Ratings & Highlights: Swansea City 1-3 Manchester United
The ratings and goals from Wales as United got their season back on track.
De Gea – 6 – First act of note was getting a hand to Swansea’s first; did well with an 83rd minute save to stave off the Swan’s hopes of a late rally.
Young – 7 – Aside from his work rate there is no obvious reason to play Young at full back; his limitations often become so exposed so as to make his area one opponents target. Perhaps today he was helped by how poor Swansea were in the first half but nonetheless, this was one of his better performances in the role.
Jones – 6 – Perhaps it was a bonus for Jones that he came in to the team with expectations so low. For him to impress he didn’t even have to play well; he had to just survive the ninety minutes, and do so without making an error.
Rojo – 6 – Uneventful – mostly – and you could take that as a compliment when the line up prior to the game suggested there would be a fair amount of vulnerability in his area.
Darmian – 7 – A decent first half; maybe his selection at left back rather than right half caused an imbalance which the hosts were not prepared for.
*Carrick – 8 – As always with Carrick, when he plays well, you tend to see it as much in others as you do in him. United, for the first time in years, have a very talented group of midfielders with a varied skill set. Why then, do none of them seem to have the capability of Carrick to just keep calm and play it safe? None except for a certain exiled German and it seems so obvious a solution to rotate Carrick and Schweinsteiger.
Fellaini – 6 – Could have had a hat-trick; but this was a game where the Belgian’s attributes were not really required. On this occasion his team-mates were able to carry a passenger.
Pogba – 8 – Undoubtedly aided by Carrick’s presence, and so he wasn’t trying to be all things; when Pogba is able to concentrate on what he does best, he shows that he can be the best player in the league. There were flashes of that today.
Mata – 7 – So often this season when United have looked good the Spaniard has been at the middle of it. Today it wasn’t required so much but he was, as ever, tidy in possession.
Rooney – 7 – Swansea hasn’t been the most memorable ground for Wayne Rooney. In 2012/13 he had one of his worst displays in a red shirt and in David Moyes’ first league game, United won 4-1 against a backdrop of headlines more focussed on the striker’s desire to leave. Damned if he does and all that; he had a hand in the goals but in days gone by, Rooney would be the one profiting from these generous defences. Difficult to criticise but did he do enough to suggest he should be first choice against Arsenal?
Ibrahimovic – 8 – Perhaps the Swede was fortuitous with his own touch for the second goal and perhaps the Swansea goalkeeper should have done better for the first but perhaps this is the kind of luck that the former Paris forward has not been the beneficiary of throughout the leanest spell of his top flight career. And, maybe, there’s enough about this particular forward to suggest the finishes which appear to be the luckiest are because of the quick thinking that sets him apart from others.
Subs – Lingard, Schneiderlin, Fosu-Mensah (not enough minutes to rate)
Mourinho – 8 -On the 30th anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first day as Manchester United the manager, Jose, the most recent man tasked with the job of following him paid tribute in two ways prior to kick off. Run-in’s with the authorities (the likes of which Fergie was no stranger to) meant he was given a touchline ban to be served in this game, while the selection was a nod to the unforgettable team that took to the field against Blackburn Rovers in December 2011. All of the ingredients were there for the most unholy of trinities; but as it transpired, this was quintessential Mourinho – this was the Mourinho whose team selection at Anfield with Chelsea in the infamous slip game was almost sarcastic; on that occasion he picked his team with scheduling protestations in mind, and today, there was a mixture of injury and, almost, a ‘this is what I have to work with’ sort of message.
In some ways did not matter that United won. The selection was a gamble and the most clear indication that the manager is as far away from knowing his strongest side, or formation, as he has ever been. Swansea haven’t won since the opening day in the league but the team selection should have them licking their lips.
All the pre-season talk was of a reinforced spine for United; music for supporters ears after a couple of years of watching circles put in square holes. Here fans were treated to a number of players in their right positions who, it feels, rubber stamped their future a long time ago. Jones, Rojo, Fellaini and Rooney do not represent a spine that will secure success for United this or any other season.
It would be reasonable to say that maybe fifty percent of the time this selection of United players would have had a fair tougher game, but, considering the players and the manager have faced such criticism, credit where it is due – he got it right, and spectacularly so, on an afternoon he desperately needed a win.