First Team Match Reaction News

What We Learned: Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City

There’s something undeniably powerful to hearing United fans, home or away, singing We’ll Never Die en masse in victory or defeat. It was certainly heartening to hear it aired in the North East last Tuesday as United laboured against Sunderland, acting as a reminder that support for the club is unwavering, even in difficult times, but its performance last night, in anticipation of a first win of 2014, made it fee far more celebratory than it had in some time. Here’s what we made of the 2-0 victory over Swansea:

Welbeck is becoming a consistent threat

There’s no doubt that United look an inferior side without Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney in the line-up, but one of the good aspects of this injury-hit period has been the form of one Danny Welbeck. He has six goals in his last six league games, and thanks to regularly acting as United’s vocal point up front, is finding himself in the right positions far more frequently. After spending a large chunk of this season’s early stages pushed out wide and missing presentable chances, it’s fantastic to see the Longsight-born lad seize his opportunity and step up when his club needs him.


The lack of goals that Welbeck has provided in the last twelve months in a United shirt has often been used as a stick to beat him with, but not only are they now flowing, they’re not simple tap-ins. He managed a delicate lob against Spurs, a confident rounding-of-the-keeper against Norwich and a clever flick to make sure that Patrice Evra’s initial shot hit the net. That strike was made all the more pleasing after he passed up the best chance of the first half after firing wide in the penalty area.

Welbeck is the recipient of more goodwill from (British-based) fans than perhaps any United player, and with good reason, but after finally adding goals to his game, he’s becoming an integral part of David Moyes’ side to boot.

Darren Fletcher: football genius

Not to detract from Januzaj’s Man of the Match performance, but given United’s near-constant misfirings from central midfield this season, Fletcher’s performance alongside Michael Carrick was particularly encouraging. As United stepped up the pace at the beginning of the second half, the Scot pushed higher up the field behind Shinji Kagawa and provided a highly useful performance in an area that fans are desperate to see reinforced.


Fletcher’s energy, despite only returning to the side last month after a debilitating illness, was sufficient to last the entire match, and his vision in passing was frequently positive, forward-thinking and slick. His spirit and desire to work hard when wearing a United shirt is constant, and having seen Tom Cleverley stutter so often in a similar position, the mere sight of a positive link between United’s central midfield and attack is one for sore eyes.

Moyes changed things up and it worked

For most of the first half, despite United looking more dangerous with Danny Welbeck leading the line, this was a performance too similar to last weekend’s FA Cup defeat for comfort. United had plenty of possession but found it hard to get into the sort of positions where they could punish Swansea. The use of Adnan Januzaj in a central position made for an intriguing but ultimately ineffective approach, and when he swapped his role behind the striker for Shinji Kagawa’s out on the left, things seemed to click into place.

Januzaj was United’s biggest threat, delivering a dangerous cross that lead to the opener and picking off Gerhard Tremmel’s loose clearance to set the second goal in motion. Kagawa, to his credit, showed more desire to be a key part of United’s attack than he has of late, as opposed to simply being involved. Had he not hesitated when played in by Rafael or had Chris Smalling not blazed over from the Japanese’s superb cross, then the confidence or self-belief that he’s lacked this season might have risen further. But having seen United labour when behind without changing their approach significantly in recent weeks, the most positive aspect of the second half was the sight of a team singing from the same hymn sheet.

United left nothing to chance

Proclamations of poor refereeing decisions from Moyes made the last three defeats seem all the more galling, acting as a big distraction from the simple truth that his side simply weren’t good enough to win. This time, there were no great controversies, no false sense of injustice and a first victory of 2014 to enjoy, despite having only enjoyed 39% of the possession.

valencia-vs-leverkusenSwansea’s slick passing style played a large part in that disparity, and they saw a lot more of the ball after United got their second goal, but for the first time this year, the home side looked confident. A lot of that can be attributed to Antonio Valencia’s timely opener at the start of the second half, which settled the side instantly and relieved some of the building tension in Old Trafford, but it also gave United a lead to protect, something they haven’t had since beating Norwich at the tail end of 2013. The challenge now, after a victory bereft of any controversy, is to kick on. Easier said than done with Stamford Bridge next up, but at least United will travel with a win under their belts as opposed to bearing the weight of four straight defeats.

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10 replies on “What We Learned: Manchester United 2-0 Swansea City”

I learned that by playing kagawa as number 10 position it bring success to united. He was fantastic with januzaj on left. Many action was creating we just have to score

Please moyes gave j.lingard a chance now that n.powell is gaining more experience and being slowly slowly mature please played jesse lingard. These player is our furtur

oh how i love to be right!!!! said it millions of times and the proof is in the second half result!!!! two wingers, and kagawa centrally is how we can create opportunities and have a flowing match!!! this is the first real time moyes has played this, and with time (if he has the brains to continue with this) it will be more effective and actually win us the BIG games!!

against chelsea i hope he plays

de gea
rafael smalling vidic evra
valencia fletcher kagawa janujaz
welbeck hernandez

i chose this for many reasons, carrick was a waste of space against swansea… did NOTHING to prove a place in the starting line-up… and i love how no other site has even mentioned is lack of anything in that game!

secondly fletcher can provide more of a stable balance in the holding position and i do think out of the strikers we have welbeck will provide the best defence from a striker.

i believe against chelsea we need the 4-4-2, with hernandez always holding back some of the chelsea defence and stopping them being able to push up to high, we need a quick break during counter attacks, i would say kagawa is not to be invlved in defending, but being the player to link the ball from the back up to the wings and hernandez in counters, and dictating play during our attacks (our scholes replacement)

janujaz and valencia on the wings provides defensive cover and the width to stretch chelsea and break away and keep spaces open during our attacks

if moyes sticks to that 3 man midfield we WILL lose… and we WILL be humuiliated. think about it logically, we have lost so often by trying to play defensively, we need to be more offensive!! whats the point having the ball and keeping it if things can’t click into place and move the ball up the pitch!

i just hope this is the true start of things to come. after all second half we had the same 11 players, just two swapped position… its preciseley what i keep saying, we have great players, but hey are in the wrong position!!!

its like having the break on the drivers side but the accelerator on the passengers, yh you might be able to stop, but u aint moving forward.

The early goal in second half also made a difference to rejuvinate the rather static imobile tactics of the first half..After the swap places ,Januzia,Kagawa plus midfield pressing a bit more did the trick.Lets hope that mobility becomes the norm Again and they get confidence Again.

I would prefer to see this formation against Chelsea: i think every body know why I drop cleverley and as for Adnan I wouldn’t like to see him struggle against Chelsea but if come into the game from bench he will be more effective in the game.
. De Gea
. Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra
. Fletcher, Carrick
. Valencia, Kagawa,Welbeck
. Hernandez

Ideally, Kagawa would benefit from an extended run in the side in that central position. Not sure whether he will get it. However with Rooney being out, he has a great chance to show Moyes what he can do. Kagawa needs to force Moyes to regard him more highly. That means being on his game and influencing the match for the full ninety minutes. As soon as Rooney is fit he will be back in the side and what will that mean for Kagawa’s place and/or role+++++++++ in the team?

Fletcher is the best out of that midfield trio of himself, Carrick and Cleverley. United’s movement and fluidity against Swansea was due in no small part to Fletch’s crispness and accuracy of passing. He was positive, energetic and didn’t waste the ball. He didn’t slow up United’s progress with ineffective, neutral, sideways passing.


Rooney and RvP will be back for Chelsea game. So,my prediction line up will be:

Welbeck can play left wing as he did in previous season.However this will reduce the chance for him to score.

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