With both Chelsea and Leicester City dropping two points each in the early kick-off on Saturday afternoon, it gave Manchester United some hope as well as some wishful thinking that a potential victory over Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves would allow them to close the gap on the top four positions. However, that was not the case, as the match at Old Trafford ended in a boring stalemate.
The match was expected to be quite a slow-moving and dull fixture on both sides of the pitch, mainly because of Wolves and their pragmatic setup in a back-three system whilst United simply do not have the quality to create the key chances and also convert them. In the end, none of the sides were able to take the game by the scruff of the neck as the points were equally shared by both teams.
This was actually United’s fifth league game of 2020, as the side ended up achieving only four points out of a potential 15 ahead of the winter break, which does raise the question on if the Red Devils are good enough to push for a top four finish. Meanwhile, Wolves are on level for points with United but are just lower than them due to goal difference, as they continue their season in pure silence.
Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest league game…
Bruno Fernandes produces a bright performance on his Old Trafford debut
For sure, there was no goals or assists produced to complete his performance, but Bruno Fernandes was showing off his quality on and off the ball, as he went onto show his intelligence tactically whilst proving to be a dangerous threat going forward. Although he was playing in a much more deeper role than what he was used to in his days at Sporting Lisbon, he had clearly saw the difficulties the side had with progressing the ball with intensity and decided to take matters into his own hands.
With the likes of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba expected to return from suspension or injuries after the winter break and towards the end of the month, it would certainly allow the Portuguese international to play high up the pitch and focus on creating chances and scoring from distance, which is what he naturally specialises in. Once the midfield options come back, United will definitely be expected to control and dominates games with ease and no problems.
Lack of intelligence and movement in the attacking department lets United down
When you dominate the possession of the ball by 64%, complete 15 shots in 90 minutes, despite creating only one big chance, the ongoing issues have to be raised on the lack of attacking combinations and patterns that the Old Trafford faithful are witnessing. Sometimes, it feels like the players in the team are playing with one another for the first time, as they are unable to create or complete a progressive rhythm of passes, in order to help the side to build the play up effectively.
United’s go-to-man has been Marcus Rashford this season, someone who has the pace, dribbling ability and movement on and off the ball to cause a number of defenders massive worries, no matter if he is playing on the flanks or through the middle. However, since he has been on the sidelines, the other attackers within the squad have been unable to step up and rise to the occasion, as individuals such as Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira and Daniel James have been below par.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-game management has to improve or he will not last long
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the double substitution of Diogo Dalot and Jesse Lingard for Daniel James and Juan Mata, there were quite a bit of groans and moans around Old Trafford as well as from the Manchester United supporters on social media, purely because of the fact that it took the manager until the 88th minute of the game to make the changes and push for the win. Despite the lack of quality and depth in the squad, Solskjaer has to have a backup plan for him to rely on, and has he does not have a plan A or plan B, it is high unlikely that he will succeed at Manchester United.
Since the arrival of Solskjaer on a permanent basis, there has not been that many players that have actually improved or been taken to the next level, besides the individuals that have been promoted from the youth academy. Not only that, 25 league games into the season, the side have only been able to pick up nine wins and eight draws, as they are currently experiencing a season of a low tally of points, which has not been witnessed even under the likes of David Moyes or Louis Van Gaal.