Results at Old Trafford in my lifetime don’t make for pleasant reading. Played 7, lost 7, scored 4, conceded 17.
I suspect it may have been significantly worse had we been Premier League participants for a few more years at the peak of their dominance.
The losing sequence was nearly broken in 2010 after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake netted a second half equaliser but Park won it for them in Fergie time.
There’s no Sir Alex these days though and the Theatre of Dreams doesn’t intimidate like it once did. Utd haven’t won a title since the great man called it a day and Jose is yet to convince he’s the man to deliver.
I don’t like the term ‘free hit’ but after two straight league wins, Wolves travel with confidence and everything required to have a right good go. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they perform.
As I write this, the Red Devils are preparing for a Champions League fixture in Switzerland as their season begins to gather pace.
Mourinho will be annoyed they’ve already suffered two bad defeats before the imposition of continuous midweek football further stretches the squad.
They were limp against Brighton and fell apart against Spurs having gone a goal behind, but bounced back with two solid away wins against Burnley and high flying Watford.
If they overcome Young Boys tonight, which they should, they’ll return to Old Trafford with renewed energy and a desire to put things right after the mauling from Spurs.
Romelu Lukaku has notched 4 league goals already and will be keen to continue that strike rate after only netting 16 in Premier League last time out, which is low by his standards.
The big striker could be the key performer as he offers the type of physical menace Wolves have yet to really encounter this season.
The Home End
People of my generation all know at least one Utd fan, so I’m pleased to say my good pal Jason agreed to answer some questions for us ahead of the game.
1. Utd have bounced back from those two defeats to Brighton and Spurs with two solid wins against Burnley and Watford. How would you assess the season to date?
We’ve started the season as I would have expected. We’re still trying to find a winning formula and I don’t think our manager knows his best 11, which is showing in the results to date.
2. Mourinho has come in for a lot of criticism over the last year. Do you think that’s fair? Should Utd be doing better or has the competition just got stronger?
Utd are still in transition. Just when we feel like we have the side to compete, the competition spend another 75-100m and change the game. We are getting there but it will take longer than we expected to reach our goal of being champions again. I think Mourinho brings a lot of criticism on himself. He’s the managerial equivalent of Pogba as he doesn’t know how to stay away from the camera and always has to say something controversial. He gets a lot of stick but he has been around for a very long time now and his record speaks for itself. The job is bigger than a lot of people think it is and with his experience he will turn things around. I’m not sure if he will get the time though when success needs to be now not later.
3. What do you think constitutes success for Utd this year?
The Premier League is the most competitive it has ever been. Any of the so called Big 6 could win the league. Utd are progressing more and more every season and finishing second last year was under estimated by a lot of people. I still think we lack the consistency and squad depth to win the league, but I’d be happy with a top 4 finish especially when looking around at the teams that will be competing for those places.
4. Who do you view as your key players?
We rely on players like De Gea, Valencia, Matic, Young (Shaw this season) and Lukaku who’s started the season well. The rest of the players I haven’t mentioned are rotated quite a lot or like Pogba don’t perform consistently enough. Losing Matic to suspension for this game is a massive blow. With a weaker central defence his strength is key and he can also bring the ball out. He is massively underrated.
5. What have you made of Wolves this season? Have any players caught your eye? And where do you think we’ll end up come the end of the season?
Wolves have made a solid start and bounced back well from the Leicester defeat. Moutinho has impressed me the most – he’s a really tidy player and keeps the game flowing. Generally all the players fit the system well. I had Wolves to finish in the top 10 at the start and I’m going to stick with that. Speaking to the majority of Wolves fans I know survival is key but on the other hand a lot expect higher so saying top 10 seems a realistic call.
6. Do you think any of the Wolves players would get into the Utd team and if so which player would you take?
That’s a tough question, but if I could have a player it would be Neves due to him being so consistent and disciplined. Close second would be Moutinho.
7. How do you view this fixture? Are you confident of a good result?
This will be the toughest game Utd have had at OT against Wolves. They’re a very confident side and the results are reflecting that so I expect something really positive from Wolves. Losing 3-0 to Spurs in our last home game was disappointing so I’m hoping Utd step up and don’t under estimate the opposition. Playing in Europe Wednesday won’t help, especially as it’s away, but we have no excuses to play so poorly at home again.
8. What’s your score prediction?
Going 2-1 Utd with Wolves to score first. Lukaku with both goals and Jota to get his first.
It’s difficult to predict anything other than the same starting lineup Nuno has fielded in every Premier League match so far.
I thought he might finally give into the temptation of starting Traore after his goal at West Ham, but as someone astutely pointed out to me on Twitter ‘Nuno favours control over chaos’ and so it proved against Burnley.
Wolves completely smothered the Clarets and controlled the entire game. You could see that when Traore came on that while he adds dynamism and a very direct threat, he’s not quite folded into the style of play just yet.
I’m really hoping the team don’t give anything away in the early parts of the game and move the ball around as impressively as they have done in recent weeks. The above XI will give them the best chance of achieving that primary objective.
You’ll all be pleased to know I registered the maximum against Burnley to move myself off the bottom of the Prediction League table – so there. Well done to my fellow losers who also got some points to ensure nobody has zero from 5.
Dr. Phil is still leading the way with 9 points from 4 predictions, but LukeW and Shready are right there with him. Special mention too for guest contributor Paddy, screaching up the table with 7 points from just 3 predictions. You can see the full table here.
As always, leave your predictions for the game in the comment section below, which is where you can also see my forecast.
Up The Wolves!