Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is surprised by Newcastle United's slide this season.

As far as Ferguson is concerned, the root cause of Newcastle's problems is not difficult to locate.

Ferguson said: "The new players they brought in last season caught us all by surprise. We didn't really know a lot about them.

"I knew about Ba, of course, but I didn't know anything about Cabaye or Cisse to be honest with you.

"They had fantastic seasons. Second time round, clubs are starting to analyse them a bit different, plus, more importantly, he's had some injuries.

"Cabaye's out till next year, Tiote is out to next year, he's had one or two important players injured, and that does make a difference when you've not got a squad as strong as the likes of ourselves or City or Chelsea.

"I'm not entirely surprised, although I am surprised they are so low down the table."