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May 30 2020 12.21pm

Man U were bad!

March 9 2005

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park

Edward Aarons praises Palace's performance against Manchester United last Saturday and can see why United are so hated across the country.

Hours before the scheduled kick-off at Selhurst Park on Saturday, a fellow Block B season-ticket holder parked his 1.2 litre Volkswagen Polo outside the main entrance to the Selsdon Park Hotel.

When he returned minutes later, he was subjected to a volley of abuse from a coach driver who was trying desperately trying to manoeuvre his vehicle around the car so his passengers could be on their way.

It was only when another, unmistakenly ugly, face appeared at the window that he realised what was happening Ė the coach belonged to "the most popular team in the world" (TM) Manchester United and the face was that of Phil Neville, the celebrated England international with more than 50 caps to his name.

After a brief moment's impasse, the Eagles fan let the coach on its way but it was more than United's transport that was delayed on Sir Alex Ferguson's visit to Croydon. By 5 o'clock that evening, Palace's 1.2 litre team, if you believed most of the pundits at the start of the season, had all but derailed the Red Devils' title challenge with a stubborn performance that kept their survival bid alive.

Yes, the 10 men of Selhurst were able to keep the attacking talents of van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Ronaldo et al at bay to leave the much-despised United well behind Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

"It was a big performance against the best attacking side in the division," said manager Iain Dowie after the match.

"In the end they had all their big hitters out but I don't think they created a plethora of chances and I don't think we were hanging on. You don't have to question these lads because they give you their utmost."

In a world where the favourites always seem to win nowadays, it was most refreshing to see the Palace underdogs get the result their performance so richly deserved. Ten years on from Eric Cantonaís infamous attack on Matthew Simmons, the home side battled reproduced the same result as on that fateful night.

Thousands of United fans had planned to make Saturdayís game a homage to their French demi-god turned thespian but in the end, it was the Eagles who acted out a vintage performance.

Tricolores with "Eric the King" emblazoned in black print could be seen flying high at the start of the game as the visitors' vocal supporters made themselves heard, but, like their idol on that cold winterís night in January 1995, they soon became frustrated by some tenacious Palace defending.

Choruses of "USA USA" from the Palace faithful only served to heighten this feeling amongst the United supporters, while other chants referring to Malcolm Glazier also raised a smile from the home contingent.

Itís easy to see why Fergusonís side are so hated amongst fans of other clubs from the way his players conduct themselves on the field.

Obviously frustrated at their inability to break down a team struggling near the foot of the table, the familiar sight of Messrs Keane, Scholes, Giggs and young pretender Wayne Rooney hounding referee Mark Clattenburg did little to change this image and they now face an FA investigation into their conduct.

Could Saturdayís game have gone any better for us Palace fans?

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