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Manchester United 1-2 Swansea: Van Gaal era begins with a defeat

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Manchester United were pretty poor in suffering a home defeat to Swansea City in Louis van Gaal's first game in charge, with a scrappy Wayne Rooney goal the only consolation.

Alex Livesey

Just one game.

Please, having experienced any of this on Twitter, it's important to remember that. 90 minutes is not anywhere near enough time to start drawing conclusions about Louis van Gaal, 3-5-2, or anything else. Let alone 45 minutes, which was when everybody began to pile in.

So, where to start? Well, United were pretty rotten in losing to Swansea, and mostly the manager didn't help himself with some odd decisions. A classic Wayne Rooney performance, scoring a scrappy goal and generally being otherwise woeful was a big part of the reason for the display.

Jesse Lingard surprisingly started at right wing-back, and unsurprisingly looked totally uncomfortable in the role. After a fairly even and fairly dull start, however, the youngster picked up an injury and was replaced by Adnan Januzaj. Januzaj and Ashley Young, wingbacks, playing on opposite flanks. We thought then it might be at least interesting.

Unfortunately, Swansea City took the lead just when United appeared to be getting the upper hand, with Ki Seung-Yeung arriving late on the edge of the area to roll a typically smart finish past David de Gea and put United behind going into half-time.

Van Gaal then decided to abandon his 3-5-2 for a more straightforward 4-3-3, albeit with Ashley Young still playing at left-back and Nani coming on to be predictably ineffective. Adnan Januzaj caused a lot of problems for the Swansea defence, still looking like our best player, and we were soon level when Phil Jones helped on Juan Mata's corner and Rooney bundled it home with a close-range acrobatic finish.

United were then all over Swansea, and looked to be heading for a win as they tried to find a way through. Januzaj missed the target after a wonderful run, Rooney misplaced a couple of touches, and then thwacked the post with a free-kick as Swansea were on the ropes.

United, however, then seemed to run out of steam, and were soon hit by a sucker-punch as Gylfi Sigurdsson pounced to fire Swansea into the lead again. That both goals were scored by midfielders arriving at the edge of the area was perhaps the most worrying similarity with last year.

A couple of late scrambles followed, but United couldn't find a way through, and that's that. Still, one game. And no Robin van Persie, or Jonny Evans (or Arturo Vidal or Mats Hummels.)

Finally, a word to Van Gaal's team selection and substitutions. Reece James looked comfortable at left-back and had a great pre-season. Why persist with Young even in a 4-3-3 and play Januzaj and Lingard there instead of him? And why on earth take off Herrera and replace him with Marouane Fellaini?

There's no big conclusions to be taken from this right now, but we'll have to be a lot better than that.