Date: 18 April 2018
The Cherries lost their second game in a row tonight, but at least they put on a good show and were certainly not humiliated.
We lined up with Surman back in place of Gosling (I was relieved to see that it wasn’t in place of Lewis Cook) and Wilson for Defoe. Arter was on the bench, but not Mings. It was a ‘flat’ 4-4-2 with King to the left of Wilson up front. Surman was his old self, passing the ball backwards more often than not, and at times today – uncharacteristically – Ake did the same. Fraser and Ibe were both very fast on the flanks, especially in the early stages of the game, giving United some trouble – and we were well in the game – but the finish was always lacking. It was frustrating how often we put some good moves together but nothing came of them in the final third. But then, as someone said, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it because United have one player who cost more than all our team put together!
An early free kick for Bournemouth was awarded in a great position just outside the area. Fraser and Daniels stood over it; who would take it? Neither – it was touched to Francis who shot towards goal! A great move, but sadly a blocked shot. The only other really good attempt at goal from our guys in the whole first half came when Ibe shot wide. Otherwise, it was a fast and furious half, great for neutrals, but frustrating for Cherries’ fans.
United’s first goal came from a corner, Lingard getting behind Bournemouth’s defence and Smalling needing to do no more than tap the ball in – on 27 minutes. Two very rowdy United fans stood and cheered wildly right in the middle of the ‘home’ end of the East Stand – incensing those around them but invoking no response from stewards who simply watched them passively. This would prove, in due course, to be a big mistake on the part of the stewarding team. Meanwhile, Bournemouth’s need to get on the scoresheet resulted in the game becoming more open up to the break.
There were no substitutions at half time, but Ibe and Fraser swopped wings – taking up positions on the left and right respectively. The reason for this would become clear before the hour mark when Mousset was brought on for Ibe. Fraser remained on the right, King took up a position on the left wing and Mousset moved to the right of Wilson up front. There had, however, been a couple of remarkable incidents before this – first when Ake made an horrendous mistake, gifting the ball in a dangerous area to Lingard, who failed to capitalise; and second, at the other end, when King crossed (from the left) to Wilson in a perfect scoring position and he was unable to shoot because United’s left back Luke Shaw held him back. Penalty? Evidently the TV commentators thought so, but it wasn’t given.
Mousset certainly livened up our game, and got a few shots in, but United still dominated until a Bournemouth attack on 70 minutes came to nothing, and Manchester United broke via Pogba who found Lukaku – who shot with his left foot. 0-2. The two idiots in the East Stand celebrated even more lavishly, resulting in a scuffle with the home supporters around them. Stewards – incredibly – went at first to restrain the home supporters rather than the intruders, before coming to their senses and ushering the two troublemakers out of the stand. Hopefully there’ll be an investigation as to how they got seats in the home end in the first place; someone on Bournemouth’s computer must have got the seats for them. Meanwhile, the crowd settled down again, and the final quarter hour of the game was rather scrappy but void of incident. Gosling came on for Surman in a one-for-one swap; and Defoe – very late on – for King. Neither Surman nor King had really been in it today, and my ‘man of the match’ would be Lewis Cook who worked very hard and put in several of his characteristic diagonal passes. If only Ibe and Wilson could have ‘read’ them correctly!
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Francis (7), S Cook (7), Ake (7), Daniels (6);
Ibe (7), L Cook (8), Surman (6), Fraser (8);
Wilson (7), King (6)