Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not go blaming Gareth Southgate for this.
This one was on you, Ole.
The Manchester United boss had bizarrely suggested Southgate had been in some way culpable for Mason Greenwood’s troublesome, off-the-field spell.
The notion was as misplaced as his team selection, as risible as much of United’s passing, as easily ignored as Solskjaer’s motivational techniques clearly were.
Never mind the controversy over Crystal Palace’s second goal from a retaken penalty, Martin Atkinson harshly adjudging Victor Lindelof to have handled and VAR saying David de Gea had encroached when saving Jordan Ayew’s kick.
This was an opening performance from United that got exactly what it deserved.
Laboured, unimaginative, utterly disjointed, defensively ponderous.
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Quite what Sir Alex Ferguson, amongst the dignitaries allowed inside to watch, thought of it is anyone’s guess.
Actually, it is not. He would have been appalled.
If the first fixture of a campaign is all about making a statement, this one told United fans that their team still has a long way to go to bridge the gap to the Big Two.
Yes, they were not helped by the slightly unfathomable decisions surrounding the Palace penalty that was eventually converted by Wilfried Zaha.
But when, after substitute Donny van der Beek had given United hope, Zaha confirmed Palace victory by embarrassing Harry Maguire and Lindelof, it was no more than a slick Palace performance deserved.
Only one game, of course, but this was such a desperately poor display, you wonder if Solskjaer and Ed Woodward will now act further in the transfer market.
And Solskjaer will also have some tough decisions to make. De Gea was desperately unlucky to have his penalty save ‘disallowed’ but he will be in the spotlight these coming weeks.
United spend more on goalkeeping wages than the majority of professional clubs spend on their entire staff.
At a conservative estimate, it’s some way in excess of half a million pounds a week.
Most of that goes to De Gea, despite sprinkling his last season with some rudimentary errors.
And it took barely five minutes of United’s new campaign for De Gea to post his first rick, a pass to the feet of Palace’s James McCarthy.
It did not prove costly but set the template for the United day.
When Dean Henderson was away on England duty a little while ago, he was fairly belligerent about his position at Old Trafford.
Henderson suggested he would go back out on loan if De Gea was preferred by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But that situation, he insisted, would not come about.
Well, it did, first game up.
No doubt Henderson will get a run-out at Luton in the EFL Cup this week but he will not be retaining an England place by having the odd game at places such as Kenilworth Road. With respect.
It would be a tough call to drop a keeper such as De Gea but managing any Premier Club demands tough calls by the week, if not by the day.
Aside from that early misplaced clearance, De Gea did well and blame lay elsewhere in the build-up to the Andros Townsend opener.
During his summer break in Sweden, Lindelof chased down a thief who had stolen an old lady’s handbag.
Must have been a slow thief.
Lindelof could not catch Jeffrey Schlupp and neither Luke Shaw nor Maguire were alert enough to track Townsend, leaving him with an unchallenged finish.
Their sluggishness and sloppiness was typical of United’s performance.
Paul Pogba is the type of player who can set a tone. A talisman.
Unfortunately, the tone here was a duff one, possession gifted to the opposition time after time.
The hook midway through the second half came as no surprise.
His replacement, Van Der Beek, was tidy, finishing neatly after Zaha’s spot-kick.
But the abiding image will be of Zaha making Lindelof and Maguire look like training cones before casually but emphatically rifling another past De Gea.
Under-prepared and underwhelming, United and Soskjaer had only themselves to blame.
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