THEY might not be one of the financial powerhouses of the division - but clubs should under-estimate Bournemouth at their peril.
Fresh from beating promotion-chasing Huddersfield for the first time in 20 attempts, the Cherries are within touching distance of the League One top six.
Harry Arter’s close-range strike helped Bournemouth move up to 14th in the table and extend their unbeaten run to six matches.
Since succeeding Eddie Howe in the managerial hot-seat 11 months ago, Lee Bradbury has done a sterling job on a shoestring of a budget.
Against all odds, Bournemouth finished sixth last season and pushed Huddersfield all the way in the semi-finals of the play-offs before losing on penalties.
Unsurprisingly, they suffered a slight hangover from that disappointment and got off to a sluggish start this year.
But Bradbury, despite having to regularly offload his star players to balance the books, has turned things around and he described last weekend’s performance as the best of the season so far.
He has issued a hands-off warning to clubs interested in tabling an offer for highly-rated winger Marc Pugh.
“Marc has been great for us. He scores goals, creates goals and works really hard for the team,” he said.
“There are not many wingers who have nine goals to their name before mid-December.
“He is the sort of player I’d like to have at the club for a long time. We wouldn’t be interested in selling him.”
The Bournemouth chief is without the services of Wes Thomas for the visit of United.
The seven-goal striker is taking an unwanted Christmas break because his loan deal has expired. He is poised to complete a permanent move from Crawley but that can’t be finalised until the New Year when the transfer window reopens.
Bradbury said: “We will miss Wes as he has done well for us but there are others champing at the bit to come in.”
He will also have to re-jig his midfield after Scott Malone, on loan from Wolves, picked up a hamstring tear against Huddersfield. His loan terminates on January 7.
Bradbury said: “It looks like he’s got a grade one tear which mean he will be out for two to three weeks.
“He’s done well for us and we will miss him.
“He will have his rehab here, then see where things go in the next week or so.”
Shaun MacDonald is in contention to step in for Malone after shaking off a toe injury.
The problem has kept the Welshman, who has made just three league appearances since arriving from Swansea last summer, out of action since September.
“I want to be involved [against United],” said MacDonald.
“I feel good. I’ve been working hard and hopefully I can get back training and playing as soon as possible.
“Whoever is out on the pitch and is picked will want to do well and get the win, which is the main thing.”