Looking back to move forward

Losing so subserviently to a relegation candidate would usually be enough to provoke an angry tweet or two, if not a call to Franksy on Radio WM, in any given season.

So it feels a tad unnatural to feel somewhat upbeat following our emphatic away loss at Bristol City, not least after five successive wins.

In this instance, the feelgood factor emanates from the confirmation that this squad of players is simply not good enough to challenge for a mid-table Championship finish, let alone a promotion push to the play-offs or beyond.

In simple terms, our squad is nauseatingly average at best. At worst, it is absolutely crap, with last season’s 14th place finish coupled with this perpetually underwhelming campaign, when we’ll probably finish even lower.

Football being as compulsively short-termism as it is, a win at Ashton Gate might have coerced Lambert and Jeