The United View
With Manchester United heading to town, TEB had a chat with the co-founder of Stretford End Flags, Andrew Kilduff, to find out his views on the season so far and thoughts ahead of this fixture.
Q. How has the season been for United so far?
It’s been a weird season to say the least, after finishing second last season there was optimism in the summer that we could push for the league under Jose. However, as the summer panned out and Jose made it clear that the transfer window wasn’t delivering what he wanted, mainly a defender, we all knew that his disgruntlement would only go one way and he was in a permanent sulk after that.
The season started off with mixed results and some poor defeats. It looked like Jose was on his way until we pulled off a late comeback against Newcastle United and an away win at Juventus was the highlight of Jose’s season. The defeat at Anfield and the manner in the team performance including the dropping of Paul Pogba was the final straw for most fans and it came as a relief when the board acted and sacked him.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a club legend and it came as a surprise when he was appointed but it’s been a new dawn (whoever she is!) and the whole place now has a new buzz about it. The players and the fans are lifted.
The defeat to Paris Saint Germain shows we still have catching up to do in order to compete with Europe’s best and a big summer transfer window is needed. The FA Cup win away at Chelsea was a huge result and a cup run along with a top four finish could seal the job for Ole.
Q. What did you make of the game at Old Trafford earlier in the season?
The goalless draw was probably the result that done it for Jose and the fans let the team and the manager know about their feelings with boos at full time. Palace played well and had they taken their chances you could have easily won it. United had chances too, but the team set up and the substitution of Pogba showed something wasn’t right. That’s the type of game United should be winning comfortably, especially in the slump Palace were in at the time.
Q. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
The main hope is for Liverpool not to win the league! Does anyone other than the red half of Miserydive want that result? From a United point of view it has to be the FA Cup and a top four finish. It’s hard to see us scoring two in Paris and not conceding, so the Champions League looks to be over. United is all about trophies and the FA Cup still holds that magic for most United fans. A top four finish would secure Solskjaer the job.
Q. It goes without saying that replacing Jose Mourinho with OGS has been a resounding success, but should he be given a shot at the role permanently?
That’s the million dollar question and one that has a lot of sentiment involved. The difference in the team, morale, playing style and the lift the fans have had since he came in has been superb. The players seem to have bought into him and the fans have always loved him. The fear though, is what happens if it doesn’t work out long term, will it tarnish his legend status? Can he attract the players in the transfer window? Can he carry on producing results?
You can ask those questions of any manager coming in. If it wasn’t to be Ole then the only other choice would be Mauricio Pochettino. If Poch was to come in, then I’d hope he kept the likes of Michae Carrick and Kieran McKenna as coaches. The mistake David Moyes made was clearing the decks and bringing in his own people. We can’t afford to slip further back again. The board has a big call to make.
Q. Who has been the stand out United player this season?
That’s a tough one. The season has been so mixed it’s hard to pinpoint one standout. However for me it’s been Ander Herrera. He’s having a superb season, even more so since Ole came in. His energy levels are up there with the best, he covers ground other players miss. He compliments Pogba and Nemanja Matic so well. He’s not flash so often doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Certainly been his best spell at the club, although he’s always liable to pick up a silly booking.
Q. Did United do the business they needed to in the transfer window?
The summer transfer window was Jose’s downfall and rather than accepting what he had and the quality already there, he made it public he didn’t get what he wanted and that what he had wasn’t good enough. The World Cup in the summer didn’t help, but every club had that to contend with.
Diogo Dalot has looked promising, but he’s young and one to watch for the future rather than a player for now. Fred was a big signing but has rarely featured and has struggled to perform when he has.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for United to sign in the summer, who would it be and why?
United are always encouraged to attack and the Wilfried Zaha who is performing now for Palace is one player who would excite United fans. He suffered coming to United when he did and Moyes wasn’t the one to develop him (it was actually Fergie who signed him).
However, if I was to pick one player it would be Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He has looked assured and confident in the games I’ve seen him play. United need defenders and he would get games at United.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
For Palace it has to be Zaha, he’s got tricks, confidence and can beat a man. From United it’s Pogba, he’s finally living up to the hype and the price tag. He’s starting to dictate games and on his day he can run the show.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace this season?
As with United it’s been a mixed season for Palace and probably one of disappointment for most fans I’d imagine. The bottom of the table is tight and despite being 13th, it’s only three points off the bottom three. There is quality in the team and Zaha gives an attacking threat at the highest level. Andros Townsend has also weighed in with some decent performances . You wonder if Roy Hodgson offers the charisma and style to take the team to that next level. The away win at City must be one of the shocks of the season and shows what you can be capable of. That result made the draw at Old Trafford seem that bit more acceptable!
Q. Your prediction?
I’m sorry to say (I’m not really sorry!) but it’s a United win for me. 3-1 is what I will go for. We have a decent record at Selhurst and are playing with confidence now. The Matic winner last year was one of our season highlights and was great being in that away end. Ole’s not put a team out in our pink away kit so far, so the pink army will be hoping for another great away night!!!