Five Things We Learned – United vs. Crystal Palace
4) Despite the talent, Pogba and Morrison are not ready yet
Both these starlets have been tipped for big things at United regularly this season, with many fans calling for them to be given spells in the first team. Both showed flashes of their potential as substitutes against Palace but ultimately one must admit that throwing them in at the deep end in the Premier League could well prove a mistake. United brightened up with the introduction of Morrison, but for much of the game one could tell he did not know how to impose himself on the game, taking a cautious approach without trying to be too ambitious. This is not a criticism, one would expect it on such a big stage given his lack of experience and gives more weight to the belief that he must be introduced to first team football slowly rather than simply thrust into the demands of the Premier League. The same goes for Pogba, who showed his attributes as a strong midfielder, putting in good tackles and generally making himself a defensive presence after he replaced Rafael. However, like Morrison, he struggled to impose himself like many seemed to believe he would and clearly needs time to be brought into the senior side. Fryers, Morrison and Pogba – the three that were given game time on Wednesday night – certainly have bright futures ahead of them, assuming speculation regarding Pogba’s stay at United is resolved, but the theory that they should be starting games now is somewhat short-sighted.
5) Squad selection backfired
Although the starting line up should have been experienced enough to put up a decent performance against lower league opposition, it was clearly an error not to have some more experienced reinforcements just in case proceedings did not go as expected. The likes of Rooney, Nani or Giggs could have been given bench places in case they were needed be it due to injury or poor performance. WIth Berbatov and both of the Da Silva twins going off injured, it left placements somewhat unusual such as Park moving to right back and with no established players to take places. As well as this the idea of having Macheda and Diouf out wide showed little success and the midfield generally struggling to control the game, particularly early on. Finally, the injury prone nature of the Da Silvs twins is a concern with both limping off during Wednesday night’s game. In all, a disappointing night for United, a joyous one for Palace. Their fans can be proud of a side that worked hard and put in a strong performance on a night they deserved to progress against their Premier League opposition. For Sir Alex Ferguson, plenty to mull over on his side’s weaknesses.