Monday 27 January 2020

Nuno rues United replay after VAR review denies Doherty

Wolves 0 Manchester United 0

Wolves' Matt Doherty. Photo: Getty Images
Wolves' Matt Doherty. Photo: Getty Images

Tim Nash

The game that no one will remember produced a match no one wants and if Saturday's tedious goalless draw tested the patience of the most loyal Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United supporters, then the managers want no more of it.

While supporters have to weigh up the desire to see their team play home and away against their bank balances, Nuno Espirito Santo and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are more concerned about the effects on their players.

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Wolves' Pedro Neto battles for possession with Manchester United's Andreas Pereira. Photo: Getty Images
Wolves' Pedro Neto battles for possession with Manchester United's Andreas Pereira. Photo: Getty Images

This replay is scheduled for tomorrow week, taking up what was their only free midweek, meaning United could play eight games this month and Wolves six.

Due to their participation in the Europa League, the replay will be Wolves' 38th match of the season and United's 34th.

This was a game between two tired sides, so it was hardly surprising that the prospect of scrapping replays between Premier League teams has been raised.

"I would prefer to go straight to penalties," said Wolves head coach Nuno and United manager Solskjaer agreed, saying: "We do have enough games and we will probably play Wolves in the Europa League soon. It's just about having fresh minds and fresh legs.

Manchester United's Ashley Young is tackled by Wolves' Ruben Vinagre. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United's Ashley Young is tackled by Wolves' Ruben Vinagre. Photo: Getty Images

"Some have played and are tired some haven't played and felt the effects of that towards the end."

On the evidence of a game in which United failed to have a shot on target, the replay will not be a show-stopper. The key argument against scrapping replays is that the romance and sparkle of the FA Cup, already at a low ebb, would be diminished even more.

Solskjaer himself pointed towards Rochdale securing a trip to St James' Park after their draw with Newcastle United as evidence that the replay still has a place in the footballing calendar.

And there was an obvious truth when the two-time FA Cup winner pointed out that he would "rather have a replay than go out".

And the players themselves are not complaining - not publicly at least.

"It's not ideal considering the amount of games we've got and the size of our squad," said Wolves wing-back Matt Doherty.

"But we recover well and it won't be a problem. I'd rather play games than train. If you keep playing it helps to keep you sharp and focused."

The Dubliner almost broke the deadlock after scoring a goal for Wolves but a VAR review ruled it off for handball.

"The header went in off my arm, I knew straight away it would be ruled out," added Doherty. "It went against us but that's what the technology is for, I can't really complain."

Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy, who plays only in the cups, not surprisingly would like replays to stay so that he gets more game-time.

"Of course, for me it's a great opportunity to get some minutes under my belt. I'm probably the only one who's pleased we've got another game coming up," the 33-year-old said.

Supporters might argue it is another chance to see their team play, although with these sides meeting in the Premier League on February 1, they will do so three times in less than a month.

But if there are more ties like this one, then expect the future of the FA Cup replay to come under even more scrutiny.

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk

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