New Wolves boss Gary O’Neil is expecting a ‘better’ Manchester United this season ahead of Monday’s Premier League trip to Old Trafford.

While Rasmus Hojlund’s niggling injury means Manchester United will be without their new £64 million striker when Wolves come to town, Monday night should still see a competitive home debut for Erik ten Hag’s other two big-money summer signings.

Andre Onana is certain to start in goal. Mason Mount is likely to line up as part of a midfield trio too, flanking Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro.

After some well-placed signings, and with a year under Ten Hag now under their belt, big things are expected of the Red Devils this term.

O’Neil is certainly expecting improvements, under no illusions about the size of the task facing his Wolverhampton Wanderers side ahead of a most-daunting top-flight opener. 

Wolverhampton Wanderers Training Session
Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

Wolves face Man United at Old Trafford

“I think they’ll be better than they were last season,” the former Bournemouth boss tells the BBC.

“It’s a big challenge. The big challenge for me is every other club in the Premier League has been working towards this game for six weeks, and we’ve had a very different pre-season.

“It’s not how you’d ideally want to prepare for the first game but there are no excuses.” 

O’Neil in at the deep end

O’Neil was only confirmed as Wolves’ manager in midweek following the sudden departure of Julen Lopetegui. His Bournemouth side were beaten home and away by United in 2022/23; losing 3-0 at Old Trafford before Casemiro’s stunning volley secured three vital points in the top-four race.

“I thought we were good. There was not much in the game. We had a couple of decent chances,” O’Neill told the Bournemouth website after that hard-fought defeat.

“They didn’t create too much. They are obviously a good side and you have to defend certain situations, and the chance they take was a tricky one as well. A really good finish.

“They mean business. You can feel it around them.”