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Five things we’ve learnt from Bournemouth vs United

Bournemouth-v-Manchester-United (2)Manchester United’s already disastrous week took a turn for the worst, as they were deservedly beaten by Bournemouth and could end the weekend outside the top four.

Having gone down within two minutes, United drew level through Marouane Fellaini before conceding earlier in the second half after some more calamitous defending. With the hosts 2-1 in front, Louis Van Gaal’s side never looked like getting back in the game and slumped to their second defeat in four days.

Here’s five talking points from yesterday.

1) Is this the final straw for Van Gaal?

Having been knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, United could end the weekend outside the top four – albeit only on goal difference – if Spurs beat Newcastle on Sunday. Before their game against Wolfsburg, United adamant Van Gaal’s position was not under scrutiny, with the board hinting they might in fact seek to extend the Dutchman’s contract beyond the remaining 18 months on his current deal.

On the face of what’s unfolded over the last four days, that would be absolute madness. Not only have United not evolved from a tactical point of view, the players no longer look interested and certainly do not look prepared to fight for their manager. Last week, Van Gaal said he would walk if he lost the dressing room, but he could soon have that decision taken out of his hands.

Bournemouth-v-Manchester-United (1)

2) A wasted opportunity

With Leicester an Arsenal not playing until Sunday, United had the perfect opportunity to join City at the top of the table on Saturday afternoon. Instead, they could find themselves fifth on Sunday night should Spurs continue their impressive home record against Newcastle.

More worryingly, United have picked up only two points from games against Leicester, West Ham and Bournemouth and while Claudio Ranieri’s men are flying high, failure to secure at least a win out of those three games in inexcusable.

United host Norwich next, before facing Stoke and Chelsea over the Christmas period and anything less than six points could spell the end for Van Gaal.

3) No case for defence

Guillermo Varela, Paddy McNair, Daley Blind, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Manchester United’s back four against Bournemouth looked like the kind of defence that would normally be deployed in a reserves match or, in some case, in the early rounds of the Capital One Cup.

Thrown in at the deep end of the pool, Varela and Borthwic-Jackson confirmed what their showing against Wolfsburg suggested on Tuesday night. Both are bright young players that United could well count on in the future, while McNair looked out of his depth yet again and was repeatedly exposed by Bournemouth’s attackers.

It was Blind, however, the most experienced of the four, who was largely culpable for losing Joshua King in the lead up to Bournemouth’s second. It was only the second time since their defeat against Chelsea in January 2004 that United had conceded twice from a corner in a Premier League game, but it brought up the tally of goals conceded from a set-piece to four in the space of four days.

Injuries or not, that is unacceptable.

4) Injuries are part of the game

United will feel hard done by after the injury curse struck yet again, forcing Jesse Lingard to be withdrawn half-way through the first half.

However, while United fans can rue their team’s bad luck, the horrendous injury list has exposed a catastrophic lack of planning by Van Gaal and Woodward, who both this wafer-thin squad to be good enough to compete on four fronts this season.


Van Gaal’s decision to put all his eggs in a Sergio Ramos-shaped basket turned out to be an absolutely disastrous decision, as did the refusal to bolster his attacking options up-front. As soon as they went behind, United looked to have given up, perhaps in the knowledge they had no plan B to turn to on the bench.

For a side repeatedly claiming to be the biggest club in the world, United’s shortage of options is utterly embarrassing.

5) LVG tactics are increasingly baffling

In the 12 games they’ve played in all competitions since beating Everton away 3-0, United have scored 10 goals, two of them coming in Tuesday’s defeat at Wolfsburg that sanctioned their early exit from the Champions League.

With his team a goal down against Bournemouth, Van Gaal opted to withdraw Marouane Fellaini, who had not only scored the equaliser earlier in the game, but had looked the only United player capable to pose an attacking threat.

Replacing Juan Mata with Nick Powell on Tuesday looked utterly baffling, as did the latter’s introduction for Fellaini on Saturday afternoon, while it was Mata, anonymous throughout the game, who should have been substituted this time.

Leaving Ashley Young on the bench when United desperately needed an injection of pace was equally absurd, the decision of a man who looks increasingly clueless.