Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester United: Preview


After picking up the first trophy of the season in last weekends Carling Cup final, in the process retaining the trophy and becoming the first side ever to do so. The week has since been littered with talk of the Glazers and a possible takeover from ‘the Red Knights’. Whether this will emerge as a reality remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, Wolves will be looking to take full advantage of any post-trophy winning complacency and financial speculation surrounding the club.

After midweek international duty many of the players will now have to focus on the game at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Many would expect Edwin van der Sar to return to the Manchester United line up, though Tomasz Kuszczak will have something to say about that. A good display in the Carling Cup final and more over the same in midweek for Poland, the PIG will be looking to a prolonged run in the team.

Rio Ferdinand is available for selection and should partner Nemanja Vidic in central defence. Patrice Evra will be at left-back as ever, and Gary Neville may get the nod over Rafael on the right side against weaker opposition and due to the Brazilian carrying a slight knock. Jonny Evans will miss the game with a knee injury.

Some semi-exciting news, Owen Hargreaves looks likely to play for the reserves in midweek, so he may be in for a first team call-up very soon indeed, but Wolves have came maybe a week too soon. Anderson is out for the season and Giggs is still sidelined with a broken arm. It would not be surprising if United lined up with five across the middle, Antonio Valencia on the right, making his 100th Premier League start. Nani is back from suspension, so could be on the left, but Ji-Sung Park will probably get the nod. Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick should be the central midfield trio.

We have all heard the news that Michael Owen is out of the remainder of the season with a hamstring problem, so it seems we have an issue with our strikers. Wayne Rooney is also a doubt with a knee problem and Federico Macheda is only just returning from long-term absence. So the responsibility to lead the United front line should fall to Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian still has doubters and a good performance leading the line on his own will do nothing but help his case.

Sir Alex Ferguson though expects a battle, he said, “It’s a real dogfight down there. Wolves are fighting for their lives so we expect a difficult match. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re in a situation now where we need to win all of our games. They have to gather points to stay in the league, and it’s the same for all the other teams down there. It’s not easy, but knowing Mick, he’s never been one to shirk a challenge. There is no doubt that they will have a go at us. We’ll just have to make sure we’re prepared for a battle.”

All the talk after the reverse fixture in December was about Mick McCarthy’s decision to field a weakened team, a suspended £25,000 fine will put a stop to any likelihood of a repeat as the Yorkshireman is likely to field an unchanged side from the one that was beaten by Bolton last weekend.

The main dangerman for Wolves this season has been Kevin Doyle, the clubs top scorer with six goals thus far. Jody Craddock is having something of an Indian summer in the gold and black, whilst also contributing four strikes to aid the anti-relegation cause. One player of interest to United fans will be Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, a goal machine in the Championship, has struggled with the step up scoring a paltry goal in the Premier League this season.

Doyle does seem optimistic, stating “United have so many games and, no matter how good a player you are, with that amount of matches, it is difficult to do it week in and week out. I think that is why you have seen some of the results this season, with the top teams beaten. We have less games to play all season, so that is an advantage and hopefully that will show on Saturday.”

Wolves’ only victory in 14 Premier League matches against Big Four opposition was at home to Manchester United in January 2004. A 1-0 win, though last time the side met at Molineux United were 3-0 victors, in the FA Cup four years ago. As well as being the Premier Leagues lowest scorers with 21 goals, Wolves have failed to score in 12 of their 27 league matches this season.

United on the other hand have only won two of their last six away matches in the league and failed to win in both previous Premier League visits to promoted clubs this season.

A battle will ensue, that is certain. Wolves are fighting for their lives and may feel they have something to prove with a full strength side on show, but United are beginning to move into top gear and the Carling Cup may well act as a catalyst for a rousing performance.

Prediction: 3-0 United

Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher, Park; Berbatov


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  1. @Grognard: The game tomorrow all depends on Rooney!
    In the first leg, he was the one player that couldn’t be neutralized, and he was, therefore, the one player that excelled.

    With all the big names that are on show, they are mostly just “has-been’s” and “might-be’s” and “could-do’s”. Our man Rooney is the only one that is at his prime and on his game!

    It could just be another Ali v Foreman rematch – heavyweights that just don’t ever go punch to punch! 🙂

  2. It is our history to do things the hard way. I can see Milan scoring two goals simply because players like Ronaldinho, Pato and Inzaghi are very dangerous.and in Seedorf, Ambrosini and Pirlo they have a midfield that could overrun ours. So it really depends on whether we can score. Really it should not be a problem because they cannot handle Rooney, and Valencia and Nani are capable of causing problems on the flanks.

