By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens
Wayne Rooney is struggling as the focal point of the attack and other things we learned from Swansea 2 Manchester United 1.
Rooney doesn’t have the legs to carry United attack
Given that this was the 668th appearance of his career, it is little wonder that Rooney has arrived at the point in his career where it looks like his legs have started to go. He may not turn 30 until October but England’s talisman has played as many matches as most players three or four years older. Asking him to spearhead the United attack all season, as Louis van Gaal will have to if he sells Javier Hernandez anddoes not add to the forward line before Tuesday evening, is verging on the deluded. Rooney has now extended his run without a Premier League goal to 10 matches, his worst drought since 2003. He did not look like breaking it against Swansea bar one late dribble into the box that was halted by Ashley Williams just as he was about to pull the trigger. The Rooney of a few years back would not have been caught. United desperately need to buy a new forward in the next 48 hours to support Rooney.
United lack a cutting edge
Van Gaal talks often about his ‘philosophy’. Quite what that precisely is remains in doubt. United dominate games under the Dutchman without actually hurting teams. They recycle possession as if they are 2-0 up rather than trying to open their goal account or chase a game. It is safe and it is fairly dull. The flair of the Sir Alex Ferguson teams is conspicuously absent from the Van Gaal version. United have bought sensibly this summer, with Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin in particular, looking useful additions. But Memphis Depay is the only attacker added to the squad and the Dutchman needs time before being a regular Premier League matchwinner. This United team badly lack pace and a cutting edge, and their transfer window activity has failed to correct that.
Ayew is the signing of the summer
Money talks. Or maybe not. In another summer of eye-watering transfer fees, possibly the best signing of the lost was captured on a free. Ayew has begun his Swansea career in sensational fashion, with his match-turning display against United the best of the lot. The 25-year-old once again demonstrated his gift for scoring by slamming in the equaliser, his third goal in four Premier League games, but his most impressive contribution was the magnificent outside-of-the-boot pass that arrowed into Bafetimbi Gomis’ path to set up the winner goal. In just a month, Ayew has established himself as the jewel in Swansea’s crown.
Blind is not a centre-back
To be filed in the category of the bleedin’ obvious is the assertion that the versatile Dutchman is not, and never will be, the answer to United’s centre-back problems. Blind lacks the physical attributes of height and mobility needed to handle the top forwards and struggled against the menacing Bafetimbi Gomis. The Swansea striker was clearly under instructions to target the space behind Blind, rather than his more formidable partner Chris Smalling, and got a lot of joy in this area, most notably when he collected Andre Ayew’s pass to score the winning goal.
Monk has taken Swansea to a new level
What an impressive young manager Garry Monk is. Not only has he taken Swansea to a level beyond that achieved of his predecessors Michael Laudrup and Brendan Rodgers, he also has an impressive habit of collecting big scalps. Three times Monk’s Swansea have played Van Gaal’s United and three times the apprentice has overcome and outwitted the master. Indeed, the Dutchman admitted afterwards that United could not cope with the home side’s change to a diamond formation at half-time. That is quite a compliment to Monk’s ability to thrive against the odds. Premier League and overseas chairmen, take note.