In the build up to the game all eyes were on Louis van Gaal’s side, as the dawn of a new era was upon us at Old Trafford, but Swansea City were in no mood to stand on ceremony.
Swansea manager Garry Monk will be pleased to see his side end their unwanted record at Old Trafford, having never previously won a league game at Manchester United – one of very few long-term records remaining after David Moyes’ tenure.
In my Premier League preview, I said that I didn’t fancy Swansea to beat United at home, but the away side played as you have to at Old Trafford and were successful with the few chances they created.
Swansea opened the scoring after 28 minutes through Korean international Ki Sung-Yeung. The midfield fired in a superb finish from 18 yards after some sloppy defending from United. Ashley Young was the main culprit, having sold himself to a quick one-two down United’s left, which dragged the otherwise solid Tyler Blackett out of position. The ball eventually fell to Yeung on the edge of the area, who hadn’t been tracked by the United midfield.
Moments earlier debutant Jesse Lingard was forced off the pitch following an earlier collision. The 21-year-old had tried to play on, but couldn’t manage and was replaced by Adnan Januzaj.
Januzaj looked the most likely to create something for Manchester United. He was a constant thorn in the side of Swansea fullback Neil Taylor, with his direct running and ability to glide past a player. But United were unable to level the score before the break.
We saw at the World Cup that van Gaal isn’t afraid to make changes, and he did so during the interval. The ineffective Javier Hernandez being replaced by Nani. This also meant a change of shape, with United moving to a 4-4-1-1 formation.
United looked a much bigger threat at the start of the second half, with the introduction of more advanced wide players it seemed as if United always had options in attack.
The equaliser came on 53 minutes with Juan Mata’s corner flicked on at the near post by Phil Jones, leaving the captain Wayne Rooney to apply the finish inside the 6-yard box with an overhead kick. The goal moved Rooney to within 1 goal of Thierry Henry’s tally in the All-Time Premier League scorers chart, on 174 goals.
Rooney almost gave United the lead on 65 minutes with a beautifully hit free-kick striking the upright, with Fabianski beaten.
But it was to be Swansea City’s day, with Gylfi Sigurdsson finding the back of the net on 72 mins. Sigurdsson, who was making his second Swansea debut, got the final touch after Wayne Routledge slipped and miscued. Ashey Young won’t want to watch this one back either- he was caught ball watching as the initial cross came in and that allowed Routledge the space.
Adnan Januzaj nearly bought the hosts level again in the dying minutes, but his shot was blocked by his own team-mate on its way to goal.
Manchester United will be disappointed with the result, but it is worth considering the players missing from the side. United were without Valencia, Rafael, Jonny Evans, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie – and you would argue that the majority would have roles to play this season.
This was by no means the finished article from van Gaal’s men and United fans will expect further signings before the transfer window closes.
This squad is a work still very much in progress at Old Trafford.