Manchester United were lucky to start the new season with a 1-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers and not concede a penalty.

Raphael Varane scored against the run of play, heading home a ball lifted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who latched on to a sublime Bruno Fernandes pass in the 76th minute.

The Wolves couldn’t score but created more chances. 

Time and time again, the Wolves midfielders penetrated the United defence and had 23 shots on goal, the most by a visiting Premier League team at Old Trafford since 2005.

The Wolves might have had a penalty in injury time when the United goalkeeper Andre Onana collided with the Wolves striker Sasa Kalajdzic.

But the Wolves’ appeal for a penalty was turned down by the referee.

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil said the referees’ manager Jon Moss had apologised to him for the error.

Referee Simon Hooper, VAR Michael Salisbury and assistant VAR Richard West won’t be allowed to officiate Premier League games the coming weekend because of the error.

United manager Erik ten Hag praised his goalkeeper. He said: “Andre was really brave to come out and the ball was touched before he dived in, so I don’t think he had an influence on the touch from the opponent. You can debate it, but I think no penalty.”

But he conceded the Wolves were a tough team. “We hope we’ll be better on the ball in the next game,” he said.

United were blamed for a midfield mess. Casemiro was often left isolated.

The Times blamed Erik ten Hag. The Dutch manager favours players from Europe, wrote Martin Samuel in The Times, adding United should have signed on Harry Kane and Declan Rice when they had the opportunity.

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Manchester United are unlikely to win the Premier League in 2023-24, claimed the Athletic. The United midfield is a point of concern — the Wolves had too much space, it added.

Still, this was an improvement for United who started last season with a 2-1 loss to Brighton followed by a 4-0 defeat at Brentford.

As Bruno Fernandes told Sky Sports: “It was important to start the season with a win, and we showed great fighting spirit. It wasn’t our best game – we know that – but we did the most important thing by winning the game.”

 

 

 

 

Erik ten Hag and his team can consider themselves fortunate to have avoided a repeat of last season’s defeat to Brighton on the opening weekend.

It should be said that United’s players are still searching for optimal fitness levels which may have contributed to a staggeringly porous midfield display.

But with away matches against Tottenham and Arsenal to follow in two of United’s next three games, they need to find some stability.

 

 
 

 

 

 

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