Poor defending in the first half
Another week, another abject defensive performance from Manchester United. Once again the team were made to look like amateurs at the back, with Bafetimbi Gomis losing his man twice from set piece situations before Wayne Routledge was somehow given time and space in the box to fire at David de Gea. With better finishers in their team, Swansea could have easily been two nil up inside the opening 15 minutes.
The visitors did not learn their lesson and Ki Sung-yeung was given all the time in the world to draw Swansea level on 30 minutes. It has been a regular topic of discussion throughout the season but yet, United still have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League. How on earth have they managed that?
Fellaini at no.10
Marouane Fellaini lined up behind Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in the hole against Swansea but didn’t really grab a hold of the game. Fellaini is never going to play intricate, clever passes into the forwards and make clever movements to fill space, so United’s decision not to play direct was an odd one.
On a number of occasions in the first half, Fellaini moved towards the back post but the likes of Rooney and Di Maria neglected to cross it to him. Whether or not that was down to the individual or van Gaal is up for debate but it makes you wonder why Fellaini was included in the side, particularly while Juan Mata continues to occupy a seat on the bench.
Ander Herrera starts? Ander Herrera scores. The Spaniard once again got on the scoresheet for United, which was just reward for a bright and assured performance. Fans are probably sick of hearing about the 25-year-old’s plight this season but the fact remains that United are simply a better team with him in it.
Herrera is enjoying a mini-run in the team after starts against Preston North End and Burnley and it is a no-brainer to keep him there in the future.
Lots of possession but no chances.
Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass the ball back. Lose the ball. Repeat. As so often has been the case this season, United had a lot of possession during the game but didn’t really do a great deal with it. The likes of Antonio Valencia, Di Maria and Luke Shaw were all guilty of passing back in order to keep the ball and the team looked far less threatening as a result.
To their credit, the policy did allow United to build up a period of pressure towards the end of the game but clear, presentable chances were few and far between. It is a worrying trait given United’s attacking riches and one that they will have to work on as they head into a tough run of fixtures.
Win when you’re playing bad, lose when you’re playing better.
It’s been a strange season for Man United in terms of performances matching results and today was different. In the 20 minus prior to Jonjo Shelvey’s deflected goal, United were camped on the edge of Swansea’s box. Dangerous crosses from Ashley Young were causing Swansea all sorts of problems but with van Persie finishing so poorly and Rooney busy dropping deep to instigate play, United were striking it cold.
For a period, it looked like a goal was coming but Shelvey’s goal knocked the stuff out of United and it was a poor response from van Gaal’s side.