Reaction to tonight’s narrow win.
United were far from their best in this game. Any hopes that they would put in an inspired shift to react to Sunday’s game, as Jose Mourinho had suggested he too was looking forward to, weren’t kept alive for very long as it became obvious this would be a fairly flat affair.
The Old Trafford crowd did not seem particularly excited about a freezing midweek game against Bournemouth and the occasion as a whole was rather flat. This wasn’t a case of Mourinho’s ‘boring United’; we’ve been here many times before.
…but still, forward steps
We’ll refrain from criticism of the team too much with the above point because, after all, how many times have we seen United in these positions in the last few years and fail to pick up wins at home where they should?
It might not seem like it but these sorts of victories are a sign of just how far United have come under their manager. Tonight wasn’t great, Sunday likely won’t be either, but let’s just hope Paul Pogba’s return can do what it did when he came back from injury.
Welcome but not conclusive
Romelu Lukaku’s header was a fine effort from Juan Mata’s cross. It was sort of a bittersweet moment, and not quite the euphoric and emphatic statement one might have wanted from his return to the goals.
The truth behind that is there’s no doubting Lukaku’s ability to put away the goals against these sorts of teams, and, while we’re being a little generous with our praise, it should be worth pointing out that part of the benefit of signing him was to convert those frustrating home draws from last season against the so-called lesser lights into wins. On that score, well, again, so far so good. But Lukaku’s anonymity in the bigger games will inevitably have most questioning that £75m fee until such time that he puts it right.