Lessons Learned: Manchester United vs Swansea City

Well after a long summer we’re finally here, and the Premier League kicked off with a home opener at Old Trafford where Manchester United took a sad loss of 1-2 against Swansea. With a series of injuries for the United squad with the likes of Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Johnny Evans, Michael Carrick, and Robin Van Persie all being unavailable for today’s match. Two players made their professional debuts, Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard both made their first professional debut while Ander Herrera made his Man Utd debut today as well. Even with the injuries Van Gaal was able to use his 3-5-2 formation but then switched the formation after halftime.

Both clubs started out with an attacking mentality with both sides making a few attacking moves already within the first 6 minutes of the match. Jesse Lingard was part of one of those plays with a very youthful attitude early on that almost gave United a goal, while Swansea also made some good passes that put them into an attacking position within the 6th minute of the match. The 3-5-2 seems to be susceptible to these kind of attacks and is something Van Gaal would like to strengthen with the return of his injured defenders and some new purchases in the future. Lingard took an injury in the 19th minute that looked like it was going to take him off but the young lad seemed to be in high spirits and got back on his feet and was back playing shortly. Van Gaal decided to take him off a few minutes later and replaced him with Adnan Januzaj.

United from early on took good control of possession, leaving Swansea with few opportunities to attack, but United took quite a few opportunities in the first half that looked fairly prominent and it looks like we’ll be seeing that quite a bit this season, especially when Robin Van Persie returns to the first team.

United took it’s first hit of the season in the 28th minute with a goal from Swansea City player Ki Sung-yeung that will most likely cause the defenders to take a hairdryer at halftime. Although United were down at half time there were quite a few displays of good football from the Man United squad and the comeback seemed to be mounting.

The second half started with another substitution as Nani came on to replace Javier Hernandez who had a fairly rough day, and the formation seemed to switch to a 4-4-2 formation with Ashley Young moving over to a defenders spot. In the 52nd minute my apartment building was woken up with a loud “GET IN” with Rooney’s beautiful goal that almost repeated his iconic bicycle kick against Manchester City three seasons ago. The United squad seemed re-energized at that point. Adnan Januzaj has looked a little concerning today with a few selfish plays that could have been a lot better if he would have passed rather than took a shot, Van Gaal will most likely give him a little talking to about that.

After a missed set piece from Wayne Rooney in the 65th minute of the match play stopped for a substitution and our good friend the toilet brush, (I think his name is Marouane Fellaini) came to the pitch to replace Ander Herrera. Fellaini has been struggling to find a fit in the squad after David Moyes bought him in desperation last season but Moyes was then fired, leaving toilet brush in an awkward position at United.

Just as the comeback was coming back the United defense failed once again to follow a cross and a pass from Swansea City that resulted in another goal for Swansea, resulting in a 1-2 deficit for United and a fairly angry Van Gaal who seems to be struggling to get the United defense back into shape. This was a problem for Moyes as well and with Van Gaal getting the green light to buy more players it seems as though he will be expected to fix this issue soon. Of course we should acknowledge that Van Gaal’s two big choices for the defense are currently injured (Luke Shaw, Johnny Evans) and that has played a big role in United’s struggles in the first match. The United defense was lucky to stop a play in the 81st minute that was close to putting United 2 down against Swansea, Phil Jones was able to knick the ball away in the last second.

United players were getting frustrated in the last ten minutes of the match when the Swansea squad mysteriously became weak and even a little flick sent them to the ground screaming bloody murder, resulting in a large amount of fouls against United that shouldn’t have been fouls as well as many delays in game play that United could have used. Referee Mike Dean seemed to punish Swansea for this giving United a little extension during the injury time.

While the loss is a disappointment, it isn’t something to panic about. The large amount of injuries for United played a huge factor today. However it can be said that the United squad was a bit disappointing in their performance. Javier Hernandez, and most of the defense struggled a lot today as well as the toilet brush, who also didn’t have too much of an effect in the game either. Wayne Rooney had a fairly good showing with some of his chances missing but also a very skillfully taken shot that was United’s only goal, however Rooney will need to work on his captain’s role and become more of a team player and improve communication on the pitch.

United’s next match is next Sunday against Sunderland, and before that we’re sure to expect quite a few changes that Van Gaal is planning before that match.