By Peter Staunton at Old Trafford
Among United's core support slack is certainly being cut towards the under-pressure David Moyes and his decision to field a trio of attacking midfielders behind Danny Welbeck should be commended after his side's 2-0 win over Swansea. While Shinji Kagawa was heavily involved in both goals and Antonio Valencia scored the opener, Adnan Januzaj drew gasps of admiration from inside Old Trafford.
United are a team under scrutiny and it clearly does not faze the 18-year-old. He wants the ball and his colleagues want to give it to him. More than anyone else in red, he looked capable of undoing Swansea.
It was his cross to the back post from which Kagawa profited to steer a header on goal for the opener. It was he who intercepted a quick throw-out to prompt the second. It was he who set in train the events which almost added a third; Kagawa being denied only by a brilliant goal-line clearance from Leon Britton after Januzaj found Rafael on the overlap.
In a fixture that looked tricky in light of recent results, it was the youngest man on the pitch who provided the class and the calm. Speaking after the match, Darren Fletcher described the youngster as a "revelation". Moyes says his natural ability is up there with the best in the game.
Manchester United are not in fact on that bad a run, relatively speaking. This routine dismissal of Swansea was their fifth win in six Premier League games. Those two defeats in cup football in the past week may have put more pressure on Moyes and, now, his coaching staff. However, their league form, the Tottenham defeat aside, reads pretty positively. This is exactly what was needed: a reminder, if not to their competitors but to themselves, that United are capable of overcoming adversity and winning matches when they have to. It is now only two points to Liverpool ahead of them.
With one world-class player in the stands and the other in Egypt, United could very well have been coming away from this fixture with a battery of excuses for under-performing. But, even shorn of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, there was enough in the United artillery to ease past a resolute Swansea. The young Belgian in particular is becoming a not-so-secret weapon.
The first half, in truth, provided more reason for frustration around Old Trafford. There was misfortune in Januzaj's free kick cannoning back off the crossbar and an element of inadequacy in Welbeck's attempt to put them ahead with a tentative prod. Swansea were well in the game even if they did not trouble David de Gea and the defenders in front of him.
But it was another story after the break. Seats were still being taken when Shinji Kagawa's header was parried into the path of Valencia, who exhaled for all of Old Trafford when celebrating his opener.
United looked in command thereafter with Swansea unable to make the ball travel far enough in the direction of the United goal when they had it. Gerhard Tremmel, in his haste to move things forward, threw the ball into a midfield where the brilliant Januzaj took it up. His exchange of passes with Kagawa eventually brought the rampaging Patrice Evra into the picture and his drive towards the box was flicked on goal by Welbeck.
It was hard to see from where a toiling Swansea were going to conjure a goal and thus it proved. The odd half chance here and there was surmounted by United and they had a fairly routine three points. There will be sterner tests for Moyes and his men but this was a confidence-boosting win.
This type of game, in a sense, is what United are all about. Teams, in recent months, have been coming to Old Trafford expecting results. In days past, this is all that was in store.