Manchester United travel down to Wolverhampton in order to face the Wanderers at Molineux on Monday night. The fixture will see United face their first away game of the season after the great highs of providing Chelsea with a thumping 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. But will we be laughing in the same vein or will it be more tears in Wolverhampton ?
Both players and fans must not use the Chelsea games’ rivetting performance as a means to dismiss this clash and take it as 3 points handed to us on a plate. We took on Nuno Espirito Santo’s side three times last season and three times we were unable to yield wins against them and I think its fair to say on all three occasions we were played off the park by the likes of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves pulling strings in midfield.
Jose Mourinho hosted his ex reserve goalkeeper, Nuno in September of last season. A game which wasn’t too dissmilar to others within Jose’s reign, tepid, frustrating and lacking in potency. Real sitters being missed by the likes of Lukaku meant that Fred’s first half goal was not followed up and a second half goal from Moutinho resulted in points dropped at home for Manchester United once again under Mourinho.
But surely sacking Mourinho and bringing in a positive legend like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have solved our Wolverhampton shaped problem!? …. Playing them in the cup after an ironically vibrant performance at Chelsea, in the next round we had our proverbial rear-ends handed to us after presenting no attacking threat. So Wolves ended our Cup dreams… nice one. Then we played them in the league, a chance to get our revenge, our chance for redemption, our chance to continue our Top 4 conquest! … no, we lost from a leading position for the first time since Louis Van Gaal against Swansea in 2015 and ended up not getting into the top 4 finishing the season trophyless… Cheers Nuno!
However, this is a new and improved Manchester United side, you can tell that because we’re in new kits this time, how do you like those apples Nuno… but more seriously while I should reiterate that this game could be a sobering one following the Chelsea game reds worldwide have reasons to be confident going into this one based on that Chelsea game. The enthusiastic press and chance creation that we saw against Chelsea, who are still a top 6 side might I add, and the braveness from Ole to drop a tested Nemanja Matic who would provide that defensive stability and experience with the more risky but steady 22 year old Scott Mctominay who provides that quickness on the ball to move the ball from defence to attack efficiently all shows that the rhetoric has changed at our club, the emphasis is truly on the youth and courage while the success remains to be seen.
The gaffer rightly acknowledged the challenge that Nuno’s side pose “Wolverhampton will give us a very hard challenge” he said in his presser, “we have to break them down, we have to stop them counter-attacking, we cant give them too many set pieces so its just as much a mental test”. I believe with a focussed Paul Pogba that we seem to have at the moment, and the “cool head” of Maguire we will be well versed to perform on Monday night.
My personal prediction is a Manchester United victory by 2 goals to Wolves’ none, a nice clean sheet for David de Gea and an Anthony Martial brace. Reasons for my prediction? well Wolves had a Europa League qualifier on Thurseday night against Pyunik, which they won comfortably 4-0 but still fielded the likes of Diogo Jota, Real Madrid Loanee Vallejo, Joao Moutinho and Cutrone from AC Milan, some of their top players. Even if the physical fatigue of playing on Thurseday/Monday basis isn’t impactful on their preparation, surely the mental fatigue of the preparation for their first european dwellings under Nuno must take it’s toll. Hopefully we come out the game with a win, the players need to work hard, none of that inconsistent nonsense this season. Come on Reds !!!!