Staff takeaways from Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Monday.
Colin - It’s not Garnacho’s time just yet
Alejandro Garnacho, as he did against RC Lens, started on the left wing for Manchester United against RC Lens.
Alejandro Garnacho, as was the case many times last season, didn’t look very impactful as a starter.
His direct style of play and dribbling were sought out early in the match, but he did little with the ball and looked unlikely to do much else to contribute. The rest of his game is still rounding out, and for that he will need more minutes, but for the time being the safe bet seems to be Jadon Sancho.
The English forward was electric after coming on in the second half, nearly creating a second goal for the Reds after beating a man and charging into the Wolves area to set up Marcus Rashford. He looked sharper than Garnacho, and importantly offers interchange with the other forwards up front as the side paper over the absence of a true center forward.
When Rasmus Hojlund and Anthony Martial are fit it would seem that Rashford will return to the left, but Sancho could fill in on the right as well should Antony pick up a knock or hit a poor run of form.
Pauly - United pick up right where they left off
When Erik Ten Hag was asked during preseason how we should expect United to play this year, he said they were going to stick with the style they played last year.
One game in and you can’t say the man wasn’t honest. This match had all the hallmarks of a 2022-23 match. United pressed high, looked to counter attack, while leaving themselves wide open and vulnerable to transitions, allowing their opponents to carve through them far too easily.
They played another one goal game. They won another one goal game. Their finishing was poor but they got just enough, they came away with a win because their opponents finishing was worse. They were lucky to come away with all three points and arguably lucky to come away with anything at all - and that’s not even factoring in being on the right side of a VAR decision that Premier League has already confirmed was wrong.
Last season United would often task Casemiro with doing a lot of the midfield work on his own. The addition of Mason Mount saw United’s two number 8’s push even higher, giving Casemiro even more to do in midfield, only his legs looked every bit of the 31 years old he is. If this becomes a trend, that £60 million United spent on him will start burning a hole in United’s pocket quickly.
The good news is it’s all just one game. Players are still getting into match shape. Last season Casemiro was awful before finding his form. He’s the type of player that needs to play some matches to get his form going. That of course could be a problem if United need to start rotating him and he’s not playing consistently. The fact that it only took 30 minute for Ten Hag to abandon his tactic of having Shaw tuck inside to form a midfield box is cause for concern given how he planned things this summer.
But there’s plenty of time to make adjustments as the season goes. United are three points better than they were last year and you’ll never apologize for taking wins if they’re given to you.