When Wolves announced their side to face Manchester United on Tuesday evening, there were shades of Mick McCarthy. It wasn’t quite a completely different line-up, but there were some surprises.
Max Kilman started at the back but there were very rare appearances for both Vitinha and summer signing Ki-Jana Hoever.
Considering Nuno Santo’s side were playing at Old Trafford, it was an immense gamble to go with youth over experience. That being said, it very nearly paid off.
Wolves held United until the 93rd minute when Marcus Rashford’s deflected effort crept passed a helpless Rui Patricio.
It was harsh on the Old Gold, a team who had defended valiantly all game. With Rayan Ait-Nouri also playing alongside the likes of Hoever and Kilman, it was even more impressive that they managed to starve such a world-class attack.
Though, we’d like to focus on Hoever here, someone who only joined a matter of months ago from Liverpool. The right-back has unquestionable talent and on Tuesday night, we saw why his ceiling is so high.
The 18-year-old was making his first Premier League start and was coached admirably by club captain Conor Coady, the man he was playing beside. The skipper regularly shouted instructions at Hoever and it clearly worked a treat.
Conor Coady is a real leader ©
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Birmingham Live reporter Alex Dicken claimed he “didn’t put a foot wrong” and it’s hard to argue with that claim. Hoever was as good going forward as he was defensively, producing three tackles and supplying one key pass.
Romain Saiss hit the woodwork and was also competent in defence but it was the full-back who should take most of the plaudits. At the age of 18 and playing inside one of the most historic grounds in world football, he didn’t look out of place.
The young Dutchman won six duels throughout the contest and also completed 80% of his passes. It wasn’t a perfect display – losing 60% of his duels – but he was still a monster in most facets of his play. The very fact it look United so long to break Wolves down supplements that theory.
With Nelson Semedo ahead of him in the pecking order, it’s unlikely Hoever will see too much action, but it’ll come as a huge relief to Nuno knowing he can rely on someone else in that position.
Wolves have a huge talent on their hands.