Tranmere Rovers v Manchester United: Back Red Devils to run riot in big FA Cup win

Alan Dudman successfully opposed Newcastle against Rochdale for his last FA Cup preview, but he won't be laying a beleaguered Manchester United at Prenton Park in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round clash...

Tranmere Rovers v Manchester United
Sunday January 26, kickoff 15:00
Live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate

Tranmere's cup joys mask a poor season

The glory days are back at Prenton Park following their two-leg epic against Watford, and victory against the Hornets has teed up Sunday's clash against an under-fire Manchester United. It's the first time in 16 years that Rovers have made the fourth round of the FA Cup, and what a journey it's been.
Their famous come-from-behind 3-3 at Vicarage Road was a huge shock in-running unsurprisingly. The Hornets were matched at the basement price, while the draw had been backed at 350.00 In-Play.
Okay, Watford's priorities are elsewhere, and manager Nigel Pearson said as much in the first game, but Tranmere got everything right on Thursday night with a real battling performance in the 120 minutes. Manager Micky Mellon set up his team really well, and individually the players won all of their battles against an inexperienced Watford team, but Mellon's men did create chances.
Their journey has involved games against Wycombe (twice) and Chichester, so they deserve their big day.

Under pressure Ole's job on the line?

I wonder if United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have preferred a game against Watford? It's been a horror week for the Reds following their toothless 0-2 home defeat against Burnley in midweek, and another loss at Tranmere on Sunday is unthinkable.
The headlines are now focused on whether Solksjaer will last in the job. Wednesday's 0-2 against the Clarets was labelled one of their worst for some time (and that's in the face of some pretty stiff competition of late). For large periods of the game they produced nothing, which prompted jeers from the home faithful at both half time and full time.
Former player Darren Fletcher said on Five Live the atmosphere at Old Trafford was toxic, while Rio Ferdinand labelled the performance as "embarrassing". Quite what the end game is at the moment, I don't know, but the only chances of silverware for United now are the Europa League and the FA Cup.
They trade at 13.50 for the latter, and 7.80 for the Europa League.
United could welcome back Victor Lindelof - who missed Wednesday's game against Burnley through illness. Anthony Martial misfired in that, so it could be the chance to unleash Mason Greenwood for a start. He looked positive when he came on for the second 45 in midweek.

Explore other avenues as United need a cup run

From a punting point of view, I would have preferred Watford for this as we have a massively lop-sided market, and apologies Tranmere fans!
I opposed Manchester United recently for their home game against Norwich at around 1.36. Yes, they were a laying price, but they won easily 4-0. However, I believe the rationale and thinking was correct then as the team under Solskjaer can throw in a stinker. Their 0-0 against Wolves in the FA Cup third round was one, and they created nothing on that occasion.
And United fans got exactly that at Old Trafford on Wednesday. It's always in the back of my mind with another toothless showing. And without the injured Marcus Rashford, it looks even more likely.
The other element to this game is the pitch. Prenton Park is a boggy swamp at the moment, and it was mentioned that Thursday's fixture looked as though it was being played out on a Sunday League surface. Rovers also play the game well at home as they run down the clock, time waste, and generally do a good job in managing 90 minutes. They really were "in the faces" of Watford, and you can be sure they'll do the same on Sunday.
The worry, though, is 120 minutes against a Premier League side is bound to deplete the energy reserves. That would have taken a lot out of the Tranmere players - so it's hard to do it again against a potentially strong line-up.
If you are backing a shock win at big prices, Tranmere are not in particularly in good form in the league. They are currently third from bottom and have conceded more than they have scored, so we have to be realistic.
Mellon has been known to set up teams to defend and hit on the counter. They did exactly that with a smash-and-grab at Coventry earlier in the season with a 0-1, but will he be a bit more adventurous knowing the confidence is low for the visitors? My major fears are from Thursday's game, and the almighty effort it would have taken into extra-time, so I'd rather back United here either on the Asian Handicap or the Man Utd -1 or -2 markets.
This isn't a fixture where Solksjaer can afford to rest players, nor ignore as a priority.

Bank on Greenwood to rescue Ole

Having outlined the possibility of Greenwood starting here for the visitors, the 18-year-old has got to be of interest in terms of backing in the First Goalscorer or To Score markets.
It says something about the plight of Solskjaer that he could turn to an 18-year-old to salvage something from a wretched season. Greenwood featured in both games against Wolves, but he's the sort of player with such a natural finishing instinct, that he is good enough to take one chance. Tranmere have conceded plenty of goals in the league this term (20), and all of their FA Cup matches have hit the Both Teams To Score bet, so I'd be disappointed if the teenager didn't get a couple of chances - even if he is coming up against vastly experienced centre-half Peter Clarke.
In terms of the hosts, Tranmere's Paul Mullin scored in both games against Watford, and is a fairly confident penalty taker too.

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