Although the main focus of gameweek 11 was to see how the table is beginning to shape up on both sides of the league as we are only a few weeks away from the busy December period, Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had an important fixture of their own as they faced difficult trip away to Bournemouth. This was the perfect chance for the side to show consistency in front of goal and in terms of going on a winning run, however, they were unable to overcome Eddie Howe’s men.
In terms of the game as a whole, it was quite balanced between both teams as they were able to see a good amount of possession and had a few opportunities here and there to create some decent chances. Though, most of the action came in the second half, with Joshua King’s well-taken goal just before the half-time break had allowed the game to be more open and entertaining for the neutrals.
To be fair to Solskjaer’s side, they had seem quite tired and lethargic, assuming it has been difficult in containing all the recent matches as well as the long trips in the Europa League. But focusing back onto the Bournemouth match, Ole’s in-game management will have to improve soon or later, as his timing of the substitutions are really poor and it could possibly cost him his job before he knows it.
In the end, the Cherries were able to pick up the much needed three points and their second league victory at home this season as they go up to seventh-place in the table. Meanwhile, the Red Devils drop down to the middle of the table, as they have achieved only three victories in 11 league games, leaving them closer to the relegation zone rather than the top four area of the Premier League table.
Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…
Andreas Pereira and Fred are simply not good enough
Given the lack of midfield quality and squad depth that is offered to Solskjaer this season, it leaves him with no choice but to utilise Andreas Pereira and Fred on a regular basis. For sure, the Brazilian duo show some work rate and passion on both sides of the pitch, but other than that, they are unable to control and dominate the midfield battle to help the team to consistently win games.
With neither of the pair having the ability to play as a box-to-box midfielder or as an advanced playmaker, it does leave the cold question of what do they bring and offer to the team week in and out. If they are not able to make a breakthrough like Scott McTominay has done so over the last 12 months, the United supporters will be desperate in wanting Paul Pogba back from injury or a new midfielder in the January window, as the quality in the middle of the pitch is not good enough.
United’s defensive issues are beginning to rise once again
In the first weeks of the season, it had seemed like United’s defence were really hard to breakthrough and difficult to get passed, thanks to the arrivals of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. However, in the recent fixtures, the feeling and presence of the backline has instantly turnaround, as the opposition have been able to be effective with their physicality and pace.
The criticism of United’s back-four has increased from time to time, as the Old Trafford faithful are starting to point out many weaknesses in each individual, such as Maguire’s decision making and lack of pace, Ashley Young’s incapability to defend and attack or even Victor Lindelof’s difficulties in facing forwards who are superior in height and acceleration. And if this begins to continue, the team may find themselves in a defensive dilemma which they have experienced over the last few years.
The lack of creativity and urgency is what had let the side down
Manchester United finished the defeat at Bournemouth with zero big chances created, one decent counter attack and 15 shots with four of them being on target. On that note, the attacking figures produced by the Red Devils at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon were really below-par, especially for a side that are aiming for a top four finish in the league and have an expensive squad.
If the team are looking to create more chances and complete more shots on target, they will need to start getting both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford more into the game, which they were not able to do as Daniel James had become to go-to-man in recent matches. With the attacking options being limited, United have to work around the movement, pace and the quality of the front three, who have the potential to create chances out nothing and could prove to be deadly on the counter.