Man United were fortunate to beat Wolves at Molineux but it was fitting that, on a day their fans serenaded Cristiano Ronaldo, it was Mason Greenwood running down the wing who made United sing.
Three hours before kick-off outside Molineux, a couple of Manchester United supporters were bellowing ‘Viva Ronaldo’ opposite the Billy Wright statue.
A cardboard cutout of Ronaldo was on board the 10.27 from Piccadilly to Wolverhampton and he surfaced in the Steve Bull Stand lower, where there were Portugal and Super Bock flags.
The away-dayers twirled their scarves above their head to Ronaldo’s anthem. They swayed to the left and the right as they revived ‘That boy Ronaldo’. It was another boy on the right who secured victory.
Jadon Sancho, perhaps the eventual heir to Ronaldo, never played on that side. Mason Greenwood moved there and was the player running down the wing to make United sing, via the flimsy goalkeeping of Jose Sa.
“He’s not here today, is he?” the Wolves official asked mischievously. Ronaldo was absent, in Lisbon preparing for Portugal’s World Cup qualifiers.
The chap on the door half-jokingly lamented Wolves’ failure to sign another Portuguese. Sir Alex Ferguson was in attendance again and unfortunate not to be serenaded for his pivotal part in Friday’s seismic story.
United need more than Ronaldo if they are to celebrate a 21st title, specifically a defensive midfielder. Much has changed since Ronaldo last wore red; United have been dependent on David de Gea for much of the last decade and he backed up Solskjaer’s proclamation on Friday that he is the best goalkeeper in the world. De Gea’s double-stop from Romain Saiss in front of the rocking Jack Hayward Stand beggared belief. Eleven minutes later, Greenwood pounced.
Raphael Varane, accustomed to playing behind Casemiro in Madrid, will now know not all Brazilian midfielders are as dependable as his former teammate. The slight United attack was as brittle as a cardboard cutout against Wolves’ defensive trident. Daniel James and Sancho were removed. Varane was impressive and needed to be.
Fred, fortunate to start after his error-strewn performance at St Mary’s, was breached when he held the fort at Molineux in the April 2019 defeat and he was looser in the opening 10 minutes, turning attack into defence on two edgy occasions. De Gea and then Aaron Wan-Bissaka bailed him out.