AFTER Manchester United fell to a 2-1 defeat at The Liberty Stadium against Swansea City, to lose their unbeaten start to the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season, Adam Higgins looks at three things we learnt from the defeat…
Underwhelming Wayne Rooney is not back in form
You may be forgiven for assuming that the United no.10 was back on the goal trail after his morale-boosting European hat-trick in Belgium during the week.
But on the evidence of their latest Premier League setback in south Wales, the Champions League treble was merely a false dawn and one-game wonder for the England captain following another ineffective and disappointing display.
The forward, who turns 30 in October, had a glaring chance in the first half when released in behind the Swans defence but was too hesitant and slow when faced with Lukasz Fabianski before being denied by a superb Ashley Williams intervention in the closing stages – the sort of opportunity the Rooney of old would have buried to haul United out of the mire.
Some United fans on the post-match MUTV phone-in were quick to ask why he wasn’t substituted in the second half and questioned whether he should be continually protected or left in the team even when his performances fall below the standards expected.
Anonymous for long periods against the Swans, Rooney was has now gone 10 Premier League games without scoring for the first time in his 11-year United career and his lack of a goalscoring threat reinforced the need for Louis van Gaal to add to his offensive options.
With the fright factor which often terrorised the best of Premier League defences now seemingly non-existent, Rooney must improve if he is to rediscover the kind of form that brought United sustained success during the latter years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure.
— All For United? (@allforunited) August 30, 2015
Sir Alex would be dropping Rooney next game if he played like this, needs to be kept on his toes.
— JC (@JustCantona) August 30, 2015
United cannot afford to lose David de Gea
A high-profile error from Sergio Romero was the last thing United and van Gaal needed while the David de Gea transfer saga rumbled on but that’s exactly what happened in the second half against the Swans.
The Argentine’s misjudged dive and inordinate bearings allowed Bafetimbi Gomis to squirm the ball tamely under his body to net the winner in this fixture for the second successive season.
Some may also be of the opinion that he could have done better to reach Andre Ayew’s header for the equaliser but, although van Gaal refused to blame the 2-1 reverse on the keeper, the 28-year-old looked distinctly shaky all afternoon with his poor distribution failing to spark any noteworthy United attacks.
Romero – who had only previously been beaten by a Michael Carrick own goal against Club Brugge at Old Trafford – was never really tested seriously in the second period yet still ended up conceding his first two Premier League goals.
Romero has had a nightmare. Comes, stays, doesn't set his feet and ball rolls in.
— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonESPN) August 30, 2015
Hitherto, the signs of vulnerability doesn’t bode well. It could prove to be a one-off but the ex-Monaco stopper didn’t convince United fans, many of whom will have made their mind up that he is not the answer to replace de Gea as permanent number one.
Last season’s player of the year de Gea may still leave before Tuesday’s transfer deadline if Real Madrid come calling with a tempting offer but United will be desperate for the situation to be resolved during the international break. Should that happen, Romero will undoubtedly be occupying the spot on the bench he was largely expected to fill upon his arrival.
Romero was absolutely abysmal today. Abysmal.
— ? Adam ? Sweeney ? (@AdamWSweeney) August 30, 2015
Luke Shaw is back to his old self
It could be argued that the 20-year-old was the only United player who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
Always on the move and available to team-mates, Shaw was a bundle of energy down the left hand side and showed a willingness to get stuck in for the cause with some well-timed tackling.
Despite being exposed for Swansea’s two-goal blitz in five second-half minutes, the full-back stuck to his guns to nullify Wayne Routledge’s threat in the main and demonstrated just why Roy Hodgson has handed him an England call-up for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland.
A perfect example came as Shaw played a part in the United goal with a purposeful run and inch-perfect cross that Rooney left for Juan Mata to convert at the back post early in the second half.
Good work by Luke Shaw in the build up – he's started the season really well
— Darren Fletcher (@DFletcherSport) August 30, 2015
After only a handful of impressive displays since becoming the most expensive British teenage transfer last summer – albeit his debut campaign was ravaged by injuries – Shaw is now starting to fulfil the potential nurtured by Southampton which tempted van Gaal to splash out £30 million and United can only benefit from it.
Luke Shaw is the real deal. 10yrs quality service he will give barring injury
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) August 30, 2015