Manchester United ground out their third goalless draw in a week – as David De Gea saved Louis Van Gaal’s men a point at Selhurst Park. United again looked solid in defence but pedestrian going forward as they followed their bore draw against Manchester City and their penalty shoot-out Capital One Cup exit by Middlesbrough with another grim battle in south London.
De Gea made two excellent saves from former United man Wilfried Zaha and Scott Dann to halt an excellent start from Alan Pardew’s men – who still ended a three-match losing streak but ended up feeling unfortunate not to have won.
Wayne Rooney continued to struggle in the central attacking role as United lacked the pace and invention to get behind the Palace defence on more than the odd occasion.
Wayne Rooney got beaten in a foot race by Wayne Hennessey. You imagine he could kick himself after another poor performance today but he’d most likely miss. Playing Anthony Martial on the left in order to accommodate England’s leading goalscorer up top is nothing short of scandalous. Something has to change. The United and England captain is lacking sharpness but showing his frustration by trying to contest every decision that goes against his side. Dropping back behind Martial in a No 10 role would help him too.
While it is true to say that Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams did not always play the most attractive football towards the end of his time at the club, usually the ends justified the means. At the moment, Louis van Gaal’s side are playing out some of the dullest games you’ll ever be unlucky enough to witness. Not for nothing did the away fans sing the name of Paul Scholes today – they’re sick of the “philosophy” that has led to their team drawing 0-0 in three consecutive games for the first time since the dark days of 2005
Yet Palace lacked the punch to finish off United, with the final 80 minutes of the match largely subsiding into a turgid swamp of boredom. Wilf Zaha, the Palace winger speaks with bitterness and bewilderment about his brief spell at Old Trafford under David Moyes but, even though he needs working on, United could do with some of his pace and energy as an option up front.
It’s not easy to learn much watching United these days A paint-drying convention would be more educational and entertaining. United might have a history of magical wide men but it was the Crystal Palace wingers who impressed today. Bolasie and Zaha, the latter an Old Trafford flop, caused United’s defenders all kinds of problems from first whistle to last. Pardew has his side playing the kind of fast, attacking football that was once the domain of their opponents today.