Match Review: The 'hot and cold' of Manchester United vs Wolves
Manchester United and Wolves, both teams went into the match with three consecutive wins under the belt. The Old Trafford class was expected to be a tight affair but it turned out be a lot closer than the Red Devils’ supporters wanted.
The day started with a heartfelt welcome for the former boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s making a comeback after his summer surgery. The emotional out-pour and the crest of the recent away wins seemed perfectly setup to script another romantic triumph, dedicated to the grand old man of Old Trafford.
Alas! It was not to be as Wolves played the party-pooper role impeccably. They may even consider themselves unfortunate to come out of the game with just a solitary point.
The Wolves side, as Mourinho later commented as well, played the game at full tilt. They harried United in possession and displayed composure and panache with the ball. The front three of Jimenez, Jota and Costa ran the United backline into circles. The late substitute Adama Traore tore apart the same raggedy defence and only needed few minutes on the clock to pin the hosts on the mat. The left back Johny Castro had a blinder and the likes of Neves, Doherty, Boly, Bennett and Cody were all rock-solid in putting an impenetrable screen in front of the keeper Rui Patricio. The goal scorer Joao Moutinho capped off an imperious display with a piledriver into De Gea’s goal.
Post match, Mourinho was effusive about Wolves’ attitude but lamented his own team’s lack of it. What comes as a real downer for the Reds of Manchester is the fact that Manchester City and Liverpool had a resounding demolition job in their respective matches. This is a constant reminder of where the Premier League supremacy resides now and the ever-spreading chasm between United and its two arch-adversaries.
Here is how the Manchester United players performed individually:
David de Gea
Started off in a customary bullish mood with quick saves to prevent Wolves taking a deserved lead. The flying Spaniard was sentient throughout 90 minutes against the visitors’ veritable threat on the counter attack. He had a personal duel with Traore in the end as the latter tried to chance his way to a winner for the visitors.
Showed every bit of his age. Valencia was atrocious in attack with hardly a cross missing the first defender. Defensively, he had a nightmare against the likes of Jota and Johny on the left flank. A display unworthy of a United captain let alone the first choice right back. In his defence, Lingard had an equally terrible match in front of him.
He had a good game and kept Jimenez and company in check for most parts. He seemed to regain his best form and his partnership with Lindeloff is looking more assured with every match.
However, his distribution from the back stills leaves a lot to be desired.
He had troubles dealing with Jimenez and Jota in Wolves’ attack. He struggles in physical actions of the game and was bullied by Jimenez on a few occasions. He is a good passer but still does not seem overly comfortable in the hustle and bustle of Premier League.
This was probably Luke’s most unimpressive display of the season. Blunt and unimaginative in attack he was given a tour of Old Trafford by Costa all throughout the match. He was guilty of losing his man in the build up to the visitors’ goal as.
Inconsistency is performances are holding Shaw from cementing his place in the first XI with Ashley Young showing no signs of letting up his pursuit to reclaim a starting berth.
Notwithstanding all of that, with the likes of Sanchez and Martial in front of him, he may have two good excuses for this particular bad performance.
Coming into replace suspended Nemanja Maic, Fred had an impressive first half. He got his first United goal and looked bright in the first 45 minutes without being spectacular. He came close to a second at the closing edge of the first half when his free kick was acrobatically saved by Rui Patricio in Wolves’ goal.
He got the hook early in the second half as United struggled to wrest the control off of Wolves’ midfield.
He was United’s man of the match. Played a sumptuous first time pass to Fred for the opener. He was bright in the first half and dominant in the second. Probably, the only outfield player to cover himself in any grace, he still has frustrating moments of dallying on the ball and losing possession cheaply.
Pogba needs the cover of Matic and Fellaini and with one missing in this match, he could not get a grip of the midfield maze of Wolves.
He was excellent in early exchanges snuffing out fires in the United defence. He had to be sharp as Valencia was having a nightmare in defence.
He was moved up in the second half as United chased a winner and should have had a penalty when he was pulled back by Bennett. He was not able to have the same impact aerially as he normally does and missed an easy chance in the second half to give United the lead.
He seems to be torpedoing into mediocrity and fast. Played on the right wing, he lacked imagination and control to have any impact on the game. He was lazy in tracking back as Valencia needed more cover and was wasteful in possession.
The fact that he was replaced by the slowest winger in United’s history, Juan Mata is enough an indictment for the young Englishman.
The second season is becoming an ordeal for the Chilean. Unable to show any quality form open play or set pieces he was particularly lagging in his defensive duties on Saturday. He and Shaw were not on the same page both in attack and in retreat.
Time and patience are running out for Sanchez who was never what United needed in the first place. He continues to keep the likes of Martial outside the starting XI and keeps on piling on more frustrations for the onlookers in the bleachers.
He was terrible in every aspect possible for a striker. He could not win a header of his life depended on it. He looked leggy and lethargic in his movement. His close control and hold up play are not his strengths and he demonstrated that patently in this match.
He was saved some grace by an offside flag as he continued his infamous streak of missing some real sitters. He must tighten his act otherwise United might need to rethink their insistence on his talents.
Failed to have any impact in attack and was usually lacking in tracking back.
Must have been bemused by the travails if Sanchez in the first half but did not do much better when he replace him in the second. He might need a consistent run in the team to get back to his slaloming best.
Had an impressive cameo and looked like the only player save Pogba who could a make a difference for United. He needs to work on his free kicks if he is to dislodge the likes of Pogba in that department. He may get more game time in the upcoming Carabao Cup’s clash with Derby on the basis of this short audition.