Whilst only perhaps the very optimistic felt Palace were going to win at Old Trafford, there seemed to be a consensus that a point was not unattainable with United coming off the back of the Liverpool defeat.
Even for those that felt defeat was a certainty, this was one of the games that teams like Palace can class as write-offs, where getting anything from them is a bonus. Despite this, the manner of the defeat does not sit well with Palace fans.
On the whole, Palace were not at their best and some key players were found wanting. People may say United were not at their best, but given the gulf in finances and team quality this should not be as important a factor. Yet the Eagles were able to keep the home side at bay for most of the first half.
United failed to score in open play and there are many other positives for Palace to take from the 2-0 loss. Unfortunately the game was ruined by a refereeing mistake that effectively killed off Palace just before half time.
You will have undoubtedly seen how far outside the box Ashley Young was when, already booked for diving, he tumbled under a collision with KG. The problem was that as soon as the referee gave the penalty he felt under the letter of the law that a foul like that in front of goal resulted in a red card. One mistake therefore led to another.
United had the breakthrough and Palace had 10 men. Unfortunately for the official he had made two correct decisions earlier in the half by waving away United appeals for a penalty, however whether he felt he could not turn down a third no-one will know.
It has been said that even if this hadn’t happened United would have gone on to win. Possibly, but the point is that the game was decided by an external matter, the referee. Yes United can point to hitting the bar, which was really the only chance they had in the half that truly tested Speroni. But in the same breath Dwight Gayle was very close to giving the Eagles the lead. These “ifs” can be asked all day because they were part of the natural flow of play.
But the referee interjecting and making an incorrect decision is not part of the natural flow of play, and is therefore a turning point. The “ifs” and “buts” of missed chances do not add up to the “ifs” and “buts” of refereeing mistakes that have a rolling impact. Not only did Palace face a penalty, they then had to play more than a half with 10 men and will have KG serving a suspension in subsequent games.
I will not give further attention to this because it has been covered by national and local media and by many Palace fans online and through social media, and the referee is not solely to blame as Ashley Young played his part too.
The second goal was also preventable but looking at the bigger picture the score-line is not as bad as it could have been.
With Swansea up next, the hope will be that the game will be allowed to flow as Swansea are a good passing team and it could lead to an entertaining game. The support will be in full voice, as they were at Old Trafford with great pride, and the effect of this is not ignored by the players. Let’s hope for a more successful result on Sunday.
Daniel Smith - @dmsmith1987