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United lack cutting edge in stalemate

Manchester United 0 Wolves 0

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

REUTERS

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

The mass walkout at Old Trafford never materialised. The Manchester United fans who stayed in their seats limited their protest to groans at the final whistle after another frustrating afternoon.

There had been talk of supporters, unhappy at how Ed Woodward has run the club, vacating their seats in the 68th minute in a nod to the year United first won the European Cup. Instead they were cheering Bruno Fernandes, the executive vice-chairman's latest signing, although the Portugal midfielder will need help in taking the club back to the top.

This was a familiar story of United struggling to create chances, even with their new signing making his debut. There were encouraging signs but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, looking glum on the bench, needs more than Fernandes and Odion Ighalo.

It was Wolverhampton Wanderers who came closest to grabbing a winner, with Raul Jimenez racing through and being denied by David De Gea.

"I think it was a good game, an intense game," said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

"First half good, there was a spell in the second half United dominated. We had our moments, happy with the point. It was a balanced game, for both teams it was OK."

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Manchester United's Harry Maguire in action with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Diogo Jota. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Manchester United's Harry Maguire in action with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Diogo Jota. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Ahead of the game there was also a service to pay respects to those lost in the Munich air disaster in 1958, when 23 people died.

As supporters unfurled a huge banner to mark the 62nd anniversary, United's current team walked out of the tunnel and the focus was soon on new signing Fernandes.

The cheers that accompanied his name being read out and his first touch on the ball suggested the fans were happy with the £47million arrival from Sporting Lisbon.

It was hardly unfamiliar surroundings, though, as he came up against his international team-mates Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho in central midfield.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers' Matt Doherty, Rui Patricio and Romain Saiss in action with Manchester United's Harry Maguire. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Matt Doherty, Rui Patricio and Romain Saiss in action with Manchester United's Harry Maguire. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

REUTERS

Wolves also had new Portuguese signing Daniel Podence on the bench.

Fernandes could slot in easily to a three-man midfield as Nemanja Matic was suspended after his red card against Manchester City in midweek. Fred and Andreas Pereira sat a little deeper than United's new signing, who tried to start attacks and dash forward in support.

Solskjaer also put Fernandes on set-piece duties and it took him half an hour to get an effort on goal, running at the Wolves defence and seeing his drilled shot fade wide.

He was certainly afforded less time on the ball compared to what he's used to in Portugal. But then, Wolves are no slouches and they looked threatening every time Adama Traore got on the ball and started dribbling.

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Manchester United's new signing Bruno Fernandes. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Manchester United's new signing Bruno Fernandes. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

REUTERS

At the other end, Pereira side-footed wide from the edge of the area, with the evenly matched contest showing why these teams were level on points heading into the weekend.

Fernandes was getting closer with his efforts on goal. His next attempt was on target but Rui Patricio did not need to move to make his save.

It was a quiet first half for Martial, with no clear sighters of goal. The France striker will soon have Ighalo for competition after a loan deal, worth £4million in fees and wages, was thrashed out on deadline day.

Aneke Atta, Ighalo's agent, thought the deal had slipped away until Friday afternoon, when United's attempt to sign Josh King collapsed. "It was quiet on Thursday and then I got the impression that nothing would happen," he said. "Suddenly, things started to move. It was then at 11pm in Shanghai."

Fernandes's impact in the second half started with a yellow card for hauling back Jimenez. He also had a free-kick that Patricio gathered under his crossbar. Another effort saw the Wolves keeper fumble the ball away for a corner.

Juan Mata also went close, turning sharply on the edge of the area and going just wide with his finish.

Wolves' system was proving difficult to break down. Off the ball they looked solid in a 5-4-1 formation and it was only when they gained possession that they opened up and looked threatening. They had a couple of penalty shouts waved away and were on the brink of finishing off their slick counter-attacks.

After 68 minutes there was no mass departure in protest, although a few were seen leaving. At the same time, Jimenez raced through and forced De Gea to tip over the crossbar.

Mason Greenwood came off the bench and made United look livelier, forcing Patricio to save after his effort deflected off Willy Boly. Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossed and Diogo Dalot was wide with his header.

Telegraph

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