Sports News of Monday, 31 August 2015
Manchester United looked unbalanced and confused... Swansea's Andre Ayew had everything they were missing
The match-winning pass was delightfully absurd, a mixture of spin and vision and timing.
How fitting that it was used to dismantle a club that was once the epitome of footballing adventure but whose players now fumble around without an original thought in their heads.
Manchester United were predictable, rigidly methodical, slow to adapt — they were everything that Swansea and Andre Ayew were not.
The Ghanaian was the man who turned the game, the son of an African god with something special in his blood, boots and brain. He scored their equaliser after an hour by getting between two centre halves and beating Sergio Romero with an excellent header. Not bad at 5ft 9in.
He made Swansea’s winner five minutes later with a piece of ingenuity, hitting a low chip inside a line of United defenders and perfectly in pace with Bafetimbi Gomis’s run. Gomis then did what Gomis does. Not bad for a pair of Bosman free transfers in successive summers.
But while Gomis has taken a while to get the games that lead to goals - four in four now this season - Ayew’s impact has been immediate and immense. From a position wide on the right, he has scored three, two of which were headers while the other came from some quick thinking against Chelsea. If he isn’t making the early running for signing of the season, then he must be a contender.
How that must rile Louis van Gaal, who has spent £230million on an unbalanced, confused ensemble.
The beauty of Ayew is the mixture of crafty executions and the nous to go for simplicity when simplicity is needed.
His father is Abedi Pele, a three-time African player of the year and a Champions League winner with Marseille. He has two uncles who played for Ghana, one brother, Jordan, who plays for Aston Villa and another, Ibrahim, who plays in their homeland.
A good touch and the instinct for a pass go without saying. But it is also about dirty work. When United surged for their last meaningful attack of the day, it was Ayew who went to ground to stop Memphis Depay on the edge of Swansea’s area.
Depay protested, waved and walked; Ayew got up, sprinted and joined a counter-attack.
Depay showed against Bruges that his talent is real but he has also showed here and on other Premier League grounds that it is rather temperamental. On early inspections, Ayew is more consistent, both in terms of what he delivers and how he approaches the task from a position that can see little of the ball.
When Luke Shaw cleaned him out with a nasty tackle in the second half — first impact was studs on knee, the second was Shaw’s backside on Ayew’s head — the Swansea forward had a whinge but soon after beat the left back to a loose ball. That side of his game will win him fans. The beautiful stuff will earn him admirers and make West Ham regret that they did not think he would be value for hefty wages.
‘Look at the second goal,’ said Garry Monk. ‘It was a great pass and a good timed run. Andre has that. He is a threat goalwise but he has a range of passing as well. You saw the work ethic. That is what we are looking for.’
Van Gaal’s search for that something special has not been nearly so successful