Manchester, September 27, 2023 – For 90 minutes, Old Trafford exhaled as Manchester United put on a convincing display against Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup, securing a comfortable 3-0 victory and providing a sense of calm that has been missing from their season thus far.
Erik ten Hag’s squad showed remarkable improvement, marking the first time this season that the team has clinched back-to-back victories. The match not only featured a win but also significant debuts and comebacks.
Midfielder-turned-fullback Sofyan Amrabat made an impressive debut for Manchester United, while academy graduate Dan Gore celebrated his 19th birthday with his senior debut. The return of key players like Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial, who scored the third goal, added depth to the squad.
Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were given a well-deserved rest as Ten Hag’s side controlled the game with ease. After facing a series of crises earlier in the season, this performance provided a refreshing sense of stability.
“It was a good night, definitely,” remarked Ten Hag. “We dominated the game, we had some good attacks, control in possession, and dominated the chances and scored great goals.”
The Carabao Cup already holds a special place in Ten Hag’s heart, having won it last season, and he hopes that their strong start in the trophy defense can serve as a catalyst for a turnaround in United’s fortunes this season.
With Palace returning to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, followed by four more home games in October, Ten Hag recognizes the importance of steadying the ship and climbing the league table. Last season, United began a similar resurgence around this time, making it a crucial period for Ten Hag and his players.
While currently sitting ninth in the Premier League after six games, Ten Hag aims to get closer to the top contenders, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Brighton, and Tottenham.
“The mood is always good, but of course, when you are not winning at United, there is disappointment and frustration, but the togetherness is always there,” Ten Hag noted. “But we know we are not in the position we want to be, so we have to build up and catch and work on the process and the results.”
United’s recent win against Burnley in league play ended a three-game losing streak, but there were still moments of vulnerability. Against Palace, however, the team demonstrated control, leaving Palace manager Roy Hodgson to acknowledge, “The way the game panned out, United had complete control for long spells.”
In a twist of fate, Palace’s goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, making his debut against his former club, was forced off with an injury within the first 20 minutes, adding to Palace’s woes.
While there have been instances of United’s defense faltering this season, the match against Palace showcased a much-improved defensive performance, earning a second clean sheet in four days.
Despite the ongoing Jadon Sancho saga and injuries to key players like Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martínez, this was a night where Ten Hag could speak positively about his team’s progress, leaving the United manager with a sense of satisfaction as he looked ahead to the challenges that lie ahead.