Manchester United continued their charge towards Champions League football next season with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Bruno Fernandes netted from the penalty spot, with Marcus Rashford scoring in the second half to give the Red Devils all three points on a day when Casemiro also received a red card. Express Sport now takes a look at four things we learned from the contest at Old Trafford.
Fernandes must be captain
Harry Maguire is still United’s captain on paper, despite the England international falling down Erik ten Hag’s pecking order since the beginning of the season.
But make no mistake about it, Bruno Fernandes warrants the armband on a permanent basis.
Fernandes was outstanding when he first joined United and, in the months since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, the Portugal international hasn’t looked back.
He took his goal from the penalty spot well, easily putting the ball into the bottom corner. He also pressed well throughout and was, once again, the beating heart of this United side.
Fernandes is still prone to the odd mistake in possession but, after a tough period, he’s now clearly back to his devastating best.
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Wan-Bissaka a serious rival for Dalot
Many were expecting Aaron Wan-Bissaka to leave United back in the January transfer window, having fallen behind Diogo Dalot in Ten Hag’s pecking order.
But the 24-year-old is now clearly a rival for Dalot at right-back after yet another fine display.
The former Palace star was at his composed and combative best, throwing himself into tackles and also getting forward far more than he’s done before.
United, in the end, opted against selling Wan-Bissaka last month.
And that decision has paid off, with the defender getting better and better – saving the club millions in the process.
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United can now go for it
United are a team playing with confidence and it shows, with Ten Hag’s remarkable turnaround continuing on Saturday afternoon.
Now, the onus will be on the players to maintain this consistency.
United’s 3-2 defeat to Arsenal last month dented their title hopes but the Red Devils are still in with a shout, even if it’s unlikely.
With the Gunners losing to Everton, that gives the Red Devils a boost.
Whether they can mount a late challenge for a prize they’ve gone without every year since 2013 remains to be seen, yet the signs are undeniably positive.
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What next for United?
The games are coming thick and fast for United as they look to win all four competitions they’re competing in.
Next up is a match against Leeds at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
And United will be hoping for a repeat of their stirring 5-1 win over the same opponents on the opening day of last season.
Then, on Sunday, they face off against Leeds again.
That game will be at Elland Road. The Red Devils won 4-2 last term, in one of their only positive performances under Ralf Rangnick.