Reaction from United’s win over Swansea.
The Old Routine
Ah, the line between what we should expect and what we shouldn’t take for granted. A club of Manchester United’s size should be defeating Swansea City. And yet Swansea City’s recent record at Old Trafford tells us that victory isn’t something we should just expect to happen; not least the Swans’ draw in Manchester last season which was a microcosm in one game of the problems Jose Mourinho faced when coming up against the so-called lesser lights.
When people question the progress the club has made then this fairly routine victory should be presented as evidence and not automatically dismissed. Yes, United should be expected to defeat teams like Swansea, especially at home, but it is a sign of the malaise which dogged the club over these transitional years that it has needed improvement to return to that standard.
United will still drop points at home periodically but by and large they are considerably closer to the Sir Alex Ferguson team than the Championship-winning team that represented the club under David Moyes. Some supporters will inevitably complain about the subdued second half but it would be an extremely harsh individual who was sincerely critical about the win.
It was dominant, unspectacular and the sort of victory that is unappreciated. We appreciate it, at least.
The jury
There are still valid question marks to be put against Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku as a pair and as individuals. There are signs that both are improving, individually and as a pair. It was only Swansea, and there are still clearly some teething problems. Improvement is necessary but improvement is happening.
Perhaps United’s good first half football owed more to the selection of Pogba, Mata and Lingard together. None were outstanding but all were vibrant enough to cause the visitors problems which were too difficult to overcome in the first forty five minutes. Jose Mourinho will continue to have a headache about his strongest attacking combination but it’s difficult to see how he can leave Mata, in particular, out.
Last Line
For a change, David De Gea wasn’t overly stretched. But there were moments where a lesser keeper might have been picking the ball out of the net; in fact, most other keepers would. De Gea is extraordinary and his instinctive save at 2-0 was the stand out moment in the second half.
It is far from the dross that was seen under Moyes and Van Gaal which led to the Spaniard being voted the club’s player of the year in successive seasons but nonetheless he is staking a strong claim for the award this year too.