Manchester United lost 2-1 to Swansea City at the Liberty stadium for their first defeat of the season. United started strongly in the first half as well as in the second half but after the Mata goal,a tactical switch by Monk opened up the game for Swansea and they took advantage of it by scoring two goals before Van Gaal could react.
Monk’s tactical switch.
Swansea started out with a 4-2-3-1 formation , but after United’s goal Monk changed the formation to a 4-4-2/4-3-1-2 with a diamond in the middle. With Luke Shaw finding space on the left wing after Routledge was replaced by Ki,both Ayew for the second goal and Sigurdsson for the first pushed in behind Shaw to play the killer ball.
“We did change – we felt they were overloading us in the middle, so we went to a diamond after 10 minutes in that second half,I explained it to them at half-time – and we ended up getting two quickfire goals.”-Garry Monk
“After 1-0 they changed their shape and then we couldn’t cope with that, so that’s not good,In five minutes we have lost that dominant role we had. That was a pity because I think we controlled the game and play very well.When you don’t know it (Swansea’s formation) you have to be compact.- Van Gaal
At least after the first goal,you would have expected some changes from the United dugout to counter Swansea’s threat,but Shaw continued to go forward as he found more space with no Swansea winger on the right and fell right into the trap as Ayew and Gomis combined to score the winner.
Both of Swansea’s goals arrived from Shaw vacating his position and leaving space in behind. But Shaw was easily the only United player who was not afraid to run at Swansea with the ball rather than play “keep ball” and “control” the game like rest of his teammates.
It is very rare to see a tactical change/formation change during the match to completely reverse the outcome especially in the Premier League as football managers are becoming more and more reactive. But this result was a clear case of in game tactics deciding the outcome of the match. Monk waited till United scored and then changed the system and as he said in his post match press conference,he had explained the change to his players during half time.
Van Gaal’s substitutions
Van Gaal’s substitutions from the beginning of his tenure at United were never radical. He always brings on like for like players with the exception of Fellaini who is his go to man when United are in need of a goal in the dying minutes of a match. United were impressive down the left with Shaw’s lung bursting runs deep into Swansea’s territory(The only player who was moving the ball vertically in United’s attack). With Depay totally off the pace,it was logical for Young to replace the Dutchman so that United’s potency down the left wing is maintained. Young struggled to put in crosses from the right with Darmian not effective as Shaw is on the right.
Blind at CB and Romero as the goalkeeper were disasters waiting to happen. Although Blind was solid till this match, he had not faced a striker in red hot form like Gomis is in. Gomis bullied Blind all through the game and also hit the post in the first half after he easily turned Blind inside out. In the second half as Blind had to cover for Shaw,Smalling moved laterally at times but the Englishman too was not comfortable in that area of the pitch.
Garry Monk has proved his doubters that he is just not a one season wonder,but it is rare for a big club to trust a young English Manager and give him the job but Monk is an exciting prospect and deserves a chance at the highest level.