Valencia and Lingard stayed in Manchester while their teammates travelled to Bern for United’s 3-0 Champions League win over Young Boys in midweek. United manager Jose Mourinho clarified club captain Valencia was omitted to ‘protect’ his knee from the synthetic surface at the Stade de Suisse. Valencia and Lingard checked in at The Lowry Hotel on Friday evening but MEN photographers did not spot Matteo Darmian or Diogo Dalot.
Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford are unavailable due to suspension while Marcos Rojo came off injured in the Under-23s’ draw with Reading at Old Trafford last week. Phil Jones has not featured since he limped off with a hamstring strain in the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham almost four weeks ago.
Ander Herrera missed the trip to Watford last week but journeyed to Bern, where he was omitted from the matchday squad. Mourinho said Herrera is still not ready to play.
“No injuries from the match,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference. “Small things but nothing important, so I would say Marcos Rojo is the one that is still not training with the team and Ander Herrera is not ready to play but is in the final phase of his recovery process.
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“Jones okay now, so it’s Rashford and Matic with suspension, the ones that are not available.”
Diogo Dalot made an impressive first-team bow in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League win over Young Boys in Bern after spending five months on the sidelines with a meniscus injury.
The 19-year-old £19million signing has only played nine career games for United and former club Porto but has appeared at Old Trafford twice for the Under-23s in recent weeks. First choice right-back Antonio Valencia was rested for the midweek trip to Switzerland but is expected to be recalled against Wolves on Saturday.
Mourinho revealed Dalot is slated to start against Derby in the League Cup thrid round tie on Tuesday and explained why he will drop out of the team for the visit of Wolves.
“I want him in this process of adaptation to play totally fresh,” Mourinho explained. “So he’s not playing tomorrow, he plays Tuesday again, to play totally fresh.
“To play for Manchester United is difficult enough for a kid of 19-years-old coming from another country and after an important injury and surgery I think is difficult enough, he doesn’t need to face more difficulties because of the accumulation of matches, so plays 90 minutes in the Champions League, difficult pitch, recovered totally and Tuesday play again.
“But he showed for the ones that don’t know him very, very well, he showed them he is not a player to be here just on formation, is a player to be here for positions, he’s a very good player.”
United have kept two clean sheets in their last three matches with a central defensive axis of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof but Mourinho was reluctant to just credit the duo.
“I think the team as a team is resolving the defensive problems better than before,” Mourinho added. “I don’t want to say was [Eric] Bailly or [Phil] Jones and is now Smalling or Lindelof. I think the team is more compact, more solid, the spirit, the cooperation, the empathy, the communication all of that improve in the team and good results bring confidence.
“And I think we are improving as a team, I don’t want to say our improvement has the name of Chris or Victor, the team is playing better and they are part of the team that plays these matches.”
Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes partly facilitated Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League after striking up a relationship with the Fosun consortium which bought the club last summer. The Portuguese super-agent has overseen the arrival of coach Nuno Espirito Santo, as well as the signings of Portuguese national team members Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves. Wolves have eight Portuguese players in their squad and their supporters donned Mendes masks last year to celebrate their return to the top flight.
David de Gea is the only Mendes playing client at United and in the midst of negotiating a new contract the club expects him to sign. Mourinho stressed that when he has had dialogue with Mendes they do not discuss work.
“No, I don’t speak with him for quite a long time to be honest,” Mourinho stated. “But when we speak we don’t speak about my job or his job. He’s my agent and that’s it.
“But I think the work in Wolves is good because is not just about Portuguese influence, Portuguese manager, Portuguese staff and Portuguese players, is also about getting the right ones and I think they got good young players and got also good experienced, stable players.
“So they got this season the Portuguese national team goalkeeper, Moutinho is one of the players of the 100 caps club, big stability in the team, the young ones are young boys with good potential and you can see the work of the coaching staff and the team is a really really good team.”
“Really good,” Mourinho opined of Wolves’s start to the season. “Last season dominant, and we all know that is not easy to be dominant in Championship, even if you have the best team, and they were dominant since the beginning until the end.
“And then strong market, great work, great adaptation to the Premier League, getting the points and the performances that makes them feel and everybody feel, I include myself, that they are going to have a very stable season, very far from the problems normally a team that comes from the Championship has.
“You always have players [that] you have a little bit of a feeling they can become managers, but I don’t think even then think about it,” Mourinho said of Santo, who played under him for two years at Porto. “That team at Porto, I think 75 per cent are now mangers, Nuno reaches the Premier League level and reached it be his own merit and credit. He didn’t come direct to the Premier League, he came to the Championship, so he earned the right to be a Premier League manager and fantastic work, the result speaks by itself.”
Confirmed squad members
David de Gea, Sergio Romero, Lee Grant, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba, Fred, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku