MANCHESTER UNITED 1, SWANSEA CITY 2
It was a terrible start for new manager Louis van Gaal who expressed his “disappointment” as Manchester United lost at home on the opening day of the season for the first time since 1972.
Swansea City recorded their first-ever league win at Old Trafford on a day when Dutchman van Gaal will have realised the enormity of the job which confronts him.
And it was a rude awakening for van Gaal whose side had won all six of its pre-season matches to enter the Premier League campaign in fine spirits.
Goals from Ki Sung-Yeung and Gylfi Sigurdsson earned Swansea a great away victory as all United had to show for their efforts was a Wayne Rooney goal.
Van Gaal said: “It was very disappointing that we have lost our first home match. We didn’t reach the level we can play at.
“When it preparation time (pre-season games) we have won everything and the first match you lose, it cannot be worse.
“We were not as good as in the build up when we built up a lot of confidence, but it was smashed down because of this result.”
Van Gaal explained because of their excellent pre-season that had raised expectations for the new campaign.
However, he added he knew on the pre-season tour of America he needed reinforcements so that had not changed because of the loss.
Looking back on the match, van Gaal said: “You saw in the first half a lot of players very nervous and making the wrong choices.
“Players have to meet expectations because Manchester United players have to cope with that pressure.
“We had more chances than Swansea, but it’s the goals that count. I thought we would win at 1-1 but, because we didn’t play as a team in the second half, we made the wrong decisions going forward.
“My players did their utmost best and showed great mentality in the second half, but you also need to play as a team and reach your level which we didn’t do.”
In the absence of Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia, through extended breaks following the World Cup, and the injured Luke Shaw, Danny Welbeck, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans, van Gaal turned to youth.
There were Premier League debuts for 20-year-old defender Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard (21) who increased the number of Englishmen in the side to six.
The home-grown pair were preferred to the likes of Maroune Fellaini and Shinji Kagawa who were on the bench where there were three other English players.
Sadly Lingard’s debut lasted less than 25 minutes after he injured his ankle following a challenge by Ashley Williams.
The troubled start continued when Swansea snatched a 28th minute lead through Yeung.
A neat build up down the right saw Sigurdsson lay the ball off to the South Korean who found the net with a low drive from the edge of the box.
United, who never looked like scoring in a lack-lustre opening half, brought on Nani for Javier Hernandez at the break as they switched from 3-4-1-2 to a more orthodox 4-4-2.
The equaliser came in the 53rd minute with United’s first clear-cut chance of the match as Rooney found the net with his 174th Premier League goal as he is only one behind Thierry Henry
Juan Mata’s corner was flicked on by Phil Jones for Rooney, lurking at the far post, to scored with a spectacular overhead kick from three yards.
Rooney came within a whisker of giving United the lead midway through the half when his free kick struck the outside of the upright.
But it was Swansea who regained the lead with 18 minutes left through Sigurdsson.
Substitute Jefferson Montero supplied a cross from the right, Wayne Routledge completely missed his shot but the ball ran free for Icelander Sigurdsson squeezed a low shot past keeper David De Gea.
United had a shout for a penalty in stoppage time rejected after claiming Angel Rangel handled, but it was a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game.