Manchester United went down to a poor 1-0 defeat to Wolves at Old Trafford on Monday evening, and their interim boss will have been left in no doubt about the task in front of him

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Ralf Rangnick reflects on Wolves defeat

These dark days were supposed to be behind Manchester United.

The painful removal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was advertised as the turning of the corner, and the steadying of the ship.

Ralf Rangnick’s arrival as interim manager was heralded as a masterstroke too, as his role in developing the great German coaches we know from the Premier League – and indeed the very modern football that their sides play, as we saw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – was shouted from the rooftops.

His influence was billed as exactly what United needed.

And that’s still true of course. Monday’s dismal defeat at home to Wolves doesn’t change any of that.

But what the 1-0 loss did do was let Rangnick know just what lies in front of him at Old Trafford in the here and now.

It shouldn’t even have been 1-0, for starters.

Rangnick’s side were well beaten by Wolves



That it took Wolves 82 minutes to score through Joao Moutinho really was not a reflection of the game.

Bruno Lage’s side could and should have been at least two up at the break, and the 15 shots they registered in the first half now stand as the most Opta have counted from a visiting side at Old Trafford in the first half since they started adding up such things 19 years ago.

United did improve in the second period, even though they really didn’t have much choice.

The game started to take on the feel of the hosts nicking it as Bruno Fernandes struck the bar and Cristiano Ronaldo saw his header ruled out for offside. A win, even a goal, for the hosts would have been tantamount to daylight robbery though.

Wolves got their win against United because their football deserved it, just as Liverpool’s and Manchester City’s did in those tortuous final few weeks of the Solskjaer reign.

Goalscorer Moutinho hit the nail on the head when he said that his team “controlled everything” in the his post-match interview, so much so that Rangnick was forced to match up Lage’s side and go to three centre-backs in the second half.

Such moves are usually made when one side is seeking to limit the space enjoyed by the other, and that is damning for any Manchester United team at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves were deserved winners at Old Trafford


Getty Images)

But Rangnick saw his task shift before his eyes at Old Trafford on Monday night, even if he probably already suspected what has now been utterly proven.

It was, after all, on show in the fortunate 1-0 win at Norwich and the disjointed draw at Newcastle. These players just don’t work hard enough, and nor do they seem like they want to.

The long-held suspicion over Solskjaer was that training under him just wasn’t intense enough, with standards slipping below those of the elite teams in the country and beyond.

Rangnick was advertised as the man to modernise all that – even if the fact that he has only managed a team in two of the last 10 seasons and only has one major trophy to his name did set alarm bells ringing a little.

He is supposed to be the overseer though. The man to put best practices in place.

But what if the players simply don’t have it in them to do what he wants?

The club’s signings in recent times certainly don’t suggest they do anyway. With Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani all very much having their hunger for success sated a fair old while ago in their careers.

Even those who receive new contracts such as Nemanja Matic, who quite unfathomably managed to complete the 90 minutes alongside Scott McTominay, have their best days a long, long way behind them. Do they really want to be learning anything new right now?

We’ve all known that there has been a rebuilding job to do at United for quite some time now, but the way in which the club actively attempt to seek and destroy attempts to achieve it it really has been quite remarkable.

Rangnick will have the biggest impact on this next phase of trying to deliver it, and it is now his job to identify the players who have no business being involved.

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