Wayne Rooney's time is up, video technology and the same old story for Manchester United against Bournemouth

Not for the first time, Jose Mourinho's side dropped points in a game they've dominated at home

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The Independent Football

Luke Shaw

Shaw returned to the starting line-up for the first time since October after Jose Mourinho said he had all the attributes to become the best left back in the world this week – and he hardly looked like he’d missed a beat. He threw in a couple of good, strong early challenges – the type someone who was still fretting about their broken leg would never put in. The Englishman also did well offensively, providing an overlap for the in-cutting Anthony Martial and sprayed forward a fantastic long ball to set Paul Pogba free in the first half. The second half was more about attacking than defending meaning Shaw’s afternoon did get easier as Bournemouth were reduced to 10 men. Even so, on this performance it is difficult to see the reason behind Mourinho’s reluctance to play him.

Wasted chances

The story of United’s season. If Mourinho’s side had managed to converted even 50 per cent more of the chances they’ve had this season there is a fine chance they would battling Chelsea at the top of the league with a commanding goal difference to boot. Wayne Rooney, Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (twice) and Martial (also twice) managed to squander golden chances in the opening 20 minutes which would have seen United home and dry – and possibly 6-0 ahead. Instead they laboured to a Marcos Rojo goal before conceding an equaliser towards the end of the first half and memories of Burnley, West Ham, Stoke and Arsenal came flooding back. Even against 10 men United struggled to break Bournemouth down and their day was summed up with Ibrahimovic’s 73rd-minute penalty miss.

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Martial was one of a number of United stars guilty of wasting early opportunities (Getty)

Defence

Much like the wasted chances, the other story of United’s season has been the concession of a cheap goal. This time the guilty party was Phil Jones, who felled Marc Pugh and allowed Joshua King to rifle home a 40th-minute penalty to keep the scores level at half time. Jones then immediately put his side back in danger with a sloppy touch which was only cleaned up by Rojo. Mourinho has a reputation for building title-winning sides on sturdy defences but there appears to be an unusual lack of confidence held by United’s central defensive duo. Expect that, along with the striking department, to be Mourinho’s main focus during the summer transfer window.

Video technology

Andrew Surman received a red card in the incident, for pushing Ibrahimovic to the ground, but the Swede, as well as Tyrone Mings could and should have been given their marching orders before that. Mings stamped on Ibrahimovic’s head before the former PSG man returned the love with a huge elbow to the side of the defender’s head at the following corner. Had video technology been available surely both men would not have returned for the second half. Kevin Friend took no action against the duo but the likelihood is that he saw both incidents at half time, which raises the question of whether that is fair in itself with the danger that the referee could seek to atone for his error.

Wayne Rooney’s time is up

Rooney returned to the starting line-up to play in the hole behind Ibrahimovic despite their partnership not really coming to fruition earlier in the season. On Saturday it still didn’t seem to click, with Rooney’s pass to the Swede slightly ahead of him. Their slightly out-of-sync performance was summed up towards the end of the first half when the United captain took out his strike partner with a slide tackle, moments before the incident which led to Surman’s red card. He had a few more chances at the game wore on but was ultimately withdrawn in the 70th minute with the game still needing to be won. That alone was the most telling moment of Rooney’s afternoon and the clearest indicator yet that life without the England captain at Old Trafford could be more imminent that originally expected.

Failure to take fourth

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Mourinho will not be pleased with his side's inability to close out games (Getty)

United could have jumped to fourth – for a matter of hours – with a win against Bournemouth and put real pressure on the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool. One of the Gunners or Liverpool would have finished the weekend above them regardless but, with a game in hand, it was the perfect chance for Mourinho’s side to being their top four assault. They had a similar chance earlier in the season and similarly failed to take it. Other members of the top six will not keep giving United these chances to smuggle into the Champions League spots and it’s beginning to feel like only a Europa League triumph will see them restored to Europe’s elite. 

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