As Louis van Gaal walked from the tunnel, Old Trafford erupted. Manchester United’s entourage of supporters cheered wildly, supposedly witnessing the dawn of a new era. However, the picturesque victory that had moulded into the ‘Red Army’ fans minds, was not to be. Manchester United, playing against Swansea City, lost 2-1. Their new manager had witnessed his team of superstars crumple in a disjointed manner writes Tomos Knox.
A first, Manchester United were asserting their authority, sweeping passes left and right, looking comfortable. Wing-backs Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard were dominating the flanks, and United appeared to be enjoying the majority of possession. However, when the home side were off the ball, their defence looked extremely worrying. The partnership of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and first team debutant Tyler Blackett was incredibly rickety, and this was a factor that, ultimately resulted in a goal for Swansea.
Blackett was drawn out of possession by skillful Swnasea winger Nathan Dyer, who laid the ball of to new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson. He, in turn, passed to Ki, and the South Korean struck the ball into the back of the net, leaving United keeper David de Gea no chance.
In the time that ensued this excellent goal, Swansea looked the dominant side. Wayne Rooney, the Reds’ new captain, worked extremely hard, but every other induvidual playing for United lacked his enthusiasm and drive. It was surprising in such circumstances, to see a goal for Manchester United. Wayne Rooney, their main instigator in attack, was the scorer. His flying overhead kick appeared reminiscent of a similar goal of his, scored against Manchester City in 2011.
Despite the best efforts of the likes of Rooney and David De Gea, United’s efforts were mediocre at best. Adnan Januzaj, who replaced the injured Lingard, made little impact on the match, while Tyler Blackett defended crudely. It was his error that resulted in Swansea’s first goal.
It came as no shock when Gylfi Sigurdsson smashed home Swansea’s second on his second debut for the Welsh club; they were outclassing the home side, and dominating possession.
At full time, the atmosphere in Old Trafford was sombre. The majority of United’s supporters hadn’t even bothered to watch the entire match, departing minutes before the final whistle. Their disgust was evident, Van Gaal had failed to live up to expectations.
From the first minute of play, Manchester United’s defence was poor. Lack of communication was evident, and youngster Tyler Blackett looked deeply uncomfortable. As wing-backs Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young made runs down the wing, the defensive partnership of Blackett, Smalling and Jones was exposed, prone to attacks from an exciting Swansea side. Playing in elevated surroundings, Blackett managed to make a few good tackles and passes, but, on the whole, struggled.
Anders Herrera, also making his United bow, had difficulty adapting to his new surroundings. The 25 year old central midfielder made precious little impact on a match that was well out of Van Gaal and his Manchester United side’s reach.
Manchester United’s squad lacked depth on the day. His defence proved to be shabby and subpar, and although the factor of injuries must be taken into consideration, there can be no excuses for the Red Devils’ appalling display.
Louis Van Gaal has inherited a squad lacking in confidence and experience. The defeat to Swansea Ciy proves that Manchester United are still smarting from last year’s cataclysmal campaign, in which they finished 7th. The likes of David De Gea, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata are inspirational figures, but the club need to be investing in new footballers. While Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have all made important signings, Herrera is United’s only serious import so far. Luke Shaw is an exciting prospect but, sidelined for the next few weeks, the Red Devils will have to invest more proficiently in the transfer market if they are to turn this so-far shambolic season into a success.
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