“Louis got one of his ‘facts’ right, then: we have improved.”
“Last time we lost here, we didn’t even score.”
The disparity between the two sides was staggering. Bournemouth’s whole team cost £2.5m to build. That’s what just one United player, Wayne Rooney, earns during his summer holidays. True, United had a significant injury list — but the Cherries’ was arguably worse, given the shallowness of their playing resources. After all, Van Gaal still felt able to put England internationals Young and Jones on the bench rather than in the XI.
But the biggest disparity of all was between the two sides’ effort and pace. The Cherries’ perpetual buzz, their chink-free teamwork, and their application were a credit to the club. Compare and contrast with United’s dishevelled shabby sloth, best exemplified during the final quarter of the match, when they barely troubled their opponents and, frankly, looked as though they were no longer trying that hard for the manager.
And who can blame them?
Van Loony’s substitutions alone appeared to warrant his immediate sectioning. For some Reds, merely the knowing phrase “Nick Powell” was enough to sum up all that has been wrong with LVG’s match management this past week — a view apparently shared by some players, judging by press whispers from Wolfsburg about the aftermath of Mata’s withdrawal.
On the bench at Dean Court, stoically impassive, sat an impotent Ryan Giggs, described by a United insider to one hack on Saturday as “furious” at suggestions he might leave Old Trafford for Swansea. You’d be forgiven for thinking that anyone with his glorious past might prefer anywhere but Old Trafford at the moment. What must he be thinking as he surveys such on-pitch carnage, understanding instructions to not even venture into the technical zone? Perhaps: “Oay, I will sit tight, then; this’ll all be mine soon enough.”
At the moment, that’s a prospect which would be grasped as heavenly manna by a majority of Reds. Heck, at the moment, I suspect most of us would even take Rhodri Giggs over Van Loony.
But Ed Woodward has assured us that he will be sticking with Louis until the bitter end. Hey, he might even offer him an extension come 2017, according to a source-quoting report in one British Sunday redtop. Then again David Moyes too benefited from Woodward’s unstinting briefing support all down the line — until 11.59pm, when he suddenly didn’t.
Nevertheless, some simple truths pertain: United’s stadium remains full; we are just one win from the top of the league; and we remain part of three winnable competitions.
Until the objective facts change into something much darker for the Glazers’ balance sheet, you can see why Louis still feels strong enough to tough it out, whilst displaying all the charm and modesty for which he is famed.
Make no mistake, however: worms are turning wherever you look. Current and ex-players have dialled up the volume and frequency of their badmouthing, and fans appear to be a couple of bad 90 minutes away from ‘going Goodison’. (cf Everton, April 2014.)
We are not quite there yet. But the fact we’re even talking about it apparently puts us in the same tricoteuse circle as old Uncle Fergie, whose ‘friends’ are telling gossips like me he is “displeased” with LVG. You wonder whether Louis has a single friend left at United. Ah yes, sorry — he does: ol’ faithful, Ed Woodward. Somehow, I don’t think that constitutes the kind of reassurance that would help a boss sleep at night, Do you?