Manchester United lose 2-1 away at Bournemouth with former Red Josh King netting the winner
Former Red Josh King, who made two substitute appearances for the club, came back to haunt his former employers with a winning goal for Bournemouth as Louis van Gaal witnessed a second defeat in a single week following the the 3-2 loss in the Champions League at the hands of Wolfsburg. King, who was a menace all evening, worked tirelessly throughout the match and was a constant threat, especially down United’s right hand side, with a powerful dribbling display and a few nutmegs on youngster Guillermo Varela thrown in.
Both United and Bournemouth were missing a number of players through injury, but it was indeed the newly promoted club that looked sharp and maintained their defensive shape. Louis van Gaal was missing Chris Smalling, who has been United’s best player so far this season, and his experience was sorely missed in a backline that had three players who haven’t made thirty appearances between one another. Bournemouth were well worth their victory and could have scored more, with Glenn Murray squandering two glorious opportunities in the second half.
Each weekend it seems United fans are discussing the same issues and Louis van Gaal’s so called “philosophy”. The United boss has hit back at the critics with the notion that United’s days of winning trophies are in the past due to the financial clout of other top European clubs – however, this is from a manager who has the backing to spend over £250million on new players. Van Gaal needs to finish what he has started at United and there isn’t any suggestion he should vacate his post early – but the football is dull and uninspiring whilst United are losing ground on Arsenal and Manchester City in the league.
Louis van Gaal’s odd substitutions
Jaws dropped when Nick Powell, who last played for United in the infamous 4-0 thrashing by MK Dons, took to the field against Wolfsburg midweek for Juan Mata, with Manchester United chasing a goal in Germany. Mata, who under van Gaal usually operates on the right hand side of a front three – drifting infield to his preferred number ten position, started centrally and – with United struggling for attacking options, is arguably the club’s most creative player.
The statistics would back this up with Mata leading the way for assists having created seven goals so far this campaign. So, it was extremely fair to question the Dutchman’s logic in bringing on a player with limited game time, experience or proven quality. Powell proceeded to give the ball away more times than he found a red shirt and although United fans want to see young players given a chance at the top level, the right circumstances need to come into play.
Against Bournemouth on Saturday night, the Dutchman again looked to hurl Powell into the fray, this time withdrawing Marouane Fellaini who had scored United’s equaliser in the first half. Fellaini, who did resemble a baby gazelle being born as he proceeded to “knee walk” the ball past the Arthur Boruc, was United’s main goal threat and any hopes of another equaliser evaporated when the Belgian trudged off the pitch with sixteen minutes left to play.
Every fan has a moment when they scratch their head in amazement at a decision made by a manager. Louis van Gaal has won European titles, countless league and cup finals in multiple countries – so you do question yourself when you see such a decision you disagree with by a manager with an unbelievable record. Surely Fellaini was injured? Apparently not. The change was purely tactical as United were not the dominating team at the time. Powell proceeded to get on the ball twice in the final quarter of the game.
Constant managerial links as van Gaal distances himself yet again from the fans
I am actually a Louis van Gaal fan, but the football and constant defending of his philosophy and methods are starting to wear thin. When it was announced the Dutchamn was to join Manchester United, we spoke with Pete McVitie, a respected journalist and Dutch football expert. His concluding remarks were for United fans to “enjoy Louis van Gaal” and that he wouldn’t compromise his “attacking passing base football” for any opponent. 87% of readers were licking their lips at this prospect as they voted that the Dutchman could indeed bring home the league title following the dismal season under the leadership of David Moyes. Of course, Chelsea went onto win the league and United finished the season in 4th spot.
We wanted to bounce back today. We have left ourselves short again, the set-pieces have killed us. We had chances and they had chances but it is about the result and we haven’t got the result, so it’s the end to a very disappointing week.”
– Michael Carrick on United’s loss to Bournemouth
McVitie, was 100% right in the Dutchman’s approach of possession based football – which he has instilled throughout his career at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to name a few of the top sides. But it is the pedestrian pace that it is played at that United fans find difficult to watch or agree with. Following the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace, we looked at how United compared to other top sides when assessing chances created. Turns out, as you would expect if you’ve been watching United all season, pretty poor in comparison to the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City – all of which are sitting above United in the league table. At the time of posting, United’s goals per goal was less than Norwich City and yesterday’s opponents Bournemouth.
Again, for a manager who has spent over £250million on talent – top talent at that, this simply isn’t a good enough return at club the size of Manchester United. The defensive statement regarding United not have a right to winning trophies is odd considering the timing of the comment, following the Champions League exit to Wolfsburg. No United fan believes, or should believe, the club has a given right to win trophies – at all. But spending fortunes on a playing squad, which has needed investment for years and was dragged through by the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, to produce uninspiring football and then citing the riches on offer at other clubs is quite simply baffling.
United have again been linked with Pep Guardiola and until the Spaniard confirms where he will be managing next season, the speculation will continue for the remainder of the campaign. Gary Neville, who is barely two weeks into his first managerial stint, distanced himself from ever getting the United job, whilst Ryan Giggs is surely the natural successor once Louis van Gaal’s contract expires at the end of the 2016/17 season. Can United afford to keep plodding along following heavy investment into a playing squad that isn’t delivering? Memphis Depay doesn’t look like a £3million player let alone a £30million player, Anthony Martial needs better service – despite missing two decent chances yesterday – whilst Bastian Schweinsteiger needs a good run to still show he can do it at the top level on a consistent basis.
United have had two of the longest ever serving managers in English football. Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson both played open attacking football, gave youth a chance in the right circumstances and set the right standards. Louis van Gaal’s stubbornness to not change his style of play for anyone is admirable, if indeed the end result is met. United fans do not think the club has a divine right to win trophies – but they expect the club to challenge and in the right way. United were lucky that both Tottenham and Liverpool dropped points to remain in fourth spot – but against Norwich next Saturday, Louis van Gaal needs his side to put in a decent attacking performance or the pressure and criticism will continue to mount.