Erik ten Hag’s second chapter at Manchester United began with an unlikely victory that left many puzzled. United managed to secure the win despite being largely outplayed by a Wolves side that underwent a managerial change just days before the season’s kickoff. The hosts, however, escaped unscathed and even emerged with all three points.
Wolves, despite squandering multiple opportunities, were unfortunate not to secure at least a draw as Raphaël Varane’s header sealed the deal. Yet, the match concluded with a tense moment when André Onana collided with Sasa Kalajdzic in added time, leading to calls for a penalty. Nevertheless, referee Simon Hooper and his VAR colleagues deemed the challenge non-punishable, despite the goalkeeper’s lack of involvement with the ball. Follow your favourite Premier League team with attractive betting odds from Nextbet.
The new season’s commencement saw protests outside the stadium, a manifestation of fans’ frustration with the Glazer ownership of the club. Another demonstration revolved around Mason Greenwood, whose potential return to the team is being debated following an internal investigation. Banners and chants of “We want the Glazers out” echoed inside the stadium, revealing the lingering frustration surrounding the potential sale of the club.
The spotlight often falls on debutants, and this time, Onana’s performance outshone Mason Mount’s. The former Chelsea midfielder and his new teammates struggled to impact the proceedings in the final third. Despite being paired with captain Bruno Fernandes in midfield, Mount was unable to thwart Matheus Cunha’s incursions.
Wolves’ new acquisition Matheus Cunha displayed the prowess that prompted the club to invest in him, even though departing manager Julen Lopetegui failed to fully harness his talents in his five-month tenure. In just 77 minutes at Old Trafford, his successor Gary O’Neil drew out a level of performance that Lopetegui couldn’t achieve. Unfortunately for Wolves, their efforts didn’t translate into crucial goals, exemplifying the challenges they faced in finding the net last season.
Cunha’s spirited efforts were evident, though he might rue his failure to get past Onana. He wasn’t alone in this, with Pedro Neto and substitute Fábio Silva also unable to capitalize on good chances. Wolves managed a whopping 23 shots, the highest by an away team at Old Trafford since 2015, but only six hit the target. Nevertheless, this performance provides hope that Wolves are on the right track despite Lopetegui’s recent departure.
United’s lackluster display saw their attackers struggling to make an impact in the final third. But in the 76th minute, Aaron Wan-Bissaka capitalized on a brilliant pass from Bruno Fernandes to set up Varane for a close-range header. Despite expectations that the goal would uplift United and shake Wolves’ confidence, the opposite occurred. Wolves maintained their dominance, forcing Onana into numerous saves and United defenders into desperate blocks.
While the victory might not have come in the expected fashion, United left Old Trafford with three points. The season has started, but questions loom about how United will build upon the improvements from Ten Hag’s debut season. The absence of Rasmus Højlund due to a back problem didn’t help, showcasing United’s struggle to create chances without a consistent striker presence.
Wolves managed to cut through United’s defense with ease, demonstrating their agility and skills against a club in transition. United’s challenges were further highlighted when Lisandro Martínez was substituted at halftime after receiving a yellow card for a late challenge on Neto.
Though the win might have come unexpectedly, United will embrace it gladly. Despite Wolves’ contention over the penalty decision, United’s season is underway, even if their victory seemed unearned. Get the latest updates from the Premier League only on Nextbet Sports, one of the best football websites.