Manchester United 2 Swansea City 1
Manchester United started the year in a positive mood with a hard fought victory over Swansea City at Old Trafford.
Goals from Martial and Rooney, the first time they have scored in the same match, ensured that United kick started 2016 with a much-needed win and a valuable 3 points.
United’s first match of the year and it couldn’t have been against a trickier opponent than the team from South Wales, who have held a certain jinx over the Red Devils and van Gaal.
Swansea had won four out of the last five meetings between the two sides in all competitions and were the team that welcomed van Gaal to the English game when they beat his side at Old Trafford in his first match in charge.
So, in United’s current predicament of not having won in the last eight games of 2015, the Swans would certainly provide a stern test for United.
Van Gaal decided to make one change from the side that performed to a level that deserved more than the point they obtained in the goalless draw against Chelsea and that was to recall Jones into the defence in place of Darmian.
United’s starting XI consisted of: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Jones, Blind, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Mata, Herrera, Rooney And Martial.
Swansea got the game underway at a rain-soaked Old Trafford but the weather didn’t dampen the home fans voices as they got behind their players from the start. It was Herrera, who almost worked his way into a shooting position within the first minute only to be denied as he readied to pull the trigger.
The home side started the match as they had left off against Chelsea on the attack with Blind and especially Young providing openings down the wings.
The visitors sat back looking to attack on the counter, which they did when Ayew found some space but failed to make good use of the ball. Something that United would have to be wary of.
Swansea set up to put pressure on United whenever the home defenders had the ball which seemed to unsettle Smalling and his defenders who tended to rush the play out of their own half.
At the other end, United lacked ideas as to how to break through the back four as they tried to play their way through the middle when the width provided by Blind and Young would have been the better option to get behind the defence.
A cross delivered from Young fell to the unmarked Rooney at the far post, but his weak effort hit the side netting. Having only scored a handful of goals in 2015 that was a perfect chance for the captain to start the new year with a bang.
With thirty minutes on the clock, it was the same old familiar story of United being unable to break their opponents down and produce the goals that would not only lift the players but also the atmosphere within the Theatre of Dreams.
De Gea was made to work as he caught an effort from Routledge at full stretch. Martial was bundled off the ball on the edge of the box and it was the quick thinking Herrera, who took the kick quickly and played in Mata. His first effort was blocked then the keeper Fabianski saved the poor follow up shot far too easily.
Another cross from Young looped into the area and was met by the head of Rooney. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by three defenders and even though he did well to rise above the rest he failed to find the power needed.
Manchester United Views is a Manchester United blog written by Miles Dunton, with lost of blog posts all about Manchester United. Check out his full blog at http://milesduntonmufc.blogspot.co.uk/.
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