Manchester United will travel to Wales to face Swansea on Satuday, 17 August, in David Moyes' first Premier League fixture as manager of the Old Trafford club. United face a difficult test in Michael Laudrup's Swansea, who won the League Cup last season. The Welsh team, considering the game is at home, will be keen to start off the new campaign on the front foot.
After succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at the close of last season, David Moyes has had a harsh introduction to pressures associated with being manager of Manchester United. In Wayne Rooney, he inherited a player who is unhappy with the club and seeking a transfer elsewhere. Moyes, who coached Rooney at Everton, is aware of the striker's quality and is determined to keep him at the club. The only interested party being Premier League rivals Chelsea compounds the situation. The Rooney saga has rumbled on through the summer with no clear resolution in sight and has severely tested Moyes' ability to handle media questions about his star player.
Furthermore, the club have been unable to add any quality to the squad. Midfield target Thiago Alcantara snubbed United in favour of Baeryn Munch and it seems like Cesc Fabregas will do the same. With Rooney possibly leaving, questions of whether Moyes can sustain a title winning squad have begun to creep up amongst fans and the media.
United have also endured a difficult pre-season. Of their seven games, they have lost three, won two and drawn two. The results in pre-season have not helped ease pressure off the manager. They were able to beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the Community Shield last weekend. A win against Swansea would undoubtedly help underline Moyes' credentials as manager.
In Swansea, United face a team that is only looking forward. With former Barcelona player Michael Laudrup in charge, they have a manager who understands football at the highest level. The club won their even first trophy last season and finished in the top half of the table.
Unlike United, the Welsh side has added to the squad in the summer. Striker Wilfred Bony arrived from Vitesse Arnhem after scoring 37 goals in Holand last season. Centre midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been signed from Liverpool along with centre back Jordi Amat from Espanyol, midfielder Jose Alberto Canas from Real Betis and left back Jernade Meade from Arsenal.
If Michu is able to replicate his last-season form, a partnership with Bony could rocket Swansea into the top seven. However, the key factor that could derail their season is the Europa League. Laudrup's team have qualified for the competition by virtue of winning the Carling Cup. With European competition making large squads a necessity, it remains to be seen whether Swnasea have the depth to maintain their league position and challenge in Europe.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 10 pm IST on Saturday and live coverage is available on Star Sports, Star Cricket and Star Cricket HD.
Rafael, Javier Hernandez, Nani and Ashley Young are missing for United. It is unclear whether Wayne Rooney will feature due to his transfer-related problems. For Swansea the only absentee is Jonathan de Guzman, who was injured in a training ground clash with the Dutch national team.