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Eves: How Wolves can beat United

If anyone can point Wolves the way to beat Manchester United, it’s Mel Eves.

The former striker’s first goal at Molineux was a winner against the Red Devils in 1978, and he remains the last Wolves player to score a winner at Old Trafford, in February 1980.

Eves was also part of John Barnwell’s team who secured back-to-back Molineux wins against United in 1979-80 and 1980-81.

Tomorrow, he will be at Molineux hoping for a repeat as the teams lock horns in the eagerly-awaited FA Cup quarter-final in his role summarising for BBC WM.

I was fortunate to score the winner against Man United in my first goal at Molineux, and we won 2-1,” said Eves, 62, and now a life coach.

My first senior goal was the previous game, at Chelsea, and that was a 1-1 draw – just like Wolves last week – so if anyone is looking for an omen or a scoreline, then back us at 2-1!”

Eves joked: “Nuno needs to bring me off the bench, because my winner against Man United came after I was brought on with about 10 minutes to go. So I had a good record against Man U.”

So how do Wolves go about beating United?

It’s about being fearless and having belief. We need to go into it thinking ‘we will have a go’,” he said.

When you play, you’ve got to be up for it, and you’ve got to have the belief and courage to play.

Just go out there and play your game, and if you can get the balance between getting the team really up for it and not over-hyped so they end up playing the occasion, it gives Wolves players the best chance of coming out with the right result.

Respect the opponent, but don’t over respect them so you’re too frightened to play.

However good Marcus Rashford or Paul Pogba or any one of their players are with the ball, if we’ve got the ball, they’ve just got to defend as normal, and we can get at them then.

We’ve got to be really resolute and hard to beat, like we were at Chelsea, and then trust that we can hit them in the break, hurt them, and then it’s really all about taking any chances when we get them.

It’s going to be difficult containing them, but we’ve done it before against top-six sides.

The opposition’s possession stats will have been high against Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool, but we’ve generally come out of these games really well.

I really think we’ve got a great chance.”

Wolves’ strikeforce Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota have scored 17 goals in their last 20 games together and Eves reckons getting the ball to in-form pair is crucial to the hosts’ chances of an upset.

The big thing is we’ve got two guys in Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota who will get at people, they can both score goals, they’re developing a really good understanding which was epitomised with the goal they scored at Chelsea,” he said.

They’re both at it, so they’re the most likely matchwinners for us, and if we can get the ball to them in decent positions enough so they can actually have a go at the United defence, then we can cause them problems.

Because United’s strength is their midfield and going forwards because of the quality they’ve got in those areas.

Wolves are going to have their work cut out to stop them, but if they can get the right service to Jimenez and Jota, you never know what could happen.

I really like Jota. You never know, people like Ruben Neves could step up to the plate as well, because he’s been a bit below his normal imperious self.

If he pops one in from outside the box, which he’s due, then you never know.”

Eves has identified a factor which he believes will be in Wolves’ favour – the later kick-off time, 7.55pm, because it will be a floodlit fixture.

Wolves are unbeaten in their last six games at Molineux going back to January 2, and of the four under lights in that spell, they have won three and drew one.

It’s a full house under the lights at Molineux, and I think that gives us a better chance as well,” he said.

I think we’re better under the lights because I think it can go a bit flat at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

I’ve seen us lose to Watford and Huddersfield on an afternoon, but on a night, we seem to be more up for it.

I was pleased that the kick-off time was 8pm. I think everybody will live with that because they will be up for it.”

Eves admits Wolves are relying on United leaving their ‘A’ game at home if they are to progress to their first FA Cup semi-final in 21 years.

Man United are well favourites because they will take on anyone on and beat them at the moment,” he said.

They had enough chances to win at Arsenal, even though they didn’t do it, and things could have gone the other way against PSG.

I believe if Man United are absolutely at it, Wolves have got their work cut out and they’re very unlikely to get the right result.

But you just hope for a chink in their armour, that they’re below their standard and we’re on it, and it’s then about if things fall for you.

Then, it’s about the old adage, ‘if your name is on the cup’, and if the fans get behind them and if Wolves are really up for it, they’ve got a chance.

I do believe we could probably win two or three times out of 10 and United would win six or seven times, with the way they’re playing and the players they’ve got.

Romelu Lukaku (if he’s fit), Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba are world class players and have been firing on all cylinders which is what you expect from a top-six club.

They were under-performing under Jose Mourinho – it just wasn’t happening. But now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has galvanised them, they are a force.

So we’re probably playing Man U at the wrong time because we went to Old Trafford earlier on in the season when Mourinho was there, everything was not hunky-dory and we deservedly came away with a point, pretty comfortable in the end.

I don’t think it will be anywhere near as easy this time. But it’s going to be a great occasion; I’m really looking forward to it and I know we’ll have a real go.”