Antonio Valencia

'We need to play with character'

Antonio Valencia expects Manchester United to be in for a challenging ride when the Reds host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Having followed the progress of the newly promoted club so far this season, the 33-year-old feels that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are unlikely to be worrying about relegation.

“Yes, I've seen three or four Wolves games,” Antonio told MUTV earlier this week. “They’re playing really well. They get a lot of players forward, they are also very well drilled and it will be a tough game, but we'll be at home with our fans and our people so we need to play with character like we've been doing recently.

“I don't think they are a side that will struggle in the Premier League,” he added.

Antonio Valencia scores against Wolves
Antonio Valencia was on the scoresheet when United last faced Wolves back in March 2012.

United return to Old Trafford following three away fixtures that were spread across 18 days. By contrast, the next three games will be crammed into eight days - ater hosting Wolves, the Reds welcome Derby County to the Theatre of Dreams in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, before heading south to the London Stadium to face West Ham next weekend.

“That's a good thing because we know we've got a big squad,” said Antonio, who missed the midweek win as a precaution against injuring his knee on Young Boys' artificial pitch.

“There are a lot of players who want to show the manager they are training well and want to play. That's good because it creates healthy competition between all of us.

“We hope that whoever gets their chance will be able to perform the best they can for the team.”

United have won every match in September so far, representing an emphatic response to the last defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on 27 August.

“Yes, I think we had two early defeats but the team was playing well, we tried to score, to press high and get players forward. Then we had two really good results away from home in the Premier League against tough opposition and we've battled and got more players forward.

Valencia feels Romelu Lukaku in particular has benefited from having additional support in the attacking positions, with the Belgian netting twice at Burnley and a single strike against Watford.

Lukaku has more team-mates around him and he feels happy,“ commented the Reds' captain. ”He's scoring goals, he's happy and long may that continue.”

Valencia has also declared himself “happy” as he heads towards a full decade since stepping through the doors of Old Trafford for the first time as a United player.

The Ecuadorian defender, who arrived from Wigan Athletic as a winger in the summer of 2009, has gone on to make over 300 appearances for the Reds in all competitions, scoring 24 goals.


“I'm grateful to have been here at United for 10 years,” Antonio said. “The years have flown by but I’m happy with how things have gone here.

“I look back on the positive things, the wonderful moments, the trophies and I hope I can play on for more seasons here - I'm really happy in Manchester.”

MUTV will show exclusive build-up to United v Wolves from 13:30 BST on Saturday.