All thanks to a bomb scare, the Red Devils match could only take place on Tuesday evening. Manchester United did not hold back when given the opportunity which allowed them to end their season in style as they beat Bournemouth 3-1.
Bournemouth’s season has been successful bearing in mind that the main goal was to stay in the top flight. Bournemouth is sponsored by Mansion Group, infamous operator of sites, like Casino.com. The same can’t be said for Manchester United as they’re season deflated into thin air.
The postponement of Sunday’s game came as a result of a bomb scare which meant the closing of the Premier League’s most unreal season could only end 60 hours later than the rest of the pack. How ironic bearing in mind United were well behind the rest of the crew as they limped out of the title race rather prematurely. They could only salvage a fifth place finish.
It was obviously a game played which they already knew the outcome of as Manchester City had obtained the bare minimum from their game against Swansea which ended as a draw.
Many could argue that United could have prevented this scenario had they been more attack-minded. They fell short due to goal-difference something all too familiar when city rivals are involved. Had they been more adventurous or possibly taken more risks they may have just reaped a better reward. The Red Devils have looked dismal in attack and looked out of ideas. Yet that all changed on Tuesday as they produced three well-taken goals.
It all began when Rashford was on target as he scored one and made another one which further states his claim on why he was called up to England’s provisional Euro 2016 squad this week. Like the last man laughing at a an old joke, Manchester United staggered into the night having overstayed their welcome and bored everyone around them- to no surprise.
There were sudden moments of brilliance, three well taken goals with Wayne Rooney the orchestrator on the nights. Sure they may have not made top 4, yet they did ensure a fifth place finish which puts them comfortably into the Europa league. Had they scored more goals, had they entertained and dared a bit more, they would have beaten fierce rivals to Manchester City to a Champions League place. It’s all a question of what if. All reminiscent of the 2011-12 season when City tipped the rivals of the Barclays Premier league title.
To add the cherry on top of the cake, the man that made it all happen- Louis van Gaal grabbed a microphone and gave a short, emotional address to the remainder of the already minimal crowd. It was swallowed out by the jeering from the Bournemouth supporters. To everyone’s surprise, the speech did not have any signs of a man that was departing. He seemed cheerful and comfortable as if he would be there next season. He only gave the fans encouragement to support them for the upcoming FA Cup final this Saturday. The one thing that will make this season appears less of a failure. Should they put together a slid shift, they will be able to add silverware to a cabinet starting to look a history museum.
Old Trafford was looking rather incomplete as it was only two thirds full. The lowest attendance recorded since this match at Old Trafford was a Champions League qualifier fixture against Debrecen from the Hungarian league. Let’s hope this isn’t something the club will have to get used to. Or maybe it’s just the bomb scare.
Only a 19-0 win would have help Manchester United over City into the Champions League. Funny enough this is the same side struggling for goals- so 19 shouldn’t be that bad right? It’s surely asking for too much as United have looked short on attack let alone goals. To add to the lack of goals the entire season, no stadium had seen less goals than Old Trafford – a rather unfathomable statistic baring in mind that the club was under Ron Atkinson’s leadership and the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s. Which made the odds an unbelievable 2500-1 against them. Pretty low…It was basically half the chance of Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier league. Which to be honest we all didn’t see coming.
Goals continued that evening though as Juan Mata’s pass to Anthony Martial was centered for Rooney who didn’t waste the chance to score a personal landmark goal. With 43 minutes on the clock, this was the only significant attempt at goal, not to encouraging for a side that needed 18 more goals.
The second half was more encouraging. Michael Carrick had a great strike turned down as it smashed against the crossbar and Adam Federici’s was at full stretch to deny Antonio Valencia’s attempt. Some good showings for two players that are likely to leave the doors once the season ends.
Given the chaos caused by Sunday’s bomb scare, one might have not been to far-fetched to expected Old Trafford to be ring fenced by men in high-visibility jackets. Instead, a rather calm atmosphere was felt. “This is an important security announcement, please do not leave bags unattended,” echoed a voice at various intervals throughout the game. Thankfully at no point were there any announcements of another bomb. Or we could’ve expected to hear a line “Please do not attach fake bombs to a toilet and then forget about it”, as Manchester United’s security firm had done. When United’s fans began leaving early, the Bournemouth supporters began chanting: “Is there a bomb scare?”
The season finished with the now compulsory ‘lap of appreciation’ to a stadium that was shrinking in size compared to when the match opened. 11 eager mascots dressed up to resemble characters from the upcoming X Men Apocalypse, produced by Manchester United’s media partner, Twentieth Century Fox.
Marcus Rashford, a bright spark to a dark season had a good game. He found the net to add to his impressive tally. Similar to that of like Ashley Young’s third, were all curtesy of sheer brilliance from Rooney. Although often highly criticized this season, Rooney was sheer brilliance on the night. He approaches each game, wherever it is played, or whatever is at stake seriously. Van Gaal once more played him in midfield and now he produced a lovely cross that was nodded down into Rashford’s path. The teenager didn’t fail to capitalize as he volleyed his shot into the net beneath the Stretford End. As if Rooney’s pass for Rashford was not spectacular, he produced yet another beauty of a chip for Young to run on to which Young acknowledged and finished as theball swung into Federici’s net.
There had been numerous rants written about the inconvenience the postponement had caused to Manchester United fans who had been travelled from afar namely India and Canada and relatively little about those who had to endure a 10-hour round trip from the South Coast all just to see the last game of the season. To their fulfilment, United did not disappoint when they had the platform to perform. Those who had journeyed back up for the rearranged game deserved something. And of course, United didn’t disappoint as they offered a small goodbye treat. It came in the form of Chris Smalling knocking one through his own net. This season the first goal at Old Trafford was an own-goal and so was the last. Talk about a dramatic ending.
The teams lined up as follows:
Manchester United: (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson; Carrick, Rooney, Mata (Herrera 75); Lingard, Rashford (Depay 78), Martial (Young 83). Substitutes:Romero (g), Jones, Varela, Pereira.
Bournemouth: (4-4-2): Federici; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Richie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh; King (Afobe 67), Wilson (Grabban 78). Substitutes: Holmes (g), Gradel, Stanislas, O’Kane, Jordan.
Referee: Jon Moss
Match rating: 6/10
Man of the match: Rooney (Manchester United)