Manchester United bounced back from their loss to West Brom with a 2-0 victory at Bournemouth on Wednesday with goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, states a few observations from the encounter.
Professional and efficient showing
Playing at Bournemouth is a very testing experience for any team in the division and Man United recognised that with their performance in the game.
Of course, the lineup raised eyebrows as there was ‘proper’ focus in attack and Marouane Fellaini’s last start was the botched Champions League tie at home to Sevilla and the choice in player selection left some fans bothered.
However, it turned out well on the night. Matteo Darmian was solid at right-back and Marcus Rashford was very disciplined in front of him. He made the right decisions and he almost found the net.
Ander Herrera ran things well in midfield and it helped the team move forward in Paul Pogba as the game grew.
Most fans may have expected champagne football but the straight-to-the-point performance worked the trick and the points were won.
Great personal auditions for FA Cup semis
Whether it was reverse psychology or not, the fight for places in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-finals against Spurs was on for certain players tonight.
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba did not say much in terms of words but they said tonnes with their output. Those two gentlemen have been part of the guilty party when it comes to not repeating great performances over a period but against Bournemouth, they showed their positives.
Pogba played well in midfield and he moved up in confidence leading to a great run from his half to assist Romelu Lukaku for the second goal.
For Martial, he provided the threat from the left wing and even though, he did not find total joy, he kept pushing himself all night.
The manager must now look at the tape again and decide what to do on Saturday. The call on Pogba looks more straightforward but Martial made a good mark and he will be thought of when plans are drawn for Saturday.
More killer instinct needed
Could the scoreline have been wider? Largely, yes but poor decision making and the absence of a stronger feel to kill off the game hampered that.
Bournemouth’s honest forward play makes them quite vulnerable and once the gaps started to appear, Man United players should have been readier for the occasion.
At certain times, a simple pass coupled with some more movement off the ball was the key but they were absent.
It is difficult to explain why that was happening but with the chase for second place still on, there is no luxury for moments of indecision.
Attackers should grasp the chances and either finish them off or find players in better situations for the goals.
These could be the difference between a point, three or nothing at all.
The division is still a very tough one despite having only four rounds left.
There is a lot to gain and lose within this very short period. Sharpness, focus and ruthlessness should be the watch words in attack.