Manchester United hosted Crystal Palace in their first match of the season. Crystal Palace had already kicked off their campaign 1 week ago with a 1-0 win over Southampton. And it was the Eagles that took a shock lead, 7 minutes in, with Andros Townsend converting from close range. Manchester United did not start well and looked flat on the ball. This continued into the second half and with 16 minutes left the game slipped away from them as former United player, Wilfred Zaha, scored a controversial penalty. Debutant, Donny Van De Beek, pulled a goal back for United, with a composed finish. But United never looked like coming back and Zaha struck again to seal an excellent win for Crystal Palace. As for United – a dismal performance.
1. Reinforcements Needed
Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Tottenham have all signed new additions this transfer window, whilst United have signed just one player. Manchester United are in grave danger of being left behind in a big way this season if they do not sign any more players. Whilst two players are rumoured to be joining the Red Devils; two signings are not enough. If United want to finish in the top four, let alone win anything, then they need at least 4 or 5 new players. Their defence was so easily torn apart by a team that only scored 31 goals in the entirety of last season and United offered very little in the final third. Ole’s biggest problem is that he does not have any players on the bench that can come on, make an impact and change the flow of the game when things are not going United’s way. It is essential that Solskjaer is backed in these last few weeks of the transfer window otherwise you can expect a very disappointing season.
2. Dodgy DefenceEmbed from Getty Images
A new centre-back is needed ASAP! As I have already mentioned, United conceded three goals to a side who only scored 31 in the whole of last season. Whilst Palace managed the game excellently and were good going forward, United were woeful defensively. Lindelöf was sometimes unfairly criticized last season but he had every right to be against Palace. The Swedish defender quite simply could not handle Wilfred Zaha’s pace, skill and trickery. Whilst, Harry Maguire is the captain, the defence looked devoid of any sort of leader. These views are reciprocated by former United great, Gary Neville, who quite bluntly said to Sky Sports, “You can talk about Sancho, but United will never win the league with that defensive partnership. Never.” United did miss Wan Bisaaka’s tenacity in defence, but on a whole, this is a problem that has been brewing for quite some time and by October 5th, United need to have at least one top quality defender signed.
3. Poor PassingEmbed from Getty Images
Manchester United had 74% of possession yet had the same amount of shots as a side that lost to a championship team midweek. Pogba and Fernandes, who looked so good after the restart, were often guilty of taking too many touches and being indecisive in the final third. United lacked any intensity in possession and hence they struggled to break down Palace’s resolute defence. Defensively, United also were poor on the ball and Palace could have scored, when De Gea passed the ball straight to a Palace shirt, minutes after Townsend had put them ahead, but the Eagles failed to capitalize. A lack of energy and a lack of quality from United in possession.
4. Debutant DonnyEmbed from Getty Images
Donny Van De Beek’s debut is one of few positives that have come out of the game. The Dutchman came off the bench to replace Paul Pogba, who was quiet. Van De Beek looked very impressive with his slick passing and composed finish for his goal. Solskjaer who signed the midfielder explained to Sky why he did not start the midfielder, ‘He’s [Van de Beek] a game-changer if we need to [make a change] but also he’s eager to go and he’s got qualities that we need. Even if the game doesn’t demand a change, I reckon you’ll see him. Paul has been training really well since he came back and Donny, it’s his first game. Of course, we want him to play as much as he can, but he’s getting into the groove and that’s the decision today.’ Van De Beek looked like a top-class player when he came on and I’m sure it will not be too long until Solskjaer starts the young midfielder.
5. What Next?
Crystal Palace and Everton both have a 100% record so far and Palace host The Toffees at Selhurst Park next Saturday. Manchester United are in action on Tuesday in the League cup against Luton Town. Before their next league match against Brighton on Saturday. Massive improvement needed for United needed if they are to challenge at the top end of the table.