The Bloggers’ Ball 2017

To all those who attended and survived…I salute you.

And to all those who missed out – like The Isle of Wight Festival in 1969 or the first Sex Pistols gig or when we beat Arsenal 5-1 in the snow – in years to come you’ll be saying:-

“Oh Yeah! Bloggers’ Ballbash 2017? I was there alright. A Classic!”

And so it was.

My particular Ballbash started on Friday when we drove up from Bournemouth to APV and met Clive.

And finished on Monday morning with a quick outing to the Molineux Megastore.

The days in between are starting to fade into a warm, comfortable glow but I’ve been told by the PMDG’er that I enjoyed them.

I’m not going to go into too much written detail because the * film that I’ve cobbled together pretty much sums up the time that we bloggers spent putting the World – and the Wolves – to rights.

* Warning! Contains strong language and scenes that might be disturbing to those of a nervous disposition.

Suffice to say it was a privilege to have spent some quality time with some old friends and some new faces who, hopefully, will come again and become part of the band of brothers that are renowned throughout the land. Or bloody well should be anyway.

And it was an absolute honour to be entertained by Steve Daley and Willie Carr – what a coup that was!

Many thanks to Brompton and Stu for setting it all up. Top men!

Another point, that the PMDG’er has just made to me. The Bloggers’ Ball is as much for the Bloggettes as the Bloggers. Wives and girlfriends are welcome and the ones who attended last weekend all had a blast.

Come along and see.

I was looking for some best or worst memories of being a Wolves fan over the years and managed to get a few on film but some people were too shy, or too fed up with me poking a camera in their faces, to comment.

If you would have liked to have contributed and I missed you, I’m sorry, but “we’d all had a drink”…

…and there’s always next year.

Wolves 1 Preston North End 0

After finishing last season in midtable with 58 points there was insatiable appetite for change.

New owners, two managers, circa £30 million of investment, endless recruitment and where did it get us?

58 points and a midtable finish.

Change it would seem, isn’t always for the better.

Success in the Championship relies on building up incrementally over time, not constantly sweeping the decks and starting from scratch.

History supports this stance. Only two managers have won promotion to the Premier League with Wolves and both of them accomplished the task in their third season.

Dave Jones and Mick McCarthy were given resources to sculpt their teams and more importantly time to get things right. They both wobbled and faltered at times but ultimately succeeded.

Learn the lesson.

Every manager will annoy you at some point. Every manager will pick players and choose formations you don’t like. If it’s not Paul Lambert it will be someone else, but the revolving door strategy seldom pays dividends.

It’s for this reason I banged the drum for keeping the faith with Kenny Jackett last season and it’s why my opinion is the same this time around.

Back Paul Lambert, afford him the resources and I’m confident we’ll get there quicker than the alternative path.

This was a decent enough performance to sign off on. Yes, it was a dead rubber against an average side, but there was plenty to feel good about, especially when you consider most of our key performers were absent.

Helder Costa, Ben Marshall, Ivan Cavaleiro, Matt Doherty and Carl Ikeme all sat it out and not many Championship teams could lose so many influential players and still be able to play with a degree of fluency.

Silvio, Graham and Enobakhare were all able deputies, resplendent in the Molineux sunshine and getting bums off seats with slick, incisive football.

Jordan Graham in particular was excellent in the first half, ruining Preston’s full-back at will and bending dangerous crosses into the box. His perfectly placed corner gave Danny Batth the ammunition to win the game.

The great thing about our returning winger is that his game is centered on finesses and footwork rather than pace and power, so unlike Nouha Dicko he probably isn’t as encumbered by his long stint on the sidelines.

What we don’t know about Graham just yet is whether he can give us a whole season at the level we’ve grown accustom to. If he can get anywhere close, then the team can be built around his considerable talent.

Enobakhare’s performance will be remembered for two gilt edged misses with an open goal at his mercy, but his potential remains undoubted. Find that killer instinct and we do have one hell of a player.

I’d give Silvio a contract extension if we can feel confident he’s over the worst of his injury problems. As with the aforementioned players, he obviously possesses the talent but must overcome his personal demons.

These three individuals highlight that there is talent at Paul Lambert’s disposal and coupled with those sidelined, not mentioning academy prospects like Ronan, Gibbs-White and Wilson, we should feel confident about our prospects.

Retain as much of the talent as possible, select carefully from the water carriers that give them a platform to shine and add the necessary steal and we certainly won’t be far off.

It might be all that wonderful May sunshine going to my head, but I’m already feeling good about next season.

Have a great summer. Up The Wolves!

Wolves Vs Preston North End Preview

Nearly there.

