Nuno Espirito Santo

Wolves on VAR review of golazo: ‘I was hoping to stay happy’

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Nuno Espirito Santo issued the definitive quote of the VAR era after Wolves’ equalizer withstood video review in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Monday at the Molineux.

“I was hoping to stay happy.”

[ RECAP: Wolves 1-1 Man Utd ]

Espirito Santo saw VAR dramatically play a role in Wolves fortunes for the second-straight week, and the manager was not too happy with it on opening weekend when Willy Boly‘s handball was found to have assisted Leander Dendoncker‘s goal.

This time, VAR held up its end of the bargain in Wolves favor, as the cross that led to Ruben Neves’ incredible goal was found to be onside. From the BBC:

“I don’t know how they will solve it – it’s the emotion, you celebrate a goal so much and then you stay in silence. Don’t take that away from the people.”

The problem, of course, is money. So much is riding on qualifying for Europe, staying in the Premier League, etc. When sports became a big business, and managers aren’t complaining about their salaries, the science overtook the spirit.

Espirito Santo is correct that the wait to confirm a goal takes away from the joy of sport. It also will deny of us of the next “Hand of God” (and England would not have won its lone World Cup had goal line technology been around).

But ultimately, it will keep the correct score on the board. And that matters.

Pogba penalty saved in Man Utd-Wolves draw

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Ruben Neves scored an amazing goal and Rui Patricio stopped a Paul Pogba penalty as Wolves took a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 match at the Molineux on Monday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

United had two-thirds possession but could not find what would’ve been a deserved winner as Wolves flummoxed the Red Devils attack.

Anthony Martial scored for the second-straight match for United, who failed in a bid to go atop the Premier League.


Three things we learned

  1. Paul Pogba is to penalties as Shaquille O’Neal is to free throws – You just can’t understand how someone so good at his sport is so poor at what should be the easiest part of his game.
  2. Martial is a beauty, and is fully released from the shackles of Jose Mourinho. Whether he can take the next step is another story, but the Frenchman is a fitting winger for a Champions League club (even if United isn’t quite in the UCL).
  3. Patricio didn’t show the Premier League his very best last season, but has looked more like the Portugal national team goalkeeper so far in his sophomore PL campaign.

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men were content to let the visitors have the ball and work on the counter, and United quickly moved the ball in possession over the first stages of the game.

United took a deserved lead through Martial who ran onto a Marcus Rashford through ball and belted a rocket over a flailing Rui Patricio.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Neves brought Wolves level with a sublime bit of shooting, curling a majestic shot above and around the United back line to make it 1-1.

Watching the footage as it was being reviewed showed the margins so thin, but the goal held up and anyone hoping for some semblance of sanity was relieved.

United looked set to go back in front when Pogba drew a penalty off Conor Coady with a cutthroat move in the 18, but the Frenchman slammed his effort into the path of a diving Patricio.

Premier League preview: Wolves v. Manchester United

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  • Man United aiming for two out of two
  • Wolves searching for first PL goal of season
  • Wolves unbeaten in last eight PL home games

A seemingly revitalized Manchester United looks to reverse last season’s road woes as the Red Devils travel to Monlieux to take on a bugaboo opponent in Wolverhampton Wanderers.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Wolves took four points off Manchester United last season and was unbeaten in three matches against the Red Devils across all competitions. Not only that, but Manchester United has not won in its last four Premier League road matches, their worst run since 2014, and seven of their 10 losses last league campaign came away from the friendly confines of Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be buoyed by the surprising 4-0 opening day win over Chelsea as new boy Harry Maguire helped lock down the Blues on defense, but sustainability is key for the Red Devils this season and two wins out of two against a pair of quality opponents will go a much longer way than a single result. Solskjaer’s biggest selection decision will be whether to give Juan Mata the start after his appearance off the bench against Chelsea or stick with 23-year-old Andreas Pereira in the central attacking role, although both will likely see the field at some point.

Wolves, meanwhile, have looked blistering in their Europa League journey thus far, but played to a drab 0-0 draw with Leicester City in their opening Premier League match, suggesting heavy European fixture congestion could be wearing on the squad. Raul Jimenez has four goals in four Europa League matches but was held to just two shots – both off target – against the Foxes and appeared frustrated as the game wore on. He and Diogo Jota were both rested for the midweek win over Armenian club Pyunik along with seven other first-teamers, so rest could be a major factor.


