Tag Wolverhampton Wanderers

Tag Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fergie’s fringe takes up Carling challenge

October 26, 2010 Tags: , Matches 141 comments

Michael Owen will start as Manchester United’s fringe players take up the challenge of winning a third Carling Cup in a row at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side faces Wolverhampton Wanderers in the competition for the second year running. Danny Welbeck’s goal handed United victory in last year’s third round.

Owen has largely been ignored this season amid Javier Hernandez rise at the club and Dimitar Berbatov’s excellent goalscoring form. But the 30-year-old, who is out of contract in June, scored twice as Ferguson’s side beat Scunthorpe United in round two last month.

The former Liverpool player failed to make the bench for United’s victory over Stoke City at the weekend but has scored seven goals in his last nine appearances in the Carling Cup.

Although the temptation to retain two-goal Hernandez is strong, the in-form Mexican is more likely to feature against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

Owen could partner Italian teenager Federico Macheda in attack, while Bébé is set for a first start for the club following a surprise £7.4 million summer transfer. The Portuguese Under-21 international has made just two substitute appearances for the club to date.

Meanwhile, French winger Gabriel Obertan, Anderson and Darron Gibson could all feature in the Reds’ midfield as United seek a third final in a row.

Perhaps the most exciting proposition among United’s younger players is Ravel Morrison, who has been handed a squad number a may play tonight. The 17-year-old, dubbed one of the most talented players of his generation in some media quarters, is able to perform in a variety of midfield and forward positions.

However, the player’s progress is threatened by off-the-field issues, including an arrest amid newspaper allegations of involvement with illegal drugs and firearms.

Although Ferguson will continue the now long-held policy of fielding principally fringe players until the semi-final, the Carling Cup represents a realistic chance of silverware this season with other leading clubs also fielding weaker sides. Indeed, with Chelsea favourites to retain the Premier League and United probably short of the quality to challenge in Europe, the Carling Cup is arguably more important to United than ever.

Meanwhile, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy may also rotate his resources, although not necessarily resorting to the 10 changes he made in last season’s Premier League fixture at Old Trafford. The Irishman made a calculated gamble on his squad’s freshness. It was a decision that helped the Midlanders retain a place in the Premier League last season. The ridiculous £25,000 fine handed out by the Premier League is now made a complete mockery by the 25-man squad system introduced this season.

McCarthey’s men, who lost to Chelsea at the weekend, face United twice, Manchester City and Arsenal in a daunting series of fixtures over the next fortnight. It makes a Carling Cup run all-the-more important, says McCarthy.

“At this moment in time, wouldn’t it be great for us to have a cup run?” said the affable McCarthy.

“Everyone knows about the games we’ve got. We’ve just been beaten by Chelsea, we’ve got Man United in the cup, (Manchester) City in the league, United in the league then Arsenal in the league.

“So wouldn’t it be great to have a victory of any sorts amongst all of those? And if it’s going to be in the Carling Cup, let’s have it.”

It will take a monumental effort, despite United’s fringe squad, as Wolves have not won at Old Trafford in 30 years.

Opposition
Wolves – 4-4-2 – Hennessey; Stearman, Mancienne, Mouyokolo, Elokobi; Foley, Jones, Milijaš, Hunt; Ebanks-Blake, Bent.

Subs from: Van Damme, Edwards, Craddock, Henry, Fletcher, Ward, Hunt, Jones, Berra, Jarvis, Zubar, Mujangi Bia, Doyle, Foley, Guedioura,

United squad
Kuszczak, Amos, Smalling, Evra, O’Shea, Rafael, Fábio, Brown, Anderson, Carrick, Gibson, Hernández, Macheda, Hargreaves, Owen, Park, Eikrem, Dudgeon, Gill, Morrison, Brady, Bébé, Obertan.

Officials
Referee: L S Mason
Assistant referees: A I Halliday & S Burt
Fourth official: P T Crossley

Form
United – WWDWDW
Wolves – LWLLDL

United rides luck to take Premier summit

March 6, 2010 Tags: , Matches 3 comments

Manchester United regained the summit of the Premier League with a hard-fought victory in the midlands. With Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen injured, Sir Alex Ferguson deployed Dimitar Berbatov as the lone striker as Paul Scholes’ goal 72nd minute was enough to take three points. It could so easily have been different.