A season that was supposed to sparkle and shine will mercifully fizzle out on Sunday giving us all much needed respite – for a few weeks at least.

But the club can’t sit around watching the garden grow. There’s a mountain of work to get through reshaping this squad to ensure we avoid these dead rubbers next year.

For what it’s worth, I’d give Helder Costa the Player of the Season gong based on the fact we’ve only looked anything close to capable when he’s been on the pitch.

Dave Edwards is the only other realistic candidate and rightly so for hitting double figures and putting in the miles. I wouldn’t begrudge him the award.

Preston

Although they’ve drifted back towards midtable, you’ve got to say Simon Grayson continues to do a splendid job at Deepdale.

There’s no money there and a couple of key players left last summer, so keeping them up was probably about par for the season. The fact they’ve occasionally flirted with the play-offs is testament to the former Leeds and Blackpool boss.

I tend to think of them as your archetypal Championship team, keeping it tight at the back and going direct, but the statistics suggest otherwise. They’ve scored 64 and conceded 62, both at the higher end of the scale.

They come into this game off four straight defeats and a draw against whipping boys Rotherham, so perhaps they’re also keen to get the beach towels out?

Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson have netted 24 goals between them, while Aiden McGeady has rediscovered some form in a drifting career to notch eight himself with a further nine assists.

Wolves

We already know Helder Costa is out and Ivan Cavaleiro suspended so we’re short in wide areas. But maybe Jordan Graham can manage an hour to at least occasionally get us off our seats?

It would be nice to play with some actual width at home for a change and with the above wingers on the pitch, as well as Enobakhare in the middle, there’s actually a chance Dicko might get some decent service.

Including the loan signings (Teixeira and Borthwick-Jackson) I’m expecting at least 10 players to leave with Saville, Price, Silvio, Stearman, Williamson, Henry, Wallace, Gladon all off and others possibly not far behind.

But all of the above XI seem certain to be here (Iorfa might be an exception) so lets try and extract a decent performance from the remain camp to give us a grain of optimism about next season.

Predictions

I think we might win this one. Preston look to have checked out worse than us. OK, most of their recent defeats came against the top sides but only taking a point against Rotherham must give us hope.

I’ll say 3-1.

Well done to Ash K who I believe has already won the Prediction League (a second triumph is that?) with a game to spare. I’ll update the final table on Sunday to confirm. Thanks to everyone who has taken part. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

For the final time this season…Up The Wolves!

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Derby County 3 Wolves 1

Quite a few people pointed out I’d incorrectly named Andreas Weimann in my preferred XI to this game, despite the fact he was ineligible against his parent club.

Fair enough.

Just as well as he couldn’t play though, as we might not have seen Nouha Dicko’s best performance of the season.

For the first time in a long time our once prolific striker was barreling towards defenders and making things happen with powerful, direct running. That bodes well for next season.

Despite not being rewarded with a goal for himself, he did lay one on a plate for Ben Marshall in a rare moment of cohesion from Wolves on an otherwise poor afternoon.

You can point to Cavaleiro’s stupid sending off as a key moment, but Derby were coasting it well before lapping up the benefits of numerical advantage.

If you look at the goals, discounting the countless opportunities they created besides, it’s clear an inability to defend down our right was targeted and exploited.

David Nugent was all alone at the back post for his opener and Conor Coady himself was then skinned far too easily for the second.

I talked a lot in the preview about getting the balance in central midfield right, but starting next season with two specialist full backs must also be high on the agenda for Paul Lambert.

Don’t get me wrong, Coady has played superbly on several occasions in the back four, but he’s doing a job not mastering the art.

Midfield was again a problem though. You need only look down the Derby teamsheet to see the gulf in class between two sides pursuing the same goal.

Bryson, Butterfield, Johnson and Ince would all walk straight into our eleven and that sort of disparity simply can’t exist next season.

OK, we’re without two of our best outfield players (Costa and Doherty) as well as our first choice goalkeeper, but this was yet another reminder of just how much work there is to do over the summer.

It can’t come soon enough.

Derby County Vs Wolves Preview

Central midfield is the issue.

I know we’ve all got opinions on individuals operating in different areas of the pitch, but I’m convinced if Paul Lambert can address this one deficiency, we’ll do good things next season.

Against Blackburn and again on Tuesday in the defeat to Huddersfield, there was no attacking impetus from central areas, other than the times Ben Marshall stepped inside to make something happen.

Lambert’s got seven first team midfielders on the books (Edwards, Coady, Price, Evans, Saville, Saiss and Oniangue) and no combination is good enough in possession to consistently do what’s required.

