Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted his side were fortunate to claim victory against Swansea – but hopes the win proves to be a turning point in their season.
Excellent goals from Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney ensured United brought their eight-match winless sequence to an end with a 2-1 win – but the three points owed an element of good fortune against their managerless visitors.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, Van Gaal said: “I think we played a very risky system against Swansea because they had a shape with four midfielders in a diamond.
“We played with three defenders but we did very well and created a lot of chances. We didn’t score, though, and that’s our problem. When we scored, there was not a problem any more. We scored two beautiful goals.
“I am very happy for the players because they had to play under big pressure and now we have won. We are still near the top of the league and the gap is less. So that’s football. That’s a season. A season takes eight months or something like that and not one month.
“I hope this is a fantastic starting point for us in the New Year and we can continue against Sheffield United.”
Smalling praises Martial
United defender Chris Smalling added: “Today it was all about the result. We fought hard against Chelsea and had to dig in today. That’s what we’ve got to do every week.
“We created a number of chances and scored two fantastic goals. If we keep doing that, we’ll win games. It’s good to see both our main strikers scoring, and we hope we’ll kick on now, because we can’t afford any more slip ups.
“Anthony Martial’s been terrific. He’s so direct. I know I wouldn’t want to play against him.”
Wing-back Ashley Young commented: “Of course, we enjoyed it. It was nice to get back to winning ways. It was important to get the three points.
“I was playing further up than I have in the last few weeks. It was nice to get an assist.
“All around the pitch, we had a lot of joy. We created chances. I felt comfortable down the right. I just wanted to keep attacking the full-back.
“It was a great finish by Wayne Rooney. It was a striker’s instinct to get there and put it away.
“It was important to get the win, however we did it. It was nice to get the two goals.
“I think today we showed the way we want to attack teams. A lot of teams come here to defend. We want to be on the front foot and play the way we want to.”