Wolves Vs Rotherham United Preview

After Wolves went 3-1 down to Rotherham back in December, having just lost back-to-back games against MK Dons and Peterborough, I really did get that ‘here we go again’ feeling.

Rotherham

But I needn’t have worried.

The fightback in that game that saw Wolves claim a valuable point was to be a sign of things to come.

Soon after Kenny made those wholesale changes to personnel and system, which completely changed the complexion of the team.

As a result, tomorrow will be a carnival atmosphere with the primary objective already achieved with four fixtures left to complete.

The small matter of the League One title however, still needs taking care of.

Rotherham

Had Wolves stuttered in the home straight, Rotherham would have taken full advantage.

A fantastic run of form that’s seen the Millers lose just once in 18 matches propelled them to the cusp of the automatic places.

But a deflating late surrender at Bramall Lane last week, coupled with two more dropped points at home to Bradford looks to have curtailed their top two aspirations.

They come into this game eight points behind Brentford with manager Steve Evans already talking about play-off preparation.

So impressed was Kenny Jackett with Rotherham’s display earlier in the season he went out and pinched one of their best performers in Nouha Dicko.

But as good as the striker has been, Rotherham have carried on scoring and winning without him. In fact only Leyton Orient (78) can better their goals scored record (77), although Wolves aren’t far behind (76).

Top scorer Kieran Agard has 19 goals so far, but like Wolves, they’re a team that have shared the goals around with the likes of Frecklington, Revell and Pringle all getting their names on the scoresheet regularly.

Their away record has been fantastic (13 wins, 4 draws, 4 defeats) and is only bettered by their opponents tomorrow who have a single point more.

Wolves

With nearly a full week to rest up after last Saturday’s promotion-clinching victory, there’s no reason for rotation.

Wolves team for Peterborough

James Henry and Jack Price would probably be the most likely candidates to return to the side, but with Sako fit again and the manager glowing in his praise for Lee Evans last weekend, the same XI is likely.

Injuries have been kind to Wolves this season and you wonder whether that’s down to luck, changes to approach or even just how the current players look after themselves? Whatever the reason, long may it continue.

The odds

Wolves are favourites for the win at 5/6. The draw is 12/5 and a Rotherham victory is 10/3.

Nouha Dicko is probably a good bet to bag the opener given the curse of the former player. He’s 4/1 to do so. Kieran Agard is a good insurance bet at 15/2.

All odds here.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to everybody who predicted the win last weekend. It was practically everyone.

I fancy Wolves to overcome the jovial nature of the occasion and win this one tomorrow. It’s a full-house and the players will hopefully thrive on that.

3-1

Up The Wolves

Onwards and upwards

Big thanks to Stephen for sending in this lovely guest contribution. If there’s one thing I love it’s a good statistical analysis. Over to you mate…

Wolves promoted

What can history tell us about how Wolves might fare in the Championship next season?

How do teams promoted from League 1 get on in their first three years in the league above? I’ve been taking a look at the records from the last 10 years.

Average league position and points haul following promotion:
All promoted teams1st season - 14th (60)2nd season - 15th (58)3rd season 13th (62)
Automatic only 1st season - 12th (62)2nd season - 13th (60)3rd season 11th (65)

Of the 30 promoted teams only 2 have gone straight up to the Prem (Norwich & Southampton), one more made it in their 2nd season (Wigan), and 3 were promoted in their third (Swansea, Blackpool & Hull), which makes a total of 6/30 who’ve made it to the Prem within 3 years of League 1 promotion.

3 teams have had unsuccessful play-off campaigns within 3 years of promotion to the Champ (Forest twice, plus Bristol City and Leicester). 9 teams have been relegated (3 in their 1st season, 5 in 2nd, 1 in 3rd). Half of the promoted teams have got stuck in the Champ.

Excluding teams who came through the league one play-offs to focus on the 20 who got automatic promotion: 5 made it into the Prem within 3 years, 6 ended up back in L1, 9 got stuck.

Points

2 pts per game is often seen as the benchmark for automatic promotion but only 9/20 teams have managed it in L1 in the previous 10 seasons.

Southampton

Most of the 9 that have went on to be successful in the Championship over the 3 seasons that followed. 4 were promoted again, 2 lost in the play-offs, and 1 was relegated (Luton, who went bankrupt and dropped out of the league).

2 of the 9 are Charlton and Sheff Wed who both exceeded 2 pts per game in 2012 and therefore have only one complete season after promotion to assess.  So, for the 7 with more than one year, they’ve all achieved something of note at one or other end of the table.

