Crystal Palace must be wary of underestimating Wayne Rooney at Selhurst Park on Saturday, according to manager Alan Pardew.
Rooney has been subject to heavy criticism for his form so far this season, and a missed penalty in the League Cup shootout defeat to Middlesbrough this week has prompted further scrutiny of his contribution to Louis van Gaal’s side.
Pardew, however, expects Rooney to silence his critics sooner rather than later and has warned his players to keep a watchful eye on the England captain.
“Rooney has proved many, many times that when he gets criticism he can deliver. We’ll be on our guard, because he’s a very good player,” he said.
United great Paul Scholes has accused Van Gaal of failing Rooney with his tactical approach but Pardew refused to criticise his opposite number.
“I’m not an expert on Man United and Scholes will have seen more games than I. I’m sure they have enough quality to win things,” he said.
“They’ve not scored in two games and they’ll be looking to put that right against us. More often than not they win and that’s why they’re up the top of the league. We respect what they do.”
Pardew is keen for the Palace supporters to stay behind their side during United’s spells of possession in order to help keep their concentration levels high – especially against the runs of Anthony Martial.
“Possession is key for United. They have a thrust in Martial that is much needed in that team. We’ll have to keep an eye on him,” he said.
“They average 59 per cent possession. So we have to be patient and so do our fans. We’ll need to wait for our chance.
“United aren’t getting as many shots off as they normally do, but defensively they’re always in a good shape.
“They have long spells of possession that could threaten to drive the atmosphere into a lull, but we need to keep the fans singing along.
“It’s going to be important for our fans to stay with us.”
Palace striker Patrick Bamford has described his spell with the club as “one of the most frustrating periods of my career” as he continues to struggle for first-team football under Pardew.
But the former Newcastle United boss is happy with the way that the Chelsea loanee has worked hard in an attempt to force his way into the side.
“He is a possible England player at some stage, but he has got some learning to do,” Pardew added.
“I’ve told him he has to work hard and he has been. I’m very pleased with his application. He’s got mentally and physically stronger.
“He just has to add a bit more to his game, as a young player. We’re a tough team to break into.”