After having an undefeated preseason which consisted of high quality opposition, hopes of every Manchester United fan were sky high. The curtain-raiser against Swansea was expected to be a cakewalk for Louis van Gaal’s side.
But it was an anticlimax of sorts for the faithfuls and a new found norm for glory hunters as United succumbed to another home defeat against Swansea. Strikes from Ki Seoung Yung and fans’ favourite Gylfi Siggurdson propelled the Welsh outfit to its first victory against the home side for the first time in Premier League era.
One thing that had to be noted was the list of first team players who were either on physio’s table or not 100% (read Robin van Persie) was sizeable as 9 players were unable to take part in the opening fixture. If he had choice of selecting from a fully fit squad then the story would have been different. But injuries to all his senior defenders barring Phil Jones and Chris Smalling tested both the team’s as well as manager’s resolve.
This led to first team debuts for academy products Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard. Lingard unfortunately had his debut cut short as he got injured while vying for possession against Swansea defender further aggravating United’s worries in wide positions.
This stitched up lineup by the Dutchman was more like United of last term instead of the Ferguson days or even lacked the trademarks of a typical Louis van Gaal sides. No penetration either from wings or via centre of the park. The side boasting one of the best playmaker in Juan Mata lack of penetration from centre is highly shameful and worry-some. Swans defence were highly successful in keeping the troika of of Wayne Rooney, Chicharito and Juan Mata quiet.
In order to get the creative players back in the thick of action United had to forego their coach’s ‘philosophy’ and switch to a back four in second half of the game. Although this tactical change led to the solitary goal of the game for us but it was via a set piece. The best chances in the game for United were from set-pieces barring a couple of chances through open play very late in the game. Thus, undermining the ineffectiveness of United’s ability to break open a somewhat average Swansea defence.
This lack of penetration can be attributed to lack or should I say dearth of incisiveness while in possession. A defence with exception of Tyler Blackett dreads at the thought of having ball at their feet for more than 10 seconds. Phil Jones had a decent game but he was caught out by Montero far too often. This was also reflected by the attacking wide men as well notably by Adnan Januzaj. He did good to get away from his man by good piece of skills coupled with even better burst of pace. But his final ball was of poorest quality imaginable. Nani too started the half brightly but fizzled out as the game went on.
Drought of quality options out wide are certainly hurting us more than our deficiency in central midfield. Swiftness in counterattacks and playing ball out from the back is doing us in more than often. The players at the club are no wonder losing their grip from playing the ‘United Way’. Especially the wingers at the club. The squad no doubt requires reinforcements but it isn’t that bad as it is made out to be.
The Iron Tulip has to adopt shape up or get out approach in order to bring glory days back at the Theatre Of Dreams.