Manchester United signed the better players to start the new season with a great spirit. But at the end of the match, they were left shell-shocked as Crystal Palace stunned them with a stunning 3-1 victory. This defeat was unexpected for the United fans because according to the hype the signings created, United were expected to become better.

Sadly, they looked pale, and even if one cancels outs the controversial VAR decision against United, the performance was heavily below average.

“Our approach will be about fine-tuning what we can do better this season,” Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wrote in his program notes ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace. “And we know what areas we’re looking to improve upon.”

Going by their performance at Old Trafford, he would be thinking, still a long way to go.

United’s passing was sloppy, their movement slow, and the defence all over the place.

Ed Woodward was used on the right, where he struggled big-time while Daniel James had to be substituted after a poor display in the first half.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who started as the right-back with Aaron Wan-Bissaka linked up with James 12 times in the first half – more than any other partnership on the pitch. However, the duo failed to make an impact and so it was no surprise to see James replaced by Mason Greenwood for the second half.

The vulnerability at the United backline was evident within just seven minutes Luke Shaw was beaten to a cross from Jeffrey Schlupp by Andros Townsend, who fired the visitors ahead with a back-post finish. Victor Lindelof was also at fault in the build-up, as he allowed Schlupp to get by him far too easily.

Then there was Paul Pogba, whose passing was not accurate, poor on possession, and making errors all over the pitch whereas the highly rated Bruno Fernandes was hugely ineffective.

The injection of Greenwood and Donny van de Beek gave United some momentum, but it is hard to put things together with a fragile defence.

The home team was unfortunate with some of the VAR decisions that went against them.

According to the law, the visitors were rightly awarded a penalty in the 74th minute, after Jordan Ayew’s shot bounced onto Lindelof’s arm, but it only further highlighted the harshness of the new rules.

The decision to order a retake of the subsequent penalty, which was saved by David de Gea, because the Spanish goalkeeper had stepped marginally off his line, was a total joke.

The net result, though, was Wilfried Zaha succeeding where Jordan Ayew had failed, leaving United were left with a mountain to climb.

Later, Zaha sealed a deserved victory for Palace by easily brushing aside Lindelof before firing low into the bottom corner of the net.

Remarkably, Zaha became the first player to have played for United in the Premier League to then score twice in a single game against Manchester United in the competition.

Manchester United started off badly and without compactness, Ole can’t even think of a better outcome in the coming days.