    The key is going to be how well we counter attack and for that reason Id not start with Berbatov. Milan will have to push men forward, and they do not have the legs to get back. If we catch them out on the counter a few times they will be too scared to get forward and we can hold them.

  3. @Redrich: Guys, guys… Twitter is the invention of this century!! Seriously, once you get hooked – there’s no looking back!! 🙂

  4. @colver: I wont call it playing football manager, Man Utd needs to buy quality players or else we wave bye bye to success. This should not mean buying success, rather than strengthening our weak areas.

    Do i think we need a good keeper to replace vds, yes i do? Do we have any in our ranks who can fill his boots flawleslly no. So only option is we need to buy.

    Same goes for a replacement for giggs and scholes, how many times do we need to rely on them to winn matches. They wont be able to run forever.

    Rooney needs someone to comliment him up top, we cant cont relying on him as we have done this season, and it shows our weakness when his game is down, rem when we played everton at goodison last month.

    So it does not really matter whether glazers will fund or not, whether fergy will have to sell to get quality players, all i know and am sure many here will agree with me, is we need to purchse quality players in the summer.

  5. @Beachryan: Considering Carrick and Andy are out, and gibson not up to it. I’d also very much go with your squad but with valencia rather than naini. Put in mind the latest winning combo of berba – valencia – rooneys head 😆

  6. @Grognard: Am not content with a lot thats going on in our club, but for dioufs case, i am willing to give him time to develop into that position and if he proves otherwise, we ship him out. Strikers dont become lethal until into there late twenties, and at 21 showing all that promise and talent i think we should not be judging him after only a 25 min cameo. Maybe after end of next season, we shall know if we have a real gem with us or as u put it a rough gem which = coal. :mrgreen:

  7. @Beachryan: I agree with you mate, apart from his body build, nothing much to offer.

    Last night i watched him play vs arsenil, and he could not beat grand dad sol campbel, so waht hope do we have of him coming bagaisnt some of the finest defence in the Epl.

    Diff btwn arsenil and porto last night was arshavin. How painful it is for me as a man utd fan, knowing we could have bought him if we really wanted quality on the left of our pitch. He showed how easy it is to beat your man, man you have skill, technic and pace. What we so lack at the moment. Esp that creative bit, which will supply our stikers with easy tap ins.

    Butas our beloved coach puts it, there is no quality/value for money out there

  8. @Traverse: I know this will sound stupid, but when did united start forming teams to stop the opposition, i think it should be the other way round. But reality is diff, this shows how low we have fallen, that even teams like wolves and sunderland think they can have a go at us.

  9. @Grognard: Thats what i expect from any utd side, to come out with alll guns blazing, forcin milna read any time to be defending on their on half, rather than have majority of the possesion in our half.

    It will be Milans mis doing if they expect we will come to defend the league rather than try finish the game in the fisrt 20 30 mins, We should start this match the way we played arsenil in the second leg of last years semis, catch them off gurad and score early goals.

  10. @Man Utd Jaluo: Totally. Arsenal were impressive contrary to what some folks here are saying. i saw the whole game and just as Porto had chances, Arsenal too had chances to put in a couple of more goals.

    And just like you, every time i see Arshavin play i rue the fact that Arsenal got that talent for 15MM !!!! Thats a fucking steal when we are tlaking about 30MM for the likes of De Maria and what 7MM we paid for Tosic?? We could have easily bought Arshavin. Imagine a front of Arshavin, Rooney, Berba, Valencia….orgasmic.

  11. @godzilla: We missed a good deal there, but unlike other areas of the field, getting a good LW is not that hard, D silva, di maria are still good players who can be purchased to enhance our attack.

    With a few good purchases, we can have that attack line to die for again.

