It was a tough start to Premier League life for Louis van Gaal today as his team were comfortably beaten by Swansea.
Prior to the game, pundits were optimistic about United under the new era; that was until, at least, the squad sheets came out. Commentators were quick to comment on how the team put out was the worst team United have fielded in 20 years - and they were right.
Ashley Young may have impressed in the pre-season, but that is the pre-season. He is not a Manchester United player in his preferred LW or CF positions - but in the LWB position he looked out of his depth. When changed to LB he looked even worse - his positioning allowing the header leading to the second Swansea goal - and you can't help but feel sorry for him.
The other side was an even crazier idea - Jesse Lingard at RWB, Lingard another player who plays in the CF position. He didn't have a bad game before he got injured but even so he shouldn't have been there in that position. The second youth product, Tyler Blackett, was another player who didn't belong on the field. He is a decent prospect but the likes of Michael Keane should be preferred. There is even an arguement that Buttner shouldn't have been sold as he can operate in the LWB position with consumate ease.
Going into the second half United looked better - that being in the more familiar 4-2-3-1. Januzaj had come on, a player who should have started, and he looked the most likely to create a chance. Nani showed some moments of his dribbling prowess but he again doesn't belong on the field.
The exodus of United players should have already happened - the wages of the 'hanger-ons' are high and the money could be re-invested. Fellaini came on, and to the shock of anyone who actually watches United play, won several headers - this being a feat he didn't manage the year before in many games.
Other than that he did nothing, aside from his usual trick of elbowing an opponent in the face. The timing of this substitute couldn't have been worse as United had just scored and Herrera was arguably the only player moving the ball around the park from the midfield. A more sensible option would have been to take off Young, push Blackett (a LB by trade) into LB and drop Fletcher into CB; although I can't say I understand the reasoning behind putting Fellaini on the field in the first place.
United were truly unlucky with the Rooney free-kick and Shelvey arguably should have been sent off. They should have had a penalty at the death as Rangel left an arm trailing out - intentional or not it blocked a goal-scoring opportunity and the arm was absolutely not tucked in. De Gea should have stopped the tame tap in by Sigurdsson and Bony did block Jones for the Ki goal.
However, these can not be used as excuses. For all of the talk of van Gaal's tactical expertise, it would appear that Rodgers comment on the difficulty of the week-in, week-out intensity of the Premier League and how LvG would handle it could be justified.
Personally, it just looked like another out of depth manager - although if Louis van Gaal is out of his depth at United then Sir Alex was criminally underrated. With his wealth of experience, I hope that he will learn quickly, and contrary to his post-match comments, buy a couple more players as United really do need some class in the team.
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