There’s no way around it, Manchester United’s first defeat of the season was deserved. From a decent start, in a hard fought game, the level of quality emitted by the Red Devils depleted as the game went on.
2 time First Division winner, and Sky Sports News pundit, Paul Merson’s pre-match prediction was spot on:
‘United fell over the line against Villa and fell over the line against Spurs. You can’t keep on doing that! Swansea keep the ball and I make them favourites for some reason they are not, they’re big outsiders with the bookies.’
‘Paul’s Prediction: 2-1 Swansea’
The game highlighted United’s current system of keeping the ball and waiting for plays to happen, instead of using more traditional United tactics of making chances themselves.
Juan Mata’s goal, just after half time, was a great read of a driven Memphis cross, which he guided home. The Swans pushed forward, spread their play, and scored 13 minutes later, and then again 5 minutes after the equaliser; both as a result of strong Swansea play, and weak defending of Swansea’s danger men, Ayew and Gomis. Romero could’ve done a better job of trying to keep the ball out of the net.
Manchester United had a slight penalty shout in the second half, Rooney was played into the box, but took one touch too many and couldn’t put the ball away. Williams recovered very well to knock the ball away.
United finished with 65% possession, but possession doesn’t win games. Post match, Gary Neville commented how the possession game is what you enforce when you have the lead, not when you haven’t even scored yet.
15 fouls were deemed to have been committed by Manchester United, according to referee Martin Atkinson. This was 9 more than Swansea were pulled up for, and yet, only 2 United players were booked. United players appeared to be quite unlucky when it came to their challenges being deemed as fouls, and many light free kicks were given against them.
Very rarely did Manchester United actually look like scoring. Post match, when questioned if he needs to reinforce his forward play, Louis van Gaal responded:
“I think we could have scored much more goals so that’s not the problem.”
Unfortunately the play was very boring, and there were very few clear cut opportunities. But, one of the worst moves of the game was bringing Fellaini on for Herrera in the second half. Swansea knew exactly what to do and easily marked hi out of the game. The Welsh side sat 5 or more players in the box to stop any incoming crosses, but United persisted despite none of them coming close to resulting in a goal.
Fellaini’s presence was actually a hindrance as crosses were wasted going towards him, he was caught offside, and was shrugged off of the ball by little Ayew, whilst he was trying to appeal the teeny Ghanaian’s out muscling, Swansea went on to create another chance.
This kind of play can be expected from a manager in his first term, and it was tolerated last year. But the play style has seemed to take a step back, almost, as now the attack just aren’t making chances or scoring enough goals.
With the transfer deadline beckoning, there are no strong links to a striker, or an attack minded player, and Louis van Gaal remains adamant that one is not needed.
Manchester United need to drastically improve after the international break, as they host arch rivals Liverpool.