Project Big Sam

I want Sam Allardyce to be the next manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

As do 68% of supporters according to the E&S Poll at the time of writing.

He is the popular choice, the most qualified of the likely candidates and (as is my understanding), available and ready to go.

Lets be honest here, if the objective is success in anything close to the short term, there is no better horse to back.

To go with another experimental choice at this point in the season would be suicidal, so the likes of Marco Silva and Willy Sagnol should immediately be disregarded.

They may have achieved a level of success in Greece, Portugal and France respectively, but they don’t know the Championship.

Returning to square one with another coach who has to learn what the league is all about before working out how to win isn’t an appetising prospect.

Domestically, it’s hard to imagine Steves Cotterill or Evans making the fan base believe better times lie ahead.

The likes of Zola, Sherwood and Pearson might excite different sections but all would arrive with chequered CVs at best.

No, only Big Sam has the credentials, track record and personality to transform our motley crew into something credible.

He stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Presumably those opposing his appointment would cite recent transgressions off the field as a reason to look elsewhere.

My own moral compass landed on the verdict that it was right he left his position with England, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be allowed a swift return elsewhere.

Allardyce’s perceived ‘brand’ of football is often used as a stick to beat him with, but given the choice, winning is my preferred brand and there certainly hasn’t been much of that in the last year.

Decisive leadership, a clear plan and a solid identity are what it takes to be successful at any level and only one man can guarantee all of these things.

Simply put, if he’s interested it’s the easiest decision anyone should ever have to make.

Wolves 0 Leeds United 1

The things is, Leeds weren’t very good.


That makes this inept, clumsy, one-paced performance all the more difficult to stomach.

With 20 minutes left when Silvio poked the ball into his own net following Matt Doherty’s horror show, why did it feel like there was no way back?

Probably because Wolves couldn’t complete two successive passes, let alone find a way to break down a resilient, albeit rarely threatened back four.

Even when they went direct the usually reliable Bodvarsson flapped and flailed, unable to reach his usual superhuman standards.

The dream of 442 with the Icelander alongside Nouha Dicko made for a grim reality, with the latter still some way off match sharpness.

Costa and Teixiera shone occasionally but were guilty of trademark physical weakness and poor decision making.

In their defence, Wolves’ build up play was so laboured and one-dimensional it meant playmakers were rarely able to get up the pitch and occupy meaningful positions.

Edwards was combative and Saiss tidy but neither dictated the play or offered a meaningful platform to work from.

In short, Zenga’s selection and tactics didn’t work.

And with just a single point from that last 15 available, patience is wearing thin with a manager who continues to bemoan misfortune rather than the shortcomings of his team.

We’ve spent most of the season pointing to early mistakes, but it was a second half vanishing act that cost us today.

Wolves simply didn’t re-emerge after the break and without any sort of consistency over 90 minutes, it’s difficult to see how this team can be successful.

Accompanying these hot and cold performances is a lack of identity.

How do we characterise Zenga’s team?

Do they press? Do they pass? Do they look to go wide and get crosses in? Are they direct? Are they compact defensively? Do they break quickly?

They’re everything and none of these things at different times and that’s a problem. The game plan is neither obvious or decisive.

The Italian says he’s 100% sure things will improve and after this limp outing, it’s hard to believe he’ll be wrong.

But will better be enough?

Increasingly, I’m not so sure.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

Mick McCarthy reckons Christophe Berra is the best defender in the Championship.


This from a man who once went on record as saying Kevin Doyle put in the best performance he’d ever seen by a striker following a game in which the Irishman didn’t even score.

Anyway, Mick’s logic was that the Scot is ‘big and powerful and wins it in the air, he’s quick, he blocks things and is good at defending corners’.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure I agree with the quick part.

What’s funny is that in describing the former Wolves man, it made me realise this type of defender is exactly what we’re lacking.

The goal at Brighton once again felt soft, after similar disappointments against Norwich and Wigan where stronger defending may have changed the outcome.


leeds01Gary Monk’s team are (statistically anyway) a lot like us in that they don’t concede loads but don’t score that many either.

Hence why we’re both in and around midtable and needing a few wins to get closer to the top than the bottom.

Perennial Wolves target Chris Wood has been their talisman thus far and his 8 goals in a team that aren’t blessed with finishers have been crucial.

Given what I’ve previously said about our inability to defend crosses, his considerable presence would seem an obvious route to goal for Leeds tomorrow.

After a good winning run that saw them climb the table, they lost at Derby and drew at home to Wigan in midweek.


It was good to see Nouha Dicko get some minutes but I’m not sure he’s the man to lead the line in the current system.


Like many people I’d be interested in seeing him get a sustained run alongside Bodvarsson rather than in place of the Icelander.

I also wonder whether deploying two deep lying central midfielders and playing two out and out wingers might be worth a go at home?

The composition of the above team seems about right, with my only concern being physical power in the center of midfield. We could get overrun depending on how Leeds setup.

It’s about time Cavaleiro started showing the same type of form his compatriot has been producing on the opposite flank. If we can get the two of them playing well, it could be a game changer.

Walter Zenga


Call me an optimist but I think we might win this one.

I don’t know enough about Leeds to be definitive in that opinion, but looking at their results and our recent performances (notwithstanding the scores), I’m hopeful.

As always, team selection will be key. It looks to me that Zenga is closing in on his first choice eleven, so I hope he’s not tempted into wholesale changes.


Up The Wolves!

*Prediction League fans will be happy to know I’ve finally updated the table.



Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wolves 0

When Kenny Jackett had amassed 15 points from the opening 13 games of last season on a shoestring budget, the natives were restless.

Yet after an extraordinary summer of shenanigans and a storyline of Sky Dream Team proportions, here we sit, a solitary point better off under Walter Zenga, with two paltry wins since August 20.