This adds to my optimism for the next few years and eases my fears of getting stuck in the second tier for another huge chunk of my life. A quarter of all automatically promoted sides have made the next step up in reasonably quick time and our high points tally this season, fanbase and finances make us good candidates for inclusion in that group over the others.

Here’s hoping! Onwards and upwards!

Crewe Alexandra 0 Wolves 2

To anyone outside Molineux with a shorthand pad and pen, all this was part of the script.

Wolves team promoted

To every single fan of gold and black persuasion who knew what a toxic bombsite this club had become, securing promotion with four games remaining is nothing short of a miracle.

Kenny Jackett and your wonderful young squad of history makers, we salute you.

Most pundits – and a fair few Wolves fans too – had us down to walk League One on the assumption that we were too good to be in League One in the first place.

Quite how we were going to do it was never explained however, with the names Ricketts, McDonald, Jacobs, Golbourne, Henry and Dicko on the tip of nobody’s tongue.

Until our unassuming manager parked up in Waterloo Road with an almighty new broom in the boot, none of this would have been possible, however much it was part of the script in the eyes of every journalist.

Wolves at CreweWell done Kenny for a miraculous on-field achievement, featuring gargantuan rift bridging skills between fans and club and a swelling sense of pride that I once feared we’d never feel again.

Yes, a club like ours should be getting out of this league but with such apathy, failure and downright poison on our books, our pre-Jackett team would have continued to shame in division three.

Where last season’s double dip losers created history for all the wrong reasons, this vibrant young side have flipped it on its head for all the right ones.

Our promotion clinching win at Gresty Road was ultimately processional and featured the most appropriate name on the scoresheet – Kevin McDonald.

The figurehead, talisman and driving force behind this all-conquering side broke the deadlock with a deflected shot on the stroke of half time and if it didn’t kill off the game, then Chuks Aneke’s off-the-ball red card moments later almost certainly did.

Like Stevenage and Shrewsbury before this, another relegation threatened side made life difficult for us, but with typical care in possession and a numerical advantage to boot, the result was never in doubt.

Not least when David Edwards scored a near customary goal from the edge of the box to make it 2-0 – his fourth in six.

And so, 49 weeks after going down at Brighton in a second successive relegation, we can enjoy a well-earned party as the feel-good factor grows.

That we can bask in it for a further four fixtures is the most fitting thing of all. Kenny Jackett should savour every minute.

Highlights

Crewe Alexandra Vs Wolves Preview

Does everyone feel confident enough to agree it’s now a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ for Wolves?

Crewe Woives

Rotherham’s late defeat at Bramall Lane means the maximum points requirement is just four points away, three when you factor in the vastly superior goal difference.

And that of course assumes The Millers win all of their remaining matches, including next Friday’s trip to Molineux.

Surely, even with the scar tissue of 2002, the fans can dare to believe promotion is in the bag? Some might disagree of course.

Whatever you’re stance, a first place finish should be the ultimate aim. I’ll be bitterly disappointed if this Wolves team don’t lift the trophy in May.

Crewe

Crewe logoPromotion could be mathematically confirmed tomorrow with the right configuration of results, but Crewe have their own sums to calculate.

They currently occupy 21st position, sitting agonisingly on the wrong side of the dotted line with an inferior goal difference to the three other teams on 43 points.

It’s still all to play for between the bottom eight clubs, six of which are separated by just three points. A win for Crewe tomorrow would be huge.

Goals conceded is the problem for Steve Davis’ side. The 76 they’ve let in (31 at home) represents the highest in the league. That’s over three times more than Wolves (25) have shipped.

Goals scored has been less of a problem and top scorer Chuk Aneke has 16 to his name so far this season. He’ll be one to look out for tomorrow.

Wolves

Injuries haven’t hampered progress thus far for Kenny Jackett and it looks like he’ll have a full squad to choose from again tomorrow.

Wolves team for Peterborough

The team that started against Peterborough last weekend did a fantastic job I thought, handling what could have been an awkward fixture with relative ease.

I don’t see any reason therefore to rush James Henry back or look for a way to accommodate the likes of Leon Clarke or Liam McAlinden. It’s useful to have options like that on the bench.

I’m sure Kenny has something specific up his sleeve though, as he always does, but I’m not expecting any major surprises.

The odds

Wolves as you’d expect are strong favourites for this one at 8/13. The draw is 16/5 and a Crewe win is on offer at 5/1.

