Premier League legend Alan Shearer has shot down suggestions that Manchester United’s defeat to Crystal Palace can be pinned on the Red Devils’ faltering attack, with Marcus Rashford coming in for particular criticism for his performances.
United fell to their fourth defeat in seven top-flight outings, their worst-ever start to a Premier League season on Saturday, as Joachim Andersen’s stunning first-half volley was enough for Palace to pinch the points at Old Trafford.
And while Erik ten Hag’s men had 19 shots in the game only eight were on target as they failed to find an equaliser.
United were once again heavily criticised for their performance, with Rashford‘s wastefulness in front of goal an issue again, but Shearer chose to praise Palace for their defending rather than the home side’s struggles in attack.
Speaking to Radio 5 Live after the game, he said: “Manchester United were very poor in front of goal, albeit having to come up against a rock of a defence in Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson set his team up to frustrate, and Guehi and Andersen in particular were absolutely outstanding at the back.
“No way through them, defended deep and hit on the counter when they got the opportunity. A lot of talk will be about Man United, about them not creating well and playing well enough, but Palace deserve all the credit, their defensive display stopped the home side from playing.”
While Shearer insisted the focus should not be on United, Ten Hag was left frustrated by his side’s inability to break Palace down. And the Red Devils boss demanded his side step up their performance levels after a desperate start to the season.
“It’s actually quite simple. We concede only three chances over the course of the whole game, three from set-plays. Their goal, first of all, the free-kick. You have to be more controlled, it’s not necessary to make a foul there,” he said.
“Then the ball is coming into the box and it’s not good defending. And we had poor decisions in the final third. We came so often in good positions, behind or in front of their backline, we had three players there in that moment.
“We didn’t have an impact to get to their goal and so whatever, the extra pass, final pass or a shot. The quality was just not good enough in that part of the game. In the final part of the game, we didn’t play our best game.
“Of course it’s frustrating. If you are there in the positions when you want to come, in that moment, the form on the day is not there to score a goal. We were, many times, close and then you have to be clinical, concentrated and be sharp.
“Go for the goal. We have the abilities to score a goal. There were many occasions, I can’t count them, but we are in the position to put the ball where we want to be. Yes, these players can do better. We have more qualities than we showed today.”
Rashford form creating a problem for United
Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News believes Rashford’s form is becoming a major issue for United despite his outstanding efforts last season.
After analysing their 1-0 loss to Palace on Saturday, the MEN felt Rashford ‘is in danger of undoing some of the hard work the longer his wastefulness in the final third continues’.
The report adds that the England forward was ‘let down by poor decision-making in the final third and a tendency to go it alone much too often’.
The MEN also feels that while Rashford has been a ‘problem solver’, he is now giving Ten Hag ‘another problem to solve’.
United are back in action on Tuesday evening when they host Galatasaray in the Champions League.