It’s Cup Final Day and later this early evening we will see Manchester United take on Crystal Palace in a bid to win the last piece of major domestic silverware. Is this going to be Louis Van Gaal’s last game in charge? If it is does he bow out on a high and leave United with a farewell present or does his two season tenure end on a low
After missing out on the Champions League by Goal Difference, Van Gaal will look to go some way to erasing the disappointment of a 5th place finish in the league. But standing in their way is a Crystal Palace side who it’s fair to say have had their own disappointing 2016
Alan Pardew’s men will probably want to forget the second half of the season, a spell that only saw them record two wins since the turn of the year and not one of them came on the road. It’s lucky they managed to get those wins against Norwich and Stoke or they could have been looking at life in The Championship in August
But for now that run is forgotten about and the focus is solely on matters at Wembley. They didn’t really prepare for it in the best way last Sunday after a 4-1 defeat away at Southampton but then again with a Cup Final on the horizon the result will come as no real surprise
It’s a repeat of the 1990 final, one that Alan Pardew played in both games what with it having to go to a replay after the sensational 3-3 draw first time around. Pardew eventually ended up on the losing side and will be no doubt looking to exact some revenge later Today
As for United the column inches have been dominated by whether or not Louis Van Gaal will be in charge next season. The fact they finished outside the Champions League places certainly won’t have helped his chances especially with Jose Mourinho constantly lurking in the shadows
After the farce which was the fake bomb delayed their game against Bournemouth by 48 hours they ended up strolling to a 3-1 win. Although it did take 43 minutes for them to get going, once in front they never looked back but barring a mathematical miracle they already knew their fate had consigned them to Thursday night European action next season
In that game Wayne Rooney played in a Midfield role and was at the heart of everything that United created that night. It will be interesting to see whether he is deployed there against Palace and also whether this is the start of him moving further down the pitch full time for United
That may be because of the man of the moment Marcus Rashford. He has topped a fantastic season, no sorry make that two months with a call up to the 26 man provisional England squad. If he can impress Tonight then the clamour for him to get on the plane will be even greater
For Palace, the key men will no doubt be the wide duo of Yannick Bolasie and Wilifried Zaha. Zaha will have an extra impetus as he goes up against his former club in a move which promised so much but delivered so very little
West Ham fans will be watching with interest as a United win will mean they will also be playing in the Europa League next season. So they’ll be no cross city support from The Hammers to The Eagles that is for sure
A Palace win would erase the memories of the poor league form since Christmas and would arguably paper over the cracks. That said with Alan Pardew set to sign a new contract very soon, it seems as if Chairman Steve Parrish is happy with the job done and will now look to gain a place in the Europa League and more importantly a first ever F.A. Cup trophy
United will go into the game as favourites but in a final anything can happen. Palace aren’t here by accident and they will have the belief that they can go on and win this. I reckon it will be an entertaining encounter with both teams scoring but I have United winning it in 90 minutes.
Enjoy your Cup Final Day!
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