Wolves beat Manchester United on January 3rd 1-0 in the Premier League. This was Ralf Ragnick’s first loss as the United boss and Wolves first victory at Old Trafford since the 1980’s. The match was an utter embarrassment from a United perspective. Many questions have been asked of both the United manager and his players in the aftermath.
The performance just simply wasn’t good enough. We saw no signs of the Ralf Ragnick style being implemented. United’s players looked lethargic and disinterested. In the days following the match, leaks of unrest in the United squad have emerged. Questions have been asked of Ralf Ragnick’s ability to lead this squad. This was a hard recap to write for me as a United supporter, but the American Red Devils never sleep and it’s time to just face the music.
Wolves 1 United 0
This was far from the typical Premier League upset. Usually when United is upset at home, they at least controlled a majority of the possession and had a fair amount of chances. More often than not, when United lose at home, I’ve been able to find ways in which the result could’ve easily gone our way. But, this time, there is noting to fall back on. United was simply outclassed at home to a mid table Wolves side.
United did win the possession battle in the end, but only 51-49 so essentially meaningless. Wolves had 10 more shots (19) than United and 6 shots on target compared to United’s 2. Wolves also had 5 more corner kicks and Jose Sa’ only had to make 2 saves compared to De Gea’s 5. This game was an absolute shocker, an utter embarrassment, and a shambolic display. There really isn’t much more to be said. United did keep it tight, but Wolves broke through with a Joao Moutinho goal in the 82′. Moutinho faced no pressure in his attempt on goal. Something needs to be done with United’s defensive prowess and the drive of the squad to press more closely on the opposition.
Ragnick did make the switch from a back 4 in the first half to a back 3 in the second half. This did tighten up the defense a bit, but still was not enough. The only bright spot from this match was the performance of Phil Jones after being out of the squad for 2 years now due to persistent injury.
Same old Same old
This display remined many of performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, especially at the end of his reign. It’s clear that Ragnick is a better coach and more gifted footballing mind than the Norwegian, but nothing has changed as of yet. Ralf Ragnick said after the match:
“We didn’t play well at all individually or collectively. I the first half, we had big problems to keep them away from our goal… we didn’t press at all. We tried but we were not able to get into those pressing situations. They had an overload in midfield and they played via their wing-backs.”
Ragnick went on to say that Wolves were “better than us” and made note of the lack of adequate time he’s had to train with the squad.
Bruno Large, the Wolve’s manager said, “We controlled everything. We only let them create one opportunity”. Large also went onto note that the key to their success was just monitoring United’s wingbacks. Whatever Shaw or Wan-Bissaka were doing dictated how Wolves would play.
It’s clear many things have to change if United are to make a run for top 4. Now is the time for the United players to begin looking themselves in the mirror rather than blaming managers and looking to others. The core of this squad has been underperforming for almost a decade now. Things need to change. Ralf Ragnick will look to get things back on track and progress his imprint on the squad when United face Villa in the FA Cup this weekend.