In Pardew’s view, it was clear where United’s main threat comes from these days.
And it is not from Wayne Rooney who once again laboured at the head of the attack as Van Gaal’s side reinforced the view that they are a side sorely lacking in ideas and ambition.
Tasked with nullifying United, Pardew opted to focus on Anthony Martial, identifying the 19-year-old as the key to United’s attack.
As the Crystal Palace manager pointed out, that is a high compliment for a youngster still finding his feet in the Premier League.
It was also a damning verdict on Rooney’s current form, an issue that cannot be ignored as Van Gaal attempts to inject some life into his side’s currently stalled campaign and in particular, ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League meeting with CSKA Moscow.
The manager opted to use Martial on the left at Selhurst Park with Rooney in the lone striker role, only switching the pair late on in a bid to freshen up his side’s pedestrian attacks.
By then, though, Palace had done the job Pardew set out for them. And the simple plan had undeniably worked.
“We didn’t give Martial an inch today. An inch,” said the manager. “It was a big target for us to stop him and we felt if we could stop him, we could stop their creative angle. And when you take into account his age, that’s some recommendation, by the way. I have to say he is an impressive young player. I think he handled himself very well today because he would have felt our presence around him and still he had moments in the game. The Man United manager will have to be very, very careful I think to keep his exuberance there because we were looking to stop him today, I make no bones about that.”
By contrast, Pardew’s comments about Rooney sounded almost sympathetic.
“In defence of Wayne, I didn’t really think he got a lot of good possession,” he added.
“I didn’t think he got a lot of chances to create anything. We bossed the second half, he didn’t really see a lot of the ball, and in the first half they didn’t really get a lot of crosses in so it was difficult for him to have an influence on the game.”
That echoed the views of Paul Scholes, the former United player, who last week condemned the lack of service to Rooney and criticised the side’s approach. Yohan Cabaye, the Palace midfielder, certainly noticed a difference in his first meeting with United since his return to the Premier League from Paris Saint Germain.
“It is different playing against them. I remember when I played against them for Newcastle they could score at every moment in a game,” said the France international.
“Here they did not have the big chances to score. Rooney had a free-kick in the first half and that was about it. Yes they are a big club and yes they can keep the ball. Passes, passes, passes. But if you work hard against them and stay in a good shape they can’t do anything to pass through you or be adventurous.”
Had Cabaye made more of a second-half chance, the best of a number of opportunities created by Palace, Van Gaal’s side would be facing CSKA on the back of a defeat. As it is, they can at least resume their bid to get out of a congested Group B at least secure in the knowledge that they are hard to beat.
Palace’s performance was much improved on their recent displays but like Van Gaal, Pardew is also attempting to coax goals from his recognised forwards, none of whom have managed a league goal this season.
“It is something that worries me, because you want your number nine to be off and flying,” he said. “And we haven’t got a goal from a number nine yet.
“So that is a negative to come out of the season for us. But we have Connor Wickham knocking on the door and we have Marouane Chamakh to come back. We have really missed Chamakh’s creative ability, so to have 16 points at this stage without him is a real bonus.”
Hennessey 6; Kelly 6, Dann 7, Delaney 7, Ward 7; McArthur 7, Cabaye 9 (Jedinak 79); Zaha 8, Puncheon 7, Bolasie 7; Gayle 6.
Speroni, Hangeland, Bamford, Lee, Sako, Ledley. Booked: Kelly, Cabaye, Gayle.
De Gea 8; Darmian 4 (Young 66, 6), Smalling 7, Blind 6, Rojo 6; Schneiderlin 7, Schweinsteiger 6 (Fellaini 68,6); Mata 6 (Lingard 78), Hererra 5, Martial 7; Rooney 5.
Romero, Carrick, Tuanzebe, Perreira. Booked: Rojo, Smalling, Darmian.
M Jones (Chester).