Swansea seek to haunt Manchester United again as Louis van Gaal’s “ghost team” return to Old Trafford.
The Welsh club would become only the third team in the Premier League era after Liverpool (December 2000-January 2002) and Manchester City (April 2013-November 2014) to beat United on four successive occasions should they produce another upset on Saturday.
Those three previous victories have all come against Van Gaal, hence the United manager reference to Swansea as his “ghost team” at his pre-match press conference, and another defeat for the Red Devils could have consequences for the Dutchman’s future at Old Trafford.
“We’ve done exceptionally well against United in the last three fixtures and confidence is creeping back into the team,” caretaker manager Alan Curtis acknowledged on the back of a three-game unbeaten run which has lifted Swansea two points above the relegation zone.
“We’re aware of United’s strengths but we have to be bold and play our football,
“We have to show the same spirit we have done in the last couple of weeks and play exceptionally well again.”
United are suffering their worst run for 26 seasons having failed to win any of their last eight fixtures.
In that time they have crashed out of the Champions League and dropped from top spot to sixth in the Barclays Premier League and nine points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
But Curtis said he saw signs of improvement during United’s goalless home draw with Chelsea last Monday.
“The results there have been a bit indifferent in the last few weeks but I thought they were excellent against Chelsea,” Curtis said.
“They didn’t win the game but it could easily have swung their way.
“It’s always a huge test playing at Old Trafford and I don’t know if it’s ever a good time to play Manchester United.
“But there’s been a lack of goals with them, which has been our problem. So it could be a classic!”
Ashley Williams praised
The contest sees England captain Wayne Rooney come up against Wales counterpart Ashley Williams in what will be a dress rehearsal for their Euro 2016 showdown in Lens this summer.
Rooney has only scored twice in the league this season, and not once in seven attempts since netting in a 3-0 victory at Everton on October 17, and the United skipper’s hopes of breaking that duck will not be encouraged by Williams’ return to form.
Williams was badly out of sorts during the final weeks of Garry Monk’s managerial reign but he has impressed since Curtis took charge last month, and Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew described him as “outstanding” following Monday’s goalless draw at Selhurst Park.
“The last four games Ash has been immense,” Curtis said.
“His levels of consistency have been so high for so many seasons that I think when he slips below that it becomes really noticeable.
“But Ash was a warrior on Monday and we need him to produce that now until the end of the season.”