Now Are You Nervous, Louis?

It turns out that you can't win football matches just by looking all steely and declaring that you will. The good news is that Louis van Gaal now knows the size of the task...

Last Updated: 16/08/14 at 18:06 Post Comment

Latest Articles

16 Conclusions On Chelsea 2 West Ham 0

2 comments

Matt Stanger was left impressed by Chelsea's superb first-half display against West Ham as Sam Allardyce's top-four hopes went up in smoke. The Blues will take some beating...

Matic Happy To Mix It With Stoke...

4 comments

The big difference between Chelsea's 3-2 defeat to Stoke last season and 2-0 win on Monday was Nemanja Matic's dominant display in midfield, writes Matt Stanger...

All Articles

"Do what we have agreed. And then we will win." This was Louis van Gaal's final pact with his players before kick-off in his first competitive match as Manchester United manager. A prophetic statement to herald a new era with a new system and renewed sense of belief. But 90 minutes later it was clear that Van Gaal's force of personality alone cannot stop the rot at Old Trafford. As United stumbled through a performance to rival any of last year's frustrations, even the man who boasted the Midas touch at the World Cup was powerless to find a solution.

It was United's first home defeat on the opening day since 1972, the sort of record that David Moyes used to break with unerring frequency during his brief reign. Van Gaal's arrival was supposed to draw a line in the history books; no more statistical water torture and being bullied by the underdogs, United would now return to setting records for the right reasons.

Instead, Van Gaal's brave new world came crashing down around him as Swansea battled to their first ever league win at Old Trafford. The manager's 3-5-2 formation lasted for all of 45 minutes before he was forced to adapt his decimated first XI and, while his substitutions were a key feature of the Netherlands' success in Brazil, here they failed to inject life into a dour display. United's defeat was characterised by an absence of invention in attack and vulnerability on the counter, a combination always destined to cause problems.

"Of course it's very disappointing, for the players, the fans, for me, for my staff," said Van Gaal in his post-match press conference. "When you have preparation time and you win everything and then the first match you lose, it cannot be worse. We have built up a lot of confidence and then it shall be smashed down because of this result."

The biggest disappointment for the manager was that the players failed to adhere to their pre-match agreement. Juan Mata, operating in his favoured central role, was hugely ineffective, while Javier Hernandez, starting on the opening day for the first time, was hauled off at the interval for Nani. Although Ander Herrera showed flashes of the skill and competitive nature that persuaded United to invest around £26m in his signature, his debut was cut short by Marouane Fellaini's introduction shortly before Swansea scored their second.

It was not the stuttering start Van Gaal or the supporters expected, and yet no-one was left surprised by the underlying truth the result revealed. United need new players, and fast, regardless of the wealth of talent missing on Saturday. Van Gaal's shopping list was the main point of discussion after the game, but the manager straight-batted concerns about his squad by answering that he had already highlighted the areas which need strengthening. "I know in what positions we need better players," he said. "We have to wait and see."

Patience isn't normally a virtue for which football fans are famed, but if there is any consolation to United's following after this defeat, it is that Van Gaal will now truly understand the size of the task he is facing. "Because of our wins in the United States and our win against Valencia, the expectations are so high, and that I have seen in the first half - a lot of players were very nervous and making the wrong choices," he continued. "(But) that's Manchester United, you have to cope with that pressure."

It is now up to the manager to find players who can bear the responsibility. It is almost two months since United last made a signing while four members of the first-team squad have departed. With only two weeks of the transfer window remaining, time is running out to find the right additions.

"Do I look nervous?" Van Gaal asked journalists on Friday before his first taste of the Premier League. No-one would dare say it, but had the same question been proffered at 3pm on Saturday, the answer would have been yes.

Matthew Stanger - follow him on Twitter

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

I

m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

cozens
Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce

N

ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

timbo
Van Gaal will thrive - Ferguson

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha in Arsenal's 2-1 win over QPR.

Premier League: Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky give 10-man Arsenal 2-1 win over QPR

Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky gave Arsenal a 2-1 win over QPR despite Olivier Giroud's second-half sending off.

Premier League: Manchester City respond to Chelsea's victory by winning at West Brom

Manchester City won 3-1 at West Brom to reduce the gap on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League back to three points.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property