Luke Shaw has questioned Manchester United’s intensity and motivation after defeat to Wolves, while Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp described the performance as “so poor”.
Shaw called for more commitment and togetherness after United fell to a deserved home defeat to Wolves. Ralf Rangnick’s unbeaten start to life as interim manager came to a shuddering halt on Monday evening as 2022 began with a meek Old Trafford display.
Man Utd managed only two shots on target against Wolves
Wolves managed 15 shots in a one-sided first half and continued to threaten after the break, with Joao Moutinho striking late on to seal a notable 1-0 victory.
Man Utd struggled to create opportunities in front of goal, particularly in the first half
United’s first-half expected goals value of 0.17 was their second lowest in the Premier League this season – behind only 0.02 recorded in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea in November.
Shaw said United’s performance was as disappointing as the result on an evening when they were outfought and out-thought.
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After another poor performance, the full-back gave his scathing view to Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison, questioning the intensity and motivation of his team-mates.
Asked if adjusting to Rangnick was part of the reason for the poor display, the left-back told Sky Sports: “I’m not sure. I don’t think you can put it on that. Look, us players, we’ve been here for a long time. We’ve played at home, we know what it’s like when we have the intensity, you can feel the motivation is there.
Luke Shaw struggled to combine with team-mates higher up the pitch and didn't complete a successful pass into the box
“But I think maybe tonight we struggled. We struggled to get hold of the ball and we didn’t have many options. When we didn’t have the ball, we weren’t aggressive enough, we weren’t on the front foot, we didn’t put them under any pressure. They felt like they were in full control and it looked like an easy game for them in the first half.
“It felt like we didn’t have much of the ball and it started from the first minute. Playing at home, you need to have that intensity but even from the first minute, we didn’t go for them. We sat back and let them feel at home. In those first few minutes, that time is critical in terms of putting our stamp on the game with 75,000 people roaring behind us.”
Indeed, the graphic below shows the swing of final-third passes between the teams throughout the game and reveals how Wolves pinned United back early on, with Rangnick’s side failing to create any meaningful possession in the opposition half for the opening 25 minutes.
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“I didn’t feel when I was on the pitch that we were all there together,” added Shaw. “We felt like we were struggling and it was tough.”
Shaw made a point of praising “exceptional” Phil Jones following his impressive return from nearly two years out but knows the team must do better as a unit.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s defeat to Wolves in the Premier League
“It’s tough,” he said. “I think you look at our squad, you look at our team, the players we have – we have unbelievable quality, we have great quality.
“Sometimes quality isn’t enough. Like I said, we need to bring the intensity, we need to bring being more aggressive and we need to bring more motivation. Maybe from the outside today it didn’t look like we had any of those three, but inside the dressing room we know we want to win. We know what we want.
Several Manchester United players won far fewer ball recoveries than their season-high matchday totals
“But when we step out on that pitch we need to give 100 per cent. Everything we’ve got. I’m not saying not everyone did, but I think to win these types of games against a tough team like Wolves, we all need to be 100 per cent committed because we know it’s always close games whoever they play.
“It’s just tough and disappointing, but we have time now to re-focus back. We’ve got a long training week and maybe the manager can bring some more ideas what he wants on the pitch.
“One thing I will say is Phil Jones should be proud of himself,” Shaw added. “He has been criticised for years, constantly, people are always getting at him, and has gone through a lot.
“But he is so professional, he has trained hard and he was phenomenal. It was his first big game back, he was exceptional, I am very happy for him and he deserves it.
“I just want to say for Phil Jones, keep going, but we need to be better as a team.”
Lage: We controlled everything
Wolves manager Bruno Lage speaking to Sky Sports:
Wolves head coach Bruno Lage explained how his side managed to get the better of Manchester United’s system in their 1-0 Premier League win at Old Trafford.
“The first half was very good, we controlled everything, we created a lot of chances but didn’t score. Second half, they adapted and changed the system.
“Most important thing for me is to see where their full-backs are, which position they start – so we can find the spaces. When they are defending, when they are attacking – where they are.
“In the first half, [Edinson] Cavani tried to control Ruben [Neves], [Cristiano] Ronaldo tried to control [Conor] Coady and the wingers outside, so the space is outside.
“That’s why [Nelson] Semedo and Marcal, in the first half, had a lot of chances and a lot of the ball, because they found those spaces.
“It is important to know where the space is when you have the ball, and where [the space is when] you’re defending.”
Redknapp: Utd have no real identity
Jamie Redknapp discusses Manchester United’s lack of desire and questions their mentality after the Red Devils lost at home late on to Wolves
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp was also critical of Manchester United’s performance, picking out issues with the different systems used by Rangnick against Wolves as well as difficulties in midfield.
“They were playing a side so devoid of confidence, of ideas, of how to play, the system – we talk about managers coming into the game and Rangnick came in with this famed 4-2-2-2 system.