Projected lineups

Wolves: Rui Patricio; Boly, Bennett, Coady; Moutinho, Dendoncker, Neves, Doherty, Otto; Jota, Jimenez.

Man United: De Gea; Shaw, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford, Mata; Martial.


What they’re saying

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo on last year’s record vs Man United: “It’s going to be a tough challenge, a new game, totally different to what we did in the past which doesn’t count at all. First of all, the players know they’re going to face a very tough opponent; a fantastic club, a fantastic squad, fantastic players, talent all over the place. All the good players in all the good teams can make a difference. We want to compete. We want to play. We know it’s going to be very difficult for us, but we will be ready. That’s the important part, we will be ready.”

Solskjaer on using past failures v. Wolves: “They were tough games and Wolverhampton are a hard team to break down, they defend deep, don’t give you a lot of spaces, and they can play, they can counter-attack, set pieces are always dangerous. So, we’ve been looking at the games we’ve had last season, see if there’s any tweaks or different things we need to do this time. But our form, our attitude and, yeah, the mood after the win is great from last season, so we go into the game confident.”


Prediction

Manchester United may have beaten Chelsea down on the scoreline in the season opener, but the Blues were slightly unlucky not to score, hitting the post twice and holding good spells of dangerous possession. If Manchester United is not improved defensively against a good attacking Wolves squad, they will be frustrated at the back and make mistakes. Wolves remains a bad matchup for the Red Devils and at home, they will come away with an exciting 2-2 draw and yet another point off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

How successful was VAR during PL debut?

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VAR is now part of our Premier League life.

How did the system fare during it’s debut over the opening weekend of the 2019-20 season?

It was used 65 times across the 10 games, with Man City’s 5-0 win at West Ham seeing the second-most VAR action. Seven reviews were needed during that game, and that called for some to suggest that the “spirit of the game” had been lost as Man City’s fans didn’t celebrate as joyfully as they usually would have as they waited for VAR verification.

That is the main dynamic which has shifted due to this system being introduced.

It worked smoothly, but was criticized by Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as Lenader Dendoncker’s goal was chalked off for a handball call on Willy Boly. It was unintentional and Boly wasn’t making his body bigger, but his arm was raised above his shoulders and under the new regulations that means it had to be given as a handball, regardless of intention.

There are going to be teething problems and fans, players and managers are going to have to get used to the new laws on handballs and how the PL referees aren’t going to use the system for goalkeepers being on their line during penalty kicks.

In the stadiums, the experience was smooth. Fans were told when VAR was being used over the PA system and messages flashed up on the scoreboards and TV screens. Ironic jeers and chants of “VAR! VAR!” were plentiful from supporters and traditionalists will probably never like VAR.

The video above wraps up the key decisions which VAR was used for this weekend, as delays were kept to a minimum but the debate about whether or not the PL needs the system definitely wasn’t.

Wolves boss Espirito Santo not a fan of VAR

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It comes as little surprise that Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was upset to have a goal chalked off by VAR in a scoreless draw with Leicester City.

What may come as a surprise, though, is Espirito Santo’s full-throated questioning of the use of video review at all.

[ RECAP: Leicester-Wolves ]

Espirito Santo will earn a lot of fans amongst the VAR skeptics with this analysis/rant regarding the overturning of Leander Dendoncker‘s goal due to Willy Boly handling the ball before the Belgian bundled over the line.

“I haven’t seen the images but I trust them. If they saw it, what can we do?” he said. “Things that weren’t before shouldn’t be now. We have such a nice Premier League, such a product, we cannot lose that.”

He continued (via BBC.com):

“It’s what fans come for, to celebrate, not to celebrate a no goal; That’s not the real celebration of football. It’s not good for the atmosphere of football. The Leicester fans were celebrating the no goal, that’s not the mindset of the game.

“What I’m concerned about is, let’s not ruin the game. Two minutes the game stopped. The anxiety of us celebrating, then we waited. It’s not the spirit of the game.”

Do you agree, or have you just accepted that this is the future of sport?

The three points would’ve been glorious for a Wolves side which played Thursday in Armenia, but one will be valuable given it came against a Foxes side expected to compete for a Top Seven place in the Premier League.