I was going to wait until about halfway through the season to give a little write up, mainly because I thought he'd take some time to acclimatise to both the step up in football, the new team and that he'd be competing with Roberts for a starting berth, but with about roughly 10 games under his belt there's enough to mention. Albeit it's still very early in the season and the team is struggling results wise, he's been excellent and has impressed with both his performances and with the responsibility he's shouldered.
The positives mainly come down to the influence he has on the attacking side of things. This Swansea side has struggled massively when it has come to creating goalscoring chances, or even just shooting opportunities in general. In the entire league I think Swansea are basically bottom or thereabouts for both goals and shots, and when watching the matches this isn't really a surprising statistic, there's a lot of pedestrian passing and it's very rare that the ball is moved forwards with any speed or purpose. This is where Laird has shown both his talent and mentality, in that even when facing teams which are happy to sit back and let Swansea knock it side to side, he is the one player who can consistently make things happen in that scenario by having the physical and technical qualities to both carry the ball and carve out opportunities. He's very confident when it comes to dribbling, and he's also able to take players on from a standing start. He's sometimes a little erratic when it comes to keeping possession of the ball, but when you have a team that is so risk averse it's easy to forgive, especially when Laird is one of the most creative passers and one of the few players who can beat a player. His pure stats on returns are a little misleading, I think he only has one or two assists, but he's probably the player who has created the most chances in the side, and I imagine that when the opposition are preparing for the match, he is someone who will be given considerable time spent on how to deal with him tactically.
There's no real negatives, his decision making could be improved, but that's fairly picky considering he's only a couple of months into his time at a new club, and in a stronger league than he was last season. Sometimes passing on his weak foot can be a bit of a problem, I'm not sure if that's a technical or a mental thing, but he can get the power of the pass wrong. The other comments I've quoted have mentioned this, but dwelling on the ball can be a bit counterproductive, this is a very mild criticism though as it's often something he has little choice on because of how Swansea and the opposition often approach the game. One thing would be that due to the formation Swansea play, and Laird's role within it, it's hard to get a good grasp of his defensive prowess. He looks fairly competent in this regard, but there's a lot less defensive responsibility for him in this set up than there would be if he was playing in AWB's role in a back 4.
It's basically due to this Swansea side having a very one minded tactical approach. Since Martin came in towards the end of preseason, the overall system has been one of a very strict adherence to ball retention. I think it's something like 65% average possession, which is the highest in the football league system. As a result the general gameplan other teams have employed is to sit back and suffocate all room in behind and to try and make this Swansea side break them down, which more often than not results in Swansea creating very few meaningful chances (if any).That is a nice highlight reel, but why does Lutons leftback keep giving him 20 meters of space every time. It'd be nice to see Ethan playing against a competent defender who closes the space and forces his hand more
On one hand it's good experience for Laird in that playing for a team like Man Utd will often result in scenarios where the game will be less open and United will have to break down a side sitting back, his calmness at taking on static defences and his ability to inject a surge in tempo with a one two are signs of him understanding how to deal with these kinds of opposition tactics. On the other hand he will have to get used to matches taking place at a higher tempo, he does take a lot of time on the ball and while it serves a purpose within his current footballing situation, he'll have to get used to facing players really pressing him.