Van Gaal starts with a loss

Sigurdsson nets winner as Swansea City stun Manchester United

Van Gaal starts with a loss

Louis van Gaal found no instant fix for Manchester United as a new era at Old Trafford began with a dispiriting 2-1 opening day defeat by Swansea City on Saturday.

After a buoyant pre-season campaign, United fans arrived full of hope that Van Gaal would quickly right the wrongs of last season under David Moyes but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 72nd minute winner left them deflated and underlined the task the vastly-experienced Dutch coach faces.

Aaron Ramsey struck an injury time winner as Arsenal  scored a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Tottenham Hotspur, sixth last season, began life under new manager Mauricio Pochettino with a 1-0 victory at London rivals West Ham United, thanks to a 90th minute winner from new signing Eric Dier.

Both sides ended the match with 10 men.

Newly-promoted Leicester City twice battled back to draw 2-2 with Everton.

West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland also shared four goals -- Saido Berahino scoring twice for the hosts.

Queens Park Rangers were beaten 1-0 at home by Hull City on their return to the top flight, missing a penalty in the process, while Aston Villa earned a notable three points with a 1-0 win away to Stoke City -- Andreas Weimann scoring the winner.

Sigurdsson, back at Swansea after signing from Tottenham Hotspur, fired in the winner from close range to stun the hosts who had drawn level through skipper Wayne Rooney shortly after halftime.

“Of course, it is very disappointing -- for the players, fans, for me and my staff,” said Van Gaal after United's first opening day home top-flight loss for 42 years.

“When you have (pre-season) preparation time and you win everything and then in your first match you lose -- it cannot be worse I believe. We built up a lot of confidence and it will be smashed down because of this result,” he added.

Renewed hope

After that encouraging pre-season there was a renewed air of confidence around Old Trafford as fans looked for a winning start from Dutchman Van Gaal and his much heralded 3-5-2 formation. But by halftime the mood had changed with United trailing and the formation abandoned after 45 minutes of slow and shapeless football.

United looked little improved on the team that finished seventh last season, although the absence of striker Robin van Persie and several others through injury clearly hampered them.

The absences meant Van Gaal handed Premier League debuts to defender Tyler Blackett and wing-back Jesse Lingard while Mexican Javier Hernandez led the line.

Van Gaal’s plans then suffered an early blow when Lingard was hurt in a challenge with Ashley Williams and limped off to be replaced by midfielder Adnan Januzaj in the 24th minute.

Four minutes later a well-drilled Swansea took the lead with their first real attack when Ki Sung-yueng slotted home, finding plenty of space after good work from Sigurdsson.

Van Gaal brought on Portugal's Nani for Hernandez at the interval and asked Phil Jones and Ashley Young to play as orthodox full-backs in a 4-4-2 formation.

There was a fresh intensity and purpose to United after the break and within eight minutes they had drawn level when Rooney produced an overhead flick at the back post after Jones had headed on Juan Mata's corner.

With the surprisingly subdued Old Trafford crowd now in full voice, the stage looked set for an opening day victory but United lost their momentum as Swansea, with Jonjo Shelvey orchestrating the midfield, refused to roll over.

With 12 minutes remaining the Welsh side grabbed the winner.

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