Following last nights comfortable 3-0 victory against Young Boys in the opening game of the Champions League, Manchester United are back in Premier League action this weekend as Wolves visit Old Trafford. After a slow start, United have won their last two games in the league and things are starting to look a little bit more healthy (for now, at least) for Jose Mourinho.
Wolves will arrive full of confidence after a straight-forward victory against Burnley last weekend. In truth, the 1-0 scoreline does not tell the whole story and Burnley were lucky to just lose by the one goal. Had Wolves been more clinical, it could have been much worse for Sean Dyche’s men.
Having spent a lot of money in the transfer window, the pressure was on to see how Wolves would cope with the jump from the Championship to the Premier League. So far, they haven’t disappointed, and their performance against Manchester City underlines their belief that they can do more than just avoid the drop.
This week, I spoke to David from The Wolves Fancast to preview the weekends game.
Were you happy with the transfer business done by Wolves this summer?
Very much so. The key part of our transfer business was firstly tieing down a lot of our season long loan players into permanent deals. So players like Diogo Jota and Willy Boly were key. Add in Raul Jiminez on loan from Benfica and the summer steal of Joao Moutinho from Monaco for £5 million (yes, you read that right), it’s been a filthy summer.
It has been a positive start to the new campaign for Wolves. The draw vs City in particular I thought Wolves were excellent. What is the expectation of the fans this season?
Given our resources, the way we play and the players we have brought in, the realistic expectation is mid-table. We need to survive of course, but finishing 17th would actually be a disappointment. Some talk of Top 6-8 which could be a bit pie in the sky, but if we keep playing like we are and results go in our favour, you never know…
What was most pleasing during the 1-0 victory against Burnley at the weekend?
How in control of the game we were. Our movement and our passing was sublime. Burnley had nothing to offer. We nullified a side which deservedly finished 7th last season. Yes, our final touch was poor and the scoreline should have been far more, but we so many chances. At this level, that is pleasing to see going forward.
Ruben Neves has been linked with big money moves to both Manchester clubs recently. How important is he to any success you may have in the future?
Neves has been a fantastic addition to our side, but he is more the declaration of our intent going forward. As long as Ruben replicates his ability from last season into the Premier League, he will leave Wolves and fans won’t begrudge him if he does so. Neves partnership with Moutinho in the middle of the park could be key for us this season, controlling the middle of the park and setting the tempo for the game. Neves is our anchor, but might be someone else’s anchor in the future.
What have you made of Manchester Utd this season?
Man Utd have the players, but seem to not have that extra factor to dominate teams. You’ve basically lost the fear factor teams had when coming to Old Trafford (to the benefit of the rest of the league). Is it that you haven’t found the right combination yet? Or is Mourinho the issue? When Man Utd turn up, they can be unstoppable. Particularly Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku. It’s hard the judge the side so far given your run of fixtures. A test against one of the traditional Top 6 will be a real measure.
What can Utd expect from Wolves in terms of tactics?
Wolves may decide to sit deeper for this one, given it’s away and soak up the Utd pressure. Then nick the ball and go on the counter. It’s a tactic that worked well even at home, where Wolves have allowed the opposition to come forward at times, only to intercept the ball and allow our fullbacks and front three the freedom the pitch going forward.
The pace of Costa, Jota and particularly Traore may give your full-backs a lot of work on Saturday, with players such Doherty and Jonny providing further support and pace down the flanks.
Who is the one player you think Wolves need to be wary of in a red shirt?
Pogba. A Pogba who turns up. A Pogba on top of his game can cause a few problems.
Finally, what is your score prediction?
Wolves go to Old Trafford for the first time in our history probably full of confidence. Knowing that not only could we get a result, but a result to talk about. I’m expecting Wolves to frustrate Man Utd and for once come out on top. 2-1 to Wolves.