Date: 19th April 2018 at 6:57am
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Written by Neil Dawson

There are three things certain in life. Death, taxes and Romelu Lukaku scoring against Bournemouth. It’s written in stone and he doesn’t even have to start a game to do it.

It was a balmy, steamy night at the Vitality with a real air of pre-season friendly to it. Neither team busting a gut, pleasant exchanges of play and a quiet crowd basking in sultry air. You had to pinch yourself to remember there were points at stake.

Eddie reverted to his default 4-4-2 and continued the nostalgia by bringing back Surman for Gosling. Wilson got the nod in front of Defoe up top.

There’s nowt much to report in the first 45 other than BT customers checking how much they pay for football. Mourinho has re-written the Man U style and Bournemouth were back in Surman recycling backwards mode. It was largely dull apart from the few times it turned tedious. You could argue Bournemouth had the better of play, certainly in spells, but the quality of final ball reached a level of ineptness not seen since Jimmy Quinn left. Time and time again play broke down to a ball behind someone, too hard or aimed where someone used to be. King and Fraser were particularly bad but they were outstripped by Ibe who is right back to his early season-worst on the evidence of his last two outings.

The former Liverpool winger did have one of Bournemouth’s two shots firing tamely wide. King had the other a ferocious effort straight at De Gea.

United also had two proper efforts, the difference being they took one. First Begovic saved smartly from Rashford but he was powerless when Herrera’s pinpoint pass left our defence stationary and SMALLING slid in Lingaard’s cross.

HT Bournemouth 0 Manchester United 1

The second half was following the pattern of the first…safe non threatening football from two sides not throwing bodies forwards. One threatening moment occurred when in the game’s pivotal moment King broke and squared for Wilson who was clearly pushed as he was about to score. Poor refereeing indeed.

Eddie brought Mousset on in place of Ibe and moved to 3-4-3 and for awhile the home team dominated. Lys is always a good conduit as he drops for the ball and things knitted together better. Again though every move broke down on the paucity of the final pass which remained frustratingly telegraphed or poor.

United scored their second from a Bournemouth attack. Wilson is not at his sharpest and he turned into trouble, lost it and United broke. If Eddie wants evidence of why Surman shouldn’t play he should watch his shameful attempt to get back from this break. Like a toddler running in treacle. Pogba led the surge and his excellent through ball was clipped over Begovic by our old adversary LUKAKU.

Gosling arrived for a leggy Surman, Defoe arrived for King…none of it mattered…they could still be out there now and they wouldn’t have passed to a Bournemouth player in the box.

FT Bournemouth 0 Manchester United 2

Begovic 6 – safe enough.

Francis 6 – always involved and generally steady.
Cook 7 – tough evening but stuck to the task.
Ake 7. – would we have stayed up without him? Class.
Daniels 6 – steady unspectacular shift.

Fraser 6 – effort but no real quality at all tonight.
Cook 8 – looked at home in this company with vision and turns.
Surman 5 – just so safe, slow and out-fought.
Ibe 4 – loose on the ball, up blind alleys, non-covering etc.

King 5 – quiet game and in the wrong position.
Wilson 5 – worked hard but hold up play poor and confidence to shoot going.

Mom another shining performance from Lewis Cook. Really looked classy.

Verdict.
People will point to Man U squad value and the referee. They are very valid points too. I’m not convinced we did enough though leaving that aside. I’ve just watched 180 minutes of Bournemouth and seen two shots on target. I’ve not seen more than 5 off target I don’t think. The formation was static again, the midfield two swamped, King out of position and Ibe was carried. None of that should surprise Eddie as it’s largely been the story of the season apart from a mid-year purple patch.

These are all easy fixes…that was Manchester United in name but not of vintage performance..they were there to be got at but we really lacked quality and bustle. It was frustrating wondering if those two losses could be solved by Harry Arter but Eddie resisted the chorus from the fans to see their favourite ever number eight. His energy is badly missed and his quality to pick a pass. He may have been poor but he has had a break and he is twice the player Surman or Gosling can dream of being when he is on form.

Up front, we lack…I would like to see King on his central own with Mousset behind if we do 4-4-2 or those two with Wilson play from the start against Southampton. Nothing to lose…and after a really poor run, the fans deserve strong back to back performances now. We need to shake ourselves out of these non-Bournemouth performances.

 

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