If the Theatre of Dreams had appeared misnamed at instances lately, not less than so far as its main characters had been involved, now it’s beginning to stage the identical form of drama again and again: a Manchester United win. A seventh consecutive residence victory in all competitions and a fourth in a row within the Premier League with out conceding was scarcely a spectacular consequence however United can welcome that. Goals from Casemiro, Luke Shaw and, inevitably, Marcus Rashford dispatched Bournemouth and if there was a routine really feel to the end result, United might savour that.
In the earlier 4 seasons, that they had barely gained a majority of residence league video games, simply 39 of 76, by no means with greater than 10 in a marketing campaign. Erik ten Hag’s reign started with defeat right here to Brighton. Since then, nevertheless, they’ve proven indicators of turning Old Trafford again right into a fortress. Their reward is a five-point cushion in fourth place and a spherical of fixtures the place Liverpool have misplaced, Newcastle have drawn and Chelsea must face Manchester City is taking up a productive search for United.
So, too, is Rashford’s type: he has scored in all 4 outings because the World Cup and, no matter his timekeeping in the case of group conferences, his burst of targets has helped United settle into life after Cristiano Ronaldo.
While Ten Hag believes his aspect want one other striker in January, he has a potent winger. That mentioned, victory was sealed by a defensive midfielder and a left-back, every courtesy of a well-timed burst into the field.
Certainly it feels as if there are few issues Casemiro can’t do. He has returned from the World Cup in imperious type – certainly, given Shaw and Rashford’s performances since they got here again from Qatar, United really feel beneficiaries of the winter event – and, after an uneventful first 20 minutes, the Brazilian scored a purpose cast in the summertime switch market.
Christian Eriksen whipped in a free kick and Casemiro ghosted in previous Dominic Solanke to volley previous Mark Travers. For Bournemouth, it was a variation on an sad theme. Gary O’Neil’s aspect had conceded twice from corners in opposition to Crystal Palace on Saturday and set-piece frailties may but value them their place within the Premier League.
United had saluted essentially the most profitable of their World Cup contingent: the winner Lisandro Martinez was afforded an ovation when paraded on the pitch earlier than kick-off and once more when summoned as a late substitute. Even earlier than then, Ten Hag had reconfigured his defence. Raphael Varane was benched to handle his health. For Harry Maguire, after the ignominy of being benched so Shaw may play centre-back at Wolves, there got here a return to the group. For Shaw, his momentary stint within the center over, the extra acquainted duties on the flank that allowed him to enterprise ahead. He took benefit of being liberated to attain simply his fourth purpose for United, slotting in from Alejandro Garnacho’s cutback. The younger Argentinian later jinked infield to twist a shot in opposition to the put up and had one other effort parried by Mark Travers. He sparkled and a staple of the Old Trafford songbook – “Viva Ronaldo” – has been repurposed to have a good time him as a substitute.
Garnacho was launched simply earlier than half-time when considered one of Donny van de Beek’s most interesting United shows was abruptly curtailed as he hobbled off after a Marcos Senesi slipped right into a problem. The Dutchman’s show was an indication of how they appear a extra coherent group underneath Ten Hag however simply his second league begin of the season got here as a result of Antony was injured, so Bruno Fernandes started on the best wing. Rashford ended up there, and so they mixed for United’s third. Fernandes met Shaw’s diagonal cross with a low volleyed centre and Rashford utilized the easy end. It mattered not that their striker had a quiet evening. Anthony Martial had headed previous the put up in both half however, as is usually the case, didn’t full the sport. That need for ahead reinforcements might replicate considerations about his health in addition to if he can show prolific sufficient.
Bournemouth might have comparable worries. Scorers of 11 targets of their 4 video games previous to the World Cup, they’re but to search out the web in 4 because it. Arguably their three finest probabilities fell inside a minute and, on every event, they had been denied by David de Gea. His first and finest cease was to repel Philip Billing’s header earlier than he held Solanke’s. Then, as United all of the sudden wobbled, he needed to claw away an effort from Jaidon Anthony. The left wing-back was significantly vigorous and De Gea needed to save one other shot from Anthony in injury-time earlier than, freakishly, Siriki Dembele hit the bar with a cross. But United weathered these alarms and haven’t been breached since their journey to Fulham on 13 November. And solidity on the again, like residence type, has been the bedrock of many a profitable marketing campaign.