Mourinho's men, however, got back into the game with 20 minutes left when, after Anthony Martial was tripped on the edge of the box, Mata planted a magnificent free-kick past the Newcastle wall and into the corner of the net.
Mourinho, too, has hope and belief that has been absent in recent weeks, even if he claims there is a media "man hunt" against him.
"At halftime we had a good conversation". "They were not ready for this level of pressure that the manhunting is bringing".
"I am very happy for the team, for us, but especially for the fans because they don't deserve everything that is going on, so they deserve to see a team like today". "We have problems and if you want to hide it, I am not the one to hide it", admitted Mourinho.
The Sunday Mirror believe that his exit remains more a matter of when than if, as United have been in contact with Zinedine Zidane to ask him to turn down any offers of employment elsewhere, as they decide what to do with Mourinho.
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The Theatre of Dreams reverberated to the sound of boos at half-time and although United showed some steel to shatter Newcastle's own fantasy of three points, it couldn't mask another worrying display from a side that look shorn of confidence.
"As a team, we did so well", said Benitez.
It came 11 days after the United boss admitted he "knew we were in trouble" when Bailly and Phil Jones were next up in the penalty shootout against Derby.
"Yet, for whatever reason, Mourinho wasn't allowed to replace them in the summer and there is clearly a huge issue between him and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward".
"First half was hard, but after the half-time rest we came back with everything and definitely that first half helped".
Following early strikes from Magpies duo Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto, United went in to the break two goals down and with large sections of the crowd against them. Probably not. Four of the next six games are against City, Chelsea and Juventus twice, so the issue of Mourinho's future will remain firmly on the table.