Home ยป Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 1 Manchester United: Mason Greenwood winner hides the flaws

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 1 Manchester United: Mason Greenwood winner hides the flaws

by Scott Eckersley

One of the best things about Friday’s wave of Ronaldo-mania was the way it wiped away any lingering memories of the previous weekend’s turgid draw with Southampton.

Woosh! Images of Maguire and Fred slowly passing themselves into a coma before cheaply losing the ball (again) – Begone!

It’s difficult to imagine many fans sat through that lumpy, lamentable chore and thought the sole missing ingredient was a luxury No.9.

More noticeable was the disconnect between defence and attack and the manner in which the current side manages the improbable feat of being wide open, easily bypassed and creatively impotent all at the same time.

This is a United side that too often borders on dysfunctional and the dysfunction starts and ends in the middle of the park.

And so, to today’s match against Wolves at Molineux, as the post-Ronaldo, post-midfield United served up another illustration of the same torturous flaws, only this time with a happier outcome.

Firstly, the good news. The win ensured that the Red Devils broke the record for the most away games undefeated – 28 games and counting – which is a fine achievement for Solskjaer’s group.

Secondly, the impressive Mason Greenwood kept up his scoring streak with the late winner – his third in three games – firing a low shot from a tight angle that squirmed through Wolves’ keeper Jose Sa.

Furthermore, the assist came from excellent debutante Raphael Varane, who eased his way into English football with a display of impeccable finesse.

Such was the incongruity of seeing the elegant Frenchman dealing stoically with the bedlam around him that he often resembled a Rolls Royce parked next to a dumpster fire.

However, the late, lucky goal will need to cover a multitude of sins for Solskjaer’s side, who looked every bit as disjointed and incoherent in victory as they did during last week’s laboured draw on the south coast.

The Norwegian appeared to have selected a side packed with the quality and firepower to blow Wolves away. With such attacking luminaries as Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Daniel James and Greenwood gracing the pitch, it seemed reasonable to expect an attacking feast.

On the contrary, with United’s midfield pairing of Fred and Pogba being repeatedly overrun and exposed, they were soon unnerved by Wolves’ energy and verve and struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Nobody exemplified this better than the irresistible Adama Traore, who barrelled his way through the paper-thin United ranks seemingly at will.

In fact, watching the visitors clinging desperately to Traore’s coattails gave the impression of a throng of Yorkshire Terriers trying vainly to slow down a rhinoceros in roller blades.

And yet, for all Wolves hustle and bustle, they were undone by their ongoing failure to take their chances. Trincao had a golden first-half chance cleared off the line by Wan Bissaka and spoiled an otherwise bright display by scuffing a good chance wide in the second half.

Led by the imposing physicality of Traore, the home side remained a constant threat and limited the visitors to half chances – at least until Greenwood’s 79th minute intervention turned the game decisively in United’s favour.

Undeterred, Wolves still came forward and they would have pinched a deserved equaliser, but for David de Gea pulling off a pair of stunning point blank saves from Roman Sais.

Ultimately, Solskjaer will see the victory as validation of a job well done, a final gruelling battle before a certain Portuguese recruit comes swaggering over the horizon to add an extra layer of glitz.

However, if you look past the decadence, there’s a black hole at the centre of his side that, if unresolved, will threaten to suck the rest of the side’s potential into it.

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