Raul Jimenez admits he has followed Manchester United’s fortunes in the past – but insists he is going all out to beat them for Wolves tonight.
Wolves’ 15-goal top scorer started looking at United’s results more closely after Mexico team-mate Javier Hernandez joined the Old Trafford giants in 2010, when he was 22 and Jimenez 19.
Hernandez – now at West Ham – was at United for five years, to 2015, scoring 59 goals in 158 games of which he started just 85.
He won the Premier League in 2011 and 2013, and is the most prolific striker in the league’s history based on minutes per goal.
“Manchester United were winning the trophies most of the time and when ‘Chicarito’ (Javier Hernandez) joined them, we started following them even closer,” said Jimenez.
“They have some very good players, and hopefully it’s going to be a very good match.
“After they changed the manager and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived, they have had a lot of wins, which has been very important for their season.
“We know they are a different team now and we know we must prepare for different things.”
Wolves have the best record against the top six outside of that group, having beaten Chelsea at home and Tottenham away and drawn at home to Manchester City, and away to United and Arsenal, not to mention knocking Liverpool and United out of the Cup.
Jimenez insists they will face United again with no fear again.
“Manchester United are a big team, but we are not scared,” he told Wolves programme. “We know if we do the same things we were doing in our previous games then we can win.
“Our record against the top six in the league is very good – just three defeats this season – and we’re going to try to keep this momentum going.”
Jimenez is in talks to make his move from Benfica permanent before his loan expires at the end of the season.
And he reveals he feels very settled at Wolves. “I am in a good moment, as is the team,” he added. “We are doing very good things and that’s the idea for us for the rest of the season.
“Our confidence is very high, and I feel amazing here. I think I’m doing the right things on the pitch, both in the training sessions and in the games.
“The players really helped me to settle here, and in the dressing room all of us are together.
“We are like a family outside of the pitch and on the pitch – we are always together, going forwards and looking ahead in the same direction.
“It’s important not just to say we are a wolf pack; I think in the last few games we have demonstrated that we are together, and it’s given people the sensation that we really are.”
Jimenez has struck up an excellent partnership with Diogo Jota up front since they were paired together at the start of December.
Starting with the 2-1 win against Chelsea on December 5, the J-force duo have scored 20 goals between them.
Jimenez feels their understanding has grown through work on the training ground.
“I have a great relationship with my team-mates,” said Jimenez. “Being able to know where each other is on the pitch is something we have been working on in training.
“We know each other better now; we know when we make our movements and make our passes, our team-mates are going to be there.
“We learn this in training, we talk about it in the dressing room and then we do it on the pitch.”
Wolves go into the game in seventh position and in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday when they play Watford at Wembley.
Jimenez is happy for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to carry on surprising people – and he wants more of the same.
“At the beginning of the season, I think most of the people expected us to be fighting for survival in the Premier League, but now we are fighting for Europe,” he added.
“We are fighting for seventh place and we are in the FA Cup semi-finals, but with our effort and hard work, we are looking forward.
“All of us want more. We have a lot of wins, but we always want more.”