The truth is that with 10 minutes left on the clock, Swansea City were still in this game and then Jose Mourinho’s team went in for the kill in a way that Manchester United sides seemed to have forgotten how to do in the era that has followed Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
They ransacked the home team with three goals in the space of four minutes, three perfect raids, that were built from direct football or rapid turnovers of possession and which were led by the big figures in this team, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, who have five goals between them already this season. Two games in, two wins and United have scored eight without reply.
Pogba played on the edge for much of the game after a first-half booking, but as we have come to see with this player, he never hides from the action and eventually his reward came. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s second assist of the afternoon opened the way for Pogba who, for all his rampaging, applied a delicate finish to beat Lukasz Fabianski for his second goal of the new season, United’s third, before substitute Anthony Martial added a fourth.
For Swansea, in their first game without Gylfi Sigurdsson, this was a chastening finale although there were times when it looked like they might have been able to put some pressure on United after Eric Bailly scored with a late first-half goal.
The United defender had already put one clearance on the roof of the main stand before he was the one who reacted the quickest in the area when Fabianski made a fabulous save and Bailly stamped the ball over the line.
The home team had been warned, with more than one chance for United to turn their domination of possession into a goal. Phil Jones had headed against the bar from a corner and Marcus Rashford had torn through the Swansea defence, only to poke a lame shot straight at Fabianski.
Just when it looked like Clement’s team would make it to half-time, the breakthrough arrived.
Pogba’s power and physique, not to mention an occasionally twinkling touch on the ball, allow him to get involved in just about everything in the middle of the pitch. Nevertheless, he did mistime a tackle on Tom Carroll in the first half and the booking was on everyone’s mind when he was late into a challenge on Martin Olsson. Jon Moss let that one slide and it was Pogba’s header that, saved by Fabianski, was put in by Bailly.
It had been his cross that won the original corner taken by Juan Mata, and it felt like the Frenchman was everywhere in this game. Even so, Carroll got on the ball when he could and there were a couple of moments for Swansea. Jordan Ayew got a ricochet off a Bailly clearance that set him free down the left channel where his imaginative shot with the outside of his right foot caught out David de Gea and grazed the bar.
Tammy Abraham was up against Bailly and Jones and that took some getting used to at first, but when his touch settled down the Chelsea striker, on loan at Swansea, had a couple of decent moments. He is four weeks older than Rashford whose career has progressed further and he demonstrated in the first half his slickness of touch. if not his finishing.
Rashford faded after the break and when Mourinho came to make his changes with 15 minutes to go, United had at times been on the back foot. Clement had earlier switched from a three-man defence to a 4-3-3 formation and tried to put some pressure on Daley Blind at left-back, United’s weakest link in the back four. Mourinho responded by bringing Marouane Fellani into the midfield at the expense of Mata and his team took their chances when they arrived; Lukaku, Pogba and then Martial turning a victory into a rout.