Swansea's History Boys Defeat Manchester United

Published: 22nd February 2015 02:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2015 02:37 PM   |  A+A-


LONDON: Victory in August at Old Trafford was no fluke after all. Six months on, with an involuntary flick of his dreadlocked head, Bafetimbi Gomis scored the winner to allow Swansea City to record their first ever league double over Manchester United. Or as they are more usually referred to these days, a disappointing Manchester United.

"We created history today," said the Swansea manager Garry Monk. "It's something everyone connected with the club should be very proud of."

Gomis's decisive goal came after Jonjo Shelvey had responded in the ideal way to his manager's complaint about his work rate, delivered earlier this week. Rather than simply doing what his other half had done and take to Twitter to disparage Monk, the effervescent Shelvey seized advantage of a gaping hole in front of United's back four in the 73rd minute and unleashed a swirling, swerving strike, which took a hefty deflection off a ducking Gomis's head to spin past David De Gea.

The truth is, it was no less than United deserved. It may have only been their second defeat in the last 20 games, but few can deny it was coming. Their star names once more listless and ineffective, their build-up play frequently pedestrian, their shots on target countable on the fingers of one hand, Louis van Gaal's team finished the game with their now familiar forlorn Plan B in operation.

In a wretched parody of Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson's attacking ideals, United's visiting support was obliged to watch a long balls lumped up to Marouane Fellaini, an emergency centre-forward who brings new meaning to the phrase false number nine. Not that the manager saw it like that.

"It is always frustrating when you are the dominating team, your disappointment is much bigger," Van Gaal said of the defeat. "We played a very good second half but we lost. They had one chance which deviated that also looked as if it might have been offside."

It was an intriguing reading. For sure, United had most of the second half possession. But little of it was converted into anything approaching tangible threat. Indeed, the Swansea keeper Lucasz Fabianski had but one save to make as the ball pinged around without ever being properly addressed.

And all this after United had started brightly. This was largely because Ander Herrera was in their midfield. Sections of the United support had been clamouring for his inclusion for some time. In the early exchanges, he suggested he would repay such faith. Unquestionably adding a touch of pace and precision, his passing prompted all of the better efforts they had.

He was there to give the visitors the lead on 28 minutes. It was an excellent goal, too, offering a hint of United of old. A speedy break from defence found Angel Di Maria interchanging with Wayne Rooney on the edge of the Swansea box. Di Maria laid the ball expertly back to Herrera, who drifted in from the right to spear a shot into the corner of Fabianski's goal.

It was, however, a lead which did not last long. Barely had the visiting supporters begun their chant in praise of their reinstated Spanish midfielder, before Swansea broke with equal aplomb.

Shelvey galloped down the left and, drawing Paddy McNair towards him, drifted in a cross which Ki Sung Yeung speared precisely past De Gea. The South Korean captain enjoys scoring against United: he had got the winner at Old Trafford in the August leg of their extended double.

As the second half unfolded Van Gaal attempted to add some pace and oomph to United's attack, bringing on Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young for McNair and Luke Shaw. While the changes delivered an immediate increase in pressure, Young in particular supplying a series of teasing crosses, they did not serve up anything approaching a clear cut chance. With Herrera's influence waning, Swansea's defenders found it ever easier to read the direction of United's play. Time and again, Ashley Williams and his colleagues were able to make a timely intervention.

In any case, United's increase in tempo was compromised by the hapless form of Robin van Persie. He appeared to have arrived on the pitch leaving his radar in the dressing room. Several times colleagues carved possible openings for him, only for the Dutchman consistently to skew his efforts high or wide. "We thought you were dead," mocked the Swansea fans, in reference to an incident a couple of seasons ago when Alex Ferguson complained a Williams tackle "could have killed" him. Frankly, on this showing, they were not wrong: he looked as if he had expired long ago, an injury late on in the game barely compromising his performance.

Thus it was that, with the Liberty rocking in recognition of a celebrated double, Swansea took the spoils. "I said to the players before the game, history is worth fighting for," said Monk.
And increasingly history - albeit gifted to their opponents - is all Manchester United have to offer.

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