Here we are once again, writing about another week in which things definitely didn’t look up for United. If anything, it seems even worse than last week, as at least the side hadn’t played badly at home to West Ham.
This Saturday it was the turn of one of the promoted clubs, Bournemouth at Dean Court.
It wouldn’t be an easy game as The Cherries had beaten Chelsea the week before, while United were not in the best of forms (to put it mildly).
We were duly worried when the line-ups were announced as there were three very young inexperienced defenders in there with Daley Blind, who does his best but is no centre back. With just over one minute played, Bournemouth got a corner and Stanislas swerved it in to beat everyone, including a usually very reliable De Gea to put the home side ahead. That made United go forward rather than sideways, and after twenty-four minutes Bush-headed Fellaini tricked a couple of defenders by falling to his knees before tapping the ball in to make it 1-1.
With things looking balanced, we hoped United would continue to look for a winner in the second half, but things went pear-shaped when just ten minutes after the restart, former United player Joshua King was left all alone in the box at another corner, and he had the easiest of finishes to put Eddie Howe’s side back in the lead. Unfortunately, the United players went into their shell and made it look like they didn’t even want to be there, unlike the faithful supporters who had travelled down south to watch another insipid performance.
A couple of ‘weird’ substitutions didn’t help the cause, and as the game wore on the youngsters looked tired and devoid of ideas. When the final whistle went to give Bournemouth a well-deserved 2-1 win, we were as relieved as we were disappointed as in the end it could have been a bigger, more embarrassing defeat.
A lot of credit must go to the Bournemouth players for working so hard for their victory, especially midfielder Harry Arter whose child died at birth just a few days before the game. A tragedy that puts things into perspective, and hopefully him and his partner can look forward to many happier moments together in the future.
Some thoughts about this defeat for United. Though you cannot fault the youngsters for this result as most of them filled in well for the missing, more experienced players, it’s hard not to criticise certain things, especially when you see the way some of them ‘defended’ Bournemouth’s second goal. No matter how little they’ve played at this level, surely it’s basic to mark an opponent at set-pieces, something none of them did as Joshua King was left unmarked.
Another issue was in the lack of fight and spirit, especially after that second goal. We understand that some of these players might not be good enough for this level, but the least they can do is show that they do want to play for United, and do their best to earn their substantial wages while wearing the shirt of the club most of us have supported all our lives.
This is where Van Gaal needs to be seen that he’s doing his job. With his mouth-piece Schweinsteiger being suspended, nobody was on the pitch to gee the others up and get the game by the scruff of the neck, and he should at least get his assistant Ryan Giggs to get on that touchline and tell the players what needs doing if he doesn’t feel comfortable about doing it himself.
We know that once the likes of Darmian, Smalling and Rojo are back (Shaw too, but he’s still a long way off), United will be much stronger at the back as they’ve shown earlier in the season. The front needs sorting out too, as though Martial and Memphis can, and will be very good in the future, they’re still too young to be relied upon to turn games around. As for Jesse Lingard, he was having one of his better games before limping off, though he has a long way to go to reach the levels needed and be a success at United.
The less said about the more established stars the better, but when you see someone like Mata not pulling the strings as he knows how to, you know things aren’t going right.
One thing I don’t like being thrown at Van Gaal and the club is about how they’ve spent £250m for this dross. After getting rid of so many players, most of which were past it or not good enough, did we really expect them to spend less money to be able to compete at the top? Yes, things could be a lot better, but they could also be a lot worse if some of the deadwood hadn’t been moved along. And £65m of that was spent on Di Maria, a player who only joined United because FFP rules dictated that he couldn’t join PSG. Kudos to his agent (yes, Jorge Mendes) for bringing him to a rich club to pocket even more commission before taking him where he wanted to be in the first place.
Thankfully some results in the league went United’s way to at least stay fourth in the table. Pity the top three all won and the gap to leaders Leicester is now six points. Looking at the results, Arsenal beat ‘already relegated’ Villa 2-0 in one of the easiest games they’ll play this season; City needed an injury-time winner against Swansea; the afore-mentioned Leicester beat Champions Chelsea 2-1; Tottenham managed a second defeat of the season when they lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle, who now climb over Chelsea; L’pool got a glorious 2-2 draw at home to West Brom; Pardew’s Palace beat Southampton 1-0 to climb up to 6th; Watford won 1-0 at Sunderland to go 7th; West Ham and Stoke played out a goalless draw; while Norwich and Everton drew as well, this time 1-1.
Headlines made after the weekend’s games were Klopp’s L’pool players holding hands and saluting their fans after their game against West Brom. At a time when we bemoan the fact that players don’t interact with the fans, it’s good to see someone bring them closer to the same fans, but it did look silly after dropping points at home to a mid-table side. They might have been better off doing it after a win and take it from there, as it wouldn’t have looked so forced.
What about Mourinho, who’s fast becoming ‘Moaninho’? He even had a go at the ball-boys after the Leicester defeat, but it’s ok as he told journalists he didn’t want to make headlines about it. Give him a fair-play award, quick.
The Champions League draw was made, and after facing a few ‘where are United’ jokes, some very good fixtures were thrown up, including PSG-Chelsea, Juve-Bayern and Arsenal-Barcelona. The Europa League draw was also made, and United were drawn to play Danish side Midtjylland (I copied and pasted that) in the next round. So in your face ABUs, THAT’s where United are!
United’s next game will be played this Saturday (3pm UK time), when they host 18th placed Norwich City at Old Trafford in the league. With The Canaries having won just one game from the last ten, there’s a LOT to look forward to in this one, including which team will have the most misfiring front-line and thousands of people wearing green and gold scarves at Old Trafford… COME ON UNITED!!!