The FA Cup final is not simply a grandiose one-off event but a symbolic full-stop to a season. If the players below don’t put in a performance this Saturday they can expect no further sentences to follow at their respective clubs.
Following a flat, abject season it’s inevitable that Manchester United will come out flexing their financial muscles in the transfer market and unceremoniously discard the under-performers who have failed to make any meaningful impact. Despite penning a new contract last summer Young will surely be one of the names on the outgoing list having once again seen his season disrupted by injury and offering little of note when fit.
In recent years his versatility has been viewed as a positive but if he’s not effective in any of the numerous positions you have to question what his worth is.
Having grabbed a few minutes under his belt against Bournemouth the feeling is Young will be one of the substitutes at Wembley. To secure an immediate future at the club he needs to come on and influence the game.
The world and his dog can clearly see that Juan Mata is United’s best number 10 while Lingard is more effective out wide. The world and his dog isn’t Louis van Gaal.
It would be a shame then if the academy graduate is moved on this summer after persistently disappointing in a role he’s not best suited for but his uploading of the coach attack video to social media probably wasn’t the wisest move either.
After a decade of distinguished service at Old Trafford all the signs point to Saturday being Carrick’s swansong with a number of clubs looking to afford Carrick one last pasture on which to stroke his sideways passes.
Last week’s rearranged fixture with Bournemouth saw the 34 year old proudly walk out with his daughters as mascots and – most tellingly of all – attempt a thunder-bluster of a 30 yarder, an act of showboatery not in his usual repertoire.
So he’s going then? Perhaps, but if his future does remain cloudy at present a controlling performance against Palace will do his cause no harm nonetheless.
Set to start ahead of James McArthur to better combat Fellaini’s aerial threat the Palace captain is loved by fans for his whole-hearted approach to every minute on the pitch. Sadly 2015/16 has been a tale of injuries and poor form and with the club having serious money to spend this summer we may see Alan Pardew look to partner Cabaye in the middle with a player blessed with craft to go with the graft.
The Australian would leave south London with his name set in legend.
The most natural finisher Palace possess but with Pardew evidently believing Conor Wickham is the bee’s knees and favouring just the one up front it’s left the Walthamstow born 25 year old with limited game time and a constant need to prove himself.
The latter trait is hardly a negative in all fairness and also derives from a career trajectory that’s seen him mirror Ian Wright in blossoming late after starting out at the foothills of the football pyramid.
When Wright bagged two in the 1990 cup final against United it ultimately led to a goal-laden reign at Arsenal. For Gayle you suspect even a similar impact on Saturday will lead to a move down if Palace upgrade on their striking stable.