The Louis Van Gaal era at United started with a dejecting defeat at home to Swansea City.
United fans had hoped to see a rejuvenated start to the new era at Old Trafford but instead were witness to a slow,uninspiring and often lazy United performance. There were question marks over the starting-lineup prior to kick-off with youngsters Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard both making their Premier League debuts. Blackett started in a 3 man defence alongisde Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, whilst Lingard started in the unfamiliar position of right wing back, with Ashley Young occupying the other side.
United started slowly and struggled to break down a rugged Swans defence that was clearly designed to play counter attacking football. Some good pass and move football from Swansea ended with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s sideways pass finding Ki Sung Yeung on the edge of the penalty area. The Korean sidefooted the ball first time underneath David De Gea and into the bottom right corner of the net after 27 minutes, to the stunned silence of the near capacity Old Trafford crowd. United offered little in terms of attacking intent and ended the first half behind.
After the break United improved a lot and on 52 minutes their pressure eventually told. Phil Jones flicked a header from a corner into the path of Rooney, who’s improvisation allowed him to overhead kick the ball into the back of the Swansea net right infront of the Stretford End. United were on top for the next 15 minutes or so and had some good chances to turn the game around, however some slack passing from United’s front line allowed Swansea to break down their attacks.
The winner eventually came with 20 minutes left of normal time. Nathan Dyer took a quick free kick and sent Gylfi Sigurdsson on the counter, which Chris Smalling was slow to react to. Sigurdsson gave the ball to new signing Jefferson Montero on the far left side and his deep cross was miskicked by Routledge into the path of Sigurdsson who sidefooted the ball from 8 yards into the centre of the United goal, although David De Gea and Darren Fletcher on the United goal line perhaps should have dealt with the shot better.
United’s response looked desperate and very similar to that seen under the reign of David Moyes, with substitute Adnan Januzaj and captain Wayne Rooney looking the only credible threats to the Swansea goal. United were denied a penalty shout when Januzaj’s cross into the box hit the hand of Swansea fullback Angel Rangel however referee Mike Dean said no penalty. Boos rang out when Dean blew his whistle and ended a game which United didn’t deserve to get anything out of. United now travel to Sunderland next Sunday afternoon knowing they are already playing catch-up to their rivals in the chase for Champions League football.