Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Manchester United
I’m sorry that I’m a little late with my post match writings, but there was a party last night and something to celebrate. 😆
Wolves reacted in exactly the way that everybody hoped for after the defeat to Bolton. I must admit that I was surprised and even more than a bit worried that McCarthy didn’t sub Zubar or Elokobi – the main underperformers in the match against Bolton.
After three minutes that worry was gone and had changed into anger. It stood clear to me that Elokobi was not good enough to take on Nani and the way he handled him – or the lack of it – when he was allowed to score seemed to live up to my low expectations.
A couple of minutes later Wolves went close to two down when Rooney launched a shot, but Hennessey stretched out and managed to catch it formidably. Very few among the Wolves faithful thought the team would get any points at that time, but we were all proven wrong.
And the one to prove it was the least likely. Elokobi put his head to a beautiful cross by Matt Jarvis after a corner and it sailed into the net without Van der Sar having any time to react at all. And the anger against Kobi was totally blown away.
Wolves actually measured up to Manchester United very well in the first half. We had more ball then them and we handled it better when in possession. Our defence worked very effectively to take dangermen Rooney and Berbatov out of the equation, it was only Nani that remained a threat throughout the game.
I guess most of us were very happy with the one all standing and just hoped we would go to tea with it when we got a free and Milijas stepped up and drove a beautiful ball against the first post where both the now rehabilitated Elokobi and upfront loner Doyle was waiting to interfere. Both threw themselves at the ball and both claimed the goal afterwards.
A lead against Manchester United at halftime – a team without a loss in ten months – could of course not hold. That was the general opinion among the crowd, but maybe we could grind out a draw?
I knew that the Wolves team could not continue to play as they had in the first half. It was far to open and instead of letting them counter we had to be the team to defend ourselves and to counter.
And that change of tactics was exactly what happened in the second half. But we did not let them build-up play uninterrupted and we were marking them very well all over the pitch.
And despite Nani being a threat and having some half chances Wolves managed to neutralise these world stars. Berra and Stearman were excellent in the middle of defence, but it was the change in play by the very players that played the worst against Bolton that catched my eye.
If Elokobi was one of the best in the first half Zubar took that role in the second. Both their defensive work and their offensive skills came to use. Then there was Henry who also seem to have that Jekyll and Hyde personality. Yesterday he did everything he didn’t against Bolton. He tackled his opponents, played the ball forwards with success and managed to be in the right place at the right time to fend off attacks when the United team looked dangerous going forward.
The impact of those three was the big difference to the Bolton game and meant that McCarthy had a full eleven to carry out his tactics in this game. And it worked! All through to the end in the 95th minute – despite a United team trying everything to get an equaliser.
Rooney and Berbatov didn’t have a clearcut chance during the second half, and Hernandez – coming on for Berbatov – was made invisible by the excellent defensive play by the tight playing Wolves defence.
Foley came on for O’Hara just before the hour and a little later Ward for Hammill. Perfect substitutions as the new guys are not yet fit to play the 90 and also because the ones coming on are better at defending.
It was of course a fantastic accomplishment to beat Manchester United, but one should be aware that Ferdinand was injured during warm-up and couldn’t play, which made their defence weaker. I also put a question mark for their inner midfield. Can it be that the midfield of Bolton is actually stronger than that of United? I believe so.
Anyway. A fantastic game to watch and I now look forward to Arsenal away in a week. Their game against the Magpies gives some clues about how to beat them and that it is not at all an impossible task. 😆
To the ratings, then.
Hennessey – 7 – Funny enough he didn’t have that much to do, but he made a good save in the beginning of the game to make us stay in the game.
Zubar – 7 – Four points better than against Bolton. How did that happen? Had the support from the Molineux faithful from start and did no mistakes this time. Was one of the best during the second half – both in defending and in getting the ball forward. Works well with Jarvis.
Stearman – 7 – Took care of all the threats from United forwards thrown at him. Getting steel hard in his tackles and little Rooney and weak Berbatov and that little pea didn’t stand a chance, really. According to stats 4 tackles and all won.
Berra – 7 – All that is said about Stearman goes for Berra aswell, and then some. He had the not so pleasant task to fend off Vidic too, and he did it without giving the United world class defender an inch. Close to an eight.
Elokobi – 7 – Against Bolton he was not yet ready – now he was – that’s my explanation to the transformation of his play. Close to an eight, but he did a couple of mistakes in defence.
On the other hand he often had the task of taking care of Nani – one of the absolute best players in the Premier League at the moment. Going forward, though, he was a nine and we could once again see a game where our full backs – or wing-backs – worked together perfectly with our wingers. I hope and believe we will see more goals coming from Big George in the future, but he still has to work on his defensive play and passes. I hand him my little star for his play and as a compensation for my harsh words after the Bolton game.
Henry – 7 – What a difference a couple of days make. Yesterday he tackled like a man again and he did play the ball forward, seeking to get the ball up the pitch as fast as possible with long crosses finding our wingers sometimes. His play without ball was also very good and in the United players faces.
Milijas – 7 – Jones played as well against Bolton that I thought that I didn’t miss Milijas. But his left foot is better and his free kicks are more lethal to the opponents defence. I also believe that he is a better defender than Jones nowadays and – maybe most of all – a more creative player at going forward.
Hammill – 6 – Were against very good competition and didn’t make a fool of himself at all. But he did not get the space to make any great impact and it was right to sub him for Ward, who is more experienced and better at defending.
O’Hara – 6 – Two attempts that were blocked in the game and one shot from an acute angle that Van der Sar could take care of with difficulty. Was very active in the beginning, but lacks the pace and the accuracy to make a real difference. With a couple of more matches under his belt he will get that extra pace and accuracy and he will be exactly the player we need to boost our offensive play.
Foley – 6 – Came on for O’Hara before the hour, so I rate him. More defensive duties than O’Hara as United was going forward. But was up there and pressured them in their build-up play together with Doyle. Good to have him back as a choice for many positions.
Jarvis – 7 – Worked himself to the corner that was the foreplay to the first goal. Also provided the cross. He was better than against Bolton and the United defence had a hard time catching up on him. Also good helping out in defense as usual. Close to an eight.
Doyle – 8 – Having the choice of Berbatov, Rooney or Hernandez instead of Doyle as a lone striker in Wolves I would keep Doyler without hesitating. He was better than all of them put together yesterday and as a lone striker he must be the best in the league when he shows the form and commitment he had yesterday.
And the commitment is always there. He works relentlessly up and down the pitch, trying to get hold of the ball, despite the ugly tricks and fouls by his opponents. And the United defenders and midfielders used up all tricks in the book trying to stop Doyler, but they couldn’t.
He was even blooded with nose bleed and I could see the shifting colours of his face during a post match interview today after that elbow in the face by Smalling. He was behind very much of the Wolves going forward play and he is now back in the form he had last season, and then the goals are coming. Lots of them! Kevin Doyle is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Highlights as always among the links in the right margin or on Paddytheflea’s Facebook page or my Vodpod page etc etc. The flea is busy as a bee 😆