After a summer of change, the old Manchester United turned up just in time for the start of the new season.
Sir Alex Ferguson might have gone, but his players continued a winning habit he nurtured over 26 years at Old Trafford.
It was Ferguson’s final marquee signing, Robin van Persie, who was the star, scoring twice and central to the other as United took Swansea apart at the Liberty Stadium.
But David Moyes will be safe in the knowledge that he successfully negotiated a tricky away tie—and that his careful tactical plans were central to it.
Moyes approached his first Premier League game in his new job with a touch of caution. He picked Wilfried Zaha on the right against Wigan in the Community Shield but despite looking lively at Wembley, Antonio Valencia was preferred when the hard work really started.
By the high standards he set himself two seasons ago, Valencia was poor last year. But he still offers more tactical discipline compared to the youthful exuberance of the 20-year-old Zaha.
As at Wembley, Danny Welbeck started in the hole behind van Persie. And those who watched Everton with any regularity last season will have seen similarities in United’s 4-4-1-1 system, with Welbeck asked to suffocate Leon Britton and Jose Canas at the base of Swansea’s midfield.
Ryan Giggs started on the left, but with his game based on touch and technique these days rather than blistering pace, he was allowed to drift inside and occasionally switch with Welbeck.
It was from a position in-field that Giggs bounced the ball off Michael Carrick and lifted a pass over Swansea’s back four to give van Persie the chance to open the scoring in the first half.
And with Giggs eager to move inside, Patrice Evra was left with plenty of space to effectively play like a left winger when United were going forward. The Frenchman was in acres of room to take a touch and swing in a cross toward van Persie in the build-up to the second goal two minutes after the first.
After an hour, Giggs, who had visibly tired, was replaced with Wayne Rooney with Welbeck asked to do a job on the left.
Ten minutes later, the third goal was made by Rooney’s clever touch-and-run, but it was really all about van Persie’s lethal ability in front of goal.
Wilfried Bony’s late consolation on his Swansea debut prompted Moyes to shut up shop by bringing on Anderson in place of van Persie. The Dutchman trotted off having already done his job. So had Moyes.
Swansea City: Michel Vorm; Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; Leon Britton, Jose Canas; Nathan Dyer, Jonjo Shelvey, Wayne Routledge; Michu. Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, Ki Sung-Yueng, Pozuelo, Pablo Hernandez, Wilfried Bony.
Manchester United: David De Gea, Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick, Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia. Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Anderson, Chris Smalling, Wilfried Zaha, Fabio, Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney.