It was just a year ago when Manchester United started their Premier League campaign with a defeat at Goodison Park. Robin Van Persie began life as a Red Devil on the bench as his new side struggled against Everton. The Merseyside club produced an outstanding performance, much to the chagrin of their critics, and manager David Moyes had the last word when he said, “In the build-up it was all about Manchester United and what they could do - I felt people called that wrong because we are a tough team to beat at Goodison Park .”
Who would have imagined that the Scot, who was handpicked by Sir Alex Ferguson, would be at the helm of Manchester United 12 months later? And with all the focus on him after his recent critique on the fixture list for the champions as they face Chelsea (home), Liverpool and Manchester City (away) respectively following their opening day travails to Liberty Stadium, it would be fair to state that it was a comfortable victory for the visitors.
Ferguson in his last words at Old Trafford urged the United faithful to back their new manager. However that hasn’t always been the case as there has been a section who have not questioned but had their doubts on whether Moyes indeed can steer the United wheel to ride smoothly.
While they did manage to win against Wigan in the Community Shield last weekend, the game was a tad boring as the side lacked the vibrancy to threaten the opposition. Chances were created at a premium which did leave a few doubts lingering on what to expect from the season under Moyes.
A comfortable victory for the Reds
But all of this was quashed aside by a vintage Manchester United performance on Saturday. Yes, they could have been better but certainly improved by leaps and bounds from their rather indifferent pre-season form when compared to the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea.
The team selection wasn’t surprising as Moyes preferred the experienced duo of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at the back to deny the physically strong Wilfried Bony who didn’t get a start. Antonio Valencia started on the right to drill in crosses and Van Persie led the line.
United had the first opportunity in the game through right-back Phil Jones whose volley was parried over by Michel Vorm. From there on for the next 20 minutes, it was Swansea all the way as they dominated possession and never allowed United more than 4 touches on the ball.
Two goals in three minutes thereafter helped settle the nerves as Moyes celebrated on the touchline thanks to the brilliance of Van Persie and a tap-in from Welbeck which was his 20th strike in the league in his 100th appearance.
New season, same old Van Persie
Until that point, Moyes had a lot to think about. But an aspect which we would credit his predecessor with is leaving him a squad which is a healthy mix of experienced leaders with talented youngsters.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and it wasn’t surprising that Ryan Giggs, the player cum coach, spotted Van Persie by sending in a looping ball over the top of Swansea players.
Even for the second goal, Patrice Evra sent in a cross which was headed by Van Persie towards Valencia who calmly sent the ball across the face of goal, something which he couldn’t do last term, for Welbeck to slot home.
Moyes would take heart from the fact that he has a squad who know how to react when under pressure and has leaders across the pitch, something which the current Arsenal side suffers from as rightly pointed by Sol Campbell.
Yes, they didn’t see much of the ball but when playing against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, seldom does one come across teams who have more possession than the Welsh side.
United didn't see much of the ball
What must also have been heartening to see was Wayne Rooney get some playing time. He looked rusty
just like he did in midweek for England, but did create a goal for Welbeck at the death and played a role in Van Persie’s second of the evening. Also the reaction from United fans during his five minute warm-up was commendable as they gave him an ovation. It served as a reminder that a fit Rooney is definitely an asset to have.
“People know good players and Wayne (Rooney) is a good player and people want them in your team,” said Moyes.
Welbeck who had scored just a single league goal in the entire 2012-13 season, got off to a flier with two to his name and that shall certainly do his confidence wonders.
Rooney's introduction was greeted well by the United fansDespite the top performance, it must be noted that United have been billed as the third favourites to win the title. “I don't want to be funny but we are the champions. So third favourites? Can you explain that? I don't really care. I believe in this team and I believe that we will compete until the end again,” Van Persie said last Sunday after winning the Shield.
Certainly the Dutchman is right…United will fight until the end under the guidance of Moyes. The new era has just begun.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.