Man Utd regress to miserable mean; no firm Forest answer – F365’s 3pm Blackout

Ian Watson
Bruno Fernandes looks dejected while Steve Cooper acknowledges Forest's supporters.
Bruno Fernandes looks dejected while Steve Cooper acknowledges Forest's supporters.

Manchester United marked a decade of mediocrity in apt fashion while being outclassed by Bournemouth, while Steve Cooper’s can looks likely to be kicked down the road a little further…

If nothing else, at least Manchester United marked the 10th anniversary of this Tweet for the ages in the most fitting way possible…

A decade later, United showed how little has changed. While being schooled by Bournemouth, they were sloppy in possession, blunt in attack and outthought at the back. It was a similar story in other areas too. In short: they were sh*te.

How typical of this United to round off a few days of rare positivity at Old Trafford with a performance that lacked any redeeming features. Finally they churned out a display on Wednesday that offered some encouragement and the visit of Bournemouth ought to have been the chance to build some momentum. Instead, the Cherries have prompted us to reframe that midweek win in the context of Chelsea’s flaws rather than any strength the Red Devils might possess.

Credit here for Bournemouth – they deserve more than they will receive while we and everyone else focus on United’s wretchedness. The Cherries started fast and never really eased off. Even when United attempted to build up a head of steam, Andoni Iraola’s men refused to sit off and engaged with the hosts in what, at times, became an end-to-end encounter.

Evidence yet again of United’s woeful inability to assert any control on a football match. They have moments, little more. And today, Bournemouth seized the initiative and enjoyed many more of those moments.

It helps that Bournemouth have a fit-for-purpose centre-forward. Not that it was needed, but the threat carried by Dominic Solanke once again highlighted the void today filled by a hologram of Anthony Martial. The fact the Frenchman was given another start by Ten Hag ought to be a sackable offence in itself. New contract, you say?

Ten Hag stubbornly refused to make changes despite the momentum of the game slipping further from United’s grasp the longer it went on. They had been three-down for six minutes before Ten Hag made a triple substitution that might reasonably have come at half-time.

While the manager waited, the captain seethed. Bruno Fernandes has received plenty of unwarranted criticism but the skipper deserves all the flak he gets – and plenty more – for a late booking for dissent that rules him out of next weekend’s trip to Liverpool. Absolutely f***ing brain dead. Unless that was his intention…

Report: Manchester United 0-3 Bournemouth: Red Devils embarrassed by Cherries


It remains to be seen how Evangelos Marinakis interprets a draw away at Wolves. But when he reportedly gave Steve Cooper one more game in which to deliver a ‘positive result’ to save his Nottingham Forest future, it probably won’t have been what the chairman had in mind.

One point is an undeniable improvement on the four consecutive defeats which preceded it. A run which culminated in that Fulham thrashing and roughly coincided with the mysterious squad exile of captain Joe Worrall has forced Cooper towards the brink, with fans trying their utmost to push him back into safety with their resounding support.

A draw was almost inevitable once such importance was placed on one result. It is always a fool’s errand to decide a manager’s fate based on any one game and a stalemate that can be judged as a point gained or two lost based on perceptions and preconceptions is precisely what it deserves.

Cooper made seven changes from that Fulham defeat – many will have considered that lenient considering the performance levels – and he was rewarded with the desired reaction. Harry Toffolo put the visitors ahead with a fine header assisted by a sublime cross from one of the players coming into the side, Neco Williams.

Among the other alterations Cooper made was Cheikhou Kouyate, whose interception and pass helped create the goal. Matt Turner also came in for Odysseas Vlachodimos and there was a shift to a back five. But Wolves constructed a divine equaliser that any defence would have done well to repel.

Matheus Cunha contributed to the build-up and provided the sweeping finish from Pablo Sarabia’s cut-back to establish a parity which neither side would break in the subsequent hour, their seven shots each summing up an even game.

