Home » Leading journalists agree on Man United’s issues after humiliating defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers

Leading journalists agree on Man United’s issues after humiliating defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers

by Red Billy

Some of Britain’s best football writers have been picking apart what went wrong for Manchester United yesterday evening as they slumped to a horrible 1-0 loss to Wolves at Old Trafford.

First of all, the poor form, cohesiveness and work-rate of the players was a common complaint from the papers.

Luke Shaw’s comment in his post-match interview that ‘I didn’t think we were all there together’ was echoed in a lot of the post-match reports.

For example, The Athletic’s Adam Crafton wrote that ‘The majority of players in United’s squad are either individually out of form or, in several cases, embroiled in complex personal situations contractually.’

The Telegraph’s Jason Burt said ‘Phil Jones made his first appearance for almost two years, and performed reasonably well, but his team-mates acted like they, too, had not kicked a ball competitively for that length of time. They were a bunch of frustrated, pouting strangers.’

Many journalists offered some defence to the players, arguing that interim boss Ralf Rangnick has not yet managed to implement a clear system.

Crafton, again, says ‘It is surprising … that a man who appeared to possess a distinct identity has become so fidgety so quickly, both with his team’s system and personnel.

‘His preferred formation initially appeared to be a narrow 4-2-2-2. Yet against both Burnley and Wolves, the system seemed to alter the role of the two players in the No 10 position. Greenwood and Jadon Sancho instead operated more as conventional wingers, hugging the touchline at times.

‘United’s width, combined with a static front two of Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo, left United’s central-midfield pair of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic stretched without the ball.

‘In possession, McTominay and Matic simply do not possess the quality to progress the ball up the pitch with accuracy and speed.

‘The two-man strikeforce also appears to negate Fernandes, the club’s most talented player, who operates most effectively as a central attacking midfielder.

‘At half-time, Rangnick made adjustments once more, this time abandoning a back four entirely and altering the system to play a three-man defence.

‘Rangnick is tinkering not only his systems but also personnel.’

The Times’ Henry Winter made a similar observation, saying: ‘United’s players also do not seem to understand Ralf Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 system, and looked better when a real No 10 arrived in Bruno Fernandes.’

The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson also feels that Rangnick has not yet delivered on his big promise, saying ‘the “godfather of pressing” seems, oddly, to have eschewed his beloved mode of intensive shutting down.

‘Second, the 4-2-2-2 to which he adheres has become aimless and misshapen.’

There were two other main themes that rippled through most of the top post-match reports: the body language and impact of Cristiano Ronaldo and the bizarre decision to substitute Mason Greenwood on the hour mark.

What the media said on these topics can be seen in more detail by clicking the links above.

It is certainly hard to pinpoint what can be so wrong at United when two managers who are as different as chalk and cheese in their personalities and managerial styles seem to have no effect on what happens on the pitch.

Rangnick, of course, needs to be given time and it may simply be that he has not yet been able to undo the systemic lack of belief, concentration, confidence and/or effort that became ingrained in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era.

Latest Top Stories...