Manchester United opened their 2020-21 domestic campaign with a crushing 3-1 home defeat to a well organised and aggressive Crystal Palace.
The visitors caused United all sorts of problems in a physical encounter which constricted the creativity out of a United side devoid of ideas. The only high point was a poised debut goal for new-signing Donny van de Beek.
David De Gea – 4
After a summer of speculation, De Gea started in goal ahead of back-up keeper Dean Henderson and looked fragile from the start, giving the ball away from a shaky clearance shortly before the opening goal.
Did well at the end of the first half to push over a close range Jordan Ayew shot and will consider himself unlucky to be have a penalty save ruled out for encroachment. His display today however will do little to silence the voices arguing for his replacement.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah– 5
Playing in the wing-back role Fosu-Mensah showed a lot of promises in attack but was often exposed out of position with Victor Lindelof covering attacks from the right channel. A scissors challenge drew a yellow in the second half, was not the worst in a red shirt today but made way for Ighalo late on.
Victor Lindelof – 2
Poor again from Lindelof, came out on top on several duels with Zaha in the first half but ultimately failed to stop Jeff Schlupp’s cross that opened the scoring for Palace. Is under a lot of pressure as fan’s clearly see his position as an area where there needs to be improvement.
Hopelessly exposed in many situations, was on the wrong side of a penalty decision that ultimately set Palace on course for victory.
Harry Maguire – 4
Not his best ever first-half, a very weak header nearly let Zaha in early on and was exposed on the first goal after being unable to close down a Schlupp cross. Booked for a rash challenge on Zaha in the second half, often looked static and short of pace against a dangerous counter-attacking team.
Luke Shaw – 5
Showed a willingness to get forward on his return to league action but ultimately couldn’t stop Townsend for the opener. There has been a lot of talk about the left-back position and Shaw will need to show more if he is to hold on to a starting spot.
Scott McTominay – 5
A utility role for the Scottish international today, ultimately finished the game as a right-back. Great effort flashed by the left post in the first half and performed reasonably to contain Zaha in the first 45. Will be interesting to see how he fits in with van de Beek in the team.
Paul Pogba – 4
Perhaps a surprise starting selection following his positive COVID-19 test in August, Pogba had a couple of long-range shots comfortably saved. Still prone to giving the ball away in dangerous positions, was substituted for the versatile van de Beek in the second half.
Daniel James – 3
Again, possibly a surprise he started today, being substituted at half-time will do little to improve his confidence ahead of a season where he really needs to push on.
For all of his movement there was little end product, a common feature of his play in the second half of last season.
A loan move might be the best option for James, who will already will be worried about his future at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes – 6
Took a heavy challenge early on which set the tone for the game as Palace singled out Fernandes for close attention throughout a hard fought 90-minutes.
As usual he linked up play well but ultimately was unable to unlock a determined defence which increased in confidence as he and others became increasing frustrated.
Marcus Rashford – 3
Just hasn’t got going since his back injury last season and was unable to get a shot on target in display that saw the life strangled out of the United attack.
There were moments where he showed the ambition to beat defenders but the lack of progress in the last six months is a concern.
It may be too early to conclude that his off-pitch heroics are having an effect on his game, but Solskjaer is going to be forced into a decision if the performances do not improve soon.
Anthony Martial – 3
Laboured without really much supply today, was often isolated in attack as Palace effectively shut down the threat for United.
Feeding off scraps, like Rashford (and Greenwood) was unable to get a shot on target. Disappointing but surely this will be a good season for Tony.
Mason Greenwood (46’ – Dan James) – 4
Looked busy on his introduction in the second half and was not afraid to take on a shot but again he was shut down by a very aggressive Palace defence.
Donny Van De Beek (67’ – Pogba) – 7
The only positive out of today’s horror show.
United look to have a very poised mobile midfielder who has composure in front of goal. The Dutchman latched on to a deflected cross and confidently despatched a debut goal on the 80th minute, giving United a glimmer of hope that was soon snuffed out by an impressive Palace counter-attacking display.
Odion Igahlo (81’ – Fosu-Mensah) – Unrated
Didn’t get a sniff.