United players shaking hands before kick-off.

Explained: Why United's XI at Wolves was unique

Amid the drama and excitement of Monday’s 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, a remarkable fact was probably missed by many Manchester United supporters.

When the much-anticipated team news was officially announced, with exactly one hour to go before kick-off at Molineux Stadium, it was confirmed by statistical experts Opta that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had selected the youngest starting XI of any Premier League manager so far this season. 

The Norwegian’s eleven players had an average age of just 24 years and 173 days. 

Remarkably, that line-up was also the club’s youngest in the top flight since the final day of the 2016/17 campaign, when a United team with an average age of 22 years and 284 days beat Crystal Palace.

Highlights: Wolves 1 United 1Video

HOW THE SIDE GOT YOUNGER

Solskjaer had previously named the youngest starting XI across the opening 10 fixtures of the new Premier League season, with an average age of 24 years and 227 days. That side went on to beat Chelsea 4-0 thanks to an energetic and combative performance at Old Trafford. 

Ole then fielded an even younger team against Wolves on Monday evening by making just one change, handing 21-year-old Daniel James his first competitive start for United in place of 23-year-old Academy graduate Andreas Pereira.

YOUNG BUT EXPERIENCED

While Monday’s XI was the club’s youngest in the league since May 2017, it was by no means inexperienced and a quick glance at all of the starting players’ ages shows that none of them were teenagers.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Marcus Rashford were all the youngest players in the side at the ages of 21, closely followed by 22-year-old Scott McTominay and 23-year-old Anthony Martial. 

They are all still young players in the big picture of professional football, of course, but they are hardly untested prospects and that can only be a good thing for Solskjaer, who has frequently expressed his desire to build a squad that combines exuberant youth with vital experience at United. 

The Reds' captain for the evening, David De Gea, was the oldest player at 28.

Ages of our starting XI v Wolves: De Gea (28), Wan-Bissaka (21), Maguire (26), Lindelof (25), Shaw (24), McTominay (22), Pogba (26), James (21), Lingard (26), Rashford (21), Martial (23).

Substitutes used: Mata (31), Greenwood (17), Andreas (23).

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