FA Cup final: Will Zaha wave off another Man United boss?
Palace winger could hold the key to the final, which is likely to be Louis van Gaal's swansong, whatever the result
Manchester United will be favourites to lift the FA Cup as they take on Crystal Palace at Wembley in a re-run of the 1990 final.
All eyes will be on United boss Louis van Gaal, who faces an uncertain future even if his side win. Defeat would surely cost him his job and anything less than a vibrant display will do little to quiet the dissent at Old Trafford.
But Crystal Palace are unlikely to roll over. Their manager, Alan Pardew, was part of the Palace team that was beaten by United in 1990 and he will be out for revenge.
So what factors will decide the final?
Van Gaal's tactics:It's not just results that have left the United faithful disgruntled this season, the style of United's football has also been a major let-down.
But there is a reason for it, says the Daily Telegraph. Van Gaal's side "builds up attacks patiently from the back, passing the ball short distances to allow the back four to move safely up the pitch and keep the team together as a unit".
That might be dull, but the inability of the forwards to break down the opposition is even more frustrating. But there are signs that things are starting to click, says the paper. "Since stumbling upon the functional front five of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard, Van Gaal's side can switch positions effortlessly, confusing defenders and creating chances in the process," it says.
The pace of Martial and Rashford will be key, adds the Daily Mail. But will it work?
Palace's tactics:The south Londoners will not be concerned about letting United have the ball. "Palace's forte is soaking up pressure and biting rapidly on the break," says The Guardian. But it means that "Pardew's side will need steel in the centre".
Weathering the early storm will be vital. "The longer the game goes on at 0-0, the more Palace will fancy their chances. They do have plenty of pace in the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon and there are definitely weaknesses in the United back line to exploit."
Their other key weapon will be set pieces. That area is a "clear weakness" for United, says the Telegraph. On the other hand, "Palace have scored plenty of goals from corners and free-kicks this season, so this could be the area where the game is won in their favour", says the Mail.
The Zaha factor:The Palace winger has a habit of seeing off Man United managers. He was Alex Ferguson's final signing in January 2013, but by the time he arrived at Old Trafford that summer, Fergie was gone.
The winger did not prosper under David Moyes, but it was not Moyes who sold him back to Palace, because he had already lost his job by the time Zaha departed.
If the former international prospers on Saturday he could be waving farewell to another United boss.
"Zaha goes into this final on the back of his most impressive campaign yet," says the Guardian. "He is ferociously quick, extravagantly skilful and increasingly aware of the supply line he must provide. He will have his own motivation against former employers."
Van Gaal's prospects:The Dutchman wants to see out the third year of his contract at Old Trafford but he appears to be clutching at straws by claiming that winning the FA Cup means more than qualifying for the Champions League, which was the minimum requirement for United this season.
The Dutchman seems to be thinking more about his CV rather than the future of United.
His fate will be announced after the match, although the Manchester Evening News suggests that the decision has already been made.
"It appears the Dutchman's failure to secure Champions League football has prompted United's hierarchy to make a managerial change this summer," it says, but picks up on reports that the Dutchman "will be offered a role upstairs to make room for Jose Mourinho".