Wayne Rooney scores a freekick for Manchester United against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford
Manchester United travel to South London today against a Crystal Palace side who haven’t lost at home since a 3-0 thumping at hand of Newcastle United just before Christmas. David Moyes will be surely hoping that this is the fixture that notches up United’s first away win this year. The last away win was over Norwich City by one goal to nil.
Wayne Rooney, who signed a contract extension yesterday, will be looking to get on the scoresheet as he hasn’t found the back of the net since the 3-2 win over Hull post Christmas. The last time United played at Palace was in Rooney’s debut season. The match ended in a dire 0-0 draw.
Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj could make his first start for the club since January whilst Marouane Fellaini is also in contention. Jonny Evans is still a doubt although Phil Jones is expected to return to first team action.
We caught up Jim Daley, who you can follow on Twitter @jimdalycomedy, who spoke about Zaha’s potential, Juan Mata and what he makes of David Moyes. Jim writes for Five Year Plan Fanzine – @FYPFanzine.
1) What have you made of your season so far? Happy with progress?
A season of two halves, if we’re starting off with a football cliche, and who doesn’t love a football cliche? Well, Roy Keane maybe. Anyway.
There has been progress but only really in the two months since Pulis took over and it’s been glorious! We knew this season would be tough, we knew it would be a slog, and it has been but we’ve also proved that we can do this, that we can stay here!
As with everything Palace it’s been up and down, and far from straightforward, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?
2) Is Tony Pulis the right man to take you forward? Where would you be now has he not taken charge?
Absolutely. I’ve never seen a Palace manager start off so well in his reign at Selhurst. Well, perhaps Steve Bruce who took us to the top of Division One (remember that?) in 2001 but left 12 weeks later for Birmingham. I’m fairly certain Pulis won’t be doing that. I hope!
Without him we would almost certainly still be bottom of the league, but its not just the team he has transformed, he’s helped change attitude at the club, to believe they belong in the top flight.
3) What do you make of your transfer dealings in January? Happy?
Very! Especially seeing as it was revealed we only paid £250,000 for Joe Ledley – what a steal! Pulis has brought in experience with Ledley and Scott Dann and some genuine talent with Tom Ince and so far it all looks good. Ok, yes, they’ve only played one game for the club so far, but all three of them seemed to fit into the current system with ease. And with only 13 games of the season we don’t have time for them to bed in, so that’s a bonus!
4) Many Reds were dismayed at the distinct lack of playing time Zaha got before moving to Cardiff. Has he got what it takes to be a top player?
Definitely. There are still lots of Palace fans upset that Wilf isn’t getting game time at Old Trafford, when really it’s none of our business! But we care about him! He’s one of ours and we want him to go to the top and be the best he can. I believe he can be that at United but he has to play! He’s shown at Cardiff already he has the ability he just needs the belief in himself, and the belief from a manager, which in Moyes he doesn’t currently have.
5) What have you made of United this season?
To be honest every time I watch them they seem to lose! Clearly there is talent in the squad (especially up front) but it looks like it’s a bit of a transitional season. Which every team goes through! I guess, though, when you’ve been at the top for so long its hard to accept you might not win much. But United have a history of bouncing back so you never know!
6) Do you think David Moyes will be in charge next season?
I think so yeah, and I hope he is. He’s clearly a good manager and needs time to form his own team at United and make things his own. The ghost of Fergie is clearly still hanging around (not that Ferguson is actually dead but you know what I mean!). It must be hard for him to really make the place his own with the former owner still hanging around. I think if United stick with Moyes he will make them stronger and the trophies will come.
7) Which player from United has impressed you most this season? Also, which team has played the best football you’ve seen?
I love Juan Mata. He’s absolute class and has the ability to win a match on his own. I know some pundits think he hasn’t set United alight yet but he’s already bagged quite a few assists and if United score on Saturday I expect him to be involved in some way. Obviously Januzaj is having a good season but I’d honestly rather Zaha was playing! Although no doubt if he was he’d score on Saturday. Oh god, if Wilf keeps Cardiff up and sends us down I will be heartbroken.
As for the team who played the best football this season, that’s Swansea hands down. They dominated us down at Selhurst earlier on in the season. I’ve never seen such a one sided game. Admittedly this was under Holloway when the team was a bit of a mess. Under Pulis we haven’t really let teams play much football against us.
8) What is your greatest United vs. Palace memory?
Two words: Darren Ambrose. I was at Old Trafford for the League Cup quarterfinal in 2011. It was incredible. Not just for Dazza’s 40-yard strike but also for the fact that we won! I’d never expected to see Palace win at Old Trafford and although it was the League Cup United had some first teamers playing, including Berbatov and Smalling. We celebrated by heading to some student hip hop night in Manchester too. Celebrating in style eh?
9) Who is the greatest Palace player of all time and why?
Geoff Thomas. A proper leader, an all action midfielder, and the man who helped lead Palace from second division obscurity to an FA Cup final against United in just a few years (that we were seven minutes from winning!) He was the first Palace player I had on the back of my shirt as a kid and is the most humble man you’re likely to meet. A proper legend.
10) How will you lineup and what will score be Saturday?
Similar to the Stoke game I’d image. Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Dann, Ledley; Bolasie, KG, Jedinak, Puncheon; Ince, Chamakh.
I’ve never been as confident about beating United as I am at the moment, but that’s when Palace get you and lose 5-0 or something. I think it’ll be close. 1-1.