A match that perfectly reflects the post-Ferguson era
In truth, if United were searching for any positives it would be the continued form of Harry Maguire and if not for his two vital interceptions in the first half, Bournemouth would have been out of sight by half time. Ironic and deeply unsettling is that one of the rare positive points from the game is the prevention of further embarrassment.
How the times have truly changed.
The week in itself has really been symbolic of the years since Sir Alex Ferguson has retired. A win against Chelsea drew hope amongst the Old Trafford faithful that things might be heading upwards only to come crashing down against Bournemouth which mirrors seasons where United finished in the top four only to fall apart the following season. A common theme of one step forward and two steps back has forcefully been ingrained into the club’s DNA since 2013.
The victory against Chelsea was celebrated as the best performance from the team this season which needs remembering that it came four months into the season. Few would deny that the performance was the best of the season or fans are not entitled to celebrate when their team plays well. Perhaps it can be mutually exclusive in the fact that the fans celebrating a victory against a Chelsea team, that some would argue are nowhere near the peak of their powers are a telling sign of the dropping standards at Old Trafford.
Nowadays, fans draw happiness from finishing inside a Champions League place whilst under Ferguson, happiness was drawn from winning major trophies. Not filler trophies. Major trophies.
A trip down memory lane during the 2009/10 season where United finished second and won the League Cup should paint no further contrast in the standards of the team then and now. Most of the players and fans in 2009/10 will remember that season for losing the Premier League title to Chelsea rather than winning a domestic cup. The mindset from that blip would be to come back for an assault on the league title rather than to repeat their League Cup win or be satisfied with a Top 4 finish.
Leading up to the game against Bournemouth, many fans pointed out to the form of the visitors who took 10 points from 5 games and that they could be a potentially dangerous opponent. Against Galatasary, many points were made about the dangerous home ground advantage of the Turkish club and against Everton away, there were concerns about playing at a fired up Goodison Park after the perceived injustice of their point deduction.
The discerning trend here being the mindset which lacks confidence and is more concerned with the potential danger in their opponent than the confidence in their own stature, firepower and belief to win.
Ten Hag must know that every opponent they face will pose different questions and sooner or later, they simply need to just win. If nights like tonight against Bournemouth continue, any goodwill built up last season will continue to wash away if they have not been done so already. With games against Liverpool at Anfield and Bayern Munich at home to come, there may yet be more pain to come.