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Swansea in no mood to give United an early Christmas present

Manchester United dropped their first points from a winning position this season and registered their first draw of the campaign as they were held 1-1 by Swansea at Liberty Stadium.

The result leaves United four points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, but Sir Alex will feel his side could, and perhaps should, have picked up three points in Wales, even though winning at Liberty Stadium is no easy feat – only Everton and Norwich have beaten Swansea at home so far this season.

Rotation policy over the festive period last year arguably cost United the league as much as anything else, and Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a strong side against Swansea, with Nemanja Vidic making his first Premier League in over three months on his 250th appearance for the club, partnered by Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra in front of David De Gea.

The midfield was the same that secured the win against City, with Rooney and Van Persie up front and it was the former Everton man to create the first real opening of the afternoon as he tested Vorm from 20 yards out, the Swansea keeper repelling the shot with some difficulty.

Vorm was called into action 60 seconds later as Young pounced on a magnificent ball through by Carrick but saw his shot parried away from a corner. The former Villa man seems to have made the left flank spot his own over the last couple of weeks, and repaid Fergie’s trust with a lot of hard work and some very intelligent runs across the box, but he still seems to be lacking the cutting edge necessary to provide the final ball.

On the ensuing corner, Robin Van Persie’s cross found Patrice Evra who put United in front with his third league goal this year thanks to a fine header, albeit one aided but Leon Britton’s diabolical lack of positioning at the far post.

United looked in control and well organised but their lead was short-lived. With 29 minutes gone, Routledge’s pass cut United’s back four wide open, allowing De Guzman, who had been played onside by a rusty Nemanja Vidic, to force a smart stop by De Gea, before Michu pounced on the tap-in to level the score.

The Spaniard – arguably the buy of the season at £2m – is in fine form, but United’s defenders should have protected De Gea much better. Fergie will be pleased to have the Vidic and Evans back, but the Serb endured a torrid first half against the Swansea number 9.

After the goal, Swansea got their tail up but the best chance of the half fell again to United when, on the stroke of half-time, Patrice Evra ghosted past Swansea’s right-back and squared the ball back to Rooney, who hit it straight at Vorm with his left foot. Rooney’s body language was the one of a player having a bad day at the office, and it would worsen in the second half.

After De Gea had denied Routledge from a tight angle soon after the restart, the second half began to resemble a siege, with United constantly peppering Swansea’s box, even though their purpose going forward wasn’t as sharp as in other occasions and often hampered by sloppiness in the final third.

With an hour gone, Hernandez replaced Valencia  to notch his 100th cap for the club but he’d have to wait 10 minutes to get his first opportunity of the game, Van Persie’s ball falling behind the Mexican who still did well to force a save from Vorm. Prior to that United had gone agonisngly close to regaining the lead, as Robin Van Persie’s volley hit the bar, after he had brilliantly met Rooney’s cross.

Rooney’s afternoon wasn’t getting any better and, after picking up a yellow card and misplacing the simplest of passes as United threatened to break on the counter, he too was off, replaced by Ryan Giggs, with Paul Scholes coming on for Tom Cleverley with five minutes left.

United struck the woodwork a second time, 12 minutes from the end, as Michael Carrick saw his header crashing against the bar after a brilliant corner from Robin Van Persie, who had earlier been involved in a scuffle with Ashley Williams, as the Swansea captain appeared to have kick the ball against Van Persie, with the Dutchman lying on the ground.

United couldn’t produce another famous late winner, but they had a half-hearted penalty appeal as Young’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Davies’ arm.

United will be disappointed with the draw but can take some solace in the knowledge that Swansea are a very good side, and one very hard to beat at home, and that the team that top the table at Christmas has gone on to win the title in the last three years. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing, particularly when one considers that United have the luxury of playing the next two games at home.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)



  1. Sahal

    23 December 2012 at 16:23

    In fairness,this would be a good point although most reds are disappointed because we should have won that.

    Some below average performances out there today.Valencia’s stopping and turning around routine has to come to an end,his final balls were poor,like most of the team’s.

    It’s extreamly frustrating when professsional footballers can’t play simple passes.Rooney was almost a Swansea player with the amount of passes he made to them!Tom Cleverley too,was average and showed no signs of being able to split a defence.If that’s going to become Carrick’s job then what is Cleverley’s role in the team.

    If Rooney doesn’t play,we don’t play…familiar story?Only RVP and Carrick had good shifts today.It’s time the other lads up their game and take the burden off the front 2(and Carrick!).Looks like Kagawa is coming back at just the right time 🙂

    Defending…it’s bad,real bad.

  2. Andrew

    23 December 2012 at 16:55

    Two points dropped today for a game we should have won. Swansea did well though. We had no attacking game today and Rooney was awful, as was Valencia again. We lack options on the wings and its costing us. I think Ferguson needs to get a new winger this January. I would say Wilfred Zaha would be a good addition.

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  4. Dr S

    23 December 2012 at 18:00

    Having had a breather, perhaps that game was not as bad as it feels.

    Van Persie hit the bar, two hard shots were cleared point blank, Rooney had a soft left saved, passes in the box were a foot away from being killer balls. On another day, 3 or 4 would have gone in. It would have ended 4-2 or something.

    Okay, that’s out of the way.

