An insightful look at Wolverhampton Wanderers and the promise they showed against Manchester United.
Everyone doubted Wolves for this season, but after their Premier League opener against Manchester United there’s plenty to be optimistic about, even if they did lose on the night.
An apology from PGMOL hardly makes up for damage done by the officials as Wolves saw a point stolen from their grasp late on against the Red Devils. But, despite the anger and hurt caused - emotions which are justifiable for the Wolves fans given the shambles - there are many positives to take from the defeat, the only negative being their goal difference.
It should be thought of as a win by the Wolves fans who saw a Gary O’Neill side dominate at Old Trafford and who looked to have progressed from last season in leaps and bounds. Forward man Cunha was outstanding and Lemina in midfield ran the show, maybe because of the lack of one from Manchester United. Fred’s absence seems to have affected the side badly...
The first time Mason Mount’s name was seen or heard, was when the £60m summer signing was substituted in the 68th minute. There are sure to be many Manchester United fans who will have mocked Mount while he was in Chelsea colours, but it would be interesting to see if they’d do the same again now.
Wolves showed aggression throughout, not like Onana when he wiped out two players, but through their attacking and forward play. When was the last time we saw intent like this from Wolves? The Bruno Lage era.
They’d soon revert back to something else after struggling to find the net, and this is something Wolves struggled with in masses last season. What the game from Monday teaches us is that Wolves may not have the same problems and concerns this year. If they produce performances like that week in week out then O’Neill’s side are bound to win many games.
They did everything but find the back of the net on Monday, and who’s to say they would’ve converted the penalty that they should’ve had, given their record of squandering opportunities on the night. But, things look on the up and there’s no chance a team who registers 23 shots on goal will not score plenty throughout the season.
Those 23 attempts on goal, the second most recorded in history and the most for any away side at Old Trafford in the Premier League since 2005.
Brighton this weekend will probably bring more of a test to Wolves than a Manchester United side who looked way off it did, and who scraped through to victory thanks to (VAR)ane... But, a home Molineux crowd will back their side with confidence after Monday’s display which was arguably their best for at least a couple of seasons. It’s a pity it was a defeat, but if you’d have just listened to noise made from the fans on the night, you’d have thought Wolves were the winning team. The fans on a par with the performance on the pitch - brilliant.
Many would have anticipated O’Neill’s side to sit back and allow pressure from United, but instead they launched an intense offence. They found time and space but just not the back of the net.
Something which was noticeable was how much of a team performance it was. Wolves looked united and together throughout, working as a unit and as a team. And when Fabio Silva replaced Matheus Cunha in the 77th minute, more life was breathed into the away side. The tracking back, energy, determination and desire from the substitute is to be admired, and surely the striker will play a big part in Wolves’ season.
O’Neill told the media this would be the case, but proceeded to bench the forward and bring him on too late. Who knows the effect Silva could’ve had should he have started or entered the pitch earlier. However, that’s no criticism of O’Neill, he silenced his critics and doubters through a loss, that’s pretty impressive.
The 21-year-old Portuguese striker enjoyed his loan spells with Anderlecht and PSV last season, scoring 11 league goals in 34 games across his time with the two sides. If he can repeat that tally again this season, he’d surpass the amount which was needed to be Wolves’ top scorer last season and help them out a lot.
O’Neill will have tough choices to make and will struggle to drop anyone from the starting 11 that featured against United, while the Premier League had no choice but to drop the officials who turned the whole nation and all off the footballing world on the Red Devils. Diabolical and ludicrous are some adjectives that describe their decision. It would be pretty tough for Wolves to cause the anger that their fanbase and football fans in general felt after the game on Monday again, they’d have to drop a stinker against the Seagulls on Saturday.
But, for those who had Wolves as bottom of the pile in your predictions for this season, you may have to reconsider if the first game of their season is anything to go by. It just remains to see whether Wolves can produce similar performances each week and in each game, but things are looking promising for O’Neill and his side.