United Flounder in Wales, Manchester United Week 4 Recap

Manchester United faltered this weekend against Swansea City, surrendering their first two goals of the season. United seized the lead in the second half at Liberty Stadium, but failed to maintain it and even worse, failed to strike back in order to draw the match. Wayne Rooney and Sergio Romero were United’s worst performers as both played the scapegoat in each Swansea goal.

Louis Van Gaal made three changes to the side that started against Club Brugge during the midweek. Romero started in goal. Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw started in the back four. Bastian Schweinsteiger replaced Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin reprised his role in central defensive midfield. Memphis started in his accustomed role at wide left. Ander Herrera was deployed in the No. 10 role, replacing the injured Adnan Januzaj, and Juan Mata played wide right. Wayne Rooney started as the lone striker, hoping to break his Barclays Premier League scoreless streak.

United maintained the majority of possession throughout the game, but managed few scoring chances until the second half. Although their possession was undeniable, there was little bite going forward to their passing and the tempo failed to resemble Ferguson’s glory days.

Swansea on the other hand managed to look threatening despite seeing just 38 percent of the ball throughout the first half. The danger man was Swansea forward Bafetimbi Gomis, who performed the role of target man exceptionally well. He held up play from the front, reconnecting with his midfield and allowing their brief stints of possession to lead to chances going forward. On three separate occasions his influence nearly led to a goal in the first half. First, he was played a through ball through the air that he elected to shoot on goal. His shot was wild, however, and led to an innocent goal kick. On the second occasion, he worked a free kick well, rolling a through pass to Gylfi Siggurdson. Siggurdson’s shot went begging wide and most would have pegged him for slotting home the chance comfortably. His third and final chance, before the half ended, struck the post as he dribbled the United defense expertly and flicked an outside of the boot shot past Romero.

The second half start from United was more positive and in the 48th minute, United would find their breakthrough. Luke Shaw dribbled from midfield and received a fortunate forward bounce when tackled in his dribble. He was allowed to play in a cross towards Wayne Rooney, who was unable to control it, but the ball managed to evade Swansea’s defenders as well finding Mata at the far post. He finished the move with his right foot to give United the lead and score his 50th career goal in English football.

Fast forward to the 61st minute, where Rooney’s involvement in the attack turned him to the ultimate culprit, as he turned the ball over needlessly. Swansea swiftly counterattacked and Andre Ayew latched onto a cross to head the ball past Romero for the equalizing goal. Five minutes later, Ayew would play the role of playmaker with a brilliant outside of the foot through pass to Gomis running into the box behind the United defense. Romero attempted to come off his line and challenge the cross, but his anticipation was slow and the movement left him in no man’s land off his post. Gomis’ shot a feathered attempt on goal managed to beat the Argentine goalie right near his left foot due to the lack of time for a reaction because of his positioning. United truly paid for De Gea’s absence in that moment, as the save could have been made from a better positioned or a more capable, agile goalkeeper.

Wayne Rooney’s frustrating performance would not end without a final brilliant opportunity to notch United level. After controlling an air pass wonderfully, he beat two Swansea defenders, earning a one on one with the Swansea goalkeeper. Rooney had numerous ways to score, including dribbling the keeper or striking the ball low and hard with his left foot. Rooney elected to take extra touches and time to shift the ball to his right foot, which gave Swansea’s Ashley Williams ample time to tackle back and displace the ball from Rooney’s feet. The action was the final frustration to United, supporters, player, and manager alike. Even with the inclusion of Marouane Feilani, United failed to break even and Swansea won the match 2-1.

United should be frustrated a consecutive week with a result that they failed to earn and player performances far below their usual measure. Rooney’s mercurial form from week to week needs to stabilize. Romero continues to make poor decisions. Memphis continues an unimpressive run in domestic play. As the transfer window advances to a close, United have claimed they will make no panic purchases. However, reports already confirm ingoing and outgoing action. Chicharito appears to be bound for Bayer Leverkusen for a deal worth £12 million. United have also targeted Anthony Martial, a 19 year old striker from AS Monaco in Ligue 1. United may have also made another bid for Welsh winger, Gareth Bale, for £72.9 million. It also appears that the David De Gea saga is approaching a close with Keylor Navas possibly entering the deal as a swap. The transfer window in Spain closes on Monday, a day before the close in England. If De Gea doesn’t leave before the Spanish window closes, it will be likely he will stay for one last season before leaving on a free transfer at the end of the year.

European leagues are on a hiatus for international break for European Cup 2016 qualifiers. United return to play on September 12th against rival Liverpool at Old Trafford. The game starts a stretch of numerous and tightly packed matches, as they begin Champions League play against PSV on September 15th. The match against Liverpool will be aired Saturday, 9/12 at 12:30pm on NBCSN.

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