“It doesn’t work if you don’t have the right players. You have to play the right system. Then he went to a three at the back, a 4-4-2, and at the end I think he was making up systems.
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“There was no real identity of how they were trying to play. The Watford performance was a real low, but I’m sure the United fans thought at least they were good going forward. There was nothing today.
“When you watch Man City and the best teams, they have control of the midfield. United never had that.
“Never once did they play passes to each other, or have an ability to take the sting out of the game, they were so poor today.
“I see too many players making the same mistakes and with the same bad habits they had under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“If you know a manager is only there until the end of the season, you’re in there naked, because everyone is wondering who the next manager will be.
“The ball should have got man of the match for Man Utd today because it was having to do an incredible job to stay out there because everyone was giving it away.
“They have to find a way to get people with possession of the ball. Right now, there is no cohesion, no idea, everyone is giving the ball away and they need to find a system that fits that team because they’re miles off it.”
Rangnick: Wolves the best team we have played
Ralph Rangnick says that his Manchester United side’s performance was very disappointing following their 1-0 defeat to Wolves at home
Rangnick admitted that his side were second best against Wolves as they struggled against a packed midfield.
He told Sky Sports: “We didn’t play well at all, neither individually nor collectively. In the first half, we had big problems to keep them away from our box and our goals.
“In the second half, we changed to a different formation with a back three. We had more control and there was a spell of 15 minutes where we could have scored, we hit the crossbar.
Bruno Lage praises the way his Wolves team played in their 1-0 win against Manchester United
“The goal we conceded was one of too many this season where Moutinho could shoot completely unmarked, with no problems or pressure at all. Therefore, we are very disappointed about the result, but also about parts of our performance.
“There were playing with almost four or five central midfielders and we had problems controlling that part of the pitch. Whenever they tried to release one of their wing-backs, we were also struggling.
“That’s why we decided to change our formation. We had more control in the second half, they didn’t have that many chances as they did in the first half. But we missed our chances to score and we have to admit that they deserved to win.
“Wolves were the best team we have played, collectively and individually, and we had more problems today than in other games.”
Wolves manager Bruno Lage on Man Utd victory
“It’s one more victory. It’s a lovely stadium, a place with a lot of history, but the most important thing is the way we played this game against this team.
I think we prepared well for the game and I give a lot of compliments to my players to come here and play in our way.
“The first half was very good, we controlled everything, we created a lot of chances and didn’t score. Second half, they adapted and changed the system. Afterwards, we changed some guys and they helped us to win this game.
“Even now with three points and one goal, we had more chances than goals so we need to continue to work.”
Redknapp and Ince analyse Wolves winner
Jamie Redknapp and Paul Ince analyse Wolves’ winner at Old Trafford and pick holes in the Manchester United defence
Moutinho struck in the 82nd minute to earn Wolves a first Premier League win at Old Trafford, turning home after Jones’ clearance fell to him at the top of the area.
Analysing the goal, Redknapp said: “It’s not a great free-kick from De Gea. This is what Traore gives you. As the ball gets set back, you can see him. Neves can play one safe, but knowing you’ve got a player like Traore you can play it in behind, knowing he’ll get onto it in a foot race.
“We spoke about belief, can Wolves get this winning goal? In the first half, I think the Wolves midfield would have been content to just sit there. But straight away, they can see they’ve got a chance. When the ball gets played out, the two midfielders Moutinho and Neves are on the edge of the box.
“It’s not the cleanest strike Moutinho’s ever hit, but it must have felt so good.”
Former United and Wolves midfielder Paul Ince added: “It’s one of those, as a midfield player, you’ve got to understand the numbers you’ve got in front of you. McTominay doesn’t have to go that deep, he needs to be far out enough to get out and block that.”
Ince: United all over the place
Paul Ince was critical of Manchester United's performance on Monday
Ince also gave his thoughts on United’s dismal performance, and compared Rangnick’s start at United to Antonio Conte at Tottenham.
“I said before, you could sense in the stadium the fans starting to turn, they were booing when Greenwood came off,” he said.
“4-2-2-2 doesn’t work. Whether it’s a new Man Utd way or not. I don’t get it. If I look at that performance, Norwich, Newcastle, there’s a lot of room for concern.
“Look at what Conte’s done at Tottenham in such a short space, I don’t know what they’re doing here. I think they’re all over the place. They don’t have faith, they don’t have belief in each other, they play as a load of individuals.
“It was a lot better when Fernandes came on, but they’re just hoping.
“They [Wolves] knew they were playing a team not full of confidence. Even though United are winning games, you can sense they’re not.
“They came with a game plan, and I said at half-time if they believe they’ll go and win it – and that’s exactly what they did. Bringing Traore on was a genius stroke, it worked. They thoroughly deserved to win the game.”
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