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A Real Grinder!

 Posted by on November 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm  Blogs/Media, Crystal Palace, England, EPL, Manchester United
Nov 082014

Manchester United 1-0 Crystal Palace
78855246 marouanefellaini A Real Grinder!It was yet another slice of brutal mistreatment pie for their poor suffering fans at Old Trafford. Although they managed their first victory in four weeks, Manchester United often looked awkward and embarrassed. Beyond the spending of £150m-plus in the Summer, the lack of commitment from so many players on the field seems negatively viable. To feels the lows thoroughly, players first have to be familiar with some highs. Apathy seemed to be the order of the day, although the kind of ten-men-behind-the-ball tactics Crystal Palace chose to try and snuff out United’s threat did not help. With Arsenal visiting after a looming international break, United’s manager Louis Van Gaal needs to muster some superior tactics and a far more competitive spirit.

Without Marcos Rojo, who has a dislocated shoulder and Chris Smalling gone as a result of a red-card suspension, there had to be yet another juggling of the squaddies. Ever obsessed with having one right-footed and one left-footer CB, the Iron Tulip put Paddy McNair next to Daley Blind while he and millions of fans all over the world crossed their fingers. Did it work, this 12th combination of the season at center-back? Well, sort of. Palace fired blanks, although the two substitute pivots set up a sitter for Palace’s ex-United striker, Frazier Campbell, which he should have taken easily, but botched.

United laid siege to Palace’s half of the field for the full 90 minutes. Corners proved a potent threat for United throughout the opening period. Yet neither Di Maria nor Rooney’s efforts were particularly effective. Another from Di María broke to Robin van Persie and his drilled shot-cross almost accidentally found Maroaune Fellaini lurking near the goal-line before Palace cleared.

78853363 fraizercampbellap A Real Grinder!Yet Palace did manage to put together two fine counterattacks toward the end of the first half when the much heralded Yannick Bolasie sprinted along United’s right and curved in a ball that hit Luke Shaw on the arm as Fraizer Campbell again failed to connect. Then Puncheon fired a long ball at McNair who misjudged its bounce and was encircled by Campbell, who then botched yet another chance, lobbing it over the bar.

All in all, beyond a few timing errors, Shaw was United’s most consistent player throughout proceedings. He has been inconsistent since arriving but looked regal throughout. Thus, just before the half-time whistle, he hoovered up the ball in his own half and coasted exquisitely down the left flank leaving at least four backpedaling defenders stranded before reaching the Palace box and letting loose a low pile-driver that goalie Julian Speroni had to save at full catlike stretch.

78856043 manutdreuters1 A Real Grinder!Unfortunately, United were a blunt instrument moving forward. An anemic Robin Van Persie seemed unable to create anything for himself, although, to be fair, he got little service off the flanks where Di María and Januzaj just seemed out for themselves. Indeed, Van Persie set up Januzaj a couple of times but his efforts were soft powder puffs, easy for Speroni to deal with. And although Di María’s ball handling and speed made him often appear immaculate, his weak efforts in finding a mostly ineffective Wayne Rooney, seemed to render both of them down in the dumps. The rule of thumb with our new captain is becoming more and more that, if his attacks aren’t working, he drops further and further back to collect the ball and drives forward from too deep a position. Looking tired in the latter part of the second half, Rooney’s attitude was applaudable and superb to witness but ineffective nevertheless.

To be fair, there can be no doubt that United barely relinquished possession and did what often has to be done against less talented, but defensively determined opposition: they kept it simple and persevered. A few instances of bad luck didn’t help, either. Early in the second half, Di María’s free-kick found Van Persie who played in Fellaini beautifully. Yet somehow the Afro-topped Belgian’s killer shot was blocked on the line by Delaney. Then McNair rushed forward with the ball and pushed through a pass to Rooney, but the stocky Scouser blasted wide. An hour in, James McArthur, who played out of his skin throughout, miraculously managed to clear a Fellaini header that left his head like a rocket.

Finally,Van Gaal made the logical move, pulling an ineffective Januzaj for Mata. The little Spaniard may not own much natural quickness, but he can do a lot if he’s gifted with space. Thus in the 67th minute, after a nice bit of give-and-go with Fellaini and Di María, Mata beat Speroni with a 20-yarder that ricocheted off a couple of static defenders into Speroni’s net.

It was a beautifully taken, well executed, very much deserved goal. Sometimes you just have to grind them out the hard way!78855248 juanmata1 A Real Grinder!

Ivor Irwin

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