They have run out of goals and energy at just the wrong time.
Manchester United have now gone nearly five hours – 285 minutes – since they last scored a goal as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men lost their way in the fog at Selhurst Park.
Incredibly, United had been the Premier League’s top scorers until this week but have been overtaken by Manchester City which is the story for everyone this season.
Now, Solskjaer’s men find themselves 14 points behind City who have scored 56 goals, three more than United.
Yet even more worrying was the fact that so many players looked utterly shattered.
Marcus Rashford was dead on his feet, being bawled out by Harry Maguire for not having the energy to run back onside while Mason Greenwood lacks experience and guile.
Edinson Cavani was substituted after failing to find the net and Bruno Fernandes looks horribly jaded as they have not been able to rest him because he is so important to this team.
United are desperate for an injection of quality in attack, major reinforcements to bolster the squad because they rely far too heavily on Fernandes and others are also feeling the pace of a gruelling season.
They did not look very good in their rather dodgy looking third kit which as the black and white shirts resemble a zebra and, back in the day, Sir Alex Ferguson might have used that as an excuse.
But they have simply run out of steam and were lucky on occasions not to have lost as Palace had their moments, especially early on.
Palace striker Christian Benteke smashed a shot over the crossbar while Joel Ward’s fierce challenge on Luke Shaw left the United left back knowing he was in a game.
Eventually, United began to find some rhythm and Nemanja Matic’s shot was deflected off James McCarthy and it took a super save at full stretch from Vicente Guita to deny the visitors a lead.
Slowly, United began to control but just lacked a bit of spark or invention to make a breakthrough against Palace’s stubborn resistance.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s brilliant low, teasing cross from the right split the Palace defence and looked destined for Cavani at the back post for a simple tap-in.
But Ward made a timely and goal saving sliding interception as Palace held firm. Incredibly, United have only been ahead at half time six times in the Premier League this season and went in goalless at the break.
Rashford has played a huge amount of games and the bigger worry for Gareth Southgate will be whether he will be burnt out by the summer ahead of the Euros.
United still look very much a work in progress and, on nights like these, the biggest issue looks glaringly obvious especially with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and transfer negotiator Matt Judge watching on from the stands.
They are crying out for a top class centre forward ready to make an impact in attack and, while Cavani has been a good addition, the 34-year-old is hardly a long term solution.
Palace actually went desperately close just after the hour as Luka Milivojevic’s free kick hit the United wall and Andros Townsend fired the rebound agonisingly wide.
United keeper Dean Henderson, in for David de Gea who was missing for personal reasons, watched the ball trickle agonisingly wide.
United came on strong towards the end but even as they huffed and puffed, there was no way through.
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