|Photo from Getty Images|
It certainly wasn’t quite the response Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have hoped for after the disappointment at Arsenal midweek, as his side failed to register a shot on target and drew 0-0 away to Wolves in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Alongside that rather shameful statistic, the Reds midfield also completed just two tackles at the Molineux in a game that was not really worthy of a thorough analysis. It was the definition of a stalemate.
Though the performance was a bit dire and toothless, there are some positives to take away from the fixture. Brandon Williams was once again excellent. Game after game in which he features, the 19-year-old Englishman continues to knock on the door of becoming the first choice left-back. It almost feels like a matter of time now before it becomes a reality — sooner rather than later.
In-form Wolves winger, Adama Traore, came into this game in red hot form fuelled by his outstanding performances in the Premier League in recent weeks, and rival fans were looking ahead to the speedster toying with Luke Shaw on Saturday evening. But instead, Williams suited up from the first whistle and put in a terrific, measured performance, limiting the Wolves right hand side to a handful of half chances.
Sergio Romero was also a bright spark. The Argentine was in between the sticks for the Reds as per usual during cup games, and he did not disappoint yet again. Romero came up with a fantastic reflex stop to a Matt Doherty strike in the first half after United failed to deal with a set-piece to keep things even.
You get the feeling that the United back line feels more assured with the Argentine in goal as of late, and Solskjaer himself admitted that Romero is putting pressure on David De Gea for the No. 1 spot amidst the Spaniards shaky spell of form.
Otherwise, the match was one to forget. Despite the seven changes, United looked bright on the ball at times — but the final pass was missing yet again. Juan Mata was not able to dictate the tempo and play in between the lines as the No. 10 like United would have hoped, resulting in the lack of chances for the visitors.
Now, with the draw, United and Wolves will need to settle their business at Old Trafford in a replay in just under two weeks time (Date TBC). Certainly not the ideal scenario for both sides with the domestic fixtures coming thick and fast and the Europa League returning next month, so we can probably expect both teams to rotate heavily for that fixture too.
Sergio Romero: 9/10
You could argue that the Argentine deserved a 10, but he just didn’t have all that much to do except for that one fantastic save. But he is a clinical point of the team whenever he plays. He never seems like conceding and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was selected to play in the league in the near future.
Ashley Young: 6.5/10
Neto was getting a lot of joy down his side defensively and United’s skipper just couldn’t really get going on the attacking end. It wasn’t a bad performance, but he didn’t really do anything great either.
Victor Lindelof: 7.5/10
A very confident display from the Swede. He showed once again how comfortable he is on the ball and how much of an asset he can be distributing from the back once United sort out their midfield.
Harry Maguire: 7.5/10
Same as his partner, an assured display, limiting the hosts to a very few chances. He also ventured forward a lot in an attempt to give United an extra body in the final third, but to no success.
Brandon Williams: 8.5/10
Excellent. For me, by far the best left-back at the club. Not sure how he doesn’t start in the league every week already, but I can’t help but feel like he’s not too far off. He is extremely composed and technically sound going forward, while never being phased defensively either. A cool head on young shoulders.
Andreas Pereira: 6.5/10
He was trying and he was energetic but not much came from it. Some hopeful efforts from distance and poor decisions in the final third yet again have let him down with his rating, but the Brazilian has looked a little better, more assured, as of late.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
The Serb has been okay as of late, but just not Manchester United material really. The urge to pass the ball backwards hurts him and the team every time he plays, slowing down a lot of the attacks and letting the opposition regroup.
Tahith Chong: 6/10
To be fair to Tahith, he looked a lot more confident on the ball than in his recent appearances for United. He wasn’t afraid to take his man on and get involved with the interplay around the Wolves box. But he just couldn’t find that bit of play to help his teammates before coming off.
Juan Mata: 5.5/10
That was poor from the Spaniard. Selected as the creative No. 10 to pull strings for United in the final third, he was non-existent. Also often found himself in strange positions out wide instead of trying to look for the ball through the middle and in between the lines. Can’t help but feel Angel Gomes could have made better of the opportunity to play in his place.
Daniel James: 6/10
This wasn’t an ideal game for the Welsh speedster with the Wolves defenders sitting back rather deep for most parts of the game. He was bright at times, but like his fellow attackers, couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
He was trying but getting absolutely no service from his teammates behind him. The young striker, who got the chance to play at the No. 9 against Wolves, was forced to drop deep to look for the ball as a result of the midfield struggles and therefore failed to get any chances inside the opposition box.
A very good performance in the little time which the Brazilian got on the field. He’s becoming a very important piece to United’s midfield. So energetic and confident on the ball as of late. Hopefully, there’s more of that to come from him as he looks to solidify his spot in the first team for the long-term future.
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
Almost scored with what was essentially his first touch, but a little hesitation to shoot resulted in the ball dropping onto the crossbar after his shot. United’s No. 10 definitely livened things up a bit after his introduction but couldn’t find the winner.
Diogo Dalot: 5/10
It was his first showing after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, for what it’s worth, but not a very good one at all. Questionable decision making to take on shots from unfavourable ranges when United were looking for the winning goal late on. We likely won’t see him until the replay fixture after that.