Manchester United suffered a taste of their own medicine, at least a medicine that was prevalent when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm of Old Trafford. United, on Saturday, suffered the first major blow in the Premier League 2019/20.
They lost a home match to Crystal Palace. It was the first time Palace had beaten United in the Premier League era. The last time Palace had beaten United was when Ole Gunnar Solkjaer was nearer to the goal line than the touchline. It happened in 1991 in Selhurst Park, when United were beaten 3-0.
It was indeed a historic victory for Crystal Palace. As for Manchester United, it was a humbling remainder. A remainder that they are still not one of the top sides of the Premier League, that they still need a lot even after trashing Chelsea and drawing a tricky away game and that it is still a top 6 finish that looks more realistic than a top 4 finish.
After all, Manchester United have won only one of their past nine matches, scoring just eight goals and conceding 16.
“We did not have enough urgency or penetration,” said Solskjaer. “We made it too easy for them in the first half because we didn’t have the change in tempo. We were better in the second half.
United and Chelsea are only the only teams to win a penalty in each of their first three matches of a Premier League season, but United failed to convert two of those. Had they scored, they would have had been sitting comfortably, and that is what the Norwegian manager felt.
“We have to learn and we have to learn quickly, Solskjaer said. The last two games, we should have got six points, if you look at it as a neutral. We’re two penalty misses away from sitting pretty with nine point, but teams will come here and defend against us, drop deep, like Palace did.”
Last week Paul Pogba had missed a penalty and faced racial abuse on social media. The same happened with Rashford. United have neither resolved this issue, nor they can feel that they have a man designated as a penalty taker now.
Crystal Palace did what teams from bottom half of the table generally do at Old Trafford. They had most of the players behind the ball. United started on the front foot. They had a few chances, but failed to convert. But Place did not. Their first attack of the game yielded the match its first goal. A rather soft goal for United to concede. Jordan Ayew slotted home a Jeffrey Schlupp cross, and Victor Lindeloff was the culprit.
According to BBC, Palace coach Roy Hodgson said, “It was hard work and the players showed incredible concentration on the tactics they were trying to employ. We kept Manchester United in front of us for very long periods.”
It was not all that the match contained. The game would not end in a dull manner. Daniel James, in the 89th minute, scored in what looked like give at least one point to United. James had scored a goal each in his first two games at Old Trafford. But a 93rd minute goal from Patrick Van Anholt stunned United. Palace were taking 3 points from what was “heroic victory” according to their manager.
“It was a long, hot afternoon and we had to accept our talented opponents would have more of the ball than us,” Hodgson said. “We had to make certain that they did not play the passes to get the balls into the areas where they would punish us too severely. It was a heroic victory.”