Fernandes (right) had five shots in the game – more than any other player
Bruno Fernandes was unable to inspire Manchester United to victory on his debut as the £47m new arrival had to settle for a goalless draw against Wolves at Old Trafford.
In a game of few chances, Fernandes did force a couple of routine saves from fellow countryman Rui Patricio, who also almost dropped another into his own net as he inexplicably fumbled his fellow Portuguese’s tame shot round the post.
The nearest United came to scoring was in the final minute of stoppage time when substitute Diogo Dalot headed Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross narrowly wide, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have now taken just four points from five games.
Wolves worked hard but, despite introducing their debutant, Daniel Podence, near the end, also lacked a killer touch in front of goal.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have now won once in six games since their memorable comeback triumph against Manchester City on 27 December and, with 13 games of the campaign remaining, are, like United, six points off a Champions League place and behind Sheffield United.
A solid debut for Fernandes
‘I think someone’s moved the goal posts’ – Solskjaer on Man Utd finishing
While it could not be described as an explosive debut, Fernandes did enough to indicate he will improve United as an offensive threat.
The former Sporting Lisbon man was eager to get on the ball, took the initiative at set-pieces and was not afraid to shoot.
His first effort drifted wide as he shot from the angle. His second, from a central position, turned out to be the hosts’ only first-half shot on target, which went straight at Patricio.
Almost more noticeable was the ugly stuff. A hoofed clearance from the edge of United’s six-yard box brought chants of ‘Bruno, Bruno’ from the Stretford End behind him.
Then a thunderous challenge on fellow countryman Joao Moutinho eventually brought a cursory check to see if the Wolves midfielder was OK as he lay on the ground receiving treatment.
Another free-kick and the routine shot Patricio almost made a mess of were Fernandes’ second-half highlights, although he will not be able to raise the whole underperforming team on his own.
This was the third meeting between these sides in the space of 29 days and their sixth encounter in less than a year.
As the previous five had resulted in a couple of 2-1 victories for Wolves, a 1-0 triumph for United and two draws, it was perhaps no surprise the latest encounter should be equally tight.
The visitors did have chances, with Raul Jimenez forcing an excellent second-half save from United keeper David de Gea and Romain Saiss heading over when he was well placed to do much better 11 minutes from time.
Podence had a shot on the turn blocked near the end, although Wolves’ marathon season appears to have caught up with them and they, more than most, will be thankful for the two-week break that lies ahead.
Sixty-two years ago on Thursday, United suffered the biggest tragedy in their history when eight players were among the 23 passengers who died when the team plane crashed in Munich following a refuelling stop on the way back from a European Cup tie in Belgrade.
Two hours before kick-off on Saturday, fans from both sides gathered for the annual ceremony under the Munich memorial outside the stadium.
Just before the teams emerged from the tunnel, United’s Munich anthem, Flowers of Manchester, was played and as the teams emerged a massive banner proclaiming “We’ll Never Die” was dragged across the Stretford End. After 58 minutes, applause rang round the ground in honour of the victims.
Sir Bobby Charlton was the only survivor of the crash present at the game, although Jimmy Murphy, son of manager Sir Matt Busby’s assistant Jimmy, was also at Old Trafford.
There had been calls for a walkout by United fans after 68 minutes.
As it turned out, a handful of supporters left at the allotted time but it was hardly noticeable amid a capacity crowd.
Far more conspicuous was the absence of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Wolves fans sang “There’s only one Ed Woodward” at one point, although there was no repeat of the singing from United fans which has attracted such controversy in recent games.
‘I am happy’
Nuno ‘happy’ with spirited Wolves performance
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: “I think it was a good game, an intense game. I think first half was good. There was a second-half spell United dominated and created a lot of problems.
“We had our moments. I am happy. The boys worked very hard and it was tough.
“I think in the first half our idea was clear to control the middle of the pitch and we had a lot of counter attacks. It was good but it was a balanced game.”
Man of the match – Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd)
In a game of few chances, Wan Bissaka’s pace was a threat and he was defensively sound
Wolves’ next game is against Leicester at Molineux on Friday, 14 February (20:00 GMT). United travel to Chelsea on Monday, 17 February (20:00).
Goal-shy United – the stats
- Manchester United have failed to score in three consecutive league games for the first time since October 2016.
- United failed to score in back-to-back home league games for the first time since March 2014.
- Wolves are without a win in their past 12 away games against United in all competitions (D3 L9), and have not led for a single minute in any of those games since a 1-0 win in February 1980.
- Wolves are the first team to keep a Premier League clean sheet away against both Manchester clubs in a season since Chelsea in 2013-14.
- This was Wolves’ first 0-0 draw in the Premier League since the opening weekend against Leicester, while it was just their third in total in 63 Premier League games under Nuno Espirito Santo.
- Bruno Fernandes had more shots (5), more shots on target (3) and made more passes (88) than any other United player .
- Eight Portuguese players featured, making Portugal only the third nation outside the UK to have at least eight players appear in a Premier League match, after France and Spain.
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 1de Gea
- 2LindelöfBooked at 79mins
- 23ShawBooked at 84mins
- 15PereiraSubstituted forGreenwoodat 72'minutes
- 8MataSubstituted forLingardat 88'minutes
- 18Bruno FernandesBooked at 55mins
- 21JamesSubstituted forDalotat 88'minutes
- 11Rui Patrício
- 8NevesBooked at 57mins
- 28João MoutinhoBooked at 71mins
- 19Castro Otto
- 37TraoréSubstituted forCastelo Podenceat 76'minutes
- 9JiménezSubstituted forDendonckerat 90+1'minutes
- 18JotaSubstituted forNetoat 70'minutes
- 6Cavaco Jordão
- 10Castelo Podence
Home TeamMan UtdAway TeamWolvesPossessionHome64%Away36%ShotsHome15Away14Shots on TargetHome5Away3CornersHome4Away6FoulsHome14Away15
Match ends, Manchester United 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.