Ferguson’s decision to isolate the Bulgarian almost backfired as Wolverhampton Wanderers missed two glorious chances at Molineaux.If the Scot cannot play two strikers against relegation threatened Wolves – who played a full reserve team at Old Trafford earlier this season – then when can he?

Indeed, the animated Scot spent much of the opening period gesticulating wildly at his players as the Bulgarian cut a desolate figure, with Antonio Valencia and the returning Nani unable to offer support from wide areas.

United at least created chances even if the team lacked penetration in the opening minutes, with Nani and Darron Gibson firing wide in the first quarter.

But it was perhaps the home side with the best opportunity of the first half as Steven Ward headed straight at van der Sar when a goal beckoned for Wolves’ left-back. How he lived to regret it.

With Gary Neville on for Wes Brown at half-time, and a few choice words no doubt spoken by the manager, United looked more purposeful in the opening minutes of the second period.

Valencia, clearly frustrated in the opening half, created the first opportunity of the second period, exchanging passes with Berbatov before the Bulgarian fired wide. Then Patrice Evra, bursting into the home box forced a good save out of Marcus Hannemann as United pushed for the goal.

On the hour Ferguson finally introduced a second striker with Senegalese youngster Mame Biram Diouf coming on for the disappointing Gibson and United pushing four players into attacking areas. It perhaps should have happened earlier.

But the home side was never out of the game and continued to play with plenty of purpose, with Vidic booked for a cynical foul on 58 minutes as the match took on the a cup tie feel these teams missed on quarter-final weekend.

Just as United looked to be heading for a disappointing draw, Paul Scholes came up with the crucial goal. Although the former-England international rarely ventured forward the midfielder latched onto Nani’s pass and took full advantage of some poor defending by Christophe Berra to fire home from six yards.

Nani made way for the effervescent Ji-Sung Park, who added some needed energy to United’s attack, although Diouf wasted two good opportunities as the Reds failed to close out the game.

Wolves threw on three more strikers in former-Red Sylvain-Ebankes Blake, Andy Keogh and youngster Sam Vokes but although the home side tried to apply pressure United’s first-choice defensive pair of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand stood firm. Just about.

Then, as injury time ticked down, Vokes blew the chance to equalise as the Welshman fired over from just six yards with only van der Sar to beat. It would have been a devastating blow to United’s hopes. Such are the margins between Premier League glory and disappointment.

“Scoring goals is what you need to do to win games, and thankfully today it fell to me,” said Scholes, whose strike was the midfield genius’ 100th in the Premier League.

“It’s a good time to go top of the league, a 1-0 win is exactly what we need at this stage of the season.”

Ferguson, who believes Wayne Rooney will miss United’s second leg match with AC Milan on Wednesday, will need more of the same from Scholes if United is to progress into the quarter final.

But with Chelsea not in action until Sunday, United sit ominously on top of the Premier League tonight with just nine games to go.

More to follow….

McCarthy slammed as United ease home

December 16, 2009 Tags: , Matches No comments

Manchester United scored an easy victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers last night but controversy surrounded Mick McCarthy’s decision to field a second-string side against the champions. With empty Old Trafford seats and a downbeat atmosphere, United ran out comfortable winners in what was little more than a training match.

Wolves manager McCarthy made no less than 10 changes from the side that had so impressively beaten Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. It was an approach, said McCarthy, born of necessity such was the effort deployed by the Midlands’ side in that victory.

On the pitch United rarely moved out of second gear, even though Sir Alex Ferguson had restored the striking partnership of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. With Wes Brown ruled out with a hamstring injury Ferguson handed full Premier League debuts to Ritchie de Laet and Gabriel Obertan.

Predictably United took the game to Wolves from the off with Rooney forcing ‘keeper Hannemann – the only visitor to survice McCarty’s cull – into two smart saves within the opening quarter hour. Wolves’ Stefan Maierhofer then almost turned Darron Gibson’s cross over his own line, before Rooney and then Vidic missed openings for the home side.

Even so the visitor’s inexperienced defence held out for half an hour before gifting United the opening goal. Almost inexplicably Ronald Zubar’s hand met Gibson’s cross from the right and Rooney lashed home the resulting penalty. It was the United number 10’s 13th strike of a productive season.

While complacency and a generally flat atmosphere were the biggest threat, United ruled the point moot shortly after the interval when Vidic met Gibson’s corner to head home his first of the season. Few teams find a route back from two down at Old Trafford let alone Wolves Reserves.

