A gloomy Saturday afternoon shrouded in the clouds of mediocrity at Old Trafford, saw Ole’s men tasting defeat for the first time in the new campaign against a side they had not lost to in 28 years.
For Roy Hodgson, it was a long yet delightful 90 minutes of football. The Eagles started the game with an extremely defensive set-up, saving their wild cards for later. Meanwhile, United started the game with the same team and tactics deployed in their match against the Wolves.
With a high pressing backline, the home team enjoyed good spells of possession, but failed to create anything in the final third. United’s first choice playmaker Jesse Lingard continued to struggle in cutting open a deep sitting Palace defence. As the game proceeded, the Reds turned complacent with the ball and showed no sense of urgency.
At the half an hour mark, United lost focus when Luke Shaw started to feel his hamstring. Not long after, Palace took advantage of a distracted United defence when Schlupp flicked a long ball from Guiata, getting the better of Victor Lindelof in the air to set up Jordan Ayew who scored past a stretched David De Gea with ease, leaving the theatre of dreams stunned.
While United tried to fight back, it was the visitors who started pressing high and looked menacing with former Red Wilfred Zaha toying comfortably with experienced England international Ashley Young (subbed in for Luke Shaw). Some could say United were unlucky, when Anthony Martial was brought down inside the box by an extremely fortunate Gary Cahill, towards the end of the first half.
The second half began with United pressing high again, but it seemed like the home side ran out of ideas in the final third. A surprising change of tactics by Ole gave Mason Greenwood a chance to change things on the pitch, with Jesse Lingard making way after 10 minutes into the second half. While there is no doubt that the 17-year old is a potential future star for the team, expecting him to create an impact in this game was unrealistic.
With time running out, United began to show further urgency and were soon awarded a spot kick, when Scott McTominay was tripped by Milivojevic amidst his clever run through the defence. However, the penalty curse continued for United when Marcus Rashford hit the sidebar, allowing Palace a lifeline. But then again, it is fair to say that a side like United, shouldn’t really be relying on spot kicks as much as they have come to do in recent times.
Things got frustrating for United when Daniel James was shown his second yellow in two consecutive games when the referee missed Milivojevic’s tackle on the Welsh winger, considering it a dive.
With 10 minutes to go at Old Trafford, Roy Hodgson sent in his wild cards – Christian McCarthy, Andy Townsend and Christian Benteke to hold on to the lead, while Ole could look at Juan Mata as the only experienced and creative playmaker on his bench. And sure enough, the impact was instant, when Daniel James equalised for United with a superb curling finish from an Anthony Martial pass.
It seemed like United were inspired to go on and bag all three points in Fergie time, but things got worse for the Reds, when the Eagles rushed a quickfire counter attack after Paul Pogba lost the ball in the midfield. A struggling Wan-Bissaka failed to stop Patrick Van Aanholt who drove the ball past David De Gea at the near post, to get back the lead at the 93rd minute, breaking United’s heart once again.
Manchester United have now failed to win on 15 occasions out of 32 games under the stewardship of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And while United have great potential with an exciting young squad graduating from the academy, Manchester United is still a side that is work in progress. However, For the United fans who, over the years, have seen some deadly wing play, the game against the Eagles would have been extremely difficult to digest.
As it stands, United drop to fifth place, while Palace climb to the tenth. Next Up the Reds travel to Southampton, while Palace host Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on Saturday.