Ashley Williams: Swansea will recover from Man United defeat
MANCHESTER United's visit began with great expectations — and ended in heavy defeat.
Whereas previous matches against Premier League heavyweights were greeted with trepidation, this time an air of expectancy hung over the Liberty.
Swansea City supporters were optimistic, almost confident, ahead of the Red Devils' visit.
But pride comes before a fall and Swansea were sent sprawling by two Danny Welbeck strikes and a couple of knockout blows from Robin van Persie.
It was not only the Liberty faithful that fancied Swansea's chances.
Many pundits also expected United to have a tough afternoon and were predicting a draw.
The visitors had a new man steering the ship, were without several injured players and had the saga surrounding Wayne Rooney's future hanging over them.
But champions are not so easily distracted, as they proved in ruthless fashion three days ago.
Michael Laudrup's side, who had beaten Malmo so emphatically in the Europa League, were this time themselves put to the sword.
There can be few complaints at the result — after starting well Swansea were given a lesson in clinical finishing.
And there should also not be too many grumbles about it.
Striker van Persie was in breathtaking form, volleying home his first effort from shoulder height before fending off a series of tackles to smash home a second
They came interspersed with a pair of efforts from Welbeck.
Swansea have made dramatic strides over the last few seasons, but they cannot be considered on a par with the Premier League's superpowers.
This defeat should also not sweep away the pre-season optimism.
It was a reality check, but does not erase the signs of encouragement seen over the summer.
Laudrup's men started well against United when their fluid passing football was at its best.
Jonjo Shelvey and Jose Canas impressed in midfield, while Wilfried Bony came off the bench to score his first Premier League goal.
Swansea must now refocus, because in a season that includes Europa League action, there are plenty more battles still to fight.
The next comes against Petrolul Ploiesti.
And Ashley Williams believes Swansea will bounce back in time for that match.
"It doesn't feel nice and I think confidence does get rocked a little bit," he said.
"The gaffer said not to let exactly that happen, but I think it's only natural.
"Obviously we're disappointed, we lost and we conceded four goals, but we're not going to get too down about it. We're bitterly disappointed, but we'll be realistic about it and realise it's only the first game of the season and we played the champions.
"We had training on Sunday morning, we've got an important game in midweek and we'll pick ourselves up.
"We enjoyed playing against Malmo in the two games, it's new to a lot of us and it was good."
Saturday's defeat by David Moyes's side came after a positive pre-season that included a 100 per cent record in friendly matches.
Swansea also breezed past Malmo in their opening Continental clash, raising expectation levels.
Laudrup's men must now regroup as they attempt to beat their Romanian opponents over two legs and book a place in the Europa League group stages.
That is seen as the minimum requirement in Europe.
Failing to get that far would be a major disappointment after Swansea worked so hard to lift the Capital One Cup last term.
It is important to recover quickly because in this season's packed programme there is little time to dwell on defeat.
"We'll stew on it for a little while, we're disappointed, but it's the job of the older boys to pick the squad up," said the skipper.
"The good thing is that we've got a game coming up so we can't dwell on it for too long. It's a massive game.
"We need to win the next two games or at least go through.
"We haven't spoken too much about them, but we'll go to work on them now.
"I was trying to focus on Wales in midweek and then the Man United game, but we'll turn our attention to Petrolul now and try to find out a little bit about them."
One positive to come from Saturday was a goal for Bony on his Premier League debut.
The Ivorian came off the bench to slot past David de Gea and again showed signs of a budding understanding with Michu.
Williams believes the £12 million record signing's performance provided some consolation last weekend.
"I thought as soon as the goal went in that it will be good for him," Williams added.
"I didn't really think we'd get back into it at that point but I thought at least he's got his first goal of the season.
"No-one can make a big deal about him not scoring and that's important for a new signing, especially a striker."