Nouha Dicko is probably overdue a goal and he’s 15/4 for the opener tomorrow. We’re still also waiting for a Jack Price goal. If you think this could be his day, he’s 16/1 to be first scorer.

All odds can be found here.

The gaffer

Predictions

I didn’t predict the right outcome against Peterborough but 51 of you did. A hearty well done to the nine who got the scoreline spot on to double their points intake.

Wolves should win this one and I strongly fancy them to do so. I don’t think Gresty Road is a difficult place to go and play football, so the players should enjoy the environment.

Assuming no major brain farts, I expect Wolves to get on the ball and dictate. Crewe are poor defensively and we have the players to exploit that.

3-1

Up The Wolves

Wolves 2 Peterborough United 0

If Wolves control their five remaining opponents in the same dominant fashion as this victory, promotion and the League One title are a formality.

Wolves Boro

But it seems unlikely that Crewe, Rotherham, Leyton Orient, Coventry and Carlisle will roll over quite as readily as Peterborough did yesterday.

Sure, Fergie’s side were compact and well organised for 45 minutes, but after Danny Batth powered the home side ahead, victory never looked in doubt.

Unusually for Posh, they were toothless in attack and rarely threatened to deny Wolves a record equaling 23rd cleansheet of the season.

Free scoring Britt Assombalonga cut an isolated figure throughout and got little change out of Wolves’ dominant centre-half pairing.

Dave Edwards’ decisive second goal, scuffing home from a typically bullet-like Sako free-kick, killed the contest, allowing Wolves to shift down through the gears in the final 20 minutes.

In fact it was only after Sako’s overly enthusiastic penalty cannoned off the top of the bar that Boro showed any sort of menace.

Carl Ikeme’s flying save from a well-struck thirty yarder ensured a ten minute spell of pressure petered out to nothing.

His opposite number Bobby Olejnik had by this time denied Wolves a more resounding victory with elastic saves from Ricketts, Dicko and Sako.

Fortunately, goal difference doesn’t look like being a decisive factor with Wolves now 20 better off than Brentford and Rotherham. It’s effectively another point.

The only minor blotch on another highly satisfying Saturday was the useful wins our closest rivals collected.

But with a comfortable points cushion and Wolves showing few signs of stuttering in the home straight, what the other sides do remains immaterial.

It’s all in our hands.

Wolves Vs Peterborough Preview

It seemed inconceivable back in August that Peterborough wouldn’t be challenging for the top two.

image

Their form at the end of last season was remarkable and only a great escape from Barnsley saw them relegated on the final day.

The summer signing of Britt Asombalonga and a rapid start to the campaign suggested they’d be the team to watch.

It hasn’t happened though and inconsistency has dogged their progress throughout.

Peterborough

Peterborough logoA Wembley win in last weekend’s JPT final could be the catalyst Darren Ferguson’s side need to go on and secure promotion through the play-offs.

A midweek win over Colchester means they now have a four point lead over Swindon in seventh, still with a game in hand.

Away form has been a problem for the Posh and they’ve lost 10 matches on their travels already. None of the five teams above them have lost more than three.

The danger man is undoubtedly Assombalonga who has 29 goals this season. You suspect he’ll be playing at a higher level next year regardless of what division his current employers occupy.

Wolves

In the sense that it was top against bottom, a draw at Stevenage looks like a missed opportunity. But with the team now battling against a points requirement as much as the chasing pack, I see it as a valuable step towards the finishing line.

Wolves team for Peterborough

With James Henry likely to miss out it would be a useful time for Bakary Sako to regain fitness. Kenny said he was hopeful so fingers crossed.

Without Henry or Sako you worry there could be a supply issue. It’s already been suggested that a narrower shape might need to be employed without flying wingers at our disposal.

But if the trip to Sheffield United a few weeks taught me anything it’s that the team sheet isn’t everything. It’s about how the players slot together and exercise the game plan.

I have every faith Wolves will be well prepared, as they usually are these days.

The gaffer

Predicitions

Still playing catch up with the PL but midweek was a low scoring affair with most believing we’d win.

I think this will be a tough game against a side that might see this as a no pressure fixture.

They still need points to secure that play-off place but with a four point cushion, a game in hand and easier fixtures to come, they might try and enjoy this one.

I’d back our best team to beat anyone but I don’t think tomorrow will be our best team so it’s a hard one to call.

I’ll go for a score draw.

2-2.

Up The Wolves