Manchester United took a potentially decisive step towards reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League after a late Wayne Rooney goal secured a precious 1-0 win against CSKA Moscow.
United looked more enterprising than they had done at any stage against Middlesbrough and Palace but remained too prone to spell of sterile possession, while fans vented their frustrations again as Louis Van Gaal replaced Anthony Martial with Marouane Fellaini.
Here are five talking points from last night.
Former Manchester United midfielder Andrei Kanchelskis has dismissed Louis Van Gaal’s tactics as “disgusting”, accusing the Dutchman of forcing his players to play like robots.
United have failed to score in their last three consecutive games and Kanchelskis, who watched United’s 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow two weeks ago, was extremely critical of his former side.
Louis Van Gaal has yet again come out in defence of Wayne Rooney, claiming the Manchester United captain should not simply be judged on his contribution in front of goal.
Rooney has scored just two Premier League goal this season so far and has come under intense scrutiny for a series of disappointing performances, which have seen fans calling for him to be dropped. Van Gaal, however, insisted the 30-year-old was being unfairly criticised.
Strongest XI: Man United vs CSKA Moscow
There is no denying that Manchester United have a problem right now and although Louis van Gaal doesn’t seem to accept it, fans are well aware how much Wayne Rooney‘s presence is hindering the team.
It’s more the indirect presence of him than his performances themselves because of how it displaces Anthony Martial’s position. The Frenchman scored three goals up front for Man United but has since gone a few games without finding the back of the net because he is now stuck out on the left wing.
Seemingly, the only way for Martial to go back in as the No.9 is without Rooney. For some reason, van Gaal doesn’t even want to play United’s captain in the No.10 role – technically, that could see both play but if we are to have one isolated striker then that has to be Martial.
Rooney up front is not the sole cause of United’s problem right now but one game without him and Martial leading the attack is exactly what everybody wants to see.
Patrice Evra has claimed Sir Alex Ferguson was absolutely certain Cristiano Ronaldo would return in the summer of 2013.
Ferguson announced his retirement soon after United clinched their 20th title in April 2013 and was replaced by David Moyes, who only lasted nine months in the job before being sacked in April 2014, with United languishing in seventh.
Manchester United slipped four points behind the league leaders on Saturday, as they produced another mind-numbingly performance against Crystal Palace, which exposed all their attacking limits.
It was the third consecutive game in which United have failed to score and they could consider themselves lucky not to have lost the game, given Palace tested David De Gea in more than one occasion.
Here’s five talking points from Saturday
There is a lot 36 pounds can buy you. Half a tank of fuel, ten pints and most of Kerry Katona. It could also get you a seat at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. Though it seems strange that an establishment would charge such a sum of money rather than just spooning your eyeballs out with an ice cream scoop for free.
The display against Middlesborough midweek was atrocious, with or without lasers.
Wayne Rooney has been awarded a testimonial by Manchester United, to be held next summer, and it has fuelled rumours that the United captain is coming to the end of his United career.
Testimonials are usually given to players at the end of their career and the money raised gave some security to footballers at a time when they could earn more in an everyday job. These days the money is given to charity and Rooney will be donating to children’s charities via his Wayne Rooney Foundation.