The pre-season balloon is popped. Everybody knows the pre-season isn’t comparable to the Premier League in terms of match pressure but it was impossible not to get excited by United beating the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool tour, and doing it in style.
On the US Tour, we played some great football focused on quick passing and movement and reaped the rewards with victories, so to see United playing such pedestrian football against an average Swansea side was both unexpected and disappointing.
United’s players crumbled under the pressure in the first home game, a winnable game against Swansea, and that doesn’t bode well because their confidence ‘will now be smashed’ as Van Gaal eloquently phrased it.
The spine of the team isn’t strong enough. United lack leaders, plain and simple. In the absence of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand, there is not an individual vocal presence in defence and it contributed to both of Swansea’s goals which were avoidable with some more organised defending.
The same goes for midfield. Darren Fletcher did a job for the first hour but then he started to tire and when Marouane Fellaini was pushed up, he was left alone in the middle which gave Swansea so much uncontested space to use.
Wayne Rooney does his part up front and drops deeper when he can to help but the fact is that the best starting XI in this squad doesn’t currently compete with rivals.
United are currently a weak squad that is now depleted by injuries and one which will struggle to compete against the top four this season.
Louis van Gaal and the Philosophers Stone. Yesterday’s loss to Swansea had far too many parallels to football under David Moyes.
Pedestrian movement and a lack of an incisive touch all over the pitch characterised United’s performance but Van Gaal’s decision to bring Marouane Fellaini for Ander Herrera in order to play long balls to the Belgian was very surprising.
Van Gaal has reiterated on more than one occasion that sticking to his philosophy and style of football is, so to see him resort to Moyes’ favourite tactic of hoofing it up the field was in direct contrast of his short passing game.