    Rooney has at least as much raw talent as Ronaldo, at least he had in his younger days. But he will not be spoken of in the same breath purely because of poor attitude. Rooney doesn’t give a shitzu, whereas Ronaldo is constantly working what he has, to be the best he can. So much so that he is now, through sheer force of will, one of the top 2-4 players in the world. Not so Rooney. For despite what 4-4-2 says, Rooney is far from the 10th best.

    Smalling may be the better partner for Vidic. As the game wore on, the Cap grew in stature and force. It’s still early days, but maybe, he’ll come back to close to his best. He needs someone who can complement his forthright style, with a game reading, take-the-ball out of defense calmly, fast when required style. A young Rio, so to speak. That partner’s name is not Evans.

    Rafael has improved more than we thought. If Jones is anything to go by. Cleverly runs a lot, however, with a lot of regret I have to say that I think he’s a bit too lightweight for a team of Man Utd’s stature. Anderson, if he wasn’t injured so often, might be something. But a defensive mid or a strong box-to-box may bring out Carrick’s game even more. And, allow the Manager to rest him once in a while for a more attacking mid.

    But we all know there not going to be any January buys, right?

    It would be great, once he returned from injury, if Nani were to be given an extended run on the right. He was the player-of-the-season not too long back, and has earned, at least, the same rights as Valencia whose started game after game, despite playing poorly. Who knows. We may be selling the wrong midfielder. A good winger is hard to find.

    Lastly, the Gaffer’s substitutions were not that bad. It was a far more astute use of the old guard, as Giggs cameo showed. Poor tackling aside (know I’ll get bashed for this!), I still felt that Scholes brought more “presence” to the mid, than 2nd half Cleverly did.

    The subs however, were 2/3 about 10 minutes too late. And 1/3 bang on time. Chicharito should have started the 2nd half, Giggs should have had 20min…. but if Scholes had been on any longer than that, he’d have got a red!

  5. Opti

    23 December 2012 at 19:45

    Ew! Our first draw this season…

    DIsappointed because we could and should have won today. Swansea parked the bus in the second half and did not pose any threat, so why not put in “super-sub” Chicharito earlier and take off a woeful Rooney? This is the worst I had seen Rooney is quite a while? I heard he was a father again with Kai’s brother brewing in Mama Rooney’s interior. Distraction? Possibly. Rooney was poor, regardless.

    Valencia and Young were quite poor today, too. How does Valencia get past a man when he ALWAYS goes right-side with the ball. And can Young even dribble past a man? Sure, he showed up in some nice positions, but when it comes down to it, NO ONE beat a swansea player today 1-on-1.

    Something was missing from United, except for van Persie and Carrick who both had decent games.

    The United defense… oh dear. Real Madrid better rest starting XI or I fear for the net in goal… it was so frustrating to watch both Carrick and Cleverley on the wrong side of Swansea attacks. Constantly, in the first half, they would attack our back-four defensive line with NO midfielder in sight. 4-on-4! What the heck!

    Fergie is crazy if he thinks we can outscore everyone to the title… damned be defense…

    Love this football-holiday nonetheless. Bring on Boxing Day and give me more United 🙂

    Merry Christmas / Glædelig Jul, Eddy!

    PS: My perfect-record FIFA13 magic failed today as United failed to win for the first time this season after I played United’s fixture last night 🙁

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  8. ash is the man

    24 December 2012 at 14:54

    well every team slips up but at least we beat all the big boys and we can afford this slip up. I wonder if we will look for a winger in january, walcott would be a good addition and will add more penetration but it wont fill what we really need, and that is a david beckham on the wing, a player who can actually cross and deliver

  9. The_Philosopher

    24 December 2012 at 15:12

    Tough game yesterday

    Kagawa is definately missed. He would have done a better job than Rooney in the number 10 role against the Swans.

    Rooney needs to do a couple shifts in midfield I think.

    Sahal has got it spot on. If Rooney doesn’t show up United doesn’t play well. He is our driving force.

    If we’re not buying a midfielder in January he must play in midfield partnering Carrick at times and Anderson at others.

    Rooney is a box-to-box player. There’s no denying that.

    We are also painfully short of world class wingers. End of.

    Nani needs a run on the right wing. Valnecia is too simple as a player. Nani has more natural talent when it comes to beating players. He just needs enough consecutive games to build form and consistency.

    • Opti

      24 December 2012 at 17:02

      @The_Philosopher: Rooney may be able to run from box-to-box but his passing excludes him from being a midfielder in my opinion. Poor passer, crosser… let’s just get an actual midfielder at let Rooney focus on goal-scoring duties…

      Merry Christmas all you Yule-reds!!! 😀 😀

  10. colver

    24 December 2012 at 17:44

    It is ridiculous to play Rooney in midfield. He had a bad game. So what? He is still one of the best number 10’s in the world. Put him in midfield and he may hustle and bustle but he is not going to be in the positions to make the killer passes and he gives away the ball too often.

    When Kagaya comes back there may be a case for playing him instead of Rooney in certain games where a bit more finesse is required but its better in those cases that Rooney sits on the bench and gets some rest rather than getting game time ahead of Anderson and Cleverley who are more effective in that position

    • AS

      25 December 2012 at 11:48

      @colver: Rooney isn’t, in my opinion, a number 10, he’s a striker that can also drift in from the left, whereas the blue samurai is a pure number 10, and is wasted anywhere else. I think it would be detrimental to the team to play him anywhere else when fit because he is potentially the man who dictates all our attack, and I think he is better at that than Rooney.

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