The last time United faced Swansea, Sir Alex Ferguson waved goodbye to Old Trafford for the last time as Manchester United manager under a torrential downpour, so there was perhaps a sense of inevitability as David Moyes began his United career against the same opponent and in the same weather conditions.
The continuity between the final chapter of the Ferguson era and the first league match under David Moyes didn’t end there, as Robin Van Persie continued where he had left season, by showing that United might lack a world class midfielder, but they definitely have a world class striker in their squad.
Having trudged along for the best part of the first half, United burst into life after 33 minutes as the Dutch striker acrobatically fired them in front, having chested down a floated pass from Ryan Giggs, after the Swansea backline had criminally kept him on side. Not satisfied with his first, RVP decided to go one better in the second half.
After receiving a flick from Wayne Rooney – you know, the player who really doesn’t want to be at the club – just over the halfway line, RVP motored towards the Swansea goal with Rooney and Welbeck on either side, but neither of his team-mate was to be required, as Van Persie turned Williams inside out before unleashing a stunning strike past Michel Vorm.
A lack of a signings and the saga surrounding Wayne Rooney had threatened to derail United’s pre-season and a trip to last season’s surprise package Swansea wasn’t anyone’s idea of a soft opening fixture. For the first half an hour, United struggled to get a grip on the game with Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley struggling to impose himself in midfield, while Ryan Giggs seemed intent to frustrate the majority of United fans at the Liberty Stadium.
Antonio Valencia was kept largely quiet, while the back four – Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidi?, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra – were put under pressure in the early exchanges, as Routledge forced De Gea into a decent save with 20 minutes gone, before the Spaniard denied countryman Michu a few minutes later.
Despite toiling away in midfield, United had had arguably the two best chances of the game up until that point, with Phil Jones calling Vorm into action after striking a venomous right-footed effort, before the Dutch keeper denied Danny Welbeck some 10 minutes later, as the United striker fired from inside the box.
If some were doubting Welbeck’s impact on the game, he silenced them two minutes after RVP’s first goal, as he tapped into an empty net after a fine cross from Antonio Valencia who, whisper it, might have begun to look like a footballer again, after his season-long hiatus last year.
Before Van Persie’s second goal, the second half had gone along largely uneventful, apart from the introduction of Wayne Rooney for Ryan Giggs with 30 minutes to go. Much had been said about the reaction that Rooney might be greeted by, but the welcome for the 27-year-old was surprisingly positive by the traveling support.
United away fans deserve immense credit, as in a summer when the media have done their best to highlight the voices going against David Moyes, the traveling support sung their support for the new manager incessantly throughout the game. “Play like Fergie’s boys” and “David Moyes’ Red Army” were belted out proudly by the away end – a statement of support as good as any.
United being United, the game couldn’t peter out without a slight worry, which Bony duly provided with a composed finish with less than 10 minutes to go, before Danny Welbeck complete his wonderful day with a delightful chip over Vorm, after a brilliant through ball from Rooney.
Regardless of the outcome, it wouldn’t have been fair to draw too much from today’s game. However, a win makes Moyes’ first league outing in charge of United unbelievably better.
United, top of the league. United, United top of the league!
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Tags: Match Reports