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Man United: Ten Hag had a rare howler on Joao Palhinha

Manchester United moved to within just three points of fourth place with victory over Fulham on Sunday evening, with Erik ten Hag’s men running out 2-1 winners courtesy of some late heroics from super-sub, Alejandro Garnacho.

The highly-rated 18-year-old’s stoppage-time strike helped to ultimately spare the away side’s blushes at Craven Cottage, with the Red Devils having faced a real stern test against an opposition who have made a smooth return to life in the Premier League.

The heartbeat of Marco Silva’s side – and the game’s Man of the Match – was seemingly summer signing Joao Palhinha, with the Portugal international producing a typically industrious performance from his defensive midfield berth.

If things had panned out differently, however, the 27-year-old could well have been lining up for the visitors on the day, with reports earlier this year suggesting that the club were extensively scouting the towering colossus, who has been described as being “as strong as an Ox” by Sky Sports reporter Jamie Weir.

While those reports had come prior to Ten Hag’s arrival, the Dutchman may well regret not following up on that interest, with the former Sporting CP man having showcased his talent with what was an all-round display at the weekend.

The 15-cap ace – who was signed by the Cottagers for a reported fee of just £17m – seemingly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side having notably made nine tackles in the centre of the park, with that tally the most of any player in a Premier League game this season.

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The 6 foot 3 brute also impressively won ten of his 13 ground duels and two of his three aerial duels, having also come close to getting himself on the scoresheet in spectacular fashion in the second half, only to see his audacious over-head kick attempt punched away by David De Gea.

Such a showing has been no mere anomaly, however, with Palhinha having been in standout form throughout the early months of the season, notably ranking in the top 1% for tackles made among those in his position across Europe – a record even better than that of emerging United hero Casemiro, with the Brazilian only ranking in the top 6% for that metric.

Not that there will be any regrets over the addition of the former Real Madrid man, although it may sting that the 30-year-old cost over £50m more than the Fulham maestro – at a price of £70m – proving just what a “bargain” the latter man has been, as per journalist Joe Prince-Wright.

Ten Hag hasn’t got much wrong in his time at Old Trafford thus far, yet missing out on Palhinha – who could have potentially slotted in alongside Casemiro were he to have signed – appears something of a howler, having seen the Lisbon-born ace almost lead his side to victory on Sunday.

Article title: Man United: Ten Hag had a rare howler on Joao Palhinha

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