Wayne Rooney scores against Crystal Palace in the fixture at Old Trafford last season
Manchester United welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford looking to bounce back from a disappointing derby defeat last Sunday. The visitors are winless in their last four matches, whilst United lie in tenth position – thirteen points of league leaders Chelsea. Palace haven’t won at Old Trafford since 1989/90, a 2-1 victory for the South Londoners with Russell Beardsmore netting for the home side, when of course – Alex Ferguson picked up his first trophy at Wembley six months later against the same opposition.
There are suggestions that James Wilson could replace Robin van Persie up and that Colombian striker Falcao is still sidelined with an ankle injury. Louis van Gaal is without Marcos Rojo, who will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a dislocated shoulder, and of course Chris Smalling – who was stupidly sent off against Manchester City last weekend. United have had a ridiculously poor start, considering the amount of money that has been spent on strengthening the squad, but a win against Palace could move United up to sixth place.
We caught up with Jim, who blogs over at www.fiveyearplanfanzine.co.uk to ask him a few questions on all things Palace. We discussed Warnock, Zaha and whether serial cheese eater Tommy Brolin actually made his Crystal Palace all time Xi?! You can follow Jim and the lads on Twitter @FYPFanzine.
1) What have you made of the first 1/4 of the season so far? Have you moved on from last season at all?
Typically with all things Palace; it’s been a bit like Helen Flanagan; a bit crazy, emotional and a bit of a mess. Last season itself was like three mini seasons in one so it’s hard to compare. Have we moved on from he team that finished 11th and went on that amazing run under Tony Pulis? No. If anything we’ve gone backwards. Especially when it comes to that organised defence he worked so hard on. That’s now a thing of the past. Are we better than the side that started the season under Ian Holloway? Undoubtedly. With all things Palace; it’s never a straightforward answer sadly.
2) Tony Pulis was a popular character – what did you make of his sacking?
I went through the five stages of loss when Pulis departed on the eve of the season; 1) denial that he could leave with little under 48 hours before a big season opener at Arsenal, 2) bargaining that maybe the Palace board could make a late u-turn and bring him back, 3) depression that now he had gone Palace could be relegated back to the Championship, 4) acceptance that now he had gone Palace were certain to be relegated back to the Championship and finally 5) anger when I learnt how and why he had left.
3) Neil Warnock gets a lot of criticism for being outspoken; what are your thoughts on the penalty claims against Sunderland last Monday?
Stonewall penalty. Emma Stonewall penalty. Rolling Stoneswall penalty. Stonewall Jackson penalty. And so on. That’s the first one on Fraizer Campbell in the opening 23 seconds but apparently, according to Phil Dowd, decisions aren’t allowed to be given in the opening 23 seconds. There’s nothing to suggest Palace would actually have won had that penalty been given – there are plenty of reasons why they wouldn’t have and lots for Warnock to work on – but that, plus the foul on Zaha at West Brom last week, is now two definite penalties in two weeks we haven’t got. Frustrating.
4) Who is your most promising youngster in the ranks? And which player do you need to get rid of straight away?!
Palace have a lot of promising youngsters thanks to a ruddy aces academy which churns out quality players like a factory producing Rolls Royces, but the latest to really make a mark and look like he’ll become a star is a player wonderfully named Sullay Kaikai. He’s a striker and has spent the last 18 months smashing in the goals for the reserves. He made his debut in the Carling Cup this season and scored against Newcastle. He’s also a very nice young chap and I hope he makes it. The player who needs to go? Brede Hangeland. Awful.
5) You had a great win against Everton, which was followed up by a win over Leicester and then three losses and a draw – what has happened in recent weeks?
A combination of bad luck (not getting penalties), poor defending, injuries to key players like Marouane Chamakh and Scott Dann and having Neil Warnock as manager.
6) What have you made of United so far this season and can you see the club finishing in the top four?
Well, I actually put £20 on United winning the title this season as the odds were crazy long and I think Van Gaal is a brilliant manager. Clearly that isn’t going to happen now and I can only apologise for my part in cementing another frustrating season for you guys. I still think with a gaffer like LVG you’ll be pushing for a top 4 place but clearly it’s proving a longer transition period that we all thought. There is quality going forward – defence needs additions.
7) Many fans are still baffled that the club didn’t strengthen at the back – who will play up top for you this weekend?
Well I was too! Fortunately for you our forwards aren’t in form right now. Fraizer Campbell will play up top on his own and is an industrious striker who never stops running. He’ll try and stretch your centre-backs and get into the channels. Unfortunately he’s asked to do so much running he doesn’t get into the box that often. Chamakh is a fans fave at Slhurst but plays a bit deeper in a number 10 role.
8) What is your favourite memory of Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace?
Two words: Darren Ambrose. Best goal I’ve ever seen live and a brilliant results against a United team in 2001 that did play a lot of internationals. I also ended up in a student hip hop night club depute being easily the oldest person in there by 10 years but it didn’t matter such was the enormity of that result.
9) Who would win in a fight between Eric Cantona and Richard Shaw and who is the player you most admired over the years?
Well Shaw kind of did back in 1995! I don’t like to talk about Cantona too much because of the unfortunate repercussions of that famous kick. I’ve loved a lot of players down the years and then switched my allegiance like some sort of harley, but one of my absolute faves was Geoff Thomas . Brilliant midfielder, superb haircut and a bloody nice guy. Shame about that chip against France.
10) Lastly, who is your all time Crystal Palace Xi with gaffer and three subs!?