English Premier League: Van Gaal accepts blame for United crash in campaign opener

The Red Devils lose 2-1 to Swansea at Old Trafford.

Afp August 16, 2014


Louis van Gaal accepted responsibility after Manchester United crashed to a 2-1 loss at home to Swansea City on Saturday in his first Premier League game as manager.

The 63-year-old Dutchman is bidding to transform United’s fortunes after a dismal seventh-place finish last season, but his tenure got off to a similarly disappointing start as Swansea claimed a first league win at Old Trafford.

Ki Sung-yueng put Swansea ahead in the 28th minute and although new United captain Wayne Rooney hooked home a 53rd-minute equaliser, Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the Welsh side victory with 18 minutes to play.

“We were very nervous in the first half,” said Van Gaal. “We made the wrong choices, and that is a pity. In the second half we never played as a team. Therefore I’m responsible.”

“It is very disappointing that we have lost our first home match. We didn’t reach the level we can play at.

“That is disappointing because we have done it much better and when you cannot do it in your first home match that is disappointing, especially for the fans.”

Van Gaal set his team out in the 3-4-1-2 formation that he had successfully introduced in pre-season, but Ki’s goal forced him into a half-time switch. Nani came on for striker Javier Hernandez, but although Rooney equalised soon after and then hit the post from a free-kick, United struggled to create further chances.

“It is the goals that count,” said Van Gaal. “I thought we would win [at 1-1], but because we were not playing as a team in the second half, we made the wrong decisions going forward.

‘Champs City ready to roll again’

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini thinks he has a stronger squad than last season as the champions prepare to begin their Premier League title defence at Newcastle on Sunday.

“Last season we had a very good squad and a very successful year,” said Pellegrini.

“But that is history. Now we must try this season to have a stronger squad and I think that players such as Willy [Caballero], Bacary [Sagna], [Eliaquim] Mangala, Fernando and Frank Lampard will make us a strong squad.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admits he still wants to sign a new striker as Liverpool prepare to start life without Luis Suarez when they face Southampton at Anfield on Sunday. “If we can add one or two more we’ll have had a great window,” said Rodgers.

“I think this summer will be our biggest window for the next few years. It was always the case that we needed to improve the squad. We haven’t brought in another striker so far apart from Rickie Lambert.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2014.

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