It had been an odd couple of days leading up to Manchester United’s final league game of the season. The kerfuffle on Sunday meant that the Reds would have to play on Tuesday evening; Old Trafford was evacuated and the match abandoned because of a ‘training device’ (dummy bomb) left in one of the toilets. The club was once again a laughing stock, although praise must go to the staff at Old Trafford who carried out the evacuation and handled the tricky situation as well as they could have.
Sunday also featured Manchester City’s final game of the season. United were desperate for a Swansea victory over the ‘noisy neighbours’ in the hope that the Reds could still realistically nab Champions League qualification. Unfortunately, the Sky Blues held out for a 1-1 draw at the Etihad, meaning that United would have to scored 19 goals and concede none against Bournemouth to steal 4th place… As you may have predicted, United didn’t succeed in that feat.
Louis van Gaal, in what might have been his final game at Old Trafford, made a statement of attacking intent with his line-up. The Dutchman has either been following United fans on Twitter or had a revelation; Rojo was finally dropped, after weeks of poor performances, with the young Cameron Borthwick-Jackson reintroduced at left back. Mata and Lingard were finally switched from their uncomfortable roles to their natural positions, the former playing behind Rashford, the latter out on the right wing. The rest of the team was as you might have expected. Rooney played as a midfield driving force next to the deep lying Carrick. Young stars Rashford and Martial played up front and on the left respectively with the defence made up by Valencia, Blind and Smalling with De Gea in net.
The game did not start positively. As has been the case for much of the season, the opposition sat deep and looked dangerous on the counter. United were laborious in attack, unable to break down Bournemouth’s defence until the 43rd minute. Martial played a quick one-two with Mata before firing the ball across the box (through Rashford’s dummy) to pick out Rooney who slotted home before half time. It took until the 74th minute to grab the second, Rooney’s ‘Hollywood’ cross-field pass picked out Valencia, who pulled the ball back to Rashford to slot home. Young scored a late goal but Bournemouth got a consolation through a Smalling own-goal at the death, ending the game at 3-1 to the hosts.
De Gea: 6
Heart-breaking to concede a deflected goal in the 92nd minute and lose his clean sheet which would have awarded the Spaniard with the Golden Glove, joint with Petr Čech. Had literally nothing to do for the entirety of the match. Hopefully not his final game in a United shirt.
Another solid appearance for the Reds. Wasn’t challenged too often but when he was called into action the youngster did not disappoint. Playing in practically a left wing role, he interchanged clever passes with Martial on the left and his whipped crosses really do look similar to the likes of Beckham, as United fans haven’t failed to point out. Pass success rate of 93%, 2 dribbles, 2 tackles. Should have got closer to Grabban for his cross which led to the Bournemouth goal. A reasonably smooth night for the Mancunian.
Like Borthwick-Jackson, and the rest of the United defence, had a very quiet night. Looked a bit shaky whenever he tried to dribble the ball out of the back but he did the job effectively tonight. He harried the Bournemouth strikers whenever they got possession of the ball. Completed 93% of his passes, 1 tackle and 2 dribbles. Was left in no-mans-land for the consolation goal.
Dominated in the air winning 5 aerial duals. Had a pass success rate of 95% and, like Blind, closed down the speedy Wilson and King with ease. Was very unlucky to deflect Wilson’s shot past De Gea, the English international did not have time to react and cannot be blamed for it either. His powerful performance summed up his season and was rightly awarded the Players’ Player of the Year award.
Combined well with Lingard to make a very industrious right hand side. Won the second most tackles on the pitch (4) and got forward well too, providing Rashford with a well-weighted cut back to fire home. Really does look like a useful player and is probably worth holding on to over the summer, not something many United fans would have said two months ago.
An unfortunately quite game for the man who may not be playing in a United shirt next season. Had an un-Carrick-like long range strike deflected onto the woodwork (any type of Carrick strike is normally unusual). Shielded the back four effectively and distributed play with lots of sideways passes and lay-offs. Not the best, but nowhere near the worst we have seen of Carrick. Hopefully, he’ll stick around next season. He is a good player to have in the dressing room.
As is the norm now, looked dangerous every time he picked up the ball with space to run into. Played a fantastic one-two with Mata before setting up Rooney for the opener. Like Mata, if given room to roam, can be lethal in picking up areas of space to play quick passes or run at the opposition. The boy-wonder has been rightfully picked in the French squad for this summer’s Euros, and will probably start in an attacking trio alongside Giroud and Griezmann, frightening for any defence.
Much the scape-goat for United’s season, the Captain seems to be warming to his new position in the centre of the park. Although yet to come up against really tough opposition, Rooney has excelled at driving at defences from deep and arriving late into the penalty area in a Lampard-esc fashion, exactly how he scored against Bournemouth. His fantastic ball out to Valencia on the right hand side was the assist of the assist of Rashford’s goal, so to speak. He also dinked a lovely ball over the Cherry’s defence to Young, who slotted away the third.
Looks much more dangerous in a central position rather than on the wing. Played some nice interchanges with both Martial and Rooney in advanced positions and should have been awarded a penalty after being brought down in the area. Was substituted in the 75th minute for Herrera. Not his most influential game, but if United want to play attractive football in the future, Mata needs to be given the freedom to create like his did on Tuesday night.
Industrious as ever on the right, but as the stats suggest (2 tackles, 0 dribbles), the Mancunian is not the Red Devil’s most influential player in an attacking sense. Conservative in possession and never really managed to make an impact on the game. Some United fans on twitter have taken to slating the 23 year old for ‘not being good enough’. While I do not disagree, Lingard definitely has things to offer this team, his work rate being a big one. Hopefully he will be included in a squad role for next season.
Showed all of those doubters why the 18 year old Mancunian has been included in Hodgson’s conditional 26-man squad for the Euros. His burst onto the scene has been phenomenal. Like Martial, his statistics do not do him justice, his dribbling and runs off the ball are so intelligent and mature for a forward of his age. Scored the finest finish of the night from Valencia’s lay-off, an exquisitely executed half-volley into the far corner of the net. Lots more exciting things to come from the youngster.
Replaced Mata with fifteen minutes to play. Didn’t get involved enough.
Made a few good runs but lost possession too many times. Next year is a new year. Memphis is going to need to forget about this season and starting
thinking about what kind of player he wants to be,
Came on for the final few minutes as a striker and made a very intelligent run which was picked out by Rooney. Slotted the ball past Federici to score his first goal of the season in his last game of the season.
Because of the fiasco on Sunday at Old Trafford, United now only have four days to prepare for the FA Cup final at Wembley in comparison with Crystal Palace’s six. However, the Eagles seem to have been resting for even longer than that: they did not put in much of a performance against Southampton on Sunday, losing 4-1, showing that their sights were firmly set on the Cup. While United are favourites for the game, nothing, especially in this dramatic season of football, is certain. It would be a fantastic way to send off Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has received huge amounts of criticism this season, most of it justified, however, the man deserves massive respect for his career and has fundamentally improved the team since the days of Moyes. Winning the FA Cup would make a poor stint with the Red Devils a little less poor.