Manchester United may have taken three points from their first Premier League game of the season, but the inescapable truth is that they got away with murder in their 1-0 win against Wolves. And not just because Andre Onana avoided conceding a penalty despite committing one of the clearest fouls of the weekend.
Wolves were regarded as one of the main candidates for relegation in 2023-24 after making hardly any summer signings and parting ways with Julen Lopetegui a week before the season opener, but they utterly dominated the match at Old Trafford. Gary O'Neil's side had 23 shots - more than any opponent has managed at Old Trafford since Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea almost 18 years ago.
And if Matheus Cunha, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Neto’s shooting had been a little sharper, it could very easily have been a bloodbath of the type United were subjected to last season by Brentford, Manchester City and Liverpool, among others.
After recording more clean sheets than anyone else in the league last season, United were woefully exposed in defence, and only newly-promoted duo Luton Town and Sheffield United conceded more shots than them on the opening weekend.
Erik ten Hag’s side may have got away with it this time thanks to some leniency from the referee and the profligacy of the Wolves forwards, but they urgently need to improve for their next two away matches at Tottenham and Arsenal, who will be licking their lips at facing such an open team.
United spent over £165 million ($210m) on their squad over the summer in three key areas, but the Wolves game suggested they have badly overlooked their midfield. And they could live to regret it...