Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to go into top three spots for the first time since the start of the season, with their next fixture being against Wolves, a side that are in the top half of the table and have produced several huge results against the league’s top-six this term.
Looking at it as a whole, United created a few big chances in the first half and dominated the possession of the ball for majority of the game, but still went on to only score once throughout the whole match. Meanwhile, Wolves defended confidently in their own half and were able to use the man advantage to their extent, when Ashley Young was sent off in the 57th minute of the contest.
The Red Devils took the lead through Scott McTominay, who scored his first Premier League goal for United as his well-taken shot somehow went past Rui Patricio and into the back of the net. However, the hosts equalised and cancelled out the visitor’s lead in 12 minutes, with a tidy finish from Diogo Jota following a lack of communication from the likes of Ashley Young, David De Gea and Fred.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as Young’s red card led Solskjaer with no choice but to bring off Fred, to allow defender Phil Jones to enter the pitch in order to gain stability. Not long after that, Wolves were on their way to a comeback, as a counterattack led through the flanks ended with an unsurprising mistake from De Gea whilst Chris Smalling drifted the ball slowly into the net.
Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…
Big chances missed in the first half
United had the perfect start to the game at the Mollineux Stadium, right up until the equaliser from Diogo Jota, where they were enjoying the ball on both sides of the pitch and were progressing into the opposition’s half through the middle and the flanks. A few minutes into the game, Romelu Lukaku had the perfect chance to score from an inch-perfect cross by Diogo Dalot, which was unfortunately headed straight at the keeper.
On the other hand, Jesse Lingard also had a good cross from the left flank and opted to head the ball towards goal, which took the pace and height off the ball before it reached towards the defender and the goalkeeper. With these two big chances, United would have had a comfortable and straightforward 2-0 or 3-0 lead before Jota had scored, allowing the side to not drop momentum going into the half-time break.
The big game players in David De Gea and Paul Pogba seemed distracted
When it comes to intense fixtures like these and ones that can play a major role in finishing in the top four, one would expect the main key players in the team to lead by example and to help restore confidence and faith into the team. Though, this was not done at all by David De Gea and Paul Pogba, two individuals who were not at their best and have been below par in recent weeks whilst the rest have been lacking badly too.
For sure, both players are seen as the club’s two main assets on and off the pitch, and they may be linked with the likes of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, but they have not done enough to show why they deserved a massive contract extension. The duo may feel uninterested with the club’s lack of ambitions, but they cannot be lacking professionally at this stage of the season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a massive task from now till the end of the season
Just under a week ago, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was over the moon as he received the news that he has become Manchester United’s permanent manager for the next three years. However, he will feel the hardest part of the job will be now, as he just about beat Watford on the weekend and has now suffered a defeat to Wolves, which leaves them in fifth-place as Arsenal and Spurs have a game in hand to play very shortly.
Having a quick look at the fixtures remaining, the Red Devils have to still face the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City in the league whilst going head-to-head against Barcelona in the Champions League. With how the circumstances have changed and how quick and fast the matches are coming, it seems very unlikely that Manchester United will go on to finish in the top four of the Premier League.