38 min “Bloody Adam Smith,” says Ian Copestake. “He should stick to a being a Scottish economist, philosopher, and author as well as a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political economy, and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment, known as ‘The Father of Economics’’ or ‘’The Father of Capitalism.’ The [redacted].”
36 min: Brooks has a goal disallowed! It came after a couple of dodgy passes, first by de Gea and then Maguire, but Solanke was offside in the build-up.
GOAL! Manchester United 2-1 Bournemouth (Rashford 35 pen)
It’s Rashford, not Fernandes, who takes the penalty – and he scores, sliding it into the bottom-right corner. Ramsdale went the right way but couldn’t quite get there.
PENALTY TO UNITED! The corner leads to a scramble in the Bournemouth area and a clear handball from Adam Smith.
32 min Rashford’s fierce long-range shot hits Ake and deflects wide.
Rashford, on the right, cut the ball back to Fernandes on the edge of the area. He played a fine square pass that took four defenders out of the game and found Greenwood. His first touch was immaculate, pushing the ball into space so that he could lash it through Ramsdale with his second. That’s Greenwood’s 14th goal of the season, and he’s still only 18. He is quite something, probably the best young English finisher we’ve seen since Robbie Fowler.
GOAL! Manchester United 1-1 Bournemouth (Greenwood 29)
Mason Greenwood rifles Manchester United level!
28 min Bournemouth look dangerous going forward, Stanislas in particular. It’s a really intriguing game.
26 min After a fine move from United, Wan-Bissaka’s low cross is cleared by Kelly inside the six-yard box.
23 min Stanislas wallops a bouncing ball over the bar from long range. He’s made a very confident start.
21 min Fernandes’s corner clears everyone and comes to Shaw on the edge of the area. His shot is blocked by Brooks. Moments later, Pogba drives an angled pass to Rashford, who heads the ball back across the area towards Greenwood. Ramsdale flies from his line to dive at Greenwood’s feet and knock the ball off him for a goalkick. Good goalkeeping.
20 min “A penny,” says Ian Copestake, “for Roy Keane’s thoughts.”
19 min: Good save from Ramsdale! Rashford curled the free-kick over the wall towards the far corner, and Ramsdale dived to his right to palm it behind.
18 min Pogba is fouled by King 25 yards from goal, slightly to the right of centre. Fernandes is over it.
That was a lovely bit of skill from Junior Stanislas. His first shot was blocked by Maguire, with the ball rebounding towards the byline. Stanislas drew Maguire in, nutmegged him impudently and whipped a shot past de Gea from a very tight angle. He probably shouldn’t have beaten de Gea at the near post but the nutmeg was brilliant.
10 min: Fernandes misses an excellent chance! United should be ahead. Rashford, just inside his own half, curled a superb pass over the Bournemouth defence to release Fernandes, who took the shot first time from the edge of the area. He lobbed it over the outrushing Ramsdale, but his touch was a bit heavy and it also cleared the crossbar.
8 min “You all make too much of people making perch references (is there no free play of signifiers anymore?),” says Ian Copestake. “For instance, some Liverpool fans enjoy the fact that when Fergie spluttered it out he nevertheless did so by referring to ‘their’ perch.”
7 min Matic turns into trouble just outside the United area. Solanke nicks the ball off him and moves into the area, but Matic recovers to make a good tackle.
6 min Bournemouth haven’t just come for a 0-0; they are pushing plenty of players forward when they break.
4 min Nothing to report as yet. United have made a dominant start.
“Fergie said that perch thing off-handedly in the early noughties,” says Digvijay Yadav. “That a lot of Liverpool people have brought it up straight away tells you how much it irked them and how long they have been holding it inside them. Like an English cricket fan waiting to snipe at the Aussies during the 90s.”
The interesting thing is that Fergie didn’t really knock them off their perch at all; George Graham and Arsenal did, with a bit of help from Steve Coppell and perhaps Graeme Souness. But he did clamber atop the vacant perch and do a silly little jig for the next two decades.
“Hey Rob,” says J.R. in Illinois. “So are you excited for Superspeader Saturday or what? Will you be done working in time to go out for a couple yards later? Or maybe you were able to get to the pub when it opened at 6am to suck down a few pints before work? Well, over here in the U.S. of ‘Murica every day is Superspreader Day and yesterday our genius president got the holiday weekend off to a flying start with a lovely get together in the hopes of further dividing the country with the added bonus of likely increasing the spread of a deadly pandemic.”
This year has been a particularly absurd series of the Truman Show.
“From back atop our perch I feel generous enough to give Man Utd fans a tip,” says Ian Copestake. “With Bruno Fernandes in your team you have a great opportunity to do a chant to the tune of “Danny Nedelko” by Idles.”
How many times: LIVERPOOL ARE NOT BACK ON THEIR PERCH!!!!! (Yet.)
Bournemouth have never won at Old Trafford, not even back in the days when they were Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic. That isn’t a completely bad thing, though. An unlikely and historic win today would be a fine way to start a great escape.
The story about Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes being doubtful after a collision in training was a hoax; both start in an unchanged United side. Bournemouth bring in Diego Rico, Lewis Cook and Junior Stanislas for Steve Cook, Philip Billing and Arnaut Danjuma.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Williams, Mata, Pereira, Fred, James, McTominay, Ighalo.
Bournemouth (4-2-2-2) Ramsdale; Smith, Ake, Kelly, Rico; Lerma, L Cook; Brooks, Stanislas; King, Solanke.
Substitutes: Boruc, Travers, Stacey, Gosling, Surman, H Wilson, Billing, Danjuma, Surridge.
Referee Mike Dean.
On 22 January, Manchester United lost 2-0 at home to Burnley. It was their fourth defeat in seven leagues games, and there was a P45 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name on it. Since then, their record is all competitions is outstanding: P15 W11 D4 L0 F38 A4. It’s their longest unbeaten run in three and a half years, and the mood around the club is as positive as it has been since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
There’s one big reason for that. Bruno Fernandes has had the most profound impact of any United signing since Eric Cantona in 1992. It’s not just his goals and assists, either: with his infectious standards, he has dragged all the other players closer to his level. He may also drag them into the Champions League. A win over Bournemouth today would move United above Chelsea, who play Watford tonight, and keep them within range of third-placed Leicester.
United have had some miserable defeats at Old Trafford in the post-Fergie years: Cardiff, Sunderland, Norwich, Newcastle, Swansea (twice), West Brom (thrice). But this, against a Bournemouth side in freefall, really does feel like a home banker.
Kick off 3pm.