While money can’t buy success, it’s about time it purchased a bit of accountability before this season – so full of promise – lurches into the laughing stock.

For 11 of our 13 results (Reading home, Newcastle away), Wolves haven’t bothered showing up for the first 45 minutes, in a maddening trend exploited this time by Brighton.

And of the 13 hastily assembled summer signings, only three were on the pitch when we kicked off (Costa, Saiss and Oniangue) to suggest there are more problems behind the scenes that many fans want to give credit for.

What became of Ola John, a wide player whose stating berth is filled by central midfielder Prince? Or Paul Gladon, who can’t even make our goal shy squad which only has two recognised strikers to its name?

Rather than heads being scratched and questions being asked, a devil-may-care attitude seems to pervade, with Fosun’s megabucks cushioning any questions that would otherwise be asked in any other given season.

Mine, were a chance to ever be offered to Walter Zenga, would be along the lines of:

· What do your teamtalks consist of in content and delivery? And at what point will you adopt a different tack to ensure we actually participate in games of football for the first 45 minutes?

· Why do you play a 4-3-3 formation, with players out of position, when it patently doesn’t work?

· Do you not rate Texeira or Caveleiro when neither can command a regular place in your side? (The latter a supposed match-winner worth £7 million who looks inferior to James Henry.)

· Come to think of it, did you have a single say on any of our summer signings when you are so reticent to play any of them? IE Do Ola John and Paul Gladon exist?

· Should we send Stearman back?

Thomas commented last night that he wasn’t surprised at this start, given the type of players we’ve accrued and the head coach in charge of them. Personally, I am staggered. I thought the days of Steven Mouyokolo and Tomasz Frankowski were a thing of the past, not to mention the penniless Birmingham City outperforming us once more.

After last night’s no-show, give or take a final few frantic pushes, we are what we are…

…Low on inspiration, high on squad numbers and two points above Aston Villa.

Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Wolves Preview

There’s been some tough away fixtures in the first quarter of the season.

After tonight we’ll have played Brighton, Villa, Newcastle, Blues and Huddersfield.

Assuming this match follows a similar pattern to those other fixtures, we’ll have been competitive with everyone, which must give Walter Zenga belief.

Wolves seem to be able to find a rhythm away from Molineux and an intensity that teams struggle to contain.

Long may that continue. If it does, results will certainly improve.


1024px-Brighton_&_Hove_Albion_logo.svgThe Seagulls overachieved last season, amassing a whopping 89 points and missing out on automatic promotion by a goal difference of just 2.

It was little surprise they were a spent force in the play-offs, going out to Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-final.

But they’ve hit the ground running again this year and look a decent bet to go close once more.

Chris Hughton has bolstered his squad with experience in the shape of Steve Sidwell and Glenn Murray as well as highly rated Reading midfielder Oliver Norwood.

They dropped points at home over the weekend thanks to Preston’s last minute equaliser so will be keen to get back to winning ways. They’re unbeaten in their last six.

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Walter Zenga says he’d rather by lucky than good at the moment and I can sort of see where he’s coming from.


The team were good against Villa but didn’t get much luck. Personally, I’d stick with the same eleven or something very close to it.

When we’ve played really well (Blues, Newcastle and Villa come to mind), it’s because the balance of the team has been right.

Games like Wigan, Norwich and Barnsley slipped away because the composition of the team wasn’t quite there. We need that combination of ability and physical power.

Although many weren’t a fan of Oninangue out wide, I thought he gave us more of a foothold in the game and with Coady bolstering the middle of the park, Costa had license to do as he pleased. It worked well.

Iorfa’s pace and power going forward also gave the team something extra, with Hause competent on his return and Doherty much better down the left.

Teixeira, Cavaleiro and possibly even Dicko could be likely starters if Zenga chooses to move some of the pieces around.

Walter Zenga


A lot went into that performance at Villa so repeating the trick down on the coast will be very difficult.

And make no mistake about it, Brighton are a much better team than Villa. They won’t just wilt and die after 45 minutes.

Chris Hughton was very complimentary in his pre-match amble about Wolves so he’ll also know exactly what to expect.

But I saw enough at the weekend to suggest we’ll give as good as we get.


Up The Wolves!

Aston Villa 1 Wolves 1

We should have won.

That’s the disappointing footnote to an otherwise encouraging performance.

Even stevens at the break it was total domination thereafter with only a decisive finish lacking.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson would have obliged had he not been taken out by Micah Richards when poised to score.

Quite how the referee failed to interpret the big defender barreling into the back of the Icelander as anything other than a penalty is difficult to understand.

The cynical stamp from Jack Grealish on Conor Coady was a tougher spot but retrospective action will almost certainly see that cowardly response punished with a three game ban.

James Chester was also counting his lucky stars after tripping the magnificent Helder Costa when already on a yellow. He should have walked.

Notwithstanding these injustices, Ivan Cavaleiro could have won it at the last after the ball broke kindly in the box.

Edwards and Oniangue also threatened as Wolves poured forward in waves and Villa struggled to hang on.

But despite the big moment failing to materialise, the team can take heart from another pulsating second half display which are fast becoming the trademark of the Zenga era.

The pace and intensity were relentless and nobody characterised the performance better than Helder Costa.

This was the winger’s best outing to date capped with a superb penalty to level things up.

He terrorised Villa in the second half and was inches away from winning the game, curling a fine effort just wide of the post.

With a quarter of the season gone, he has now emerged as a key performer and along with a handful of others (Bodvarsson, Ikeme, Doherty and Iorfa spring to mind) can be considered first choice.

Two more games follow within a week and rotation seems inevitable for Tuesday’s trip to Brighton.

Slow starts, individual error and inconsistency remain our greatest enemies.