Saturday analysis: Back threes, new boys and late blows
Man United 1-2 Swansea
Louis van Gaal's first competitive game as Manchester United manager was perhaps a touch too competitive for the Dutchman's liking: the Swans shocked their hosts with the kind of eyebrow-raising Old Trafford defeat that became such a habit under David Moyes.
Nobody was too surprised when Van Gaal picked a 3-4-1-2 formation, although some of the personnel had the hacks a-Googlin': Tyler Blackett played at left centre-back with Jess Lingard at right wing-back (and Ashley Young on the opposite flank). Neither academy graduate let the team down, but at half-time Van Gaal abandoned the back three and switched to a 4-2-3-1: so much for the tactical revolution.
By that time Swansea were leading through a well-executed, if hardly difficult, counter-attack: Ki Sung-Yeung was left completely unmarked to collect and dispatch Nathan Dyer's pass. United levelled through a short-range overhead kick from new captain Wayne Rooney on 53 minutes, but there was to be no happy beginning for the new skipper or gaffer.
With United's underachieving midfield increasingly resorting to the long ball forward – a situation seldom helped by the arrival of substitute Marouane Fellaini – it was Swansea who scored the game's third goal, handed to them by more poor defending (ersatz left-back Young failed to deal with sub Jefferson Montero's cross) and a slice of luck (Wayne Routledge's scuffed shot landing perfectly for Gylfi Sugurdsson to snaffle).
Van Gaal may have proved himself open to new ideas – implementing a back three but being equally ready to abandon it if necessary – and refused to criticise his players, but he will not have enjoyed being beaten by a rookie manager. Garry Monk, of course, will be rightly delighted with his side, top of the nascent league.