Five things we learned as Manchester United lose 1-0 to Wolves

Manchester United have begun 2022 with a 1-0 home defeat to Wolves.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the game…

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Phil Jones returns

United welcomed Phil Jones back to the side after two years out, after a series of defensive injuries. Jones acquitted himself well and did not look out of place.

The centre-back has been working hard behind the scenes for months and it looks to have paid off, with the defender looking sharp and alert.


Jones lasted all 90 minutes which was vindication for the fitness work he has been putting in after a real battle to get healthy again.

United struggle to control

Wolves managed a staggering 15 shots at goal in the first half as their midfield outmatched Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay.

United struggled to string passes together and dictate the game, and selfishness saw the early opportunities wasted. Jadon Sancho shot when he should have released Cristiano Ronaldo, and Edinson Cavani blazed over the bar instead of slipping the ball into Mason Greenwood in space.

Those decisions emphasised that this is still a team of individuals, not the slick cohesive, selfless and ruthless unit which Ralf Rangnick wants to build.

Wolves were good value for their win and it is hard to argue United were hard done by. After the progress United showed against Burnley, Rangnick’s side were simply shown up by a better team here.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Captain Cristiano

With Harry Maguire out injured, Manchester United needed a new captain for the night. Previously when this has happened, Bruno Fernandes has taken the armband, but he was on the bench.

David de Gea had a strong case to be skipper, while Nemanja Matic took the job on against Young Boys last month.

This time Ralf Rangnick went with Cristiano Ronaldo, a big show of faith in the forward, who is essentially undroppable.

It was a big show of faith in the Portuguese forward, making a mockery of claims before Ralf Rangnick arrived that the interim manager would discard him due to his age.

However, this was not the way Ronaldo would have wanted his captaincy to go.

Fernandes chance turned the game

Bruno Fernandes began the game on the bench and was called on 14 minutes into the second half to replace Mason Greenwood.

Fernandes gave United an immediate spark, rattling the post with a powerful strike, which really he should have scored from.

Nonetheless this chance was the biggest United had created, and it woke the crowd up and the rest of the team with it.

This made the game more open as United committed forward, and Wolves went onto grab the winner. Had Fernandes hit the back of the net instead of striking the post, it would have been the Red Devils claiming all three points.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Frustrating result could be costly

This defeat was the worst possible way to begin 2022, with Ralf Rangnick losing his unbeaten record, and in front of the home support.

The battle for a top four place is going to be tight and this was a chance to begin the new year with a statement victory.

Instead the new year looks like the same old frustrating United, and its hard to say there has been much progress since Rangnick’s arrival other than simply steadying the ship.

United remain in seventh place and this was a missed opportunity to climb up to fourth. This was another costly defeat.

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