Gylfi Sigurdsson’s strike 17 minutes from time saw Louis Van Gaal lose his first league match as manager of Manchester United. The attacking midfielder signed from Tottenham in the summer slotted home after a cut back from Wayne Routledge. Swansea took the lead after Ki slotted home in the first half before new United captain Wayne Rooney leveled for the home side before Sigurdsson struck the winner.
Van Gaal set United up in a 3-5-2 formation handing debuts to youngsters Jessie Lingard and Tyler Blackett with Ander Herrera making his home debut whilst Rooney and Hernandez operated upfront. Ashley Young started at left wing back with Lingard on the other side allowing Juan Mata to play behind the two strikers. Swansea lined up in their typical 4-2-3-1 handing debuts to Sigurdsson and Fabianski in goal who joined from Arsenal in the summer.
In the opening exchanges United kept the majority of possession but were failing to create chances on the Swansea goal. The 3-5-2 system helped United create a position which best suited Juan Mata, playing behind the strikers but with Young and Lingard attacking players, signs that United could be caught on the break were apparent. A poor piece of control from Routledge after evading Lingard attention was of what was to come. The away side broke the deadlock after 28 minutes, a good move down the left found Sigurdsson in a central area. The Icelandic midfielder laid the ball of to the approaching Ki who slotted low and hard beyond De Gea in the United goal. Swansea remanded comfortable for the rest of the half with United limited to very few chances playing in front of the Welsh side. Swansea continued to look dangerous on the break but Van Gaal’s United held until the break.
In typical Van Gaal fashion, the Dutch manager changed systems and personnel at the start of the second half bringing on Nani for Javier Hernandez. The man known for being a tactician in the World Cup, changed from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-4-1-1 with Nani playing on the left, Januazzi on the right whist the back four was Jones, Smalling, Blackett and Young. Rooney was pushed further forward whilst Juan Mata remanded in the number 10 position hoping to find space. The change seemed to provide new impetus for the home side and they equalised 8 minutes after the restart. Mata’s corner was flicked on by Jones who saw his header find Rooney who evaded his marker to acrobatically volley home. Although United had equalised apart from a Rooney free kick which hit the post the away side seemed comfortable. With Gary Monk in charge the Welsh side seem like they have a man who is continuing the work that Martinez and Rogers has done previously.
Swansea weathered the so call storm from United who introduced Fellani for Herrera who looked relatively okay in the midfield but did nothing special. Swansea brought on Montero for Nathan Dyer and the Ecuadorian winger helped Swansea retake the lead. Sigurdsson played Montero in on the left hand side, Montero created space putting in a teasing cross. Ashley Young in his unfamiliar role was caught out of position as Routledge came in behind, his miss kick found Sigurdsson on the edge of the six yard box who slotted home between two United players on the line. Swansea continued to press forward trying to kill the game of with new signing Gomis playing well linking up with Sigurdsson. Although United were behind Swansea did not have to produce any last ditch defending to maintain their lead. Apart from a weak handball appeal in added time United failed to work Fabianski in the Swansea goal after going behind for a second time.
Same old United from last season some may say, apart from Rooney up front who still is not at a world class level, there was limited creativity going forward. Mata was nowhere near his best in his preferred position, Januazzi looked lively on the right wing but at times his decision making is poor but will improve over time. Swansea completed a professional performance away from home setting up exactly the right way to play against United. Going forward Swansea looked a threat and with Gomis there new signing looking a threat, they will finish in the middle of the league again. The only danger is if Wilfred Bony leaves but with Bony’s goals Swansea will be hard team to beat at home.