  12. @Redrich: What bugs me is the arrogance and conceit people have on there that they think others out there could give a damn about what they are doing up to the minute. Dumbass is walking down the street. Dumbass stopped at a traffic light. It’s a nice day today. Dumbass is texting at Starbucks. Dumbass got an upset stomach at Starbucks and is reading bathroom graffiti while taking a crap etc etc etc. It’s just so boring and mundane and to think that people are so full of themselves that they think others give a shit about what they are doing up to the minute. Jeez, it’s just so infuriating that we waste technological advancements on such garbage. No wonder the third world hates us so much for our self centered decadence. 🙄

  13. @Redrich: Milan has a lot of has beens but some of them can still deliver the knockout punch. Perhaps not against a team like Barca but certainly against a team like us which has been decimated by injuries and defections, not to mention the often questionable squad selection and tactics of our manager. Leonardo in my opinion is a manager that is way behind in terms of tactics and motivation. He hasn’t yet won over his players and certainly not the Milan fans. He is a work in progress and I do not feel he is a threat to us the way Mourinho would be had this been Inter Milan instead. United could end up winning this 3-1 today but Fergie will find a way for us to shoot ourselves in the foot because he will start inept players like Park which should keep Milan in the game. The good news however is that we usually play a much better game after we have played a poor game and that Wolves fiasco was a poor game even though we won. Still, I think we will draw 1-1 or 2-2. Thank the lord for away goals.

  14. @colver: I agree, the counter attack is the key. My feelings are we are more susceptible defensively if we start both Valencia and Nani on the wings but that we can score a goal or two if they play, as opposed to Park starting. If Park and Berba start I do not have as much confidence in our ability to counter or score. In that scenario I see us controlling the ball more but creating very little. It will give Milan a chance if they are lucky enough to get a goal. Still, I feel Milan are a shadow of their former selves and are not as difficult to beat as their previous teams led by Ancelotti. Then again, our club is not as good either but we still have Fergie and best of all, we have Rooney and Fletcher. If Rio and Vidic are steady at the back, it will be a long day for Milan.

  15. @antsBoy: They said the same thing about Cocaine mate. Twitter is for twits and inane individuals who have too much time on their hands and who lack the proper social graces and interpersonal skills to communicate the old fashioned way. It’s yet another virus of the technological age that has turned humanity into a pack of programmed monkeys who use tools like that in a Pavlovian fashion not realizing just how ridiculous they are. You want to speak to somebody badly enough mate, try a phone call, or e-mail or better yet, pay them a visit. And if they are too far away, they aren’t that concerned with what you are doing this very minute anyway. People need to get over themselves. Twitter is nothing more than a ridiculous invention designed to turn the masses into programmed zombies. Sorry but Homey don’t play day.

  16. @Man Utd Jaluo: That’s just too logical mate. Too many on here will argue that we need to play Anderson and Diouf more. 😉 😆 😆 😆

    I agree, unfortunately the reality is that the Glazer’s have taken from Fergie and from the team the ability to compete with the Barca’s, Chelsea’s and Madrid’s, which of course is the cash to make that happen. Of course quality players is what we are in need of. That’s a no brainer but the cheap Fergie and the Glazer’s lack of caring for this club will allow us to buy perhaps one player in the 15 to 20 million range and Joe Cole as well as another summer in which Fergie tells the Republic of Mancunia that their is no value in the transfer market. And he is actually half right because the World Cup will have spiked up the price of many stars. That is why he was a class “A” idiot for not buying a couple of key players in January for a change to avoid the post World Cup price hike.

    I believe that with the WC being this summer, the atmosphere post tournament will be such that if he does not buy and spend a lot of money, that the patience and loyalty of the fans will be such that many will finally turn on the Gaffer. We can only take so much of this royal bullshit that both he and the Glazer’s have been feeding us. However, if he spends at least 60 million, then all is forgiven for him at least. Nothing the Glazer’s do will ever make me or others forgive or accept them.

  17. @Man Utd Jaluo: I couldn’t disagree with you more mate. I am not even going to offer up the list of at least 100 top strikers over the past 15 years who were able to score a lot in their early twenties. 29 is old and over the hill for most players in the game period. Infact 75% of the greatest strikers in the game’s history were declining greatly in their goal scoring ability when they reach the age of 28 or 29. Where you get this idea that they are in their peak during this time is beyond me? This is and always will be a young players game. Don’t let the Scholes and Giggs of the world fool you and trust me when I tell you that the Mueller’s, Shearer’s and Pele’s of the world were not as great at 29+ as the were between 21-28. The peak for most strikers today is between 23-27. Just look around and see Villa, Torres, Rooney and Aguero play as opposed to the offerings of RVN, Owen, Inzaghi, Klose, and other 29+ players. Drogba is about the only one still doing the job consistently, and even so, he is not the Drogba of the Mourinho era.

