The Comeback FC have done it again. For the past month or so, United have had the same story for every match day. The team starts with some mundane football, which is then followed by some atrocious defending which inevitably leads to a goal for the opposition. Had it been only this, the false reports in the media would have proven to be true. But then the real Jose Mourinho rises and his men completely turn the game on its head. The talk which he has with his troops is certainly one of a high motivational degree because Manchester United in the second half play like a team possessed and dare I say it, like Manchester United of old.
Just like many games before this, United came down all guns blazing in the second half against Bournemouth. This time it seemed like the relentless pressing, wave after wave of attack and a surfeit of shots on goal would bear no fruit as the scoreline still read 1-1 when the clock hit 90 minutes. But Manchester United did what Manchester United do, an injury-time winner to complete yet another memorable comeback and this time it came from the boot of Manchester-born Marcus Rashford.
Young Smalling Lindelof Shaw
Fred Matic Pogba
Mata Alexis Martial
The world’s best goalkeeper was at his usual best at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday. He made a series of very important saves in the first half to keep Manchester United in the game. But he saved his best for the last when a brilliant flick from David Brooks looked destined to find the bottom corner only to be gathered brilliantly by De Gea.
Young had a mixed game on Saturday where he was great going forward but struggled at the back. He was caught out several times by Ryan Fraser but again, going ahead was dangerous with his link-up play on the right. He even hit the bar from a great free-kick and United would have taken the lead from the rebound, if not for an unreal miss from Marcus Rashford.
Smalling has been decent in recent games but he was humiliated on the weekend by the Cherries attackers. He made several mistakes in the first half and if not for the brilliance of De Gea, United would have been three or four goals down by half time.
Lindelof has had two outstanding games in a United shirt, putting in a complete performance against Juventus and Everton. But this game was a bit of a step back for him. He was shaky in the first half where he was dragged out of position several times by Callum Wilson. He grew into the game in the second period and time and time again came out of the defence with the ball and looked for a pass ahead to the forwards.
United’s player of the season so far, Shaw, had yet another impressive performance under his belt. He was lucky in the first half when his “shove in the back” on Brooks wasn’t given as a penalty but apart from that, he hardly had any hiccups. He was brilliant going forward and after a tasty one-two with Martial, Shaw ran into the box and unleashed a shot, only to be denied by the huge frame of Asmir Begovic.
Ever since his return from the World Cup and the surgery in the preseason, Matic has looked jaded. From the last season, we all know how good Nemanja Matic is but it is really sad to see him struggle this year and get pick pocketed by the opposition. Maybe he needs a time off like Lukaku and then hopefully he will be back to his authoritative best.
Fred had a decent chance in the first half to score from a Martial cross but his weak effort was blocked by the defender. In the second half, like the whole team, his performance also improved and he was quite unlucky to be substituted for Ander Herrera.
Just like the Everton game, Pogba was at the heart of everything that was good for Man United in the attacking half. He created a plethora of chances for his teammates and in the end, summed up his performance with a brilliant step over and pinpoint cross to set up Rashford’s winner. Earlier in the second half, Pogba came inches from scoring his 4th goal of the Premier League season but was denied by a goal-line clearance.
Ever since that Newcastle comeback, Juan Mata has been in undroppable form for the Red Devils. But surprisingly, he wasn’t able to weave his magic on the pitch against the Cherries. His quick combination play with his teammates was off the radar and so were his runs off the ball. He had to be substituted for Rashford as Mourinho looked for more pace in the attack that could trouble the Bournemouth backline.
Martial once again sent 50 million down the drain as he scored for the 4th consecutive Premier League game. The Frenchman is literally unplayable at the moment and even though he wasn’t as involved as he was against Everton, Martial found himself at the right place at the right time when Alexis Sanchez crossed from the right. Martial finished with aplomb to bring United back into the game. Even in the second half, his sizzling chemistry with Luke Shaw and Pogba on the left was one that left the United faithful in complete awe.
After missing the last game due to injury, Sanchez was in the starting XI and this time, as a striker. Romelu Lukaku didn’t travel with the squad after sustaining a small knock on Saturday in training and this gave Alexis the start he needed. He looked sharp right from the first minute and even assisted Martial’s first goal. He looked lively in the second half as well but had to be subbed off because it was his first start in almost over a month.
Well, giving a substitute a 10/10 would mean that he scored the goals that won you the game, right? Well, not exactly. Herrera didn’t score the winner or didn’t even assist it but he surely turned the game on its head upon his arrival. Herrera is a bundle of energy who has an eye for a killer pass as well as the tenacity to go for any 50-50 challenge. He himself went close with two bending shots from the edge of the box but the ball agonisingly curled away from the post. The fact that Mourinho praised him so much after the game makes sure that it is only a matter of time before he cements his starting birth in the team and rightly so.
Rashford has had a very strange season so far. Despite getting the opportunities at the club level, he has failed to convert his chances into goals and when he wears an England shirt, everything seems to fall into the right place. He was wasteful against Everton and the same story continued on the south coast when he missed an open goal from literally 3 yards out. After Young’s freekick had hit the bar, the ball came to Rashford and with Begovic out of the picture, he had the whole goal at his mercy. But he hit his shot straight at Nathan Ake and the chance passed away. However, for what Rashford did at the end, you can’t slack him off. He finally had the composure to wait for the bouncing ball to settle down and slot it into the back of the net to give United all three points.
Lingard came in for the last few minutes as United searched for a winner. This was Lingard’s first involvement in quite some time and he didn’t see much of the ball, but he had a great chance to finish the game off in the 90th minute. A lovely layoff from Rashford released him on the right with space to shoot but the 25-year-old could only shoot close to Begovic who saved quite comfortably.