Wayne Rooney scores a great volley against Crystal Palace last season
Manchester United travel to Selhurst Park off the back of three straight defeats to take on a Crystal Palace side who are also in a poor run of form. Louis van Gaal’s men have lost 1-0 to Chelsea, 3-0 to Everton and 1-0 to WBA. The defeat at Chelsea was a close one, but United were extremely poor against Everton in the 3-0 defeat and were flat against WBA. With Liverpool only four places behind United, a Champions League place is nowhere near certain, which is a far cry from three weeks ago when the spot looked all but wrapped up.
The home side are also in bad form, losing at home 2-0 to WBA, 2-0 to Hull City and 1-0 away to the now Champions, Chelsea. Alan Pardew has guided the South London club to safety following his torrid treatment at Newcastle United, who are now engulfed in a relegation scrap. United will be boosted by the signing of Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, who will join the club in the summer for the new season. With three games left and fourth place not yet secured, van Gaal must pick up three points today.
Palace have not beaten United at Selhurst Park since the end of the 1990/91 season – when the home side ran out 3-0 victors. Ferguson rested a number of key players for the match ahead of the Cup Winners Cup final in Rotterdam a few days later – which United went on to win 2-1.
We are joined by Jim Daley, who blogs over at Five Year Plan Fanzine, who kindly answered a few questions ahead of the game. Two decades on, Eric Cantona’s name always crops up, will Louis van Gaal emulate Sir Alex Ferguson and why on earth did Wilfried Zaha not work out at United following much anticipation – answers below! You can follow Jim and the lads on Twitter @FYPFanzine.
1) What have you made of your season? Happy with progress?
I’m a happy kind of guy anyway so you could have asked me if I was happy with my grocery shoppers no this week and I’d have said yes. But anyway, yes I think most Palace fans are happy with this season, especially the turnaround under Pardew. My Flatmate who is also a Palace fan was convo ever we were doing ok under Warnock but I suspect he was in a minority. The team were stumbling to relegation but have found a new lease of life under Pards. Three seasons in the Premier League is certainly progress but the real indication will be the players that are signed in the summer.
2) Is Pardew the right man to take you forward and what do you make of the situation at Newcastle?
Pards – or Pardiola as I’ve decided to call him – is definitely the man for us at the moment. He has the fans backing, he has the board’s backing and he has Alan Pardew’s backing (something he’ll never lose). I’m surprised he lasted as long at Newcastle given the way they treated him but clearly he wanted to prove and point. And still does with us. Their loss is our gain.
3) Who has been your best and worst players this season?
There’s a few candidates for best; James McArthur, Scott Dann and Yannick Bolasie could all claim to be the best. Dann probably has the nod over both on account of having played more games. It’s the first time we’ve got to this stage of the season and there hasn’t been a clear candidate for Player of the Year.
Worst? In these days of Twitter and the such in wary of saying any players have been terrible because they might find out and block me. Which has happened with one ex-Palace player before! But if you have to have names then Fraizer Campbell might have been hoping for a better season.
4) Why did Zaha not work out at United?
No game time. Since he’s come back he’s been playing regularly and we’re starting to see the player we thought we’d sold to United. Maybe he just needed to always be here, some players prefer being the big fish in the small pond. Plus we actually *made* money out of that deal so that’s a bonus!
5) Do you think United will make fourth place or will Liverpool catch up?
I think United will be ok. There’s something not quite right about Liverpool at the moment, a bit unhinged, and I don’t mean Mario Balotelli. United seem a couple of defenders away from a very good team.
6) How far away are United from launching a title bid next season?
A new back four probably. Losing Vidic and Evra has been massive and no-one else comes close to them. Don’t spend money on attackers, her some decent defenders in.
7) Which three United players – past or present – would you have jumped at to see in a Palace shirt?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Denis Irwin and Edwin van Der Sar.
8) Was Eric Cantona’s ban in 1995 to lenient or harsh?
Lenient. Way too lenient. He should have been sent to the Moon forever.
9) What do you think of Louis van Gaal and can he be the man to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson and win trophies?
I like him. I like my managers confident and he certainly is. I’m still not sure he’s convinced he knows what his ‘philosophy’ at Old Trafford is; lobbing it up to Fellaini is not a philosophy, it’s a back-up plan. I actually had twenty quid on United to win the league this season purely because of LVG, I might ask him for it back.
10) What is your all time Palace xi, with gaffer and three subs?
Johnson, Mullins, Ambrose