Talking points: Crystal Palace 4 United 0

Monday 06 May 2024 22:27

It was a sobering Monday night for Manchester United at Selhurst Park, with our heaviest defeat of the season leaving us eighth in the table with just three matches remaining.

We met a well-drilled Crystal Palace team, with Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise in particularly elusive form, and Oliver Glasner's side were deserving of their big win.
So where does it leave United, with time running out to secure European football for next season? And were there any minor positives to take ahead of Sunday's hugely challenging match against Arsenal?

Here are some key takeaways from a night that most Reds will want to move on from as quickly as possible...

Report: Crystal Palace 4 United 0


The Eagles score twice either side of half-time on a chastening evening for the Reds in south London.

In an injury-shattered period for United, it was pleasing to see Mason Mount make his first start for more than five months. The former Chelsea midfielder has made several substitute appearances in recent weeks, but finally got his chance from the start at Selhurst Park. The last time he was selected in the starting XI? November 1 last year, in a League Cup tie at home to Newcastle United. The 25-year-old would have hoped to return on a more positive night for his new club, but the remainder of the season gives Mount an opportunity to build some much-needed form and fluency.

The central defensive pairing of Casemiro and Jonny Evans was United's 14th different combination in the Premier League this season, believe it or not. Erik ten Hag says that he has never known a series of defensive injuries like the one he has encountered during United's 2023/24 season, and Harry Maguire's absence is the latest to damage the team's levels of consistency. Casemiro and Evans, who has just returned from injury himself, endured a tough night, but the approach play for both of Palace's first-half goals revealed the uncertainty that can come with new relationships in different parts of the pitch.

If any observers doubted the importance of United's captain, after the avalanche of goals and assists he has provided since joining in January 2020, Monday night's game was a glimpse at United without the inspirational Portuguese's contribution. Incredibly, Monday's match was the first time Fernandes has missed a game through injury in his entire club career – including his spells at former clubs Novara, Udinese, Sampdoria, Sporting Club and Manchester United. Let's wish him a speedy return to the first XI.
United were well beaten in the capital, suffering the heaviest defeat of the campaign so far, but we were perhaps unfortunate to not equalise during the first half, when Rasmus Hojlund was adjudged to have impeded Palace goalkeeper (and United Academy graduate) Dean Henderson. Replays showed scant contact and former Red Ashley Young, appearing on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football show, felt no free-kick would have been given for the 'offence' had it happened anywhere else on the field. It doesn't excuse the full-time result, of course: you have to play the contest that's in front of you. But a more favourable decision may have given us a boost at an important time.
Hojlund was judged to have fouled Dean Henderson in the build-up to what United thought was an equaliser.
This result stings, for many reasons. But from a personal point of view, it was doubly painful to see, knowing that the thousands of travelling Reds in the away end had made the journey here on a bank holiday in the UK, with no public transport options available to ferry them back to Manchester due to the late kick-off time of 8pm. Even at 4-0 down, they were still singing their hearts out, with 'Take me home, United Road' echoing across the ground for what seemed like an age. It was pure defiance, pure support. Our away following is absolutely tremendous, throughout every season, whether in the UK, Europe or on tours across the world, and should never be taken for granted.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Ashley Young joined the praise, saying: "The fans are fantastic all the time and in difficult periods they stick with them. They are still there and still singing. Them still being there is what the fans are about. They deserve more than this."