A day that started with an overwhelming sense of optimism ended in a rather downbeat fashion after United failed to win against a very poor Swansea side.
The line-up that started the match was more or less the same as that which last started a game against a Carlos Carvalhal side. That was the Boxing Day game in the Championship against Sheffield Wednesday. We’re in the Premier League with effectively the same team that lost over a year ago against a brutish Championship side over one year ago. Thanks Mike.
On seeing the line-up I’ll admit to not being over the moon that Dummett was in for Manquillo. That’s not a slight on Dummett, it’s just that Manquillo offers way more of an attacking threat and also enables Atsu to attack more. I think it was pretty obvious that Atsu missed having someone he can link with and someone who darts up and down the flank to offer opportunities for the overlap.
That said, United should’ve had the game beyond Swansea reach by half-time. We’re so utterly, obviously desperate for a clinical finisher. In the 2nd minute a great cross from Dummett should’ve ended with Gayle putting the ball in the net. He headed pretty tamely into the hands of Fabianski. An early goal and I genuinely think Swansea would’ve crumbled.
A great jinking run from Ayoze, followed with an excellent cross led to another spurned opportunity. Again, the header from Gayle lacking both conviction and accuracy. I thought we were going to bury them at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I was fairly sauced (to the point that my singing was so lad and full of spittle that Ben in front of me could actually feel water splattering on to his heed – sorry Ben), but United were dominating.
A great ball in to the box in from Atsu in the 22nd minute and perhaps Dummy should’ve done better. How the hell we weren’t at least one-up by the 25th minute is just incredible. in fact, as I type this it’s starting to dawn on me that had one or two of these chances gone in we’d have been waxing lyrical about an excellent start to the game and ultimately the 3 points….again…cheers Mike for investing NOWT.
And then came an even more frustrating miss. A decent bit of head tennis led to Ayoze being one-on-one with Fabianski. A decent save but Ayoze should’ve hit it with so much force that even if Fabianski managed to get something on it the power would’ve been so great it broke his hands and removed part of his face. My drunken optimism by this point was starting to move in to ‘it’s ganni be one of those days’ territory.
Swansea’s first attack of any sort, in the 35th minute, should’ve led to a red card for big Mo and a penalty. It didn’t. A bit of luck at last. And also, there’s something really unlikeable about Carvalhal so I’m glad he had the chance to whinge at the end of the match (irrelevant to him that his team should’ve been 4 down before they even managed a shot).
The second-half wasn’t great. At all. Pretty much zip for 15 minutes and then a goal, of course, for Swansea. A great save from Darlow but Ayew was quick to react. Literally no idea what Ciaran Clark was doing. I really like Clark but he does have that knack of losing focus once or twice per match. You’ll get that from a £5million player in the PL. Five million in the PL now is pretty much the equivalent of a bag of balls, a set of tracksuits and a crate of Broon 20 years ago.
Joselu came on and we were level within 8 minutes. A cracking ball from Shelvey, pretty much the only thing he did all game that wasn’t petulant, pointless or piss poor (that free kick should’ve been Atsu’s all day long – Shelvey couldn’t cope with the grief he was getting from the Swans fans), Perez’s cross deflected and Joselu with a tidy finish through Mawson’s legs from a tight angle. I won’t go on too much for fear of being called names but Joselu is way better than he’s given credit for. I’m not saying he’s totes amazebaalz but he is nowhere near as poor as is made out.
Game on……I thought we’d go on and win. Instead Swansea nearly nicked it but fortunately Bony is an absolute shadow of the player he was a few seasons back in his first spell at Swansea. If that had gone in, and I’m not being a drama queen at all here, then there’s every chance I’d have walked away from football forever and taken up cross-stich.
Regarding the Shelvey substitution. He behaved like a bell-end but, yi kna what, big deal. It wasn’t exactly mature but he was hacked off and I’m pretty sure Rafa has dealt with it and everyone has moved on.
In conclusion, a really disappointing afternoon as this was a game we ought to have tied-up before half-time. The need for a minimum of 2 new signings who can go straight in to the side is obvious. We are desperate for a cutting edge and an experienced head on the pitch. What do you want, Mike?
NORMAN RILEY – FOLLOW NORMAN ON @likethegoat
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