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Van Gaal warned struggling Man United 'have lost their aura'


Grim: Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs watch horror show unfold at Bournemouth

Grim: Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs watch horror show unfold at Bournemouth

Getty Images

Grim: Louis van Gaal and Ryan Giggs watch horror show unfold at Bournemouth

Like so many Bournemouth players, Glenn Murray and Simon Francis have worked their way up from the lower divisions to the Premier League, arriving at the game's summit in maturity and with due respect for the clubs within it.

So when these boyhood Manchester United fans said their one-time idols had "lost their aura" and they "fancied their chances" of beating them, it was not youthful braggadocio, they were simply stating a fact.

The 13-times Premier League champions are only four points off the summit, but they no longer scare teams. When this was put to Michael Carrick, he admitted: "That comes with winning games. We need to get back to winning games."

After the 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth, United have not tasted victory in five matches, a winless run last endured in 1998. They ended that season winning the treble, but no one expects a similar recovery in this campaign.

Injuries are a problem, but at this stage of the season most clubs have injuries and few have United's financial resources.

Carrick added: "We've had a few injuries but I thought the young lads did well. I don't like making excuses. We've got the squad. When you've got injuries you've got to deal with them."

Injuries were an issue defensively with three rookies playing and Daley Blind out of position. Murray observed: "It's a very different United line-up to what we are used to over the years. So as soon as we have seen that, and obviously on the back of the confidence of (beating Chelsea) last week, we really fancied ourselves."

"I don't think they have that aura any more probably because of the way they're playing at the moment," added Francis. "We looked at their team, especially their back four, and knew we could exploit that."

Francis did admit, however, that Bournemouth were still wary of United's attacking power and manager Louis van Gaal could field a high-priced elite sextet of internationals in midfield and attack.

They were facing a back four that equalled Newcastle's as the most porous in the division, not least because of Bournemouth's own injuries.

Yet despite again dominating possession, and controlling the opening period, United created very few chances, with their goal a scrambled one.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Javier Hernandez plundered another hat-trick for Bayer Leverkusen. In his last dozen matches he has scored 14 goals while United have scored 10, but Hernandez is probably getting more chances.

"It's been a very disappointing week," added Carrick. "Going out of the Champions League was tough. We wanted to bounce back, to fall short is doubly disappointing."

Next for United is Norwich at home, which ought to bring relief, but they then face a tricky match at Stoke. Bournemouth, meanwhile, go to West Bromwich Albion infused with fresh confidence they can stay up after two unexpected wins. Prior to victory at Stamford Bridge they had gone 10 without a win. How had Eddie Howe managed the transformation?

"I don't know, to be honest," he admitted. "It's a difficult one to explain, but not to understand because I thought we were playing really well.

"The Newcastle game was one of the best performances since I have been here as a manager and we lost. There was a lot of doubt on the back of that performance because people wouldn't have thought we could have played as well again, but thankfully the players have kept developing.

"The last two performances are real evidence we can compete in this league and, hopefully, this is just the start. It was really important for us we didn't lose the momentum we had built from last week."

Victory was launched with Junior Stanislas's freak first-minute goal direct from a corner, and secured, after Marouane Fellaini's scrambled leveller, from a neat corner routine. Francis blocked Blind, allowing former United trainee Josh King to sweep in a corner.

"It was rehearsed," said Francis. "It is one we have been doing on the training ground." Van Gaal's solution to United's slump was hard work in training - this was evidence of such a practice paying off.

Belfast Telegraph