Man United’s Ethan Laird had a productive loan stay with Swansea to start the season, but he’s struggled at Bournemouth since his return to the Premier League.
Ethan Laird could have been forgiven for having mixed emotions as Bournemouth celebrated their immediate return to the Premier League on Monday night.
The former Manchester United right-back had finally begun to contribute to the Cherries’ success this season, but when the going got tough this week, he was forced to withdraw from the squad once more.
With their promotion-clinching win against Nottingham Forest on Monday, Bournemouth celebrated a reunion of two Manchester United academy graduates who played together in the Europa League match in Kazakhstan in November. However, whereas Forest’s James Garner has risen in stature as the season has proceeded, Laird has struggled to adjust to life in the Premier League after switching clubs in January.
For the time being, Forest will have to achieve promotion through the play-offs, but they will be able to do it with Garner, who is just 21 years old, as a key player of their midfield. During his time with the club, he has made 31 consecutive starts in all competitions for a team that has moved through the gears under Steve Cooper.
Garner will be guaranteed a spot on United’s first pre-season tour under Erik ten Hag, which will take place in July. Bangkok, Melbourne, and Perth will provide him with the opportunity to demonstrate why he should be given the opportunity to play Premier League football at Old Trafford next season.
Laird, on the other hand, is unlikely to have the same opportunity. This summer, Swansea’s new manager Russell Martin brought in right-back Alex Laird as one of his first signings, following his success with MK Dons under Martin last season.
United recalled him from South Wales when Bournemouth showed an interest, citing the prospect of a fresh experience, playing in a different formation, and the possibility of promotion as reasons for doing so.
Instead, Laird’s development has come to a grinding halt. At the end of February, he made his first appearance in a Chelsea shirt. He has appeared in just six games in total, with only four of those coming in the first month of his contract.
When promotion was assured on Monday, Laird sat on the bench for the entire game, a position he has become accustomed to since switching clubs.
Parker has always stated that Laird would have a role to play, but it is not good news for the player that he has been relegated to the bench once more this season. Earlier this week, he discussed the difficulties he’s been experiencing in the second half of the season.
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afcb.co.uk reported that he “definitely feels like I’ve become a better person” as a result of the loan he received.
“Being a Manchester United player, you come from a very small world. I went to Swansea and was already acquainted with the gaffer, so it’s refreshing to be in a new environment and working with a new boss.
“It’s difficult when you move to a new location and things don’t turn out the way you expect them to. ” It’s about staying with the task, remaining persistent, and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise, and I’ve had my opportunity and appear to be maintaining my position at the moment.”
When it came to counting his chickens, it turned out that Laird had done so a little too soon, and it remains to be seen whether he will make his farewell appearance for the club on the final day of the Championship season this weekend.
He will almost probably return to United this summer after two very different experiences away from the club. However, not every loan is flawless, and his time at the Vitality Stadium should have served as at the very least a character-building experience for him.
United will then have to decide if he is eligible for another loan or if he is ready to take on a more significant role in the first team. Laird has already trained with the senior squad, and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot both failing to hold onto the right-back position, there may yet be a job for him to fill.
Despite the fact that he did not get the opportunities he would have liked to prove his preparedness for United at the top of the Championship, circumstances may still open the door for him at his parent club.