Manchester United put in another limp attacking display as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium this evening.
There was a slow start to the game from both sides but the clash sparked into life when Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis both came close in the space of a few minutes for the hosts. On the other side of the pitch, Wayne Rooney miscued a chip which sailed straight into the hands of Lukasz Fabianski.
It was a frustrating first period for United but they started the second well and Juan Mata opened the scoring by smashing in following a superb run and cross from Luke Shaw. However, Swansea’s response was impressive and Andre Ayew headed in Sigurdsson’s ball into the box on the hour mark. The goal gave the home side momentum and they soon got in front when Gomis squirmed a shot under Sergio Romero.
Lots of possession, but not doing much with it
Van Gaal has United organised and capable of keeping the ball. The transition from defence to attack is swift and lovely to watch. However, like the Newcastle United game, a lack of cutting edge was again a feature in United’s play as they struggled to carve out and finish chances. Their profligacy in front of goal cost them as they allowed Swansea a way back into the match with the equaliser.
Of course, van Gaal will be fully aware of this but the solution to his problem is not immediately clear. The midfield, with Memphis Depay and Juan Mata on either wing, should have no problems in an attacking sense but it isn’t quite there yet, at least in domestic competition. United will need to put some time in on the training ground to fine-tune the offensive side of their game.
United supporters have clamoured for the Spaniard to be given an opportunity at No.10 and he showed some promising signs in the first half. One particularly impressive piece of skill and vision led to a great opportunity for Juan Mata but he fired wide.
His influence on the game waned as the second half wore on but Herrera kept plugging away and he was always willing to get himself on the ball. Despite his endeavour, van Gaal wanted a different option and replaced Herrera with Fellaini late on. Whether Herrera retains his place in the starting XI remains to be seen.
Schweinsteiger really does operate on a different level to everyone else on the pitch. His vision and creativity is different class. The facts back it up, as no player made more passes than him (45) in the first half.
It really cannot be understated how much of a difference Schweinsteiger brings to United’s midfield but, unfortunately, he couldn’t do it all himself as Swansea grabbed one goal back and then another.
Swansea’s winning goal owed a lot to a less than convincing attempt to save it from the Argentine, who was beaten too easily at his near post.
Aside from that, Romero looked nervous and eyebrows were raised whenever the ball went near him. United had not conceded in the league going into the game but Romero did not cover himself in glory against the Swans. Once the transfer window closes, United fans should expect to see David de Gea back in goal sooner rather than later, assuming of course he stays.
Massive few days in the transfer window
On paper, the team that van Gaal sent out at the Liberty stadium looked to be the strongest in years.
However, they surrendered meekly once Swansea got their heads up following the equalising goal. United are lacking a world-class forward who can win these type of games singlehandedly and Ed Woodward has a huge job on his hands before the end of the transfer window next week. United cannot expect to mount a Premier League title challenge with their current squad and the next few days could make or break their season.