Manchester United v Swansea City: Van Gaal set for Premier League bow
By Football News
For the second season in a row, Manchester United kick off their Premier League campaign against Swansea City and under a new manager.
After 27 years with Alex Ferguson at the helm, the Old Trafford club dismissed successor David Moyes just 10 months into his contract as they careered towards a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League last term - their lowest in the competition's history.
Ryan Giggs saw out the season in the United hot seat on an interim basis, but the onus now falls on former Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal to lead the club out of what are - by their own exalted standards - dark times.
And the experienced coach, who led his country to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year, has brought a new sense of optimism to the 20-time English champions.
"We can't wait to get going against Swansea and look to put right the wrongs from last year," midfielder Tom Cleverley told United's official website.
"This club has always been renowned for bouncing back from sticky patches and that's one of the reasons it's so loved around the world."
Swansea, who claimed their first-ever win at Old Trafford in the FA Cup third round last season, have provided the opposition for a number of significant moments in United's recent history.
Prior to losing 4-1 in Moyes' first league game in charge of United at the Liberty Stadium 12 months ago, the Welsh club were also the opponents for Ferguson's last match at Old Trafford at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
And, with Van Gaal's Premier League bow set to dominate headlines in the build-up to the latest encounter between the clubs, Swansea manager Garry Monk is happy to deflect the attention onto his opposite number.
"All the focus will be on them, which suits us fine," he said. "We'll just go up there and do the best we can.
"The big clubs attract the most attention - the best players in the world play for these bigger clubs. All the focus is on them and we'll just go about our jobs.
"Everyone is beatable, the best teams in the world are beatable. You always have the chance and we’ll be going up there believing we can win the game.
"We don’t fear it - we see it as a challenge."
United have refreshed their squad with the acquisitions of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera during the close-season, but Shaw - a big-money signing from Southampton - has been sidelined for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Jonny Evans, Rafael da Silva, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck all missed United's final pre-season friendly against Valencia last weekend and could be injury doubts for Saturday.
Michael Carrick is absent as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.
Swansea, meanwhile, have experienced a sizeable turnover in personnel since the end of last season.
Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have all left the club for pastures new, while Michu has gone to Napoli on a season-long loan.
Lukasz Fabianski, Bafetimbi Gomis and Jefferson Montero are all likely to make their debuts against United, and Gylfi Sigurdsson could be in line to kick-start his second stint with the club - this time in a permanent capacity.
Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton are all missing for Swansea with knee injuries.