At the start of what Mourinho described as a key run of eight league games between now and the end of 2018, United produced an insipid display against opponents who are fighting to stay out of the relegation zone. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has accused his players of not showing “enough heart” after they limped to a goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace.
“You must play with brain and also with heart and I think not enough heart,” he said. “We didn’t have that intensity that in my opinion is basically related with your brain, with your heart. There are games that are special games and not just one more, and this was a special game.
“It was the first of eight Premier League games until the end of December and a game we needed to win, and it was not enough from the heart.” United have won just three of their nine games at Old Trafford this season.
Romelu Lukaku had an attempt ruled out for offside and another kept out by Wayne Hennessey, who also produced smart saves to deny Jesse Lingard. But Palace, without a win in their previous seven league games and one point above the bottom three, created several chances to secure a first league win at Old Trafford since 1989.
Patrick van Aanholt twice went close, Andros Townsend blazed wide and a header by Cheikhou Kouyate was also disallowed for offside.
Where is United’s season heading?
United fans have had to endure some disappointments this season, and this was another day to forget for Mourinho and his players. On the eve of the game, the manager claimed United could break into the Premier League’s top four by the end of December.
They still might, but they will have to play an awful lot better than they did in this laboured performance, which left them 14 points behind leaders Manchester City after just 13 games.
Paul Pogba and Lukaku were recalled to the side, yet World Cup winner Pogba failed to finish the game and Lukaku is still searching for his first league goal since 15 September as United failed to score at home for the fourth time this campaign.
Lingard was United’s most threatening player for spells and his first-time shot from close range brought out the very best from Hennessey. Anthony Martial rarely looked like making it six goals in six Premier League games as United dropped two more points ahead of a congested eight-match December programme, which includes games against Arsenal (home) and Liverpool (away).
United have a quick chance to get over this when they host Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, Mourinho added: “If we play with the same philosophy against Young boys then we won’t win.”
Palace show they have stomach for a fight
The long wait for a Palace league victory at Old Trafford goes on. Yet Roy Hodgson and his players left Manchester with renewed vigour in their battle to stay out of the relegation zone. Hodgson has claimed this season his side have not got the results their performances have merited.
“At least we got something and on another day if fate had been kinder and we had been a bit more clinical, we could have won it,” he said. “At least I have got the satisfaction of believing the team played extremely well.”
The odds were stacked against Palace. They had lost on their past 11 league visits to Old Trafford and have not scored a league goal at the ground since 2004. However, Wilfried Zaha sparkled on his return to his former club as Hodgson’s team produced one of their best performances of the season to secure a crucial point.
Zaha’s pace caused countless problems, and if Townsend had shown more composure after creating an opening for himself in the second half, Palace would have been celebrating a famous win. They have a tough December on the horizon, including a visit to leaders Manchester City and a home game with Chelsea, but this gritty performance will give them some encouragement.
Man of the match – Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
We didn’t win one point – we lost two’ – what they said
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho:
“I’m frustrated. We didn’t win one point – we lost two. There was not even aggression and not enough intensity. “When the opponent had the ball, we didn’t press enough. They were allowed to breathe and relax.
“When you are at home and want to win the game then you don’t stop until you win it. We played the game nicely but not with enough intensity.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson:
“We have played like that the last four games against tough opponents. We have played Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.
“In each of those games we have come out thinking ‘we have played well’. I’m proud of the team’s performance. I can’t ask any more than what they gave me. “The shape, organisation and discipline of the team was as good as it has been. On the counter-attack we looked very dangerous and had some good opportunities.”
There was at least one positive for Man Utd – the stats
- This was United’s first home Premier League clean sheet of the season – they last kept one against Watford in May.
- Palace had 13 shots in this match, their most in an away Premier League game this season. However, just two were on target.
- United are unbeaten in their last 21 league meetings with Crystal Palace (W17 D4).
- Palace picked up a first point in a league game at Old Trafford since winning 2-1 in December 1989.
- This was United’s 65th 0-0 draw in the 26 seasons of the Premier League – 31% of them have come in the six seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
- United failed to score in a top-flight home meeting with Crystal Palace for the first time since October 1970.
Manchester United at back at Old Trafford on Tuesday when they look to book a place in the Champions League knockout stage when Young Boys (20:00 GMT) visit.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have a week to prepare for the visit of fellow strugglers Burnley to Selhurst Park on 1 December (15:00).