Crystal Palace - Manchester United: View from the opposition as Palace hunt for first major honour

VAVEL UK editors discuss Saturday's FA Cup final, with Danial Kennedy offering the Red Devils' view to Crystal Palace writer, Sam Smith.

Crystal Palace - Manchester United: View from the opposition as Palace hunt for first major honour
Juan Mata scores against Palace in 2015 | Photo: Getty images

Crystal Palace are just a Wembley victory against English giants, Manchester United, away from lifting English football’s most prestigious trophy – The FA Cup.

The Eagles can win the first major honour of their 111-year history with a win against an under-achieving Red Devils side, having progressed to the final stage of the competition thanks to a 2-1 win against Watford last month.

Manager, Alan Pardew, was playing for Palace the last time they reached the final – coincidentally also against United – and will make sure his players go one better than the side of 1990, which lost in a replay following a pulsating 3-3 draw in the original tie.

Louis van Gaal’s side have vast experience of finals, particularly the FA Cup – but they have not won the competition since 2004, having tasted success eleven times in total.

To gauge the opinion of the opposition, VAVEL UK editor and Palace fan, Sam Smith, invited fellow editor, and Manchester United fan, Danial Kennedy to answer some questions prior to Saturday’s showdown.

Give us a brief run-through of United’s season. Your thoughts, who’s played well and who’s under-performed?

In all honesty it has been another season of disappointment from United. Despite having another shopping spree last summer we have managed to go backwards under van Gaal and even a win on Saturday will be a little glimmer in a generally dingy season.

Once again, a number of players have underperformed with the likes of Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney all having a poor season for their individual reasons.

One of the few positives we can take from this season, and van Gaal’s tenure, will be bringing the youth players through, with Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all having great potential - while the likes of Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and David De Gea are all worthy of a mention.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have stood out for United | Photo:
Marcus Rashford (centre) and Anthony Martial (right) have stood out for United this season | Photo:

We've seen a range of different systems used by van Gaal since he arrived at Old Trafford in 2014. How can we expect United to set up on the day?

United’s attacking identity is pretty much dead in the water since van Gaal’s arrival so I can only hope he can somehow revert the side back to the United of old at Wembley.

I feel that he will stick to a very similar side that he has for the past few matches which has worked to some extent, with Rooney’s ‘quarterback’ role paying off as we saw in the 3-1 win over AFC Bournemouth earlier in the week. 

Martial will start out wide which I continue to disagree with but continues to impress with Rashford starting up top which could prove deadly for the Palace defence.

What have you made of Palace this season?

I feel like Palace have had a generally disappointing season considering the signings they made and their fantastic start to the season.

It always seems to be a trait in Pardew’s managerial career as his Palace were touted for a very high finish as early as January but a horrific run of 14 league matches without a win saw them freefall and faced relegation for a short period, but managed just finish five points over relegated Newcastle United.

The FA Cup has been their saving grace and all the wrongs of their disastrous league campaign could be wiped away with a victory on Saturday.

The general Palace consensus is that the game will be won out wide. Martial - Ward worries us but we know we have our own threat in Bolasie and Zaha. Where do United fans stand with this?

I feel that I agree with that consensus as such quality out wide is likely to have a serious effect on the eventual outcome of the result.

I feel that Martial will be a concern for Ward just with his sheer pace and trickery but, as a United fan, I am equally as wary of both Bolasie and Zaha.

I was disappointed to see Zaha leave United as he has so much potential but I feel like the move came too early in his development and has shown what he can do since he re-signed at Selhurst Park.

Bolasie is just as much of a threat with some spectacular trickery and pace. I feel that with Antonio Valencia on one side of defence we should be okay with handling the two but if there is a possibility of Rojo being being put out wide he could easily pose a massive problem.

Finally, what’s your prediction?

Personally I think it will turn out to be good rematch between these two from the 1990 final, but I feel that United will have enough on the day so I will go 2-0 United.

Once again, we thank Danial for his time in answering our questions and may the best team lift the cup.