Five things we learned about Manchester United from Swansea City defeat

Manchester United lost 2-1 to Swansea City in Louis van Gaal's first league game in charge this afternon, but what did we learn from their performance?

Louis van Gaal's opening Premier League game ended in defeat today, as Swansea City came to Old Trafford and left with a 2-1 win.

Ki Sung-Yueng opened the scoring with a fine left footed finish from the edge of the box, before Wayne Rooney equalised from close range with a well taken overhead kick. However, United's defensive frailties were shown again, as Gylfi Sigurdsson turned home from inside the box.

It's a big blow for the Dutchman to lose his first game in charge, but what did to we learn about his side today?

United need defenders - and lots of them

We all knew that United had to sign some centre backs given Louis van Gaal's desire to play a 3-4-1-2 system, but his problems have been exacerbated today. Injury to Jonny Evans mean that Tyler Blackett was thrown in at the deep end for his Premier League debut, and the youngster's positional naivety showed up on Swansea's opening goal.

Meanwhile, the wing backs were winger Ashley Young and attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard, who had little to no experience in the position, struggled before Lingard was taken off injured for Adnan Januzaj - another player who has never played at wing back. United need players who fit those roles in the coming weeks, with injuries to Luke Shaw and Rafael leaving United short.

There is no pace in the United attack

We saw at the World Cup how important pace was to Louis van Gaal's Netherlands. The speed of Arjen Robben was a killer weapon for the Dutchman in Brazil, but he doesn't have that kind of outlet at Old Trafford. Ashley Young and Nani both appear to have lost a yard of pace, whilst Javier Hernandez struggled to get in behind defences.

The Red Devils' pursuit of Juan Cuadrado should ramp up even more after today's game, with the Colombian one of the few players that can both play in a 3-4-1-2 and offer United blistering pace down the right hand side.

Van Gaal is right to keep pursuing central midfielders

After the arrival of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao this summer, some fans believed that the club's problems in central midfield had been solved. However, today's display shows that United still need at least one more new player alongside the Spaniard.

Michael Carrick's injury left Darren Fletcher to start, and the Scot was guilty of some wayward passing, whilst United also lacked the physicality and presence to win the ball back from the Swans when they decided to keep the ball at will.

United need Robin van Persie back - and quick

With Danny Welbeck out injured, Wayne Rooney was partnered by Javier Hernandez in attack. Whilst Rooney impressed and notched United's equaliser, Hernandez did little to suggest that he deserves to stay at Old Trafford with a poor first half display.

United now need Robin van Persie to return, with the former Arsenal star likely to replicate his World Cup form under van Gaal. The Dutchman remains on a fitness regime to get back in shape, and the Red Devils desperately need him to return in the coming weeks after Hernandez's disappointing showing.

The van Gaal era needs time

It's naturally disappointing to lose the opening game of the season after so much positivity in pre-season, but United fans have to look at the bigger picture. Van Gaal was without the likes of van Persie, Welbeck, Shaw, Rafael, Carrick and Evans, forcing him to play inexperienced players like Blackett and Lingard from the start.

With a few new signings and time to allow this radical new era to take shape, United will be pushing for a top four spot under van Gaal, who has always experienced slow starts at new clubs.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch