• First Defeat of the Season
• Plan B
• De Gea Stays, others leave
• Transfer Window Shuts
After the easy passage to the Champions League and getting excited about the draw, it was back to the Premier League as United travelled to Wales to face Swansea at The Liberty Stadium. It proved to be an even tougher match than we had thought it would be. United started well, but after fifteen minutes of being the better side, Swansea found their bearings and though it was still goalless at half-time, they could have been ahead as Gomis and Sigurdsson went very close.
Just after the second half started, United went into the lead when a good run and cross by Shaw was missed by everyone in the box but Mata, who turned the ball into the net to the joy of the thousands of away fans who once again never stopped singing and supporting the team. Unfortunately the happiness didn’t last for long as less than twenty minutes later United were behind as Swansea scored two goals in less than five minutes. The first one started from a misplaced pass by Rooney (what a surprise!), though there was still time for others to stop Swansea from actually making something of it. They didn’t, and Ayew had the easiest of chances to equalise. Just a few minutes later, Ayew turned provider as his excellent cross was finished by Gomis. Though the grass was wet and seemed slippery, it’s hard not to think that someone like De Gea wouldn’t have done better than Romero did when the ball squirmed under his body.
It was time for Plan B as Fellaini replaced Herrera and United spent the last fifteen minutes hoofing the ball into the box and hoping that one of them comes off the Bushy Belgian’s head to at least get a point out of the game. Nothing did, and the final whistle went to assure Swansea’s third victory over United in a row, and the fourth in the last five games (all by a 2-1 score line).
Though United (or any other team for that matter) have no divine right to win every game, we’d have expected them to at least get a point out of this one, especially after Mata had scored. It was a bit disheartening to see Fellaini up front with a mis-controlling, misfiring Rooney rather than a proper forward or two that could turn nothing into something. The predictability of it all made it easy for Swansea to conserve their lead, though they and their manager Gary Monk deserve a lot of credit for changing tactics accordingly and making it hard for United to get back into the game.
Thankfully United weren’t the only losers this weekend, as Champions Chelsea lost 2-1 at home to Pardew’s Palace and L’pool made sure we got a smile on our faces (at least until United played) by losing 3-0 at home to West Ham; Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0, while Manchester City continued their impressive start by making it four wins and four clean sheets in a row in a 2-0 win at home to Watford; In Tony Pulis’ first return to Stoke, his West Brom side won 1-0 in a game where Hughes’ side had two players sent off; Southampton got their first win of the season by beating Norwich 3-0; Villa and Sunderland played out a 2-2 draw; Ranieri’s Leicester remain unbeaten as they scored a late equaliser against Bournemouth in a 1-1 draw; and in an early ‘Europa League decider’, Tottenham and Everton played out a goalless draw.
In other news, Real Madrid and United made sure the football world had a laugh at the expense of both when it came out that the De Gea transfer was not completed in time, meaning that the Spanish keeper would stay at United for at least a few more months. Apart from the fact that if Real Madrid wanted him so much they should have just got him a lot earlier than leaving it till the last day, it’s good that United didn’t just give in when Florentino Perez did come calling, hopefully showing other clubs that they shouldn’t bend over backwards every time he clicks his fingers.
As for many thinking that United are the losers in this as De Gea will walk away for free next summer? If he helps United as he has over the past few seasons, his performances will probably be worth more than the £25 million they’d have got for him this summer, and with the money the club is getting from adidas and the new TV deal, that’s not even a large amount that they might be ‘losing’ once (if?) he does eventually leave.
In all this, De Gea stayed professional and continued doing his job as required by Van Gaal. How worse could it have been if he had done what Berahino did to try and get a move away from West Brom?
United also paid around £36 million to get young French attacker Anthony Martial from Monaco, a signing that many seem to think is a panic buy. Yes it’s expensive to pay so much for a teenager, but the club had to pounce before others did. Seems like Arsenal were interested in him, and many would probably have seen Martial as another gem ‘discovered’ by Wenger if he had gone there instead. As for the add-ons bumping his price up, those include him becoming a Balon D’Or winner, which would mean he’d definitely have been a success at United if it happens.
Looking at the players that left the club, it was a surprise to see Januzaj join Dortmund as he seemed to be playing his part at this early stage of the season, but it seems that he needs to change his attitude a little, and hopefully he’ll be a better and more mature player when he returns to United; Blackett should be back too, hopefully with a lot of first team experience from Celtic, as though the Scottish Premier League might be of a lower level than the English one, he’ll be facing some tough and physical opponents north of the border. Apart from those two, the rest that left will hardly be missed. Of course we’d have loved it if Chicharito had stayed, but he seemed to have missed the boat as he missed those clear-cut chances against Newcastle and Brugges; Johnny Evans stopped improving a few seasons ago, and didn’t push on when needed, especially after Ferdinand and Vidic left the club; and Lindegaard has joined him at West Brom hoping that he’ll do more than pick his nose at the Midlands club.
All-in-all it’s been a good transfer window for United, though it could have been better if a centre-back and a striker were signed. But at least we still have a world-class keeper in the fold, and the early summer signings are already leaving a positive mark on the club.
With no club football this weekend due to Euro 2016 qualifiers, we’ll be watching a lot of international football with our fingers crossed in the hope that all United players representing their countries will return to the club fit and ready for the next league game which happens to be against L’pool. At least we can relax and not worry about United for the next few days… COME ON UNITED!!!