  18. @Man Utd Jaluo: The other thing to take account of when it comes to Diouf is who the Hell is he really? Occasionally soem backwater republic will spawn a great footballer like Weah, Drogba, Adebayor etc but most of the time, I do not trust players who come from countries that are not strong in football success and tradition. Great players become greater because of great competition in their development. What kind of competition did Manucho and now Diouf really have when they came to us? Crap competition.

    At the risk of insulting my friend Eddy’s homeland, Norway is a growing football power because of the number of teams and players it is spawning these days but the nation is hardly known for international success or pedigree. I for one have more faith in players who come from proven football factories like Germany, Brazil, Argentina, England, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Holland, France, Spain and several others. These countries are famous for success internationally but they also train and develop the best players in the world.
    A club like ours has a better chance of finding a great talent in one of those nations than it does in some Johnny come lately country that has a lower grade of football by which to teach their talent with.

    Diouf had it easy and pressure free in the Norwegian league. I doubt he would have been as successful had he started in Serie A or in the Bundesliga. So although he may pan out, I am less sure of him as I would be of a Pato, Aguero or Messi when they were young and unproven. For me pedigree means everything. Hopefully Eddy himslef will be one of those players who comes out of Norway like Solksjaer and makes it big. Then again he is a defender/ defensive midfielder which I think is an easier position to develop then that of an offensive player that requires extreme skill, touch and imagination. I have yet to see any of this in Diouf who’s name sounds an awful lot like what Homer Simpson says every time he fucks up. 😆 😆

  19. @Man Utd Jaluo: And who was the biggest voice for us signing Arshavin over two and one half years ago but me? I was ranting every day about him and yet Fergie did nothing. He beat us in the Super Cup, came to OT and beat the Hell out of Rangers in the UEFA final, did great things in the World Cup and still, Fergie was blind to the lad’s skill, but yet he pounced on a no talent like Karel Poborsky in 1996 for one fluke goal he scored. And need I mention Djemba Djemba, Manucho, Kleberson, Anderson and numerous other human stumps that he has raved about and signed and who amount to a pile of festering shit on the OT pitch.

    Meanwhile he procrastinated over Torres, Silva, Aguero, Huntelaar, Arshavin, Krasic, Gourcuff, Ribery (when he was cheap), Neuer, Adler and numerous other great players that we could have had. Fergie is a numb nuts when it comes to signing players. Even our greatest players came here with no help from him. Cantona was a gift, Keane was a gift, RVN, Ronaldo and even Rooney were all handed to us on a silver platter without Fergie literally having to lift a finger to get them.

    None of these players were wiley, calculated and smart signings by the manager. Fergie as great as he is has also got to go down as one of the luckiest managers of all time. You have to be good to be lucky but even he has had more luck in his career than he deserves. This year’s results are a perfect example of that. How many terrible games have we played where we managed to steal points? Too many to name.

  20. @Man Utd Jaluo: It’s when Fergie decided to turn his club into the Italian Job. After the 2006 loss to Milan he slowly began to turn the club into a more defensive minded ball control team. It didn’t always seem that way because we had the outstanding offensive skills of Rooney and especially Ronaldo, but now that style is firmly embedded in the team’s character.

  21. @colver: I don’t like seeing Park in the squad tbh,but there is one thing he shouldn’t be reduced to. An attacking defender. He has weaknesses but I’ve noticed he does know how to pick a pass. His movement is also quite good. He can also win freekicks in good areas due to his inability to keep standing and his ability to fall convincingly. He also links up well and his awareness is severely under-appreciated.

  22. @godzilla: I saw the game mate and Porto were just horrible. A division 3 team could defend better one on one than they di. Arsenal are NOT, and I repeat NOT as good as they looked because no other team worth their weight in gold would have allowed Arshavin and especially the useless Nasri to look as good as he did last night. And although I like Bendtner, he wouldn’t score three goals against any other of the final 16 teams, that’s for sure. Porto were an embarrassment to their fans and country and they should hang their heads in shame as they royally choked.

  23. @Jay wire: Awareness means nothing if you cannot control the ball at your feet mate. And I disagree with your assessment of his passing ability. It’s average at best. He lacks skill mate and therefore is nothing more than an offensive liability. I also think his defensive skills are overrated but at least he can pester opponents. The only use I would have for him if I was managing is as a late sub when we are one goal up and as the water boy who fetches the Gatorade and sponges for players on the sidelines. Then again, he’s probably end up on his ass doing those chores as well. 😉 😀 😀

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