It wasn’t the most incendiary way to record a first victory in February in four attempts, but then this is not a Manchester United side playing particularly incendiary football. Second half goals from Robin Van Persie and man-of-the-moment Wayne Rooney were enough to see off a plucky Crystal Palace side at Selhurst Park. It wasn’t commanding, but as with so many wins at the tail end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure, it was effective. Here’s what we made of it;
Patience paid off
The notion of David Moyes sticking to his tactics having seen his side fail to score within an hour against a team scrapping to stay clear from the league’s bottom three should have provoked a little more disharmony than it did. Yesterday was not a sudden departure from the norm for the Scot; United still laboured from time to time, and gave Palace a little too much encouragement when they weren’t in possession, but they stuck to their task after a few promising sights at goal in the first half and were duly rewarded as Marouane Chamakh tripped Patrice Evra to hand the visitors a penalty.
It’s not alien for United to come up against a well-organised defensive unit with the tools to damage them on the break, but the number of times that they’ve been able to pierce such set-ups has certainly lessened under Moyes this season. Here, at least, there was a sense that the front four of Mata, Rooney, Van Persie and Januzaj could make things happen even as the match entered its final half hour. Chamakh’s intervention certainly helped, but after a season mostly spent knocking politely on doors as opposed to bashing them in order to get a result, this was a win for patience and control as much as anything.
Even if it was against a team in 16th position.
But hey, we couldn’t beat Fulham, and they’re 17th. So that’s progress, right?
That was close to United’s strongest available line-up
Take Chris Smalling out for Rafael at right back and you have a team that almost every United fan could be satisfied with, at least for the time being. It had a dynamic front four, with Januzaj drifting out wide and Mata drifting in centrally, a centre-back partnership with a ridiculous amount of experience (mobility is an issue, of course) and a central midfield with craft and guts in equal measure. It’s of absolutely no surprise that this team didn’t destroy Palace from the off, given how much difficulty Moyes has had in drawing the best out of his charges, but United, whilst conceding a few hairy chances, didn’t look vulnerable. Fellaini looked much more assured and used the ball far more effectively than he has ever done in a red shirt, Evra was given free rein to roam down Palace’s left and damage the hosts whenever he saw fit and De Gea made sure that everything that came his way caused little damage.
Given that both Vidic and Ferdinand are likely to leave the club this summer, and with Michael Carrick’s influence present but certainly improvable, next season’s strongest line-up will have a significantly different look to it. But having seen so many tweaks and changes since late August and constantly changing line-ups, it was novel to look at the teamsheet and almost feel confident when looking at Moyes’ starting XI.
Rooney justifies the ONLY KIDDING
Regular readers will have noticed a negative article regarding Wayne Rooney’s gigantic contract extension posted on this site the same evening that the deal was announced. It’s no stretch to say that its key points ruffled some feathers, whilst also earning a few nods of agreement. I wrote it, and I stand by every word of it. I still watched yesterday’s match with two friends who also feel similarly disenchanted with the Rooney situation, and all three of us cheered when he scored. How about that, eh?
Point being that regardless of which side you fall on with this issue, it doesn’t make you stop wanting the club to succeed. Naysayers like yours truly will have few complaints if Rooney can see in his thirties with the same vigour and power shown by Van Persie, but that doesn’t change the fact that some people simply do not want him at the club, despite what he brings. At this point, of course, it’s academic; the contract has been signed and Rooney will now stay at United for the foreseeable future. Each side can retain their support or disappointment if they so wish, and no one will be stopped from doing so. Fact is that his goal yesterday was superb, fact is the club could probably do better. Wayne Rooney is a great player, and makes Manchester United a greater side. That, we can all agree on.
Fighting on won’t guarantee a top four finish, but it’s a start
Speaking in the knowledge of Liverpool’s incredible 4-3 victory over Swansea this Sunday afternoon, there’s a sense that an almighty drop in form is necessary from our dear neighbours on the other side of the M62 in order for Champions League qualification to even happen. United have only won once this month in four league games; that’s not exactly the sort of form that will guarantee you a say in the matter of the top four, let alone guarantee you a spot. Liverpool, however, have won four of their last five, and without any FA Cup duties to worry about, can simply concentrate on maintaining their run. Suarez hasn’t scored since January, and they still look strong.
So, what can United do? Beat them at Old Trafford in March, and hope for more than a few slip-ups between here and May. Is it going to happen? Probably not, but as has been preached so often when chasing down a higher-placed opponent, United need to at least give themselves the best possible chance of doing so. Even if they finish fifth, confidence is needed, and the best way of gaining such a commodity is, shockingly enough, winning games. A result like this won’t solve anything, but it is part of the solution.
