When the Red Devils drew Wolves for the FA Cup Quarter Finals, every United fan knew that a trip to the Molineaux Stadium wasn’t going to be easy at all. But no one could have predicted what happened last night. Manchester United succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Defeats are a part of the game, but the manner of the defeat is what makes it such a hard pill to swallow for United fans across the world. United were timid throughout the game and before Rashford’s last gasp goal, United had mustered just 1 shot on target, that too from 40 yards.
Romero, Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Martial, Lingard, Rashford.
Sergio Romero(GK): 6/10
The Argentine international was impressive against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal in previous rounds of the Cup and for more than an hour on Saturday evening, he would continue that brilliant form. He made two sensational saves, one off Raul Jiminez from a corner and second one from Diogo Jota in a 1v1 situation. But then, his positioning and reaction were awful for Wolves’ second goal, where he let Jota’s shot beat him at the near post.
Diogo Dalot: 3/10
The young Portuguese was one of the stars of United’s historic comeback in Paris last week but the teenager was poor last night. Absence of a right winger meant he was isolated on his flank but he still he got several chances to whip a cross into the box and he failed to find a red shirt all night. With 0 minutes to go, Moutinho breezed past him like he didn’t exist and set up Raul Jiminez for the goal.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
Smalling was one of the very few players who left the Molineaux with his head held high. The 29 year old had a good game where he was aggressive in the air and surprisingly, found his teammates with some good passing display.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Lindelof, arguably United’s player of the season so far, was caught out by a clever through ball from Ruben Neves that sent Jota through on goal. The Swede was also unable to clear the danger when Jiminez first got the ball and subsequently, the Mexican managed to score the first Wolves’ goal.
Luke Shaw: 4/10
Shaw ended the night with an assist but he could have and should have contributed more while going forward. Apart from right at the very end, he hardly took on his man on the left flank to try and whip a cross into the box. This season, Shaw has been relatively good defensively, but the England left back was poor in a 1v1 situation with Jota and the latter swatted aside Shaw to score Wolves’ second of the night.
Nemanja Matic(CDM): 5/10
Matic had a mixed night where was involved in some good interceptions but his passing let him down. He was a bit rusty against Arsenal as well and it seems like the big man hasn’t recovered from fully from his injury.
Ander Herrera(RCM): 3/10
When United faithful saw the name of their beloved Spaniard in the midfield three, they were overjoyed but the former Bilbao man was a shade of himself. For a man that usually is so energetic in the field, Herrera lacked sharpness and it felt like the Wolves game came too early for a man returning from a hamstring injury.
Paul Pogba(LCM): 3/10
The last time Paul Pogba played against Wolves, it was in autumn when he lost the ball in the centre circle and Wolves went on to score from that mistake. He let the press know that afternoon that he wanted United to attack more, but his performance yesterday proved that his rally for attacking football failed miserably. Under a supposedly more attack-minded manager, Pogba played like a man devoid of any confidence and failed to impose himself on the game. His combination play with the likes of Martial and Rashord, which has been great in recent months, was poor and this meant that United remained toothless in the attack.
Jesse Lingard(RW): 1/10
Just like Herrera, Lingard was returning from a hamstring injury and lacked sharpness throughout the game. His movement towards the left hand side meant that United had virtually no one on the right, made it easier for Wolves to defend United’s attacks. Lingard has been great in his off the ball movement to stretch the defences but failed to worry any of Wolves’ centre halves in his disappearing act last season.
Anthony Martial(LW): 0/10
A lot of players have clearly put in a much improved display under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer but one player who has clearly regressed is Anthony Martial. The Frenchman, under Mourinho, had 7 goals and 1 assist in 9 Premier League starts but has managed just two goals, that too against Fulham and Cardiff in 7 Premier League starts under Ole. Martial might be the best dribbler in the squad, but this particular skill makes him quite predictable too. In his 4 years at the club, Martial has had only one trick, to cut in from the left and then try to dribble past the defender to shoot or lay off the ball for someone else. But Nuno Santos was too smart to let him do that and the 3-5-2 formation of Wolves meant Martial had to deal with Matt Doherty and Romain Sass on his heel.
Marcus Rashford(ST): 2/10
For the fourth match in a row, Rashford has had a game to forget. Yes, the penalty in Paris was crisp, especially considering the pressure he was under but even during that game, Rashford was poor. And so was he against Southampton, Arsenal and now Wolves. Ole has definitely taught the young Englishman a thing or two about finishing and also raised his confidence but there’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. United did get a goal from Buffon spilling the ball but Rashford needs to understand that won’t happen every game. Rashford had half a dozen shots from more than 35 yards out and improbable angles when he had teammates in better positions. He did get a goal at the end, but it was too little too late.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer(Manager): 2/10
Ole is a legend at the club and he has certainly brought a lot of positivity around the club ever since he has taken over but there at times like these when he has certainly looked like a novice manager. In the three games that he has lost at United as a manager, he has looked completely lost against a tactically superior opponent. In these three matches, he failed to introduce a change, tactically or in personnel, and that proved costly for the team. Nuno Santos outclassed the Norweigian on the night and his team produced a solid counter-attacking performance that Santos’ former boss, Jose Mourinho, would have been proud of.