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Hangeland On Form and Manchester United

29 October 2015


It's been a difficult few weeks for Palace, having started the Premier League season so brightly. Back-to-back defeats at home to West Ham United and away to Leicester City were followed up by a Capital One Cup trip to Manchester City, which the Eagles lost 5-1.

Despite the poor run, the club remain seventh in the league and defender Brede Hangeland has stressed the need to get a win in the bag sooner rather than later, in order to preserve morale and re-establish some momentum.

"Overall I think we've had a decent start to the season, but the last couple of weeks certainly haven't been good," he said. "We need to try to rectify that as soon as possible and we're working hard to do that.

"I don't think there's anything particular that's caused it. We've played some good teams and things haven't really gone well for us, so we need to keep working hard - like we always do - and we're just desperate for another chance to put things right on Saturday."

Manchester United are the visitors at Selhurst Park on Saturday, but it was their neighbours City that Palace faced most recently, losing 5-1 on Wednesday night at the Etihad.

"It's a bad scoreline," admitted Hangeland. "But having said that, we had the chances and it could have been a different game. It doesn't look good, but all we can do now is put that behind us and look forward to the next one."

The Norwegian defender insists that morale is still high amongst the squad, with the team spirit often being mentioned by Palace players as being particularly unique.

"It's still very much a happy camp. We work hard and no one likes to lose - that's certainly the case with this bunch here," he said. ""e're really keen to put things right as soon as possible and to get some points.

"The league gets more and more competitive every year and on any matchday you can win or you can lose, it's more down to what happens on the day I think. It makes for good entertainment. Unfortunately for us we've lost a little bit of momentum, so we need to try to get a win as soon as possible."

Palace have certainly felt the pain of the Premier League's unpredictability recently and have only drawn once during Alan Pardew's time in charge. Asked whether the gaffer's style lends itself to win-or-lose results, rather than draws, Hangeland said: "Football is a balancing act, isn't it? The more people you commit forward, the fewer people you're going to have at the back. We can all count to eleven and add the numbers up. 

"Overall I think it's worked very well for us, but the story does seem to be either losses or wins. Maybe more consistency would be good for us.

"I think it's about that balance. When we attack we need to commit players forward, but we need to make sure there's a solid base as well. Alan Pardew's a very good manager and he knows all about this, so I'll leave the tactics to him and we'll try to do as we're told!"

Fluctuating fortunes aside, Hangeland believes that the expectations of he and his teammates have remained the same, even if media predictions on the Eagles' season differ from one week to the next.

"They will differ. That changes every week depending on whether you win or lose," he said. "When you're on the inside of the game, you know that it's a different story. Every game is a tough battle and we certainly don't expect to be in the first or second spot at the end of the season, but we're going to fight as hard as we can to try to get as high as possible. I think we have a good squad, but so does everyone else - it's a tough fight."

The next side in for a tough fight is Louis van Gaal's Red Devils, who visit SE25 on Saturday afternoon. Hangeland predicts the fixture will be difficult, but Palace always stand a chance of winnign when playing to their strengths.

"They're a top club, as always, and are very hard to face," he said of United. "They've got loads of good places and they keep the ball really well, so it's another tough test for us. But it'll be tough for them as well to come to Selhurst Park.

"They keep the ball more than almost any other team in the league and that can be frustrating if you're defending against them and not seeing much of the ball, but if you break on them you can be dangerous. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

"They've always got world class players in every position. That's something that you have to expect in the Premier League these days, especially when you're against the top teams.

"I think it's going to be a massive occasion. The fans will be right up for it, we're obviously fired up and we'll be trying to get the win that we desperately need. In this league, on a good day, you can beat any team and we need to keep that in mind, have a good go and see what happens."

The United of 2015 is a very different beast to the team that ran riot in the English top flight under Sir Alex Ferguson, but the still pose a threat - which Hangeland knows.

"I've played in the Premier League for many years and they've obviously changed their style quite a bit since back in 2008 when I first played against them," he said. "They're always going to be a massive club, a top team, but it will be a new experience to play against them with the changes that they've undergone."

But how does this United side compare to that team? "Ask me at 5pm on Saturday," he laughed.

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