11 min: Martial has a wee look down the right. Nothing doing. United haven’t got going as an attacking force yet.
9 min: Jota drifts down the left, cuts inside, and very nearly finds Jimenez free in the box with a simple pass. Lindelof, the only United defender in the same postcode, steps across to clear. Wolves are having the better of these early exchanges.
7 min: Fred’s miserable midfield pass is intercepted by Neves, who shuttles the ball forward for Jimenez. It’s then sent down the inside-right channel for Traore to chase, but Shaw cleverly/cynically brushes him to knock the lightning winger off his rhythm. Lindelof mops up.
5 min: The resulting corner is missed by a combination of Shaw, Lindelof and Maguire. The ball breaks to Saiss on the penalty spot. He’s facing the wrong way, though, and after spinning he lashes harmlessly over the bar.
4 min: The resulting free kick is a non event. But Wolves come back at United, Traore exploding form a standing start down the right and hooking into the box. Lindelof is forced to hysterically slice a clearance into the stand behind.
3 min: Space for Jonny and Jota out on the left. Jota looks to roll Pereira, and is held back by the United midfielder. A free kick out on the left. Everybody congregates on the edge of the United box.
2 min: It’s all a bit hectic. United are seeing more of the ball, but Wolves aren’t letting them do much with it.
39 seconds: Another huge cheer as Fernandes takes his first touch in a United shirt.
Here we go, then! The visitors get the Saturday teatime match underway, after a huge welcoming cheer for the new boy Fernandes.
The teams are out! A fine afternoon-spent-in-the-public-bar atmosphere at Old Trafford. Manchester United are in their famous red shirts, wearing black armbands in remembrance of the Babes. Wolves sport their storied old gold … but only on the trim of their black change shirts. We’ll be off in a minute or two. Don’t move!
Nuno Espirito Santo on the return of Willy Boly. “It is good. He’s a good player. We dealt with his absence well, but today he’s ready to go. Jota and Neto are both well, both give us different things, so it’s a good option, it’s about the idea we have for the games. We have to be organised, we have to play a very good team, we have to play very well. We compete against everybody, it’s about us trying to do the things we have planned. Daniel Podence is ready to go.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his two new signings. “There have been loads of fans waiting for Bruno Fernandes to come, and the player himself has been a very good influence since he’s come. Of course it’s been a few hectic days for him, but the boost of him being around has been good for everyone. He’s ready to go, he wants to play, and we need some fresh legs. We’ve had 18 games in the last two months, it’s been a big demand for these boys. In Odion Ighalo we’ll get a proper man, a great lad, a good goalscorer. It’s not long ago he was top scorer in the African Nations Cup. I know him from way back in Norway, and he gives us a different option, so I’m delighted that he wanted to come for a few months. It’s great to have him around, and I know he’s a Man United fan.”
The Busby Babes. Supporters have this afternoon attended a memorial service for the legendary Babes, forever young after perishing at Munich in 1958. This is the nearest home match to the 6 February anniversary, and it’s apt that Wolves are the visitors today, for the Babes had been travelling home to welcome Stan Cullis’s side to Old Trafford for a title summit meeting two days later. It would have been a must-win for United, with Wolves firmly in control of the First Division that season. When the rescheduled game was eventually played, a makeshift, threadbare United lost 4-0 to the champions-elect. The result that day was less significant than the bittersweet return to the team of survivor Dennis Violett.
Manchester United hand a debut to their new £47m midfield maestro Bruno Fernandes. He’s one of four changes to the team that won at the Etihad on Wednesday night. In come Daniel James, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira; out go Brandon Williams, Jesse Lingard, Mason Greenwood and the suspended Nemanja Matic.
Wolves make two changes to the side that lost at home to Liverpool nine days ago. Willy Boly and Diogo Jota take the places of Pedro Neto and Leander Dendoncker. Their new winger Daniel Podence is named as a sub.
Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, James, Mata, Andreas Pereira, Martial.
Subs: Jones, Lingard, Dalot, Romero, Greenwood, Chong, Williams.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Coady, Boly, Saiss, Doherty, Joao Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota.
Subs: Bruno Jordao, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Gibbs-White, Ruddy, Dendoncker, Kilman.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, two names blessed with that incandescent wow and sparkle of old-school glamour. It’s all about the 1950s, really, both sides florescent under the floodlights, opening our hearts and minds to Europe. Sigh.
In an ideal world, this fixture would be live on …
… in grainy black and white, with an episode of The Strange World of Gurney Slade to follow. But it’s not, and here we are. It’s still a biggie, though, with both sides looking for three points that would keep them in the hunt for the fourth Champions League spot. So tune in, kids. It might not be on Granada … but it’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm GMT.