A somewhat confusing game as Man Utd were able to dispatch Bournemouth very comfortably but it oscillated throughout the game. Bournemouth took the lead as Stanislas embarrassed Maguire but United came back with a 15 minute salvo as the front three, Greenwood, Rashford and Martial respectively, all struck. The second half started off quite remarkably as the poor defending continued, culminating in a penalty, which Josh Kind duly placed to De Gea’s left. But again, United struck back quickly and hard as Greenwood added his second and Bruno finished up with a fifth.
The Story Quality Told
The opponent with which the thumping result comes against is quite poetic when you think back to the performance on the South Coast, where the Cherries managed to clinch the three points over the Red Devils. On that day, the passing was cumbersome and ponderous, the threat of the forward line was lacking and the defensive line succumbed to the little pressure it was under in that first half by conceding a soft goal. In essence, much of the same occurred today but when there is the quality available to you like there was today, there will always be dangerous moments being created. The domination wasn’t as emphatic as it was during the last 30 mins of Spurs or games vs Sheffield United and Brighton but the attacks became more and more incisive as the game wore on. United found it hard to break down Bournemouth in the first 25/30 mins as Rashford and Greenwood came in off the line to early to narrow the field, making it easy for the opponents to narrow their back line and block off the spaces for players like Fernandes, Pogba and Martial. United have been dangerous in transition all season and a break down in play for the first goal saw that fact has not changed, Greenwood finishing with an exclamation point as we come to expect. And truly, that was the story of the match. The goals were just quality players producing quality moments, even during the difficult games that they had. Martial’s trademark finesse finish for the third even having been relatively quiet in the first half; Greenwood absolutely leathering it with his right foot for his second and United’s fourth, just showing off how truly ambipedal he is and then Bruno’s reversing a free kick to get the fifth. No one was truly outstanding performance wise but no player can produce that weekly, no matter what they say. Now though, there is that extra blanket of comfort knowing that there will always be goals within that side and long may that continue.
The forward line and defensive line could not be more contrasting. It was an incredibly awkward afternoon for all involved, particularly the centre backs. With Wan Bissaka getting more confident in his forays forward, more space down the right hand side has become available for the opposition and Junior Stanislas was perhaps the best player in the first 30 mins of the game as he was able to continually front up Lindelof. If there is one thing that Maguire and Lindelof are not able to capable with amply, it is being fronted up 1v1 vs attackers. The quite miserable defending for the 1st goal from the United captain is testament to that: failing to slow down his run, the aforementioned Bournemouth left winger nutmegged him and scored past De Gea at his near post. The second was started off with a comical pass into midfield by the English international yet again, Bournemouth hitting the post. But it wasn’t the end as a ridiculous pass from Matic to Bailly was only outdone by a ridiculous decision of by VAR to award the penalty that clearly hit Eric Bailly’s shoulder. This was not the defending that we had become accustomed to in this 16 game unbeaten run and it was lucky that their offensive team mates were on song today so the focus would be firmly diverted
This role of Pogba since he has come back into the team, in what resembles the role he plays for his country, shows his ability to let the horses run free in front of him as he stations himself in the gaps that open up in our attacking phase of play. At times, he joined the attacks to quickly in the first half, not helping with our ability to circulate the ball and pull Bournemouth from side to side. This was rectified somewhat once United were able to get back into the team and perhaps that is something to watch in terms of him keeping his composure as United look for the winner. Maybe it is a tactic that he joins the attack quicker in situations where we chase the game but it would be preferable if he were to align himself with Matic more to back up play, in stopping offensive transitions and keep the pressure on. All in all, he was again quietly impressive and long term it is exciting to see him finally fulfil what many would have expected to be his central midfield role.