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”.
United had been unbeaten under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, picking up results despite some below-par showings. But they were finally beaten by Bruno Lage’s Wolves on Monday evening.
Wolves had been the better side for much of the game – registering 15 shots to United’s four in the first half – with Joao Moutinho’s late strike condemning Rangnick to his first loss at the club.
After another poor performance, United defender Shaw gave his scathing view to Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison, questioning the intensity and motivation of his team-mates.
He said: “Not good enough. We really struggled in the first half, we couldn’t get hold of the ball and didn’t have many options. When we didn’t have the ball we weren’t aggressive enough and weren’t on the front foot. We didn’t put them under any pressure.
“It maybe looked like an easy game for them first half. A very disappointing performance but also result.
“It didn’t feel like we had many options on the ball in the first half, we weren’t on the front foot. We’re at home, our crowd behind us, we have to put more pressure on them, we have to have intensity. Even from the first minute, we didn’t go for them, didn’t pressure them, we let them feel at home and comfortable. That time is critical when you have to put your stamp on the game. We need to bring the intensity, especially with 75,000 fans roaring behind us.
“I don’t think you can put it on [adjusting to a new manager]. Us players, we have been here a long time, we know what it’s like when we have the intensity – when the motivation’s there. But maybe tonight we struggled, I didn’t think we were all there together.
“We felt like we were struggling. You look at the players we have, we have unbelievable quality but sometimes quality is not enough.
“We need to bring the intensity and more motivation. Inside the dressing room, we know what we want but out on the pitch, we need to give 100 per cent. To win these types of games we all need to be 100 per cent committed. It is tough and disappointing.”
Shaw did have one positive though, praising fellow defender Phil Jones, after the centre-back made his first senior appearance in two years following a series of injuries.
“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.”
Redknapp: Utd have no real identity
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.
“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
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.
“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
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
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.”