Sunday, 13 December 2015

UNACCEPTABLE!


In any narrative of a below par season for Manchester United, defeat at the home of a promote club does not rank as an acceptable result, regardless the circumstances.

At nine injuries prior to kick-off, and ten when Jesse Lingard was forced to withdraw form proceedings, United were supposed to be cut some slack at the Vitality Stadium. Except that sympathy in such a predicament is duly deserved when the team that seeks it betters or at least matches the opponent for effort.

Yesterday on the English South Coast, United approached a game of football with an air of expectation. Perhaps the feeling was that they didn't have to work as hard as they did on Tuesday in Germany to collect all three points. In doing so, United underestimated the occasion for AFC Bournemouth.

Yesterday is as big a game as they will play this season. For them therefore, it wasn't just about relying on hard work but riding on adrenaline that comes with the nature of the occasion for them. It's therefore easy to work out why United left the South with a third league defeat of the season.


The Match
An individual error within the first 100 seconds allowed the hosts to go ahead. David De Gea does not make many mistakes anymore but any goalkeeper that is beaten from the corner flag will be disappointed with himself, the strength of the wind notwithstanding.

The early lead allowed the home side to play on the counter-attack from the off. United did however manage to claw themselves level midway through the half and from then, the expectation was that United would go on to assert their dominance to get the winner.

Much like on Tuesday though, United failed to remain solid at the back to deny the hosts chances and ruthless up top to take the lead. Indeed, it was Bournemouth that showed more incisive initiative for a second goal. That it arrived from another set  piece confirmed the lack of desire within the United ranks to see the mission through.

United were yet again single-paced by a systemic inability to make use of the speed of their attack by playing balls in behind the Bournemouth back four. It's baffling how the club remains content with playing and attempting to score in front of a sea of defenders when it is the through ball or over the top that causes defenders nightmares.

More amazingly, the one time they attempted it in the first half, United scored. Michael Carrick found Memphis with a superb diagonal in behind the Bournemouth defence. It was frustrating that the same obviously effective ball was not pinged for the remainder of the match.


The Sub-Plots
Louis van Gaal continues to baffle with his substitutions. Yesterday, Marouanne Fellaini, the biggest goal threat we carried was hauled off at the stage of the game when United sought to be more direct. Nick Powell has so far come on to little effect to impact the game plan in the closing stages of the two games he has made an appearance.

Ashley Young yet again remained on the bench when it feels like he would make a more positive attacking contribution even from full-back with his range of crosses.


The Bottom-Line
The result undoubtedly exposes the club and the manager in particular to questions as regards his methods at this stage of his tenure. In all fairness, those are legitimate questions. United have now exposed themselves in regard to that fourth place thanks to a period of no wins in five games. It's fast descending into a mini-crisis at the club.

Victories can change the mood at a club drastically. At the moment, United are not helping themselves in even the most basic of fixtures and that is just bang unacceptable.

For Louis van Gaal, results in the absence of performances have kept the wolves at bay so far this season. Suddenly, even the results have taken a downward spiral to leave him and his methods exposed to anyone who can string a sentence together. He certainly can't say that he didn't see this coming.

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