Cleat Geeks

Bournemouth 2 Man Utd 1 and Memories of 1984

In a week that has seen its far share of ups and downs Manchester United took a trip to the English coast. Unfortunately it was not for a little break or to get some needed refreshing sea air but to play a premiership match against the newcomers AFC Bournemouth.Bournemouth-v-Manchester-United

It was a trip down memory lane for many older fans who remember a similar trip to the coast in 1984 and an FACup tie that has gone down in the history of the southern club.

Back then United were expected to secure a way through to the next round but the cup is nothing but unpredictable. In losing the tie to the minnows of the South, United most likely imagined that they would never have to travel to the venue again.

History repeated itself last Saturday 12th December, when United went to the new ground Bournemouth occupy and yet again felt the cold of a winters day in losing the match 2-1. In the appropriately advertised sign ‘Vitality’ seen around the ground United seemingly ran out of it and ideas after the first 45minutes of toil.

The second half United were poor, disjointed and lacklustre and seemingly without any leadership as Bournemouth duly collected all three points to send their supporters home happy, perhaps replacing 1984 with 2015 as a ‘time to remember’.

The omens leading up to the match were not good for Louis Van Gaal and his United squad, on the previous Tuesday night the Manchester club went out of one major completion and into another one.

VfL Wolfsburg v 1. FC Koeln - BundesligaDefeated at Wolfsburgh 3-2 and coming third in their group saw United automatically enter the Europa League, whether they wanted it or not. Given the way the Europa League competition is arranged most clubs including United, in the words of Van Gaal, ” do their utmost best” to avoid it.

The game at Bournemouth was seemingly a chance to begin again and in a strange premiership where each team seems determined to lose, consolidate their place in the top four and even take top spot with a win for a short time.

However it’s an ill wind as they say and the wind certainly had something to do with the home sides first goal. A corner kick whipped into the goal area had some assistance from the wind as it went into the net’s top right hand. It would be wrong however to place no blame on David DeGea as the United keeper seemed to lose the flight of the ball whist trying to push a Bournemouth player out of the penalty area.

With a severe injury crisis at the club an argument can be made for the teams lack of cohesion, however it is not too much to expect that whoever makes the first team at a club with the stature of United should be able to do the basics well.

When the United equaliser came it was messy and untidy and although Marouane Fellaini scored almost on his knees it was a goal that summed up United’s play on the day. In the second 45 minutes of the game all the energy, creativity and vitality seemed to come from Bournemouth who went ahead again through Joshua King.joshuaKing

The irony being is that King was on United’s books as a youngster and was let go because it was not felt he would be able to adapt to the style of play at Old Trafford. The goal itself was simple, a corner fired in along the ground with King quickest to the ball, despatched with accuracy from around the penalty spot into the United net.

In truth it was what Bournemouth deserved or to put it another way what United deserved because of their display. Bournemouth could have added to their score on a couple of occasions afterwards but bad finishing let the team down.

At the final whistle there was a mini pitch invasion from some of the Bournemouth fans, perhaps rejoicing that in one week they had beaten Chelsea and Manchester United. There was no such celebration when Van Gaal spoke to the press later on.

It has become evident in the last few weeks that there is a growing amount of disaffection from the clubs supporters and certain media pundits about how Van Gaal has approached his second season in charge of the club. Van Gaal is a pragmatist and although he has said in the past he is willing to listen to the players and their concerns, it seems it always comes back to his style of play.

With this defeat Van Gaal’s United are still in the top four and have the Europa League and forthcoming FA Cup to aim for however there seems to be something not right in the camp. The players lack drive, energy and strong decision making on the pitch and whether Van Gaal has driven that out of their game is a mute point for most observers.

The decision to spend even more money in the January transfer window on top of the $250,000,000 already spent to improve the squad, must be a concern to the owners and management board at Old Trafford. It is a concern with many of the clubs supporters who have been ringing up MUTV, the official channel of the club to express their concerns on the stations phone in programmes.

MUBenchManchester United and Van Gaal face a heavy premiership program up to and after Christmas and the lack of goals and injuries to key players might well determine where they will finish in May.

Van Gaal recently said that there is no point looking back ten years or five years they (United) have to look to the present. He added the fans should not expect today what was theirs in the past, meaning success on the field of play in most if not all of the completions they enter.

While Van Gaal is right that you cannot live in the past and no one has a divine right for success he is wrong in assisting the mood of the supporters as only wanting to win prizes. What fans want from Van Gaal’s United is to be entertained, to see football that excites and a team that expresses itself with skill and determination. What the fans have at present are players who seem afraid to take leadership, who play safe football and are lacking any dynamism, keeping things safe based on possession.

Back in 1984 the team that suffered defeat in the FA Cup was everything the present United team are not. However no matter how gifted, everyone can have an off day, every team fail, every individual come up short. Looking at the present United squad there is little hope that Saturday’s defeat will be a one off. Little hope that a corner will be turned and a new adventurous, skilful Manchester United will emerge like a new toy after the Christmas festivities.

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