Manchester United's starting XI against Swansea City was considerably younger than David Moyes' side for the corresponding fixture last season.
Avg age of LVG's Man Utd XI vs Swansea today: 24.9 years old Avg age of Moyes' Man Utd XI vs Swansea: 26.2 years old pic.twitter.com/VA9bZOGXCz— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 16, 2014
Despite the hailing of a bright new dawn at Manchester United following the appointment of Louis van Gaal as David Moyes' permanent successor, Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Swansea City brought back memories of the previous disastrous campaign.
Old Trafford is no longer a fortress, no matter who is sitting in the home dugout, and that is something van Gaal will need to change as soon as possible.
Swansea showed no fear in facing United in their own backyard, just as they had not when they defeated them in last season's FA Cup. But aside from the presence of van Gaal and the fact that the Dutch manager will surely dip into the transfer market again before the window slams shut, there is another reason for United fans to be optimistic.
As pointed out by Squawka Football, Saturday's United starting line-up was considerably younger than the side Moyes put out in the corresponding fixture last season.
While that side had an average age 26.2, van Gaal sent out a team with an average age of 24.9, with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Tyler Blackett bringing that figure down and suggesting that youth will have a big part to play in the 62-year-old's United.
Of course injuries played their part, as did the departure of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. But the simple fact is patience is required at Old Trafford while van Gaal attempts to repair the damage not just of last season, but in a squad that was in desperate need of rejuvenation even before Sir Alex Ferguson left his post.
There is plenty of work to be done, but United's young players will have learnt a considerable amount already under van Gaal's stewardship. And as the former Netherlands coach said himself, this job will take time.