Manchester United fans had spent the summer licking their lips as they watched their new manager in waiting, Louis Van Gaal, lead an impressive Dutch side to a third place finish at the World Cup. Surely, they thought, this is the man who will take United back into club football’s elite and allow them to forget their awful season last year under David Moyes.
It was with great optimism that the Van Gaal’s men took to the Old Trafford pitch to face Swansea in Saturday’s early kick off, keen to exorcise the demons that troubled them so after the last 12 months. However, as so often seems to be the case in the Premier League, things did not go as so many were expecting they would.
It was Swansea who took the lead after 28 minutes after a neatly worked was finished by Ki Young-Seung. Van Gaal’s men lacked discipline and were failing to create anything going forward, for the United fans this was all starting a little too familiar.
However, after the halftime break there was hope for the Red Devils. A United corner was flicked on at the front post by Phil Jones before being acrobatically finished at the back post by Wayne Rooney for the equaliser. The home crowd erupted, in relief as much as jubilation, but the match had another twist to take.
Jefferson Montero showed some neat footwork before crossing for Wayne Routledge who sliced his volley into the path of Gylfi Sigurdsson who tapped the ball in from eight yards to restore Swansea lead with 18 minutes left. The result is Swansea’s first ever league win at Old Trafford and the first time that United have lost at home of the opening day of the season since 1972.
While it is important to remember that this is the first day of the season it will make many United fans uncomfortable to remember that 12 months ago David Moyes took his side to Swansea on the opening day, he came away with a 4-1 victory.
For United this loss will be a knock to their confidence. A result on opening day could have gone some way to restoring the fear factor that was so important under Sir Alex and lost under Moyes. But what will frustrate the Old Trafford fans was the lackluster way their side played.
Van Gaal will need to spend big before the transfer window closes if they are to meet their own high standards this season. Philippe Mexes, Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind are all players rumoured to possible targets but it will concern fans that the club are yet to make a big money signing since Sir Alex left the club.
Next up for United is a difficult trip to Sunderland, a side which defeated them over two legs and took all three points from Old Trafford at the end of last season.