United travelled to bottom of the table Wolves for their 3rd encounter against the west midlands club this season. United had twice relied upon late interventions against Wolves to dispatch of them in the league and the league cup, and this combined with Wolves’ superb record against the ‘big teams’ at home this season meant this was unlikely to be a walkover. With title rivals Arsenal amazingly dropping points away to Newcastle, victory over Wolves would take the reds 7 points clear and in firm control over the title.
Any repeat of the shock 2004 defeat at Molineux appeared to be unlikely, as after 3 minutes Nani twisted and turned in the penalty area before slamming a left footed shot into the near post past a helpless Wayne Hennessey to give United an absolutely dream start. However, United’s bubble was quickly burst barely ten minutes later, as some sloppy defending from young defender Rafael allowed a short corner to be delivered in with pin point accuracy to George Elokobi who added to his earlier goal against United in the season with a powerful header into the corner. Fergie’s side have consistently struggled on the road this season, and the trend continued in a troubled first half against a Wolves side who were playing for their premier league survival. United’s midfield looked hopelessly overwhelmed as Carrick and Fletcher failed to get their foot on the ball, and up front Berbatov and Rooney struggled to create anything as has often been the case away from home this season.
A poor half was compounded 5 minutes before the half time whistle, as once again United failed to dominate aerially and allowed Nenad Milijas’s free kick to be steered home by Doyle to put the reds unbeaten premier league record in serious jeopardy. Having faced a defeceipt at half time twice this month already at Blackpool and Southampton, United fans remained confident that things could turn around once again. However, it appeared that the famous Fergie hairdryer treatment failed to work its magic, as United put in an abject second half performance void of ideas and belief to win the game. Instead of the expected wave of United pressure, Wolves appeared comfortable in defence, with Doyle proving to be too hot to handle for the once again dissapointing Jonny Evans which prevented United from building from the back.
Despite the introduction of Javier Hernandez, so often United’s saviour this season, the reds just didn’t look likely to get back into the game and our undefeated run came to an untimely end. With a massive Manchester Derby to come next week against City, this defeat is likely to serve one of two purposes, it either proves costly and heralds the beginning of a United collapse in the title race, or will give us a much needed wake up call before a run of massive fixtures which will ultimately define our season. What is for sure is that in order to win the title this season, United must massively improve on what has been a season of very poor away performances, especially with trips to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal to come.