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Swansea trip to demonstrate United’s progress under Van Gaal

30 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Swansea trip to demonstrate United’s progress under Van Gaal

Victory at the Liberty Stadium would vindicate the Dutchman's cautious and much-criticised tactics

There is a clear disparity between how Louis van Gaal wants Manchester United to play and how everyone else thinks they should.

The calculated and risk-averse style that Van Gaal has successfully implemented this season is dismissed as turgid by those craving the expansive and spirited attacking made famous during the heady Sir Alex Ferguson years.

The latter is clearly not going to happen, but no goals conceded against two goals scored in the Premier League so far suggests there is a balance to be had.

What is undeniable, however, is that the seven points United have accumulated after three games is five more than they had at this stage of the season 12 months ago.

A return to the Champions League has been secured, while the team – aside from the uncertainty over the future of goalkeeper David De Gea – is the most settled it has been since Ferguson retired more than two years ago.

Yet doubts over almost every aspect of the club – the manager, his tactics and their chances of winning silverware – persist.

The result of the Red Devils’ visit to Swansea on Sunday, then, will be a measure of just how much progress they have made under the Dutchman, who celebrates his 50th game in charge.

Garry Monk’s side famously won 2-1 at Old Trafford on the opening day of the 2014/15 campaign, but it is their victory over them at the Liberty Stadium in February which has more significance.

Despite recording 64 per cent possession that day, United were toothless, while their defending was unimpressive throughout.

Swansea, meanwhile, defended resolutely and were adventurous on the counter-attack.

It was a well-crafted performance from the Welsh side and, with Sunday’s fixture likely to follow a similar pattern, one they are more than capable of repeating.

The Swans, who have won three of their last four matches against United, are 12/5 to secure all three points.

Bafetimbi Gomis, who hit the winner in February, has three goals already this campaign and is 9/4 to score at any time.

But, as of Wednesday night, United have their own in-form striker in Wayne Rooney after his clinical hat-trick against Club Brugge in the Champions League.

While there is obviously a difference between scoring against the fifth best team in Belgium and stellar Premier League opposition, Rooney has notched in batches throughout his career.

The 29-year-old is 8/1 to score first in a United win.

Ander Herrera was also on target in Belgium in what was his first start of the campaign.

The 26-year-old impressed in the supporting role behind Rooney and is likely to retain his place in the first 11.

Herrera opened the scoring at the Liberty Stadium seven months ago and is 12/1 to do so again.

Should the Spanish midfielder start alongside Morgan Schneiderlin and one of Michael Carrick or Bastian Schweinsteiger, United should be able to dominate the midfield.

That – alongside their new-found defensive solidarity – will provide a platform for them to win the game.

They are 13/4 to do so and there be under 2.5 goals.

Such an outcome would take United to 10 points – a figure they didn’t reach until October last year.

More pertinently, victory at one of the most progressive teams in the division would provide Van Gaal – and everyone else following his team’s progress – a genuine insight into how successful their season might be.

Swansea v Manchester United betting