Match Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United


Wolverhampton Wonderers are one of English footballs great traditional clubs, one of the founder members of the Football League and played a vital role in establishing the European Cup.

Today at the Molineux Stadium (named after a Benjamin Molinuex, a successful local merchant who purchased the land in 1744) the hosts take on Manchester United.

The reverse fixture earlier this season resulted in plenty of flack aimed towards Wolves manager Mick McCarthy. As you are probably all aware this was due to Mick McCarthy fielding a weakened team that included approximately ten first team changes from their previous game.

I really fail to understand why there was so much derision of McCarthy’s decision? The Wolves players were all first team squad players, is McCarthy not allowed to select players from his own squad now? If he can’t, we may as well do away with squads.

They were also moans regarding the fairness to other teams. Well, McCarthy’s only concern is Wolverhampton Wonderers! Why should he be bothered what Arsenal, Chelsea or any other club have to say? McCarthy has to do what is best for Wolves to stay in the Premier League. Three of four days later Wolves played Burnley (known as a‘6 pointer’) and won. McCarthy justified?

Consequently, McCarthy has been fined for his decision. Ridiculous in my opinion. Anyway, I fully expect McCarthy to field a stronger team for today’s game.

Just as well, McCarthy fielded a weakened team as we laboured to a 3-0 victory in what was one of our poorer performances this season.

Rooney’s knee injury is a blow, why he played the full ninety minutes for England against Egypt I don’t know, especially on the turgid Wembley pitch. Yesterday, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s press conference I think he gave Rooney a gentle public slap on the wrists for the playing the whole match. Fergie’s comments were blaming Rooney’s own enthusiasm, he can’t say no… Rooney’s thoughts were swayed and cajoled into playing once in the England camp environment.

With United’s fixture against AC Milan in mind, I’d prefer Rooney to be rested for today’s game, at most on the substitution bench if required, but I have feeling he will start.

Whether Rooney starts or not I think we’ll play a 4-4-2 formation. Berbatov alongside Rooney will lessen the workload expected on Rooney plus Berbatov has rarely, if at all (perhaps away to Inter Milan last season?) played the alone front man in a 4-5-1 formation. Berbatov is in good scoring form scoring five goals in his last six league starts, I fancy Berbatov to score again today. If Owen was fit he would definitely start rather than Rooney.

Nani is available for selection again after his three game suspension for the red card received at Aston Villa. Will he start? I’m not sure; Park and Valencia were excellent in Carling Cup Final last Sunday and deserve to keep their place. My uncertainty is due to playing AC Milan on Wednesday, will Fergie want to rest one of Valencia or Park? Perhaps, but I’d play both Park and Valencia.

Rio is apparently fit to start again; it will be great to see the return of the Rio-Vidic partnership. Hopefully both play the full ninety minutes giving some sort of match fitness which is okay but is still not great preparation for such a big game against AC Milan. Rafael was subbed due to injury in Final so we could see Brown or Gary Neville at right-back.

Centre midfield, I think Carrick and Gibson will play. Carrick is suspended for the game against AC Milan so is a certainty to play, I’d rest Fletcher playing Gibson. Gibson has previously been on loan to Wolves so will have good memories and used to the Molinuex environment.

At this stage of the season we’ll take any win, a scrappy 1-0 will do. Wolves are not in the greatest form with one win in their last six games, they are in a dogfight so today is going to be tough. I fancy a 2-0 victory with goals from Berbatov and Valencia.

What do you think?

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