MANCHESTER United began their season with a whimper as Gylfi Sigurdsson gate-crashed Louis van Gaal’s Premier League bow at Old Trafford.
New United captain Wayne Rooney thought he had grabbed a point for the hosts with an over-head kick following Ki Sung-yueng’s opener. But Sigurdsson beat David de Gea from 15 yards to give Garry Monk’s team a shock 2-1 win.
Van Gaal was understandably disappointed with the display, complaining: “We didn’t reach the level we have shown in the past matches and that is disappointing because this is the most important match.
“We were disappointing in defence and we are disappointed with ourselves and that’s why we lost today.”
The Dutch boss batted away suggestions that the opening-day performance will have a big impact on his transfer plans. “No, because that is a short-term assault I think, but of course we need defenders, but I have already said that,” he added. “You cannot say because of one game that we lost, and all the others we won, that it is the defence. It’s the team.”
However, Van Gaal’s defence was definitely at fault for the Swansea goals as both Sigurdsson and Ki were unmarked when they beat De Gea. There was a lack of organisation at times in the back three, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both often looking out of their comfort zone thanks to Swansea’s enterprising play and neat passing. They were tested early on by Swansea as Wayne Routledge raced on to Jonjo Shelvey’s through ball, but David De Gea came to the rescue. Routledge then gave Jones the slip down United’s right, but his cross was cut out just before Wilfried Bony could convert.
Rooney led by example as he tried to drag United into the game. The captain tore around the pitch, but his two first-half attempts on goal were weak.
Jesse Lingard, making his full United debut, was replaced by Adnan Januzaj after injuring his right foot.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was tested for the first time when he saved Jones’ shot after a one-two with Juan Mata. Then, four minutes later, Swansea took the lead. Blackett was drawn out of position by Nathan Dyer, who laid the ball off to Sigurdsson. He squared to Ki, who fired the ball past a diving De Gea. Bony played an important part in the goal, blocking Jones as he rushed out to challenge the South Korean.
In the second half, Van Gaal, pictured right, sought to inject life into his team by bringing Nani on for Javier Hernandez, who started up front ahead of the unfit Robin van Persie.
Within eight minutes of the restart the hosts were level. Jones climbed well to flick on Mata’s corner and Rooney acrobatically swept the ball past Fabianski.
Sometimes the Welsh side went too far in their attempts to stop the hosts, who were now in full flow. Neil Taylor went in to the book for hacking down Januzaj and Mike Dean also issued a caution to Shelvey for kicking the ball away following a late tackle on Mata.
Rooney turned Williams with an exquisite bit of skill, but the Swansea captain recovered to deny the England striker.
Rooney then nearly put United ahead with a brilliant free-kick on the edge of the area, curling a looping shot up and over the wall, but it struck the frame and bounced wide.
Then, in the 72nd minute, Routledge mis-hit Jefferson Montero’s cross. The ball fell at the feet of Sigurdsson, who bundled the ball past De Gea.