Blackpool 0 Wolves 0

Kenny Jackett knows that results won’t always go his team’s way, but he’s also wise enough to recognise that consistency will always breed success in this feisty, competitive division.

Wolves Blackpool

Despite a disappointing stalemate, Wolves remained loyal to their principles yesterday and emerged with a useful point to show for it.

No goals scored sure, but then again, no goals conceded – yet again.

That’s four cleansheets from six Championship fixtures, which is all the more remarkable when you consider the only blemishes have been a questionable penalty and a painfully unfortunate ricochet.

Such miserliness steams from organisation, but also domination of the football. 63% possession yesterday shows Wolves again had an element of control to proceedings.

Still, Blackpool were resilient and effective with their 37% share. Nile Ranger could even have won it for them, had he kept his well-worked second half effort just an inch or two lower.

The Seasiders showed spirit and in Ranger and Delfounso they have individuals that could potentially dig them out of the horrible mess they find themselves in.

Wolves own individual talent, Rajiv van La Parra, came closest to conjuring up a decisive blow for Wolves, gliding inside and seeing a shot come back off the post.

With Sako on the sidelines, Michael Jacobs was finally handed a start and the diminutive midfielder almost picked up where he left off last season with a trademark headed effort that the keeper did well to push away.

Carl Ikeme had to be alert on several occasions too, most notably tipping a goal bound header over the bar as Blackpool pushed for the win.

Undefeated Charlton await at the Valley on Tuesday, which in itself will be another formidable examination but one Wolves won’t fear.

If they remain consistent, it’s hard too see them going too far wrong.

Blackpool Vs Wolves Preview

As timing goes, the international break arrived when Wolves needed it least.

Blackpool

Three straight league victories amidst a trio of encouraging, controlled performances against much fancied opposition had built up a mini whirlwind of momentum.

History has proven picking up the baton after a two week hiatus is seldom straightforward, so this fixture represents another interesting challenge for our burgeoning young side.

Blackpool

Blackpool-FC-LogoIf you were writing a handbook about how not to run a football club, a few chapters about Blackpool’s summer of discontent would make compelling reading.

Having somehow contrived to diminish their playing staff to just a handful of senior pros and become the comedy act of the football league in the process, chairman Karl Oyston now seems hell bent on prolonging the laughter.

Managers have been contacted and interviewed this week despite Jose Riga still being in the post that he himself only occupied back in July. What happens next is truly anyone’s guess.

The squad has at least been strengthened, numerically speaking, but the results have been both damning and conclusive – five games, five defeats. Zero points.

If there’s a grain of hope for the Seasiders it’s that all of their defeats, save for the 2-0 opening day loss at Notts Forest, have been by a single goal. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Wolves

Assuming no international hangovers, the starting XI on Saturday should mirror the settled team we’ve come to appreciate of late:

Wolves Blackpool

With another game (Charlton away) hot on the heels of this fixture though, the likes of Jacobs, Henry, Rowe, Ricketts and Saville could all get their chance to stake a claim in the next week.

It will be interesting to see how Kenny rotates personnel in and out when injuries, suspensions and fatigue enter the equation.

Just how effective those fringe players are will likely dictate whether or not this squad can sustain the pace at the business end of the Championship.

The gaffer

Predictions

Five people are already into double figures in the Prediction League, which is some achievement from just five fixtures. Well done to Dave H, ManxWolf91, vicsmith, MosmanWolf and in particular MrAussieWolf who leads the way with 12 points.

I can’t predict anything other than a Wolves victory for this one. While a law of averages screams Blackpool can’t continue losing forever, I expect them to struggle on for another week if Kenny can get even a decent percentage out of his team.

They have some capable individuals amongst their hodge-podge of a squad (Ranger, Delfounso, etc) but Wolves are a well-oiled machine these days, so I’m not expecting any slip-ups.

2-0.

Up The Wolves.

Members of Parliament

Well, wonders never cease…

Wolves fans

…After a speculative punt to become a Fans’ Parliament member for the new season, I found out today that, on behalf of Wolves Blog, they’ve only gone and let me on!

The first Fans’ Parliament meeting will be taking place on Thursday September 18 and I can confirm that I will be Wolves Blog’s eyes and ears from these monthly get-togethers, which I really can’t wait to get my teeth into.

My application went along the lines of the following:

“I would like to stand as a representative to provide a voice for this online group of fans. All of these fans have old gold blood coursing through their veins and many are reliant on our platform to keep them up to speed on all things Wolves. It is a disparate group, with fans in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Texas visiting us regularly.”

