Manchester United laboured to another draw without scoring – another draw without looking like scoring – in a dreadful performance at Selhurst Park.
Solskjaer was hoping to see his team play with a little more urgency and after a slow start, there was a strong, albeit short, period – Matic forced the Palace goalkeeper into a save, though within minutes he gave the ball away close to his own goal and was lucky that his team got off scot free.
In the 16th minute, Rashford fired wide after controlling Shaw’s smart pass well.
And that – in terms of first half excitement – was that, with both sides trying, but lacking in quality.
The second half began in similar fashion, with Rashford letting the ball squirm away from his control under no pressure. Maguire then gave away a chance with an aimless headed clearance, but Ayew’s effort went straight at Henderson. Townsend then had an effort that bounced just wide, as the hosts grew in confidence, sensing an opportunity against a flat opponent.
In fact, United were regressive throughout the half, worryingly poor – defensively unorganised, poor in control and frequently overhitting balls; the descending fog never obscuring the dismal performance for eleven players who were probably wishing it would.
McTominay and James came on – both had openings that almost came ‘too early’ for them in the game, and then Greenwood and Shaw had speculative efforts from the edge of the box. United had a lucky escape when Van Aanholt had a last-minute effort saved by Henderson, to get their third goalless draw in succession.
Two wins from eight games. Thirteen points dropped in that period. United’s players have proven themselves – once again – not good enough for the task of competing for the league title.
With each performance, question marks over Solskjaer continue to grow – because sure, they might not be good enough to win the league, but they have to be better than this.
There are ways to lose a league and there would have been some optimism in putting together a convincing run. It would have suggested that more of these players would have more to give. The closer we get to the end of the season, the less convincing a case even the better players are giving for themselves.
Perhaps Matic for Pogba would be the only change in the popular selection at the moment, save for the section of support that still believe Martial will come good in spite of the evidence of the last four years.
Solskjaer had cited, quite clearly, the requirement for better use of the ball and it seemed pointed that Matic was on the field with that in mind. Some hope.
This was as good a team as United could have fielded, so, was this a night where we now seriously entertain the discussion of Solskjaer not getting the most from this team?