Forest should take heart from that. Wolves have beaten Manchester City and Spurs at home this season and Gary O’Neil has built one of the league’s more obdurate teams in his image. Matching their energy and organisation levels is no easy feat in any game and it should buy Cooper – backed so vocally by the travelling support once again – more time. The problem, as ever, is how much.

Report: Wolves 1-1 Nottingham Forest: Cunha keeps Cooper guessing as shares are spoiled at Molineux

Wolves came from behind to draw with Forest

“My question is if we concede less goals, do we score less goals? We have a clear style, we have a clear DNA. For sure, we can defend better, but the last four or five goals we have conceded from set-pieces, Nottingham [Forest], a penalty, Chelsea three set-pieces, Mbeumo scored a penalty on Wednesday.”

Roberto De Zerbi will not feel that a speculative Wilson Odobert shot, deflected in off James Milner, undermines his point. Brighton have wrestled with the ‘short blanket’ problem for long enough to know what they are dealing with. If you cover your head, your feet get cold, but if you cover your feet, your head gets cold.

That is their “DNA”. Brighton’s Premier League games this season have involved 61 goals, at least seven more than every other team. They have scored in 32 consecutive matches and after Sheffield United kept out Brentford in victory on Saturday, are one of two clubs alongside Luton yet to keep a clean sheet.

Burnley’s top league scorers this season are Josh Brownhill and Lyle Foster, with three each. With Simon Adingra’s equaliser at the Amex, six different Brighton players have reached that mark already. But despite having 18 unanswered shots from the 50th minute onwards, the hosts could not find a winner.

Kauro Mitoma changed the game as a half-time substitute but it was Pascal Gross who was the star again, digging out a sublime cross for Adingra to head past James Trafford.

The Burnley keeper was not to be beaten again, making up for a couple more shaky moments playing out from the back with a stellar performance between the sticks.

The Clarets showed a rare grit and determination to grind out a result which nevertheless keeps them in the relegation zone, while the Seagulls remain mired in a congested mid-table as perennial entertainers. As De Zerbi said, “we have players that prefer to attack”. And for better or worse, that is the nature of the Brighton beast.

Read more: Brighton 1-1 Burnley: Seagulls score and concede again as Clarets squander another lead


Sheffield United certainly couldn’t get any worse after the performance that did for Paul Heckingbottom. But the improvement sought by reappointing Chris Wilder was achieved against Liverpool in midweek and, more encouragingly, in securing their second win of the season, against Brentford on Saturday.

A reaction to their Turf Moor tonking was inevitable in midweek upon Wilder’s homecoming but a clash with Liverpool was always something of a free-hit for the Blades. Against the Bees, just being better was never going to be enough. Points, not performance, was the priority.

Wilder got both. Their second three-point haul of the campaign was secured with the game’s only real moment of quality when James McAtee curled a beauty from the right-corner of the box into the top left corner.

Such moments are few and far between for the Blades, which made it the priority for Wilder to tighten up a porous defence, robbed of some of its most senior members. The manager, as enthusiastically as he celebrated McAtee’s winner, will take significantly more satisfaction from 90 minutes of relative solidity at the back and a first clean sheet of the season.

The Bees’ lack of sting is a caveat in the Blades’ defensive improvement. Brentford were missing Bryan Mbeumo, the man who has covered valiantly in Ivan Toney’s absence, and without both of their most dangerous forwards, Thomas Frank’s side carried disturbingly little threat.

With such little potency, it is far less of a surprise than a concern for Frank that Brentford have now lost four of their last five matches. The Bees have eight days until they welcome Villa, then another 10 before they play host to Wolves the day after Boxing Day. Mbeumo won’t be back, so Frank has to use the time he has been gifted by Manchester City’s trip to Saudi for the Club World Cup to spark some creativity.

For Wilder, now consistency at the back is the key. The returning boss has harnessed the energy of the home support this week but the Blades cannot tap into that energy source when they go to Chelsea and Villa in their next two games.

Report: Sheffield United 1-0 Brentford: McAtee gives Blades huge win over Bees