstanding Rashford atoned for his earlier penalty miss, his first in 11 attempts for United.
But had Maguire netted the winning goal then it would have been entirely deserved for a showing of character and resilience after a torrid few days.
Bruno Fernandes also shone as Manchester United dominated the game at St James’ Park
His inclusion was only confirmed a little over an hour before kick-off when the skipper appeared on the touchline for the customary meet with the match officials.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had given himself an out by claiming that Maguire returned from England with a ‘knock’. A knock to his confidence, perhaps.
But his selection was a show of faith, for never mind the turbulence of his international escapades, Maguire could have been axed for his shambolic showing in the 6-1 home defeat by Spurs a fortnight ago.
Solskjaer’s response to that humiliation was to make five changes. Even if he had made just one, logic told you it would be Donny Van de Beek who came in.
Maguire (left) has been in poor form for both club and country over the past few weeks
Not so, and the £35million summer signing remained among the substitutes, much to the indignation of supporters.
Either Solskjaer enjoys his company in the dugout or he does not yet trust the Dutch midfielder, for every time he has emerged from the bench this season he has looked bright and busy, at least he has to everyone but his manager.
The Norwegian also dropped Paul Pogba just 24 hours after the club triggered a one-year extension on his contract.
That, though, was plainly a move by the hierarchy to protect his value and prevent him leaving on a free next summer. For on the pitch Pogba is doing little to warrant contractual reward.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to ace Paul Pogba (above) from the starting line-up
And so it was that Solskjaer paired Fred and Scott McTominay in the centre of his midfield – the duo who were bossed by the rookie Longstaff brothers in this fixture last season, a 1-0 loss.
This team-sheet smacked of the boss picking the players he believes he can trust. And that said little for those he left out when, after just 102 seconds, United fell behind.
Mercifully for Maguire, he was not among those to whom you could attach blame. But that list did include the usual suspects. Namely Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and David de Gea.
Lindelof was turned by Callum Wilson with an alarming ease and Newcastle worked the ball wide to Emil Krafth, the Sweden right-back who has scored one goal in five years.
Krafth delivered low and duly took the congratulation of his team-mates when the ball wound up in the back of the net.
United began terribly as Emil Krafth (left)’s cross was diverted into his net by Luke Shaw (right)
However, his tally for the past half decade remains at one, for this goal belonged to Shaw, whose unconvincing attempt to block the cross caused the ball to bounce off his out-stretched boot and sail between De Gea and his near post.
The goalkeeper did his best impression of wrong-footed, but it looked more a case of flat-footed on replay.
The concession could have marked the onset of another United collapse, but Newcastle are not Tottenham. Instead, the hosts retreated.
Marcus Rashford took it upon himself to drag his side back into the contest and twice he saw goal-bound blasts blocked inside the six-yard area.
Despite the early setback, United controlled the game with Marcus Rashford (right) impressing
Bruno Fernandes did find the top corner on 19 minutes but a subsequent VAR review revealed Juan Mata was offside in the build-up. It was the correct call.
It was a let-off for Bruce’s side but their reprieve would last only four minutes and Maguire thundered in what was a deserved equaliser from Mata’s corner.
United should have led entering the break but Jamaal Lascelles again denied the brilliant Rashford, the home skipper clearing from the line on 37 minutes.
And it was the turn of Darlow to thwart the England forward on the stroke of half-time when smuggling a low fizzer around the upright.
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow (right) pulled off some super stops to deny the visitors
While that was a fine stop it did not compare to the goal-line claw of De Gea early in the second half.
Allan Saint-Maximin dug out a cross from the left and Wilson extended a toe to turn on target from barely three yards out. Goal, or so you assumed. De Gea, though, somehow scooped clear.
Not to be outdone Darlow then produced his flying stop from Fernandes’ penalty on 58 minutes after Jamal Lewis had connected with Rashford inside the area, a spot-kick only awarded after a VAR review.
David De Gea (middle) pulled off a fine stop to stop Callum Wilsom giving the Toon the lead
United won a penalty in the second-half but Karl Darlow was equal to Bruno Fernandes’ effort
From the resulting corner Maguire headed for the bottom corner – again – only for Shelvey to hack clear.
He then took aim for the same spot with a low drive from distance and was unlucky when it licked the base of the post.
Fernandes made amends on 86 minutes to put United in front on the counter attack
Aaron Wan-Bissaka made it 3-1 to Manchester United as the clock hit the 90-minute mark
Rashford (left) added gloss to the scoreline by netting a fourth with the last kick of the game
Relive the action by looking at Sportsmail’s SAM BLITZ live minute-by-minute blog from the game at St James’ Park.