And United completed a low-key night’s work when Antonio Valencia met Berbatov’s superb over-head flick on the half volley to strike home the third. It was a wonderfully worked goal that deserved a more prominent night than this.

“I only decided to change the team after Saturday’s result,” McCarthy said after the match.

“All the player effort-ratings that our fitness coach works out were 9.5s or 10. We need to play at that level to get results against top teams and we can’t do it on a Saturday and then also on a Tuesday.

“What you saw tonight was the best team we had available. I’ve got 21 players to choose from, that was my first team.”

But the former Republic of Ireland manager’s decision made a mockery of the match and, indeed, the Premier League as a whole. Without competition, there’s little point. Not that Ferguson is one to complain about three easy points that have taken United level with Chelsea at the top of the table.

“Wolves made it very difficult for us. I wasn’t over-surprised at the changes they made; they’ve got a massive game against Burnley coming up [on Sunday],” the United manager said somewhat diplomatically.

“We’re lacking a bit of continuity with all the changes we are having to make. Wolves did well to stop us playing.”

Ferguson will be more concerned with an injury crisis that sees no sign of abating. In addition to Brown’s hamstring, Nemanja Vidic left the field with a calf strain on the hour. United faces a tough fixture away at Fulham on Saturday and once again the Scot will go into the match without four central defenders.

Wounded United wary of Wolves’ bite

December 15, 2009 Tags: , Matches No comments

Manchester United taken on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford tonight with the pain of defeat by Midlands neighbours fresh in the mind. Aston Villa’s 1-0 win in Manchester on Saturday evening has not only kept United behind Chelsea in the title race but inflicted the club’s first home defeat of the Premier League season.

On the face of it Wolves, lying just above the relegation zone in 17th place and already beaten in the Carling Cup at Old Trafford this season, offer the right kind of challenge for a United team keen to bounce back. The Midlanders arrive in Manchester hoping to match their more illustrious neighbours but expecting little more than a defeat. While Mick McCarthy’s men hope to build on a superb win at Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, the club hasn’t emerged victorious at Old Trafford since February 1980.

In attack Sir Alex Ferguson can choose from a full complement of strikers, with fit again Dimitar Berbatov vying with Michael Owen for a place in attack alongside Wayne Rooney. Surely the manager will deploy two strikers against relegation contenders Wolves.

United will also welcome back Edwin van der Sar, who is match-fit after missing six games with a knee injury. Although the Dutch legend faces a tough challenge displacing in-form Tomasz Kuschack in the United net.

If match-fit Rafael da Silva, who trained this week with the first team, will allow Ferguson to deploy Darren Fletcher in midfield. Also fit are Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown, who will surely face an easier night than that handed down by Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young on Saturday.

Ferguson may also feel that it is time to hand French winger Gabriel Obertan a full Premier League début on the left-wing with Nani blowing his opportunity to impress against Wolfsburg and Park Ji-Sung woeful in the defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday.

However, former United striker Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, says that Wolves will be gunning for a result at Old Trafford, a ground he left aged just 20.

“We got promoted with a lot of good players and we’ve signed even more over the summer,” said the striker who made two appearances for United before being sold to Plymouth Argyle for around £200,000.

“We won the Championship last season so we’re not short of quality players. Obviously the Premier League is a different level but there’s no reason why we can’t compete at the top.

“As a unit we’re a good strong team and we’re still pretty confident after winning the league last season.

“I don’t have anything to prove. I had a really good time at United but I moved on and I’ve tried to shape my career elsewhere. I had a terrific education at Old Trafford and they were great years.

“I learnt a lot from moving up to Manchester at a young age and I got the chance to work with top coaches and top players. It taught me a hell of a lot and set me in good stead for what I’m achieving now.

“I have really special memories, including little things like the digs I stayed in when I arrived. There aren’t many better places to learn how to play football, that’s for sure.

“The club has a great tradition of nurturing young players and helping them either break into the first-team or have successful careers elsewhere.

“I feel privileged that I was able to sample that and go on and forge a career elsewhere.”

It’s a challenge United’s defence must meet if the team is to regain some momentum in the Premier League race. Chelsea’s poor form – no wins in four matches – means that the weekend defeat is merely a blip in an altogether inconsistent season. Anything less that a resounding win tonight and that blip will look more like a major roadblock.