Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is under fire after missing the team’s 1-0 loss against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, deciding to travel to Japan to attend the Rugby World Cup Final match instead.
Eurosport reports that Woodward, a big rugby fan himself, jetted off to Yokohama with United’s managing director Richard Arnold to watch his home side England take on South Africa in the contentious final matchup. Despite getting the best of previous holders New Zealand in the semi-finals, England were trounced by South Africa 32-12.
Several hours later and 6,000 miles away, the Red Devils lost their fourth match of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign against the Cherries, with Josh King’s impressive goal at the stroke of halftime being the catalyst behind dropping three points.
An Unfortunate Result Snaps a Three-Game Winning Streak
United looked to have been back to winning ways after a great run of matches as of late. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men defeated Partizan, Norwich City and Chelsea in three separate competitions to collect all three points. Their final road game before returning to Europa League action at Old Trafford should have also been an easy win, too. However, Bournemouth got the best of the visitors and that leaves United sitting in the middle of the domestic table in tenth place.
Solskjaer’s lamented his side’s defeat, admitting that Eddie Howe’s team capitalized on getting the important first goal after his men couldn’t open the scoring after nearly 20 minutes dominating the game.
“We had a lack of quality at times in front of goal,” Solskjaer said. “I thought we started well and opened them up with Dan James down the side, but we couldn’t get the important first goal. Then after 15 or 20 minutes, the game settled down and I thought they grew into it. It became a 50/50 match and you thought whoever would get the first goal would win this. They got it from a moment of magic by Josh. It was always going to be a difficult game down here and it wasn’t going to be a game with loads of goals in it because there are two good defensive teams.”
United are back at the Theatre of Dreams to host Serbian club Partizan in Europa League group stage play on Thursday.
Solskjaer on Thin Ice
It was around this time last year the #JoseOut campaign gained traction, with fans and critics alike calling on former United boss Jose Mourinho’s sacking. The former Premier League champion was eventually relieved of his duties on December 18, 2019, with Solskjaer taking over as interim manager. Following a successful run of matches, the former United midfielder was announced as permanent manager on March 28.
Since then, United have suffered some of their worst defeats in club history, especially on the road to less experienced opponents. In fact, United’s first road win in 12 matches spanning 232 days occurred on October 24 in their first contest against Partizan, an Anthony Martial penalty being the difference. It’s a rather bleak time for the once-threatening United, who are closer to the relegation zone in the Premier League than they are to top-four contention. Should Solskjaer continue being at the helm of these dismal performances, it’s likely the Norwegian’s first season as permanent manager could be cut short.