Man Utd show little in Bournemouth draw as 2022 Rangnick quote begs question over Ten Hag sack

Jason Soutar
Man Utd captain Bruno Fernandes looks dejected after a match
Bruno Fernandes looks dejected after a match

Ralf Rangnick’s open-heart surgery comments about Manchester United are aging like a fine wine and Saturday’s fluky point away to Bournemouth is the latest example of this being the case. But should Erik ten Hag fall victim to Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s overhaul?

Ratcliffe has some job on his hands. He is making some very productive moves off the pitch and Ten Hag’s position as manager is quite rightly under threat. There are arguments for both keeping the Dutchman and getting rid of him. On one hand, is changing another manager really going to change much? On the other, this team is only regressing and nobody knows what Ten Hag’s philosophy is. The latter point feels like it heavily outweighs the first.

Saturday’s entertaining 2-2 draw provided further evidence of Ten Hag’s lack of style and just how disjointed this Manchester United team is.

READ MORETen Hag storms out of Man Utd press conference after six minutes following despicable question

Credit goes to Bournemouth, though. Andoni Iraola’s side are completely transformed from their early-season woes and even at 2-1 up against the Red Devils, it was them pushing for the next goal.

Their first lead came after Willy Kambwala channeled his inner Micky van de Ven and became the second ‘Big Six’ defender to eat grass as the opposition striker found the back of the net today.

Dominic Solanke looked like he did not know what to do with the ball and with acres of space, he chose to set himself on the edge of the box instead of closing in on Andre Onana. He expertly smashed the ball into the bottom corner and the  goalkeeper had no chance.

Bruno Fernandes equalised with a thunderous close-range volley but United were only level for five minutes thanks to Justin Kluivert’s deflected strike, which put the Cherries ahead at the break.

You would expect Manchester United to come out flying in the second half after some hairdryer treatment from a bald man but it was Bournemouth who dominated proceedings until conceding a soft penalty. It looked quite dubious as the ball flew towards Adam Smith’s arm but his reaction to the spot-kick being given was almost enough to convince VAR it wasn’t worth checking a replay.

Captain v captain, Fernandes sent Neto the wrong way in the 65th minute and that was all she wrote in terms of goals. It became a lot more even after the equaliser, with neither goalkeeper being tested in the last half-hour.

United did step things up when they realised the game was there to be won but they did not do nearly enough to get all three points. In fact, they were rescued by VAR deep into stoppage time after the referee gave a penalty following a Kambwala challenge on Ryan Christie. The foul was adjudged to have been committed outside of the box and once again we were left scratching our heads about what a ‘clear and obvious’ error is. Is something clear and is something obvious when it takes two to three minutes to review? Probably not.

Regardless, it was still a dangerous free-kick but Enes Unal could only hit the top of the wall and win a corner. After wasting said corner, Manchester United broke and looked for a winner that did not come and would have been a travesty if it had.

It will be seen as more of a missed opportunity in the home dressing room, with Bournemouth’s season in danger of petering out. Having 42 points after 32 matches is a great situation to be in, mind. Iraola will be delighted his side are safe with so many games to spare.

Manchester United, meanwhile, still have lots to play for this season, even if they never seem to take advantage of their rivals dropping points.

Newcastle United’s 4-0 mauling of Tottenham has suddenly made us stand up and think that the Magpies have a decent chance of qualifying for the Champions League, especially if the Premier League are awarded the fifth slot. Unfortunately, this midweek’s action hints that they will not.

READ MORE: How Premier League teams qualify for Champions League and Europa competitions for 24/25

Aston Villa are expected to leave Arsenal empty-handed on Sunday and wins for Newcastle and United would certainly have them looking over both shoulders, but another timid display from the latter means there is slightly less pressure on them heading into the final five matches of the season.

Is anyone surprised, though? When push comes to shove and when faced with adversity, this team does not seem to have the mentality to succeed, which stems from the man in charge. A couple of injuries and Ten Hag gets all defeatist and insists he and his players are fighting a losing battle. The Champions League was an absolute shambles, and this team has far too many ineffective players.

Alejandro Garnacho has probably been United’s best player this season but was hooked at half-time. Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, had another anonymous 90 minutes and proved again he cannot impact a match without getting on the scoresheet. Casemiro’s name was not mentioned much, which is a positive for him these days. Overall, there was no creativity in the final third and United benefitted from a handball and their No. 8 latching onto a second ball from six yards out.

Champions League qualification is probably beyond this team now given Newcastle’s favourable fixtures and the point differential between themselves and Aston Villa and Spurs (10).

And after such a productive debut season under Ten Hag, the current situation will be tough to take for many United fans. While there are those two aforementioned arguments for keeping or sacking the Dutchman, the Bournemouth draw is another sign that he should be part of Ratcliffe’s open-heart surgery on the club.

Straight to the comments! Should Manchester United stick with Erik ten Hag?