Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United had taken a “step back” after their mini-revival came to a crashing halt as Josh King’s strike earned Bournemouth a 1-0 win in treacherous weather conditions on England’s south coast.
Solskjaer’s men had not won away from home since March until 10 days ago, but three consecutive wins on the road at Partizan Belgrade, Norwich and Chelsea to book a place in the League Cup quarter-finals in midweek hinted at a turning point for the Norwegian.
Instead, the failings that have characterised their season were back in evidence as a lack of goal threat and one moment of slack defending inflicted a fourth Premier League defeat in 11 games.
“We have to win games like this. We are disappointed but when you come to places like this you have to take control of the game. We did not and we could not get the goal,” Solskjaer said.
“We were missing some quality at times. Maybe I should have started some others. I think we started the game well though so maybe that was not the case.”
After their upturn in form lately, Solskjaer conceded he was expecting a better result as United try to get back in the race for a top four finish.
“You are always very down when you lose and considering the form we were in we were hoping to take the three points. It is a step back for us today, but we need to shake it off and go again,” he said.
“The first goal was always going to be important. Every time you concede a goal it is bad but we are disappointed with this. We had time to tackle on a couple of occasions.
“We could not capitalise on the good start and a moment of magic won the game for them.”
The visitors had started the brighter as both sides struggled to cope in the howling wind and rain.
Daniel James whistled a long-range effort just wide, whilst Anthony Martial saw appeals for a penalty waved away.
Bournemouth struck their decisive blow just before the break when King, who started his career in England at United after being recommended to Alex Ferguson by Solskjaer, came back to haunt his former employers.
The Norwegian acrobatically lifted the ball beyond Victor Lindelof and bamboozled Aaron Wan-Bissaka before firing past David de Gea.
United enjoyed plenty of possession in the second period to try and find a route back into the game, but even with Martial back to partner Marcus Rashford in attack, they lacked a cutting edge.
Andreas Pereira tested Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale with a dipping effort from the edge of the area, but it was not until Solskjaer threw on two teenagers in Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams in the final 10 minutes that the visitors really ramped up the pressure.
Greenwood came closest to an equaliser when he hit the post with his first touch before Scott McTominay’s shot was too close to Ramsdale, who collected at the second attempt.
Bournemouth held out for a third consecutive clean sheet and just their third victory over United in their history to move above the Red Devils into sixth in the Premier League table.