If you want willing runners, closing down and all the ugly stuff then the above will do that (hence why we’ve taken some big away wins this season). You might keep two or three of them for this purpose.

But get rid of four or five of the above, bring in two better technicians and also look to extract the most from the likes of Enobakhare and Ronan who also have the necessary skillset.

Derby

If one team have underwhelmed more than Wolves this season, it’s got to be Derby. Cash was splashed again to help Nigel Pearson reconfigure an already capable squad to his liking.

Vydra and Anya arrived from Watford with lots of Championship pedigree and with others already there like Ince, Johnson and Butterfield, it seemed inconceivable they wouldn’t make the play-offs.

But looking at the table with two games to go, it’s clear they’re nowhere near. The higher powers at the club have to take responsibility for bad appointments and/or not showing enough patience.

It did look at one stage that Steve McLaren was going to get it going again, but after a good run of victories it was back to inconsistency and he also bit the bullet.

Gary Rowett seems like a very good manager, but you wonder how much time he’ll be given at Pride Park if they don’t get out the traps quickly next season?

Wolves

It would be pretty handy to have Helder Costa fit again. I really hope this injury is serious enough to be keeping him out and it’s nothing to do with his imminent departure. Sadly, I’m not convinced.

If he is able to make it back, the above is the team I’d play. Burgoyne might be our only fit keeper but I’d persevere with him anyway, despite letting in a soft goal in midweek. Incidentally, I was surprised Lambert chose to throw him under the bus for that in his post-match summary.

Both Silvio and Iorfa are playing for their futures so let them carry on I say. Despite a few wobbly moments I thought Silvio did some good things and showed strong positional play. We’ll be in the market for at least one full back in the summer and if he can convince over his fitness, he could be like a new signing.

My instinct is that Price, Coady and Edwards are the three to keep. Price because we know he can perform when partnered with better technical players. Coady because he can occupy different positions and Edwards for goals and impact.

But none should be nailed on starters next term and to compensate for what we lack moving going forwards in midfield tomorrow, I’d play an attacking trio behind Weimann who still looks like he’s got the bounce in his step to do something.

Predictions

I don’t think we’ll see anything like my proposed lineup tomorrow, but this could be a decent game for our try-hards to camp out and spring on the break as they did at Elland Road.

Derby have good quality though and I’m expecting them to ultimately put us to the sword at a ground where we’ve struggled to compete in recent years.

2-1 to the Rams.

There is a lot valuable bets out there before you place one make sure to do it on a reputable site, check out the SBR rating guide of betting sites

Up the Wolves!

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Bloggers Ball 2017 – Final Update

A final update on the Bloggers Ballbash on Saturday 6th May and Sunday 7th May.

Daytime Activity

Whilst we are gathering in A Park View Hotel on the Saturday 6th I am aware that some of you bloggers may not intend to arrive until Sunday to take in the match. We will still be there in the morning prior to leaving to meet the 12.00 kick off, so please pop in for a quick pint or coffee or whatever on the Sunday if you wish. It will be great to see you all.

Saturday is purely to get as many of us together as possible and if past gatherings are anything to go by I am sure you will all enjoy a good day, even if you intend to be there for just a short time, or if you intend to “hang one on”.

Come along and get involved. Many discussions on the Blog have been interesting to say the least and this season has not been what we expected or wanted – it would be great to discuss your views in person.

Evening Meal

I have received all menu choices and confirmed these with Sat at APV. She is looking forward to receiving us and has ordered in the Limoncello.

We have a total of 27 diners as shown:

Mark G Davies & Rona Davies
StuWolf & Jenny
Steve and Lyn Daley
Willie and Tess Carr
Phil Parkes
Mike & Trish Bird
Bedford Wolf
Bedford Old Gold
Brompton Wolf
Twixfix and Lilian
The DOOGooder and Sue
Witley Wanderer & Shaun
Clive from Houston
Exiled Wolf & Barbara
London Wolves Loyal & Elaine
Wolfstroker & Jayney

Sat has advised me that any food cancelled with less than 72 hours’ notice would be fully charged. Should any guest be unable to attend, please let me know and I can advise Sat accordingly. All meal charges will be placed on resident’s room bills, less those non- residents who will be asked to clear their bill that evening.

We now have the entire main dining area to ourselves. There is no set formal seating plan but I will provide you all with name cards when you sit down, the reverse of which will show the meal you have chosen. It is also intended to provide you all with some light entertainment, courtesy of theDOOGooder and Bedford Wolf which I am sure you will all enjoy.

The “dress code” for the evening meal will be smart casual.

Everything is now sorted and I look forward to seeing you all over that weekend. Come along and enjoy the day.

Brompton Wolf

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