Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: 5 Things We Learned

All that build-up, all that anticipation, all that nervousness waiting for our team to play. We had to sit through the international break and the first round of Premier League fixtures, whilst waiting for the second week for our team to play. All that we did with pleasure, because we ended last season unbeaten in the Premier League following the Coronavirus break and had high hopes to start this season strong.

Instead, we were treated to that excruciating extravaganza of footballing incompetence from our beloved Manchester United, as we went down 3-1 to Crystal Palace in our first Premier League game of the season. Yes, there were VAR problems once again. Yes, Crystal Palace started their Premier League campaign a week ago. And yes, some of our players were not started to give them some extra rest. But, none of that is an excuse for the type of performance we put in. This was our chance to put the poor off-season behind us, where our players were the ones hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and we completely bailed. Honestly, watching the game was painful enough, I hope this analysis is less so. Here is Millsys View with 5 things we learned from Manchester United vs Crystal Palace.

1. Ed Woodward needs to get a move on in the Transfer Market

Ole rested Wan-Bissaka here in favour of Fosu-Mensah, so our defence wasn’t at 100% strength, but he was rarely at fault. Palace caught Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof completely unaware and they were exposed by the Crystal Palace attack. There were many people criticising Lindelof on Twitter, and I understand that. But, there were so many times where Harry Maguire dived into a tackle instead of tracking back. In the end, he would be beaten and Palace would be in again.

Overall, this should have been a strong and clear to Ed Woodward that Manchester United NEED investment and fast. Never mind chasing 100 million pound wingers that we don’t need, bring in some backup in defence. A strong centre-back to harden up our soft centre must be first priority, while Luke Shaw also failed to impress. We are supposedly after Alex Telles, who should be able to step in at left back, but our central defence is our biggest problem.

2. David De Gea has not risen to the Challenge

Coming into this Premier League season, the biggest question hanging over Manchester United’s squad was: who would be our first-choice goalkeeper? With Dean Henderson signing a new contract, talk was rife about De Gea. Would he be our number one for much longer? He didn’t do himself any favours with his performance tonight.

Firstly, although not at fault for Crystal Palace’s first goal, it was certainly one he would probably normally have saved. Next, he misplaced a pass shortly after that almost let Palace in on goal again. Following that, he looked shaky when clearing a ball after rushing out to meet a Lindelof header. Then came the penalty palaver, which we will touch on later, which led to Crystal Palace taking a 2-0 lead.

Overall, it just led to even more questions about David De Gea’s place in Manchester United’s starting XI. Dean Henderson must’ve been rubbing his hands together watching this performance. Henderson coming in should’ve led to De Gea raising his game to beat off the competition from the young pretender, but all he did was give a barrage of excuses to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for replacing him.

3. VAR still has some work to do

It seems that controversy around penalties cannot seem to stay away from Manchester United. This time, it was us on the losing side. The fact that Lindelof gave away the penalty was an absolute circus. It brushed his hand while he is sprinting back to goal when kicked from point-blank range, it was never a penalty. Sure, we have had some admittedly soft penalties go for us in recent times but this was a fiasco.

Following that, Manchester United fans thought that retribution was received when De Gea saved the penalty. Oh how wrong we were…De Gea was then penalised for having stepped off his line before the penalty was kicked. This is something which has probably been penalised around 2 or 3 times in the history of football. Sure, he was around an inch or two off his line, but did it really give him a massive advantage? I’m unsure about this rule to begin with, as I feel it means goalkeepers are penalised for reading the penalty taker. De Gea clearly did, but the fact that the ORIGINAL PENALTY was wrong made this sting even more.

4. Manchester United were completely out of shape

I am not usually one to criticise Ole, as he dragged us to third place last season and deserved credit. However, in that game, Fernandes was very often further back than Harry Maguire. Instead of sitting on the edge of the box playing intricate passes, he acted as cover for our defenders. A game like this, where Crystal Palace were parked inside their own area after they scored, was exactly the reason we signed Bruno – to break them down.

Paul Pogba (more on him later) was another one who was stood 10-15 yards outside the box whilst we passed from left to right. We showed no penetration and brought back the Louis Van Gaal brand of football. It was one of our darkest days under Ole for me. We showed zero urgency to score and Rashford and Daniel James were seemingly stranded, out way too wide on their wings. Crystal Palace defended well so credit to them, but we also surrendered all the space needed to make us dangerous and that has to go on Ole’s head.

5. Pogba’s position is just as under threat as De Gea’s

They finally raked Pogba off today on the 67th minute after having given the ball away multiple times. He added very little to the performance in all honesty. When Fernandes was brought in, it gave Pogba a kick as he realised that there was another star in the team to steal his limelight.

Now, with Donny Van de Beek also joining for almost £35 million, Pogba will have to kick up his game again. Van de Beek looked very good when he came on and scored a goal. He also took up the position I wanted to see from Fernandes around the edge of the box. If he continues like that then he will certainly see more game time, which could affect Pogba’s chances. I see it in much the same vein as De Gea’s situation with Dean Henderson. This time, Van De Beek the young pretender coming in to outplace the players who look like they feel part of the furniture. It can only create competition and that’s a good thing. I will want to see more from Pogba in the coming weeks.

Author: Nicholas Mills