Manchester United have ended their eight game winless streak in all competitions with a 2-1 victory over Swansea City this afternoon.
Ander Herrera almost got Man United off to the perfect start when he worked his way through early on but his effort was blocked. Wayne Rooney then found himself in space inside the Swansea box but he dragged his shot into the side netting. United struggled to create chances as the game wore on but quick thinking from Juan Mata almost led to an opening goal for United after 33 minutes played. Unfortunately for the hosts, Neil Taylor was there to get in a block. Mata’s second effort went straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
United were underwhelming in the first period but they started the second in the best possible way when Anthony Martial headed home from Ashley Young’s cross. The goal spurned United on but Andre Ayew came close to an equaliser for Swansea with a header which hit the post. It was a warning for United that they didn’t heed and Gylfi Sigurdsson levelled things up by nodding in Modou Barrow’s cross. It would have been easy for United to implode considering the circumstances but they responded well and went back in front when Rooney fired home Martial’s ball into the box. It turned out to be the final goal of the game as United closed out the win.
United made a mediocre start to the match but Young was lively, making a number of attacking runs down the right hand side of the pitch. His cross for Martial’s goal was right on the money and he continued to threaten in the second half.
Young was also impressive against Chelsea on Monday and it was good to see him continuing his approach to an unusual role at right-back in the right way. Young rarely grabs the headlines but he always looks to make things happen, something that may not always be said for some of his teammates.
Painful first half
United went in at the half-time break goalless for the ninth consecutive time this season. Overall, out of 30 matches this term, United have failed to score in the first half in 16 of them. The last time United scored in the first half of a home game? September 30th.
At times, United were painful to watch against Swansea in the first half and the worst thing about all of it is that you can see it coming from a mile away. It is just abysmal considering the talent van Gaal has at his disposal.
The Frenchman had a quiet first half by his standards but his eighth goal of the campaign was wonderfully taken. Running into the box, Martial powered a header into the ground before the ball slicked past Fabianski and into the net. Martial owed a lot to Young and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who both played their part in what was a well worked goal.
Martial then produced another moment of magic to set up Rooney for United’s second goal, beating his man down the left hand side before teeing up his captain to score. United shouldn’t have to be relying on such a young player but Martial has consistently delivered this term.
Coming off the back of a superb display against Chelsea, Rooney once again looked menacing against Swansea.
His goal, an audacious flick with the back of his foot, was well taken and it now means he has overtaken Denis Law in the all-time goalscoring records at United. Rooney has taken his fair share of flak this season but he was excellent against Swansea.
Where does this leave van Gaal?
United finally ended their eight game winless streak in all competitions on Saturday and the result came as a huge relief to everyone at the club.
It was a gritty performance from United and one that was sorely needed. However, the first half against Swansea will do little to silence van Gaal’s critics as the team looked completely devoid of ideas. While United did secure the three points, van Gaal will have to do much more if he is to keep his job.