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Manchester United and Casemiro’s slapstick defending is inexcusable

There have been an abundance of defensive glaring moments from Manchester United this season, but no goal better encapsulates their abomination of a Premier League campaign than the first of four conceded against Crystal Palace.

The extent of the ineptitude was so great that on first viewing you could be forgiven for thinking your eyes were playing tricks. But, no, really, really, it was that bad: nothing to make one of those blooper videos, but several interconnected parts of almost frightening incompetence.

Erik ten Hag has bemoaned United’s injury crisis for months, but let’s be clear from the start: this particular goal had nothing to do with injuries. Injuries did not explain Christian Eriksen’s starting position at Palace’s restart, for example.

It had nothing to do with injuries – it was a simple, inexplicable case of a highly experienced player in the completely wrong position, apparently nobody around him told him to leave 10 metres. If he did, he would have a clear view of Michael Olise. Instead, the most dangerous player on the pitch was free to slot into the huge space behind the Denmark midfielder, a hole that has become such a frequent feature of this brainless United side that it could be recorded. This was the first case of gross negligence.

The second followed almost immediately – and will leave the audience equally speechless. Casemiro is not averse to throwing himself recklessly into challenges – an oddity for a player with five Champions League titles and more than 650 career appearances for club and country to his name – but how to explain his feeble fall in the vague direction of Odysseus?

It would be nice to mark the Palace man’s game for sending off Casemiro next week, but that would be too kind to the Brazilian. He could have held his ground, but he managed to produce a piece of pure slapstick.

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