I’m gutted. Not so much for the result, although it’s a pretty bad one, but more for the players. The impact that this kick in the teeth will have on them could be profound. We have played terribly away from home in the past and managed to get good/decent results, we have even played OK at times (Spurs away for example) and not got the win but at least not left empty handed. The Swansea City defeat was gut wrenching. From the 35th minute onwards Swansea offered nothing of a danger to United. We played attacking, and dominating football, creating a good number of chances and playing with FAST passes again. It was a fantastic progression from the previous game against Preston and a win here would have given the players the necessary push to face some of the leagues big hitters in the upcoming games. And then it happened. A strike from Shelvey that hit the head of a player who happened to slip at the perfect moment and there it was. It feels like the Gods conspired against us, mainly because I cannot think of another logical explanation. So without further ado, here are my three heroes and three villains from our latest away defeat.
Although he was part of the group of three players that conspired to allow Swansea a quick equaliser he provided the team with the quick forward passing it has been clearly in need of for a good few weeks. His goal was well taken, and he had a passing accuracy of 89% (only bettered in midfield by Daley Blind) which considering most of them were with an attacking motive is excellent. He made 3 interceptions and 3 blocks defensively which shows his display was pretty good all round. He also made a vital clearance in the opening moments of the game from the goal line after Paddy McNair was found wanting in the penalty area from a corner. He was probably the best player on the pitch from both teams.
He came on to provide more attacking intent down the right flank, something which the generally shaky Paddy McNair was simply not providing. He ran with the ball, stretched the opposition and completed 3 of his 5 crosses into the box… probably a new personal best this season. His passing was generally good at 91%, and most of the time it was with purpose, doing plenty of give and goes down the line with Herrera and Fellaini. Given that he also made 1 interception, 1 clearance and 1 block in a half of football dominated by United attacks, one can only be pleased with his contribution.
Much like Valencia before him, his introduction was a shot in the arm down the left hand side where previously Luke Shaw seemed to be extremely limited in an attacking sense. In half an hour of football he put in 7 crosses, of which 3 were completed, one creating a goal scoring opportunity. He had two shots, which like everyone else’s, got blocked by Swansea City defenders. He also made 2 interceptions, 2 clearances and a block defensively. He and Antonio have shown yet again why they should keep their places in the first eleven.
This was probably McNair’s worst performance since his outing at Southampton. His passing was shockingly below the team average of 87%, with just under 1 in 4 of his passes going astray. Twice in the box for corners he let his man, and probably Swansea’s major threat, Bafetimbi Gomis… Gomissing. The first of these errors was saved by the omnipresent Herrera who with the help of the goal line technology system kept United level. McNair only made one blocked cross in the first half, and why that is compared to the total of 6 provided by Valencia it is clear that he underperformed in both attacking and defensive duties.
So Wayne played up front today. His preferred position apparently. He didn’t really do much. 3 shots, 1 blocked, 1 saved and 1 off target. Every single one of his corners and free kicks were incomplete. He is supposed to be our star player, but when we truly needed a leader today he was nowhere to be found.
Robin van Persie
Just like his striker partner he didn’t put the ball in the back of the net. He did look a little more involved than Rooney, and was unlucky to see a shot hit the woodwork in the opening quarter of an hour. On a positive note he was at least in the position to take his 7 shots on goal, but when over half of them ended up off target he shouldn’t feel that any criticism coming his way is unjust. Finally, Robin was seen leaving the Liberty stadium on crutches and a protective boot after the game, which considering he completed the game as we had no more substitutions to make is commendable.
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