Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the club’s hierarchy will not alter their plans for the remainder of the transfer window in light of the Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday night, per reports. The Red Devils were beaten 3-1 by the Wilfried Zaha-inspired Eagles at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side suffered a dismal start to the new campaign and were deservedly beaten despite VAR drama surrounding the penalty Zaha scored to make it 2-1.
United legend Gary Neville was particularly critical of United’s performance and warned his former club on Sky Sports that they will never win the league with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as their centre-back partnership.
Lindelof desperately struggled throughout although he was perhaps unfortunate to have conceded the penalty that the visitors scored, after a retake, to double their lead.
Maguire was better than the Swede but still struggled to contain Palace with his lack of mobility a recurring issue.
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Yet going into the Palace match, the United hierarchy had no plans to sign a new central defender before October 5, because Solskjaer also has Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi in reserve.
While Jones, Rojo and Smalling are all for sale – with Roma keen on the latter – United have struggled to agree exits for the trio and could be forced to keep them.
And despite links to Kalidou Koulibaly and Dayot Upamecano among others, The Athletic say Woodward and co still do not plan to sign another centre-half.
United do not see central defence as a priority in spite of the Palace display and remain fixed on trying to sign a winger, with Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund their top choice.
The Athletic say that United have even been offered players who could strengthen their back-line but that the Red Devils responded to make it clear they have other objectives in the market.
They could sign a left-back with Porto’s Alex Telles the subject of talks but the number of back-up options available to Solskjaer in the middle of the back four mean no fresh faces are incoming as it stands.
The Athletic add that 18-year-old Mengi is highly rated at Old Trafford having been fast-tracked to the first-team squad.
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England under-18 international Mengi is yet to make his senior debut but could do so in the Carabao Cup this week when United face Luton Town.
And Solskjaer is said to have faith in his other options in central defence too.
United’s stance however goes directly against what Neville said on Sky Sports commentary during United’s defeat to Palace.
He declared: “Well I think he’s [Zaha’s] had the beating of those two Manchester United centre-backs all day.
“He’s got them exactly where he wants them. He’s just not strong enough there Lindelof. It’s a 50-50. It’s weak!
“You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like, but until they get a centre-back in who can run and defend one-on-one, you’re never going to win a league.
“They’re not going to win the league with that centre-back pairing. They have to get a mobile, quick, dominant centre-back in alongside Lindelof or Maguire.
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“Their defending has been better since Christmas, no doubt, but you’re talking about going up a level.”
While Solskjaer post-match made it clear he felt that United are “short” as he admitted Palace “deserved the points”.
The Norwegian added: “We will improve quickly, hopefully quicker than we’ve seen today. Today was a performance that you don’t see very often from these players because these players are better than that.
“We can play so much better than today. If you look at the players we had on the pitch and on the bench and not here today, we have to look within first and look at ourselves and know we can perform better.
“But we are always looking to improve if there is something out there that is available at the right price. We always want to strengthen. But we can all look ourselves in the mirror, instead.”
Despite the defeat, summer signing Donny van de Beek’s performance off the bench was a positive as the Dutchman got on the scoresheet to make it 2-1 before Zaha’s killer blow.
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