Anyway, they’ve just let me know and I need to get any brief agenda items over to the club by the end of play Friday.

With that in mind, do you have any burning issues on your mind?! I’m here to help!

One day like this

Kenny Jackett has wasted no time in utilising the loan market to strengthen his squad, after signing one of the UK’s most talented youngsters in a breath-taking swoop.

Team picture with Ben & Arthur

Okay, so I apologise immediately if I have raised any hopes with that intro, but I needed something suitably sensational to do justice to one of the most joyous days I’ve ever had as a Wolves fan.

As some of you might know, I am blessed to be a father to a beautiful boy called Arthur who, unlike his Dad, has a happy knack of winning things to supplement his big beaming smile.

Sako & ArthurBefore a ball was kicked this season, Arthur was at it again, when he unknowingly won a chance to sit with his heroes as part of the official team photo-call at Molineux.

When Young Wolves membership manager Kerri Davies left me an urgent voicemail to call her back in August, I immediately feared the worst…

…Maybe my season ticket had been cancelled due to Wolves Blogging mischief? Maybe my credit card had bounced? Or maybe, just maybe, there might be something to get excited about.

Thankfully, it was the latter, as she told me that skipper Sam Ricketts had picked Arthur’s name from a hat of 2,500 little cubs to win an experience of a lifetime with the Wolves – the jammy little bugger.

So Arthur and I got suitably dressed for the occasion and headed off to Molineux to have our picture taken with the lads.

Arhur and Danny Batth

Words fail to do justice to the experience, which not only made a young boy’s dream come true, but validated my own 25 year love affair with the club, which I wouldn’t swap for all the Premier League big boys put together.

Kenny Jackett was charming, Danny Batth and Sam Ricketts were caring and the whole squad were accommodating for me and my boy, as we made a nerve-wracking walk from the side of the pitch to a pair of big empty seats next to Kenny and Joe Gallen.

I’m not sure who was more nervous, although I’m damned sure who looked more photogenic!

Aside from the glorious photos and the wonderful memories they create whenever I look at them, I left Molineux with an added sense of contentment, which I guess you’ll have to take my word on…

…The club officials, from Kenny down to Kerri, and the culture that enveloped that sun-drenched afternoon.

Amid this boundlessly upbeat occasion, positivity comes as standard. But with the players, backroom staff and community team so clearly proud to be wearing the club colours, I only wish I’d have brought a bottle.

A bottle to capture the atmosphere with, to take home for when me and Arthur need it most.

Arthur tunnel

For when I throw his little bedroom curtains wide…

…One day like this a year has seen us right!

Thank you Wolves

Transfer torment?

So, the window has finally closed, the rumour-mill can relent and Natalie Sawyer can hang-up her strappy yellow dress until the next time she’ll need it in January.

sky sports 2014

Your thoughts on the overall pantomime?

Gauging Wolves fans’ general consensus about our activity – or lack of – appears to be as tricky as sealing that elusive striker that so many of us craved.

The legitimate fear is that one injury to Dicko will cause the wheels fall off our bandwagon simultaneously. Couple this with failed bids for Andy Delort, Chris Wood, Callum Wilson (and defender Harry Maguire) and a minor twitter meltdown is understandable isn’t it?

Not least when the clear inference can now be made that our miracle-working manager identified targets for Plan A, B and C eventualities and was ultimately backed with none. After Kenny’s remarkable track record in the transfer market to date, then surely he deserved more?

The alternative view leans a little more on sympathy and would argue that signings to improve our upwardly mobile squad – rather than add to it alone – is a trickier task than many appreciate.

My own view lies closer towards the latter, whilst acknowledging what a depressing drain our ‘Bomb Squad’ had on our efforts to strengthen, even if the club still argues otherwise.

And while I am quick to berate Morgan and Moxey for undeniable failings in the past, I am not going to point the finger this time, aside from the following hindsight embellished grudge:

Tying those wretched Group 3 players – many unproven on English soil – down on long contracts in the first place, when today’s due diligence methods would have averted this maddening profligacy.

I actually have a bit more sympathy today, for the following four reasons I feel are valid:

1. We only play one-man up front on his own, which renders the ‘every club needs four top strikers’ argument as largely irrelevant under Jackett. Under Kenny’s model of progression, midfield options of genuine quality are actually more imperative. In this regard, we have purchased Rowe, van La Parra and Saville to add to last season’s history makers – none of which have been sold!

