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Wolves 0-1 Man Utd: Five talking points as Raphael Varane makes debut in away win
30/08/2021 10:47:02

Manchester United were presented with their sternest test of the season away at Bruno Lage's Wolves side, scraping a 1-0 win at the Molineux.


Mason Greenwood bagged his third goal of the season late on to become just the second teenager to score in the opening three games of a Premier League season after Robbie Fowler more than two decades ago.


While United took the opportunity presented by the fixture to hand Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane their first starts, it was Wolves who did the bulk of the attacking.


Roman Saiss was gifted the best chance of the game mid-way through the second half, but both of his close-range efforts were spectacularly saved by David De Gea.


Though they come away with all three points, United failed to create any real clear cut chances throughout - a damning indictment of their performance given the level of talent at their disposal.


Here are Mirror Sport's five talking points from Man Utd's cagey 1-0 win at Wolves.


Lack of control highlights Man Utd’s need for Neves


If United were hoping for a comfortable start to the contest, they were sorely mistaken with the hosts taking the game to them from minute one.


Most of Wolves ’s joy stemmed from the pace of Adama Traore, but the sheer amount of times he was allowed to use the centre of the pitch to make one of his trademark marauding runs would have concerned Solskjaer.


Fred has often come in for criticism for his inability to provide the backline he plays in front of with much security and it was exhibited at the Molineux again today.


United’s need for a player in the traditional ‘number 6’ role is well documented, the Red Devils aren’t necessarily in desperate need for a tough-tackling, takes no prisoners kind of middle man – just someone who offers far more composure than their current options.


One potential target was actually lining up against them this afternoon in Ruben Neves, the Portugal international touted with a move to Old Trafford many times this window.


Neves made a number of key passes as Wolves threatened De Gea’s goal, while Fred struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game.


Given there is just two full days of the transfer window left, it would take quite the bid from united to tempt Wolves into handing over one of their star men.


Another trademark Traore performance


If ever a showing typified everything both fantastic and frustrating about Traore, it was certainly this one.


The Spaniard has been under the spotlight since the start of the season for both speculation over his future and his performances for Bruno Lage’s side.


In both of the Midlands-based club’s opening two games, Traore has been guilty of spurning glorious opportunities while baring down on goal unchallenged.


The 25-year-old was a constant thorn in United’s side during the first-half, proving too much to handle for the visitor’s central midfield trio of Fred, Pogba and Fernandes.


The Spain international has been touted with a move away from the Molineux in recent weeks, as former boss Nuno Espirito Santo is thought to be keen on linking up with him once again at new club Tottenham Hotspur.


The move hinges on Wolves’ valuation of the attacker, which currently sits at £40m - a figure Spurs are thus far unwilling to pay, which is hard to dispute given Traore’s wasteful finishing, for all of his spirited runs.


Full debuts for Sancho and Varane


Prior to the news that Cristiano Ronaldo was returning to Old Trafford, the arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane were the biggest stories surrounding Man Utd.


While Sancho has been handed brief cameo appearances in United’s opening two fixtures before this evening, the trip to Wolves represented the first chance the United faithful had to witness Varane in action.


Signed from Real Madrid to provide club captain Harry Maguire with a world class partner, Varane was relatively untroubled for much of the tie.


Positionally, he was faultless – shutting down central avenues for Wolves attackers and forcing them to either revert to the channels or take pot shots from distance.


The £45m-valued Frenchman was well worth the clean sheet on his first outing as a Red Devil.


Sancho, meanwhile, was somewhat anonymous for much of the clash – clearly still getting to grips with the pace of the Premier League.


The first 45 minutes passed by without so much as a shot on target for the entire United side, a representation of Sancho’s quiet display before he was replaced by Anthony Martial 70 minutes in.


Dan James does little to boost his value


James was presented with the chance to go and prove he is worth his place in this United side, but struggled to impose himself yet again before eventually being hauled off less than an hour into the game in place of Edinson Cavani.


James rarely looked comfortable in possession against Wolves, barely posing a threat for the 52 minutes he was on the pitch.


United's attacked look more willing to use the wide flanks in the second period, Greenwood taking up James position on the flanks to make room for Cavani through the centre.


The 23-year-old has struggled to live up to the hype that followed his stellar start at the club, making just 15 Premier League appearances last term and has often been touted with a move to Leeds United.


The Welshman was on the cusp of a move to Elland Road prior to his switch to Old Trafford and could view Leeds as a chance for a fresh start.


Both former United star Gary Neville and ex-Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood have recently called on James to leave the club to revive his stuttering career.


Solskjaer’s 100thgame


The fixture marked Solskjaer’s 100th Premier League game at the United helm, a three-year tenure that has had a number of highs and lows.


Though at the beginning of his reign many questioned the former Cardiff City boss, Solskjaer has been an undoubted success – regardless of the lack of silverware.


As he surpasses the century mark, his record reads 53 victories, 28 draws and 19 defeats, the second-best record in club history, behind only Ernest Mangnall.


With that being said, this season marks Solskjaer’s most important – backed handsomely in the transfer market, another campaign that ends without a trophy could prove fatal to his status as United boss, regardless of the contract extension he penned earlier this year.


The signing of Ronaldo could prove pivotal for Solskjaer's time in the Old Trafford hot-seat, the United boss given all the tools to mount a serious title tilt this season.


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