Erik ten Hag's remarkable Man Utd revolution has Man City back in their sights

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Erik ten Hag
Erik ten Hag's remarkable Man Utd revolution has Man City back in their sights

Manchester United's inexorable push for a Champions League spot continued with a fourth straight Premier League win.

After losing their opening two league games of the season, United's transformation under Erik ten Hag has been nothing short of remarkable.

With United bottom of the table after defeats to Brighton and Brentford at the start of Ten Hag's reign, their top-four hopes looked over before the end of August. But Ten Hag's quiet revolution has seen United grow in confidence and form to climb the table and stand level on points with third-placed Newcastle, with a game in hand.

If Manchester City fail to win at Chelsea tomorrow, United will go above Pep Guardiola's champions with victory in the derby a week on Sunday. No-one would have predicted that scenario after United's humiliating start, but it is a measure of the formidable job Ten Hag has done to get them to such a position.

The United boss made four changes from the side that won 1-0 at Wolves on New Year's Eve. Skipper Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof returned in central defence, with Luke Shaw back to his regular left-back slot, after filling in at centre-back.

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Marcus Rashford, dropped to the bench for the Wolves game for being late to a team meeting after oversleeping, was restored to the starting line-up. The biggest surprise in the side was midfielder Donny van de Beek, whose last league start came back on November 6 in a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa.

Erik ten Hag's remarkable Man Utd revolution has Man City back in their sightsErik ten Hag's Man Utd side recorded another Premier League victory

The game marked a 150th United appearance for Bruno Fernandes, while David De Gea went joint 10th on the all-time list with his 510th game for the Red Devils.

Lisandro Martinez – wearing his winners' medal - was presented to the Old Trafford crowd and received a standing ovation after becoming only the fifth United player to win the World Cup, following Argentina's triumph in Qatar.

United had to wait until the 11th minute for their first real chance, Shaw crossing for Anthony Martial, who was unable to direct his header on target. Bournemouth wasted their first sight of the United goal, Jaidon Anthony sending a free-kick from a dangerous position straight out of play.

Erik ten Hag's remarkable Man Utd revolution has Man City back in their sightsCasemiro opened the scoring for United with a fine finish from Eriksen's free-kick (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

United duly took the lead in the 23rd minute, Christian Eriksen slinging in a free-kick which was met on the volley by Casemiro, who steered it into the net. It was the Brazil World Cup star's second goal for United, his first at Old Trafford, one which set Ten Hag's side on their way to a comfortable win.

Eriksen had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 37th minute, after Casemiro was brought down just outside the Bournemouth area, but his free-kick was deflected over. Van de Beek's night came to an end just before half-time, following a sickening clash with Marcos Sensei, in which the United star came off worst, hobbling off with a leg injury.

Erik ten Hag's remarkable Man Utd revolution has Man City back in their sightsMarcus Rashford scored Man Utd's third goal during the routine win over Bournemouth (Getty Images)

United doubled their lead four minutes after the restart, Shaw starting and finishing a move he began from his left-back position. After exchanging passes with Rashford, Shaw surged forward, towards the Bournemouth goal.

After funnelling the ball to Fernandes, who in turn found Alejandro Garanacho, Shaw applied a first-time finish to the latter's cross, to cap a majestically-worked goal.

Martial missed a chance to make it 3-0 five minutes later, heading wide from a Casemiro cross. At the other end, De Gea was called into action, blocking a goal-bound header from Billing to preserve United's two-goal lead.

De Gea denied the visitors again moments later, producing a fine save at full-stretch to keep out an effort from Anthony, as the Cherries threatened to get back into the game. Rashford added a third four minutes from time, the first time he has scored in three successive league games at Old Trafford.

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David McDonnell

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation