Manchester United have played their first match of 2022, but the new year did not start as it was expected. Ralf Rangnick’s side lost 1-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford, their sixth Premier League loss already this season, as United remain in seventh place of the Premier League standings.
New year always brings some new positivity and hope for new beginnings, but this match rather reminded of some ‘same old, same old’. That positivity quickly vanished, as Joao Moutinho scored the winning goal with some ten minutes to go. Here is what we learned from United’s unexpected home loss.
Phil Jones Is Back
Not many have expected this to happen, but there was a big surprise when the name of Phil Jones appeared in the starting lineup. It was the first time the Englishman has been in the starting 11 in over 700 days, after ultimately being two years out. He had a series of harsh injuries, but on his first match back, he did not look lost. Jones seemed present and focused, he did his part of the job well and he even played full 90 minutes. Hopefully we will get to see more of the same from him.
United’s Poor Performance Brings Questions
This was not a great performance from Manchester United and not just because of the result. Man United want to be more direct ever since Rangnick came in, but that directiveness is not coming through proper game control. The Devils are allowing their opponents too much and Wolves have shown that. They had 19 shots in this match, they had six shots on target to United’s two and had eight corner kicks where they tried to get the most out of set pieces. For a team that wants to fight for the top four, it would be good to see them dominate a bit more in possession, as we seem to be very vulnerable to being too direct.
Ronaldo Gets The Captaincy
Another interesting pick from Rangnick was to give captaincy to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar took over the armband with Harry Maguire out injured. The German could have also chosen David de Gea and recently Nemanja Matic also captained the team in the Champions League. But Ronaldo got a big moral boost with this move, although he will not be happy with how this game went. Even he had just a single shot in the entire 90 minutes…
Bruno Wakes Up The Devils
The duo of Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood did not do too much on the occasion and it was no wonder that Rangnick opted for substituting both of them while searching for a goal. Marcus Rashford replaced Sancho, but it was the first change that made the most difference – when Bruno Fernandes came on for Greenwood at the hour mark. Fernandes immediately injected new energy into this team, especially when he had United’s biggest chance of the match, hitting the post from a position where he could have and probably should have scored. It was still 0-0 at the time and the match could have gone to a completely different direction.