Marouane Fellaini scores the winner against Crystal Palace last season
Manchester United travel to Crystal Palace today to try and bounce back from their League Cup exit in the week at the hands of Middlesbrough. The hosts are also looking to try and pick up three points following their 5-1 thumping against Manchester City on the same evening.
Crystal Palace have lost their last two games; 1-0 away to Leicester City and 3-1 at home to West Ham United – where as United have picked up four points with the win against Everton and drawing last weekend with Manchester City.
Wayne Rooney has come under heavy criticism from United fans for his performances so far this season. Rooney was openly defended by Manchester United legend Paul Scholes who stated that “any striker would find it difficult to score in this current team” and that his (Rooney) movement has been excellent, but he isn’t getting the football due to the ball retention enforced by Louis van Gaal philosophy. Can Wayne Rooney add to his two league goals so far this season?
Criticism of van Gaal’s slow approach continues
Paul Scholes, who notched up 155 goals in 751 appearances for Manchester United and has the third most appearances for the club of all time – behind Sir Bobby Charlton and Ryan Giggs, was very vocal in his assessment of Manchester United under the guidance of Louis van Gaal. Scholes was complimentary of how United are now organised at the back and that his former side are difficult to play against, however he would not have liked to played in this team under the Dutchman.
Scholes was openly critical of the England setup when he was playing and retired at the age of 29 having amassed 66 caps – a travesty for a player of such talent – and didn’t hold back in his assessment of United’s current playing style. Louis van Gaal’s approach is far more conservative than Sir Alex Ferguson even was and Scholes cited the “lack of risk tasking” as a major reason as to why he doesn’t like watching the current crop in action. With United now sitting only two points off of City, if you haven’t had flutter so far then try betting online at Betway.com instead!
Louis van Gaal responded firmly and with obvious appreciation for the status of Scholes amongst the Old Trafford ranks. He has suggested that Scholes should have sought council with former team mate and current assistant manager Ryan Giggs, regarding his concerns – rather than going public. The irony is, if van Gaal had a player of the class of Scholes to switch the play and get wide men one on one with fullbacks, the style of play may be a little more adventurous. United may not have been firm favourites at the start of the season, with many bookies not giving van Gaal’s men a chance.
Following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and the disastrous leadership of the David Moyes era, perhaps indeed United need a little stability – but this of course is a much different United side to that of the past twenty five years, which of course had the genius of Paul Scholes at the heart of it.
View from the opposition
We are joined by Jim Daley, who blogs over at Five Year Plan Fanzine, who kindly answered a few questions ahead of the game. We caught up on Alan Pardew’s gung-ho approach, former United winger Wilfried Zaha and whether Wayne Rooney has lost it. You can follow Jim and the lads on Twitter @FYPFanzine
1) Palace are sitting seventh in the table right now – happy with progress under Alan Pardew?
Massively. The last few weeks haven’t been great but overall the club is clearly progressing under Pardiola, on and off the pitch. The squad is the best it’s been possibly ever; they are trying (not always successfully though) to play decent football and there hasn’t been a connection as strong between manager and fans for years.
2) You’ve won 5 and lost 5 – not drawing any games (the only team not to do so) – do Palace just go for games?
Pardew doesn’t seem to draw games; it was the same at Newcastle. His side would go on runs of wins and then runs of defeats and so on. This season it’s been a win here and a defeat there but so far no draws. We were unlucky at Leicester not to grab a point and probably should have had one against Manchester City at home so it’s not like every defeat has been a foregone conclusion. Recently it’s been a combination of a patchy defence and blunt attack that’s led to defeats, unfortunately I predict the same for Saturday.
3) How has Wilfried Zaha done since his move back from Manchester United? Can he go on to play regularly for England?
Wilf is Wil; one week he’s the best player on the pitch the next he can be pretty non-existent but he definitely has the ability to be an England regular, we’ve know that since he broke into the first team five years ago. He just needs a lot of love and attention to develop, something he didn’t get at Old Trafford. And Palace fans know that Wilf sometimes plays in fits and spurts and sometimes is better off the bench. I think United fans never really got time to understand what Zaha’s game was about, which is no-one’s fault. Well, maybe Moyes’.
4) Why did it take Palace so long to return to the Premier League following relegation in 2005?
A combination of bad luck, terrible mismanagement on and off the pitch and some awful, awful players. Just thinking about the Peter Taylor years makes me go all queasy. To be honest had Palace been promoted any time during that spell they would have come straight back down, even the Neil Warnock team of 2008 that probably deserved to go up would have struggled. We timed it right in 2013.
5) If you could have one of Andy Johnson, Ian Wright or Mark Bright up top on Saturday – who would it be?
Ian Wright. No question. He could turn a nothing chance into a goal and we need goals like there’s no tomorrow. Plus he loved a goal against Man United. Brighty probably will be there given he is back at the club in an advisory role and it’s great to see him back at SE25. Also given how fewoptions Palace have up front right now maybe Steve Parish can register him as a player last minute, he couldn’t be worse than Fraizer Campbell.
6) Wayne Rooney has come under a lot criticism lately – has he lost it?
Maybe not lost it, but perhaps needs to adapt his game. I quite liked seeing him in a deeper role in midfield now and then but does he have the other side of his game – the tackling and so forth – to excel there? He’s clearly a one in a generation player and those sorts of footballer don’t lose it. Well, apart from his hairline. :p
7) With Chelsea out of the running – what teams will be challenging for the title? Where do you think you’ll finish?
Well, aside from Palace when they turn it around on Saturday and go on a 10-game winning streak, obviously. You’d have to say both Manchester clubs who seem the closest they have been since 2012 but for me I think it’s Arsenal’s year. It just seems to be clicking for them and if they can avoid that self-destruct button they have an excellent chance of seeing Arsene Wenger do that weird little fist pump/dad dancing at a wedding thing he does.
8) What is your most memorable Manchester United vs. Cyrstal Palace memory?
Darren Ambrose. Old Trafford. 2011. Quite simply the best goal I’ve ever seen live and probably the best Palace result I’ve ever witnessed. United played a fairly strong team that night too and it was probably the game that Alex Ferguson decided he wanted to sign Zaha after he tore Rafael apart so badly the full-back was subbed at half-time. I ended up in student nightclub called Juicy after the game and was the oldest person in there by about 10 years but didn’t care. What a night.
9) Who do you think will be relegated this season? Any worries that you could be dragged in?
I’m the most confident for years that Palace won’t go down which probably means I should start preparing for a trip to Brentford next season already.
10) What is your all time Crystal Palace dream team?