6 replies on “What We Learned: Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United”
i definitely agree this was a huge improvement.
defensively i think moyes has been an absolute fool.
the perfect replacement for ferdinand and vidic i believe is smalling and jones. i just believe its the most direct substitute of the two. evans can make great tackles and interceptions… but he is a huge liability!
rafael has had some nervy moments, but i still believe on his day he is an amazing right back.
is still believe trying to fit kagawa into this team will take us to a whole new level.
fellaini has shown he is the physical presence we NEED! but he definitely needs refining lol
i will be the first to admit carrick has skill…. but he is more out of place in this utd squad than kagawa in the left wing. i may be wrong (i admit i didnt get to watch the match fully as family had come to visit which was good and bad! lol)… but the bits i did see involved fellaini getting up and down the pitch far more than carrick. from what i did see fellaini had far more of an influence, and i strongly believe he can still offer far more!
to me fellaini would be better suited outside the box, best for regaining possession and sitributing from slightly firther away, he doesnt quite have the close to body ball skills required for being in the opposition box.
i strongly believe this is by far our strongest squad
rafael smalling jones evra
mata kagawa janujaz
essentially it can evlove to jones moving higher up the pitch to regain possession more quickly when required.
one thing i hate is that all attackers line up against the defense, which is amateurish, because it is why we NEED a holding midfielder, because we have 4 players amongst their defense which immediately means they can break so easily.
our attack needs to be more layered to draw out the opposition, create more spaces and allow the passing skills of this front 5 to really destroy defenses. fellaini would be ab le to mix amongst it aswell, and at the edn of the day all these players get back to defend when required.
i mean look at the barca team, they dont have any real strength or defensive players, and they demolished city!
you have to admit, the ability of these 5 in attack (mata, kagawa, janujaz, rooney, RVP)…. can you really not see this being able to actually rival barca?
our squad against palace lacked one extra creative flair, because the team essential lost someone to fill in the right wing when mata cut in which allows the opposition to condense. but byt having the 3 i want, they can move about and work together to just tear teams apart.
i genuinely dont believe we need the defensive skills of carrick, with my attacking 5, evra and rafael can assist in attack, but stay firther back to ensure they fulfill their defensive duties. there is far too much pressure on them to be attackers!
like i have said previously, moyes is expecting our full backs to help win games, and our midfield to defend… this is completely backwards!
let our defenders stick to the main purpose they are on the pitch for, and let the players in front of them worry about getting goals.
after all… man city actually play 4-4-2… but i honestly believe we have a much better squad… just not utilised properly
kagawa has never shone to his fullest because he has always been played in a restricted squad. but think about this… our best performances have arguably been in the champions league, the majority of games which kagwa has actually played in… i believe that speaks for itself!
stop thinking kagwa is another forlan or veron… he actually isnt! hes the new piece we need to build a new and better team!
very good points, i have always said Kagawa is too good to not be playing week in week out…to be honest i would prefer him than Mata any day…Kagawa is 2 footed and is multi dimensioned much superior to Mata
Our most fluid games have been with Kagawa in the team
I don’t agree with any point, sayin Kagawa is better than Juan
I don’t agree with any point, saying Kagawa is better than Juan.
Cannot help feeling that United beat Palace despite the influence of Daisy Moyes. Still, after recent results, three points is welcome in our battle for a top 6 spot (forget top 4)). And after all, beggars can’t be choosers, can they? Even if the ” beggars” make 300K a week.
As for the ‘Kagawa for King’ brigade, of whom I am a sideline supporter rather than a frontline activist, your pleas will go unheard at Daisy’s place. Shinji might be selected in the Champions League but unfortunately his Premier League days appear to be numbered.
Palace never really threatened except for maybe 5 to 10 minutes in the beginning of the 2nd half. Maybe palace is not a counter attacking team unlike Fulham.
Fellaini did well offensively and defensively. He was box to box. I think he had 5 crucial defensive stops and 2 attacks that led to chances. When he was taken off Palace had a free header in the 90th minute. When he was on i don’t recall Manu losing to any headers in the box.
Manu lacked some 1-2 passing in the middle which could have broken down the defenses. Adding some long range shots would have made the defenders step up a little and therefor give a little space to make some runs to the box.
Evra stepped up his defending but it was his mistake pass that led to Vidic yellow card. As always, good at attacking in the left wing.
Mata drifts to the middle which leaves the right side open. Ideal situation for Rafael. Smalling did some nice runs down the right but his cross was poor, I think Rafael would have done better. Mata should work on his right foot crossing. There were 2 chances to cross with his right foot but he didn’t. Kinda like Young on the left wing. Would Kagawa have done a better job?
Januzaj is a great talent. It’s good that Moyes signed him to a long term deal. He can operate on both wings. Made some 2 good crosses.
Manu needed more movement in attack. Some players were just waiting and standing around. They should always be in motion. You are easier to mark when your not moving. Manu needed a bit more quicker passing in the middle.
Good job by de Gea.
Manu was patient. Not too many crosses. So possession not wasted and not much counter attack to worry about. Wide play is still needed. The penalty was a result of a build up to cross the ball. Rooney goal was from a cross pass.
Manu should exploit the open space on the right when Mata leaves it. Somebody should be aware of it but the primary player to exploit it should be the right back or a forward.
I hope moyes tries 4-2-3-1 with smalling-ferdinand-vidic-evra, fellaini-carrick, rooney-kagawa-januzaj, van persie.
Or 4-3-3 false 9 with smalling-ferdinand-vidic-evra, fellaini-carrick-kagawa, valencia-rooney-januzaj