It was a must win and won we did. Not as comfortably as many would have liked or as the scoreline suggests. Casemiro opened the scoring with his first in front of the Old Trafford crowd as he guided in a free kick off Eriksen. Bournemouth made things difficult and did well physically against us to cause us problems on the counter. But it was our counter on them in the second half, with Shaw starting and finishing it to put daylight between the teams. The final goal continued Rashford’s rich vein of scoring form. 4 wins on the bounce, either side of the World Cup break has put United level with Newcastle on points in the top four.
Luke Who’s Talking Now?
When Evra left for Turin back in 2014, it was after 8 and a half years littered with supreme success. Technically brilliant, he used to make those marauding runs, dazzle sparingly with great skill and provide a great final product. His first start, a Manchester derby no less, was quite the opposite to what would follow. It was a stinker of a debut and thankfully, it came to be that it was one of few times where he put in games that stunk.
Luke Shaw’s start to life at Man Utd was much the same, if not for a longer period. His first season was stop start and it even began with his manager saying that he came back unfit, put a specialised training regime, which gave him a hamstring injury. It delayed his start to the autumn and injuries beset him throughout. When things finally seemed on the up, a leg break that almost had his leg taken away from him mentally scarred him. That plus the tribulations of the Jose Mourinho years more than took its toll. With the introduction of Ole, Shaw found himself again.
But if he did find himself, it always seemed like there was more he could do. At times, he looked every bit the part that made Man Utd part with £34m for a 19 year old in 2014. Other times, he looked like the shirking violet that we saw too much of between 2014-19. Usually, the former came when his place, whether in the first team or at Old Trafford altogether, was under pressure. It was coming into this season as well and Ten Hag brought in Malacia to give better competition than Alex Telles. The Dutchman even said that United conceded a lot of goals down their left hand side and it needed to be rectified. The former Southampton man started the season very slowly and it meant he eventually lost his place to the new recruit. However, he managed to win it back by doing the simple things that puts his talents in the best place possible to succeed. Before, he used to coast through games and his career on the fact that his talent was that good. But if there is any position you cannot do that in, it is as a full back. It is the position for intensity and the very best play at the tigerish intensity for the whole 90 mins. Shaw didn’t. Both on and off the ball.
Today, after playing at CB in the last two games, he was back in his preferred position and the goal he got showed why when he plays on the front foot, he cannot be lived with. It was reminiscent of one of Berbatov’s against Blackburn where he started the move and finished it. He ran past the Bournemouth man and laid it off, whilst continuing the run. United swept the ball across to the opposite side as Garnacho picked Shaw out in the middle of the box and the latter finished with his weaker foot. It was a brilliant move that Shaw had a huge imprint on. It was a little reminiscent of Shaw’s run against Club Brugge that Depay would balloon over, which came in the games just before his leg break. Then you see the quality that Shaw has always possessed but never pushed himself to truly perfect – his technical ability. In spotting and playing passes along the ground, he always found comfortable. Lifting the ball however, he would somehow lose any semblance of prowess. Since 2020 though, he has clearly worked on it. Rashford’s goal showed that as a wonderful lofted through ball to Bruno was the pass that truly opened up the Cherries’ back line. Unlike Evra, Shaw has been unable to win the most important trophies. Now, he is at least showing the quality to deserve to be a staple in a team of that ilk.
Are there any more words that can actually be said about the beautiful Brazilian that is Casemiro? The transformation he has made on this team is incalculable. Truly is a master of his trade and is masterful in his midfield work. A first in front of his own fans today and I won’t say of many but he wouldn’t need to score any more goals if he continues to perform the way he has.
Even though we managed to keep the clean sheet, it was more of a basketball game than many would have liked. De Gea was kept busy, especially in the second half and without three of our starting backline, it is expected that it would be a bit more frantic with the lack of match fitness. All in all, Wan Bissaka, Maguire and Lindelof, all relegated to back up options, done well enough considering the context. However, you can see the difference in Dalot, Varane and Martinez when they play.