Monday night told us nothing new whatsoever. It was a wonderful archetype of Manchester United’s season as a whole under Louis van Gaal – play slow, unattractive, lethargic football and pull off an unsavoury, unattractive win in the process.
Yes, after a quick break lasting approximately 10 months where Manchester United was the team everybody laughed at, they’re back to being the team everybody despises. Manchester United have taken 34 points from the last 45, which is more than any Premier League team, and have only suffered 1 defeat in their last 19.
This commendable feat has been achieved by scrapping through games – playing slow, ‘long ball’ football – so not only are Manchester United back to looking resolute and hard to beat, they’re winding everyone up in the process.
For some Manchester United fans, they can’t bear the ponderous football displayed by Louis van Gaal’s team in spite of results going the right way. It’s understandable. The ‘Manchester United way’ demands more than just merely nicking games; it demands powerful, expansive, attacking football that blows opponents out of the water. Granted, this team has a long way to go before the real Manchester United DNA starts pervading through this squad.
Personally, I think people who lambast the efforts of Louis van Gaal and Co are pretty spoilt. After the horrors of last season it’s unfair to demand so much of this group. This team is 1 game from Wembley and 3rd in the league with 12 weeks to go, and should receive plaudits for how they’ve recovered from last season and adjusted to the methods of Louis van Gaal.
However, Manchester United fans must prepare themselves – as another drab away performance beckons. Despite the fact that Swansea City have only managed 1 win in their last 7 matches, you can bank on Louis van Gaal’s men to make this encounter hard to watch.
It seems like every week I throw in the painfully generic ‘last time Manchester United lost to team x was back in x’ line. It probably annoys the hell out of people, but this line is continuously manipulated by the media when Manchester United do succumb to a team they haven’t lost to since 256 BC or something ridiculous like that, so it’s my way of warning you. Manchester United haven’t lost at the Liberty for 34 years.
Gary Monk’s side ruined my 9 hour all round trip to witness the first match of the Louis van Gaal era, pulling off a 1-2 win against a team struggling to come to terms with the fact that they weren’t playing with 4 at the back. This time around they’ll be less confident of pulling off a historical win. The Swans are yet to win a home match in 2015 and have only managed 4 home wins since September.
Swansea will have to manage without Emnes and Bartley for this encounter. Siggurdson, the match-winner back in August, returns from suspension.
With Phil Jones and Robin van Persie returning, Michael Carrick is the only Manchester United absentee, Rafael also unlikely to feature.
Only 5 points separate 3rd from 7th after 25 games and a Manchester United slip up here could be cataclysmic. Visits to South Wales are always bracing, but sheer character and grit could be enough to see Louis van Gaal’s men over the line this Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Swansea City 1-2 Manchester United