United's woes laid bare in opening day defeat

Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:44am EDT
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By Josh Reich

(Reuters) - In Louis van Gaal Manchester United have the big name manager, but 90 minutes of struggle against Swansea City proved that the 20-times English champions are still without the players required to bury the memory of last season's horror show.

Dutchman van Gaal was drafted into Old Trafford in a bid to halt last term's alarming slide, when the 2012-13 champions finished in seventh place after a series of insipid performances under David Moyes, who lasted 10 months as Alex Ferguson's replacement.

After leading the Netherlands to third spot at the World Cup, the Dutchman raised hopes that the force of his personality could lift the club out of the doldrums as United enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season that included wins over European champions Real Madrid and Liverpool.

However, Saturday's 2-1 opening day loss to Swansea, and the once unthinkable sight of fans leaving Old Trafford early after another ponderous attacking effort, highlighted that it will take more than a change at the top to breathe new life into the club.

Before kickoff former Liverpool forward and BT Sport pundit Steve McManaman branded them the worst United side he'd seen in 20 years, while Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day: "They need at least three world-class players".

Van Gaal said the need for new players had already been identified, while chief executive Ed Woodward has insisted they have the funds available to splash out.

Indeed, close to 60 million pounds ($100.39 million) was spent on midfielder Ander Herrera and defender Luke Shaw in the past few months, while they broke their club transfer record bringing in Juan Mata from Chelsea in January.


Manchester United's manager Louis van Gaal (R) and his assistant Ryan Giggs watch their team during their English Premier League soccer match against Swansea City at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England August 16, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples