Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales
Premier League 2016/17
Sunday 6th November 2016 – KO 15:00
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Assistant Referees: Scott Ledger and Matthew Wilkes
Fourth Official: Roger East
Manchester United travel to Wales to face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, not a happy hunting ground for the Red Devils. Bob Bradley’s side are not in good form and were beaten 3-1 by Stoke City on Monday evening, but Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side are not much better at the end of the day. United were beaten by Fenerbahçe in Istanbul on Thursday evening with two stunning goals being scored, one by Moussa Sow inside the first two minutes, a spectacular overhead kick and another by Jeremain Lens, a Sunderland reject who seems to have found his feet for the Turkish side. Wayne Rooney scored a consolation goal for United in the dying minutes of the match, from 30-yards, but similar misses throughout the match for the captain could have changed it all for United, who seem to be playing with no passion, determination, knowledge of the game, or ability of it, which is worrying.
To be a footballer, you need to have passion, especially for the shirt you are wearing. This Sunday marks 30 years since Sir Alex Ferguson was named the Manchester United manager, and despite it taking a good few years for the Scotsman to find his feet, his ideal squad and game plan, results did come. So did the iron fist, which is needed in football. Since Sir Alex retired, things have been so much different with our beloved club. Records have been broken, not good ones either. Players do not seem to care about much, or at least that is the attitude they seem to perspire on the pitch, and it is very showing. Thing is, when this happens, only the manager gets the blame as he is the one that picked the team, so therefore logic would suggest the manager is to blame. You cannot possible blame any of the player’s, can you. I mean, they only go onto the pitch with instructions, seem to forget them, replicate a team of Girl Guides trying to play football whilst blindfolded. This is not professional football. You can see better on a Sunday morning in your local park, and those player are not millionaires – far from it.
Football today seems to blame everyone but the player’s. In fact, if you attempt to blame the players, you are told you are just making excuses for the manager, who six months ago was the best manager in the world, despite being sacked by Chelsea in December last year. Jose Mourinho is a talented manager, he has his work cut out, just like those before him. Imagine Sir Alex Ferguson coming back into the job, a manager that all players respect, or at least should do, they will soon be out of the door at Old Trafford, never to return, as a Manchester United player anyway. United’s players do not seem to have much going for them this season. They started well, but after the three-match losing streak, things started to go wrong, in fact, they were going wrong before that, at Hull City which United won with a last-ditch strike from Marcus Rashford. United will continue to be supported by the self-imposed ‘best fans in the world’, which at Stamford Bridge last month became true as they out sung the home fans, or ‘rent boys’ as we like to call them, only being 4-0 down, so it was not biggie, was it?
United need to find something, and fast. Failing to finish inside the top four this season will be costly. No UEFA Champions League football will mean around £23 million will be lost on the yearly adidas sponsorship, which may not be able to be earned back. That will also signify United’s decline and a fourth year of failure, even after the arrivals of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, which could be classed as abject failure. The ABU’s will be laughing, but much like Liverpool back in the early 1990’s, those smiles will be wiped off their faces at some point in the future. United need to dramatically rebuild. Many players are not fit for much this season. Injuries are starting to cost the club again with Bailly, the best player so far this season sidelined until Christmas, then to leave again in January to play in the African Cup of Nations, which will represent another loss. Antonio Valencia suffered a fractured arm last weekend, having an operation and being sidelined for a period of time himself. Not to mention Chris Smalling also being sidelined, and now Paul Pogba, who suffered a dead leg and needed to come off against Fenerbahçe in the first half on Thursday.
It would seem that Manchester United have it all to do on Sunday, that is before you even think about the fact that United have not won at the Liberty stadium since the 17th August 2013, losing their last two Premier League matches by the same 2-1 scoreline. They come in three’s! Jose Mourinho is serving a touchline ban for this match, with another charge incoming after being sent to the stand last weekend at Old Trafford, which could mean United either dig deep and prove to their manager they are a team, or his lack of presence on the touchline will mean United will falter yet again.
Manchester United Form:- LDWLW
Fenerbahçe 2-1 L, Burnley 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W, Chelsea 4-0 L, Fenerbahçe 4-1 W
Manchester United have continued their decline in form after putting 37 shots on goal against Burnley at Old Trafford last Saturday, to being controlled by Fenerbahçe in the UEFA Europa League in Turkey, losing 2-1 and playing like a team that not only do not know each other, have never played football before and had clearly never heard about the passion you must show when playing for a club as big as Manchester United. The fact that so many players do not fit the aspirations of the club is worrying. Their pay packet seems to be their main concern, and that just shows how far the club has fallen in the past three years and the work to get the club back to where they envisage to be will be tough and could take years, if recent performances are be used as a pointer. Things need to improve, and fast.
Swansea City Form:- LDLLL
Stoke City 3-1 L, Watford 0-0 D, Arsenal 3-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 L, Manchester City 3-1 L
Swansea City have not had a great start to the season, earning just five points in ten matches. New manager Bob Bradley has been brought in to change their fortunes, and so far it is not working. A 3-1 defeat to Stoke City on Monday has set Swansea up in low form to face Manchester United, a team they have beaten 2-1 in the last two meeting at the Liberty Stadium with United not winning since the opening day of the season back in 2013. United are not exactly in great form and could quite easily leave Wales with nothing for the third successive season if the team which were beaten by Fenerbahçe on Thursday show up, which is likely.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
6 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 3 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling
Swansea City Top Scorers:
4 – Leroy Fer, 3 – Gylfi Sigurðsson, 2 – Oliver McBurnie, 1 – Jay Fulton, Borja González Tomás, Fernando Llorente, Wayne Routledge
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot), Paul Pogba (dead leg), Antonio Valencia (broken arm)
Swansea City Squad:
Manager: Bob Bradley
Goalkeepers: Łukasz Fabiański, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mark Birighitti, Gerhard Tremmel
Defenders: Jordi Amat, Neil Taylor, Mike van der Hoorn, Alfie Mawson, Àngel Rangel, Kyle Naughton, Federico Fernández, Stephen Kingsley
Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng, Leon Britton, Leroy Fer, Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge, Modou Barrow, Jefferson Montero, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Jack Cork, Jay Fulton
Forwards: Fernando Llorente, Borja Bastón, Oliver McBurnie
Injuries and Suspensions: Kyle Naughton (illness), Jefferson Montero (ankle), Nathan Dyer (ankle)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United are a team facing an uncertain future and I use the word ‘team’ lightly. They are far from a team, just a mockery of the word. Against Fenerbahçe, despite coming days after peppering Burnley with 37 shots on goal, failing to score any, and then playing against the Turkish side with no passion, desire, ability or anything for that matter. Yes, Wayne Rooney did score a spectacular 30-yard goal, but that does not mean he is back to be best. United need to find something positive of face being broken down easily, like they were in 90 seconds in Istanbul. I don’t have the answers, but the team I would like to see is as follows…
Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United
I am less than confident that Manchester United will get the result they need at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Swansea are down in the dumps, but United are not that far from that position. Not winning in the Premier League since the 4-1 thrashing of Leicester City on the 24th September, which could well have been a turning point for the club, but wasn’t. Jose Mourinho has his work cut out with this poor United side. The last three years have told me one thing – don’t expect anything other than being let down. This team gets paid a fortune to do what? Nothing spectacular. I remember a time where Manchester United players had passion for the shirts they were wearing, now it seems the only passion shown is for what financial rewards the famous red shirt can bring these players, which obviously means more to the players that playing for the shirt and the players who previously wore the shirt. The Busby Babes had passion, compared to these plonkers, it just makes the club a massive laughing-stock with players who literally do not care.