Van Gaal's chance in 50th game

United boss can show how far team have progressed under him with win at Swansea

LONDON • Louis van Gaal reaches his 50th match as Manchester United manager today and his team's performance at Swansea is an opportunity to prove how far they have improved in his reign.

His first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils was a 1-2 home defeat by the Welsh club.

Swansea then won the reverse fixture by the same scoreline in February to record their first season double over United.

The Red Devils eventually finished fourth, but look to have a far more balanced and competitive squad this season. And van Gaal believes his side are better equipped to face Swansea.

"I hope we can show how we have improved because that is the main thing," the Dutchman said.

"I think the first match last year we were not well prepared because of the USA tour. The second game against Swansea, it was a very unlucky game for us.

"We were prepared but I think Swansea has a very good team, this year and last year.

"They drew at Chelsea and won against Newcastle (this season) so when I see the individual players, they have quality. It shall be very difficult to beat them but we are better prepared than last year."

Both teams are unbeaten so far this season. Swansea manager Garry Monk wants his players to draw inspiration from last season's efforts against United to spring another surprise.

"It's always very difficult when you face the big clubs," he said.

"They have added a lot of quality and depth to their squad and have world-class players.

"We will probably have to produce our best performance of the season so far to come away with the result."

United could have defender Marcos Rojo in their squad for the first time this season after he played for an hour in a mid-week friendly against Ajax.

Adnan Januzaj is injured, making Ander Herrera a possible starter. Marouane Fellaini, back from a three-match domestic ban, is another option in the No. 10 role.

Sergio Romero will continue to be in goal for United as van Gaal indicated that he will not consider unsettled David de Gea for selection until after the transfer window closes on Tuesday.

Romero has conceded once in five United games in all competitions but the manager thinks the Argentine has not been tested yet.

"Until now, we don't allow a lot of shots," said the Dutchman.

"He could not show what he can do but that's only a compliment for the team."

United's defence has made Jonny Evans, 27, surplus to requirements. The club have agreed to sell the centre-back to West Bromwich Albion for £6 million (S$13 million), rising to £8 million with add-ons.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'VAN GAAL'S CHANCE IN 50TH GAME'. Print Edition | Subscribe