2. While a striker of repute was identified and targeted, we would not have seen him play any time soon anyway, such is the dizzying stranglehold we assume in games in midfield. Replace one in the middle for one more up top and the recipe stands to fail. Essentially, we would have signed a player (say, Chris Wood) only to tell him to sit tight until Dicko gets injured, which immediately weakens our bargaining power. A by-product of success perhaps?

3. All of our current players are bloody good footballers. For so many years, we have seen one dimensional players operating in one dimensional roles, with little ability to adapt as necessary. Mick McCarthy’s attempts to change his 4-4-2 to cope with the inevitable extra man in the middle were laughably primitive – not to mention belated – when looking back. These players are different. While observing van La Parra for example, you sense he could handle a role up front if Dicko were to go absent, such is his intuitive grasp of the basic principles comprising the modern day footballer. He is equally mobile, physically strong and adept on the ball – however much I hate round pegs in square holes. James Henry was hardly a weakness when he deputised on the right against Blackburn, was he?!

4. Our bench. To drop Price, Henry, Ricketts and Jacobs from last season’s all-conquering title winners took decisiveness. That Jackett has done so to IMPROVE our on-field XI means our bench is as compelling as I can ever remember. Whatever people’s thoughts on Leon Clarke, he’s a striker waiting for a sustained first team run, while Jacobs and Henry are proven quality.

All in all, I remain in a largely relaxed state about whatever didn’t happen before 11pm last night.

In today’s immediate world of bite-sized consumption, a Jim White exclamation and an immediate Compton photo-call are not so much wishes but outright demands amongst many – me included in seasons gone by.

Nowadays, the vision of Patrick Bamford in Old Gold looks as perverse as a wobbling purple dildo in a Sky Sports presenter’s ear, however much it would make me smile.

Like the purple dildo, it would raise spirits for its extra-dimension, but would not be guaranteed to work half as well as the real thing on a Saturday afternoon.

Wolves 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

From ‘The Wonder of You’ as we arrived to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ as we left…

Wolves celebrate blackburn

…Feel-good anthems are in plentiful supply at Molineux right now and after another hugely encouraging Championship performance, they’d rarely sounded so good.

Those miserable days, when we’d shuffle off home to that morbid Groundhog instrumental are but a distant memory, with every passing performance like this doing so much to change the record.

Progressive, passing football for those stymied stodge-fests of yesteryear and if music be the food of love, then let us jolly well eat.

A 3-1 triumph over a hugely impressive Blackburn Rovers possibly represents our best win of the season, as the men from Ewood Park looked easily the best team to play at Molineux this season.

Without testing Ikeme in the first half too often, there only looked to be one winner at 2-1 in the second, at the time Jordan Rhodes reduced arrears from a dubious looking penalty.

With the impressive Ben Marshall and the imperious Craig Conway weaving patterns around our penalty area, we were chasing shadows right up until the moment Bakary Sako converted Dicko’s cross to restore our two goal advantage.

From then on in, the Wolves side we’ve all taken to our hearts – that wonderful Wolves side – began to keep the ball in the same virtuous way we’ve been seeing since a January 3 away trip to Gillingham.

Batth and Stearman were typically assured against Blackburn’s blatant goal threat Rhodes and with Doherty and Golbourne alongside, we surely boast two of the most mobile full-backs in the division.

Behind Dave Edward’s lungbusting display of distinction, Lee Evans was only a tad less impressive than his Cardiff masterclass, with McDonald finishing the game like the Rolls Royce we’ve somehow purchased for the price of a Ford Focus.

Bakary Sako was undoubtedly man-of-the-match for his sumptuous first half free-kick, assist for Dicko’s opener and all-important killer goal in the second half.

Nouha Dicko meanwhile gave Grant Hanley and Jason Lowe more work than they probably thought possible from a lone man.

Finally, James Henry eased into his right midfield berth when replacing the booked van La Parra at half time, reminding us all what a safe pair of feet he represents.

And two new faces in Saville and Rowe suggests that this squad isn’t as light as we sometimes think.

With Blackburn nominally 14th in this embryonic league, it’s easy to see why it’s so bloody tough.

So with that in mind, we really shouldn’t expect Elvis on the tannoy every single week, however joyously indefinite it currently sounds.

But because I can’t help falling in love with what Kenny Jackett has created, expect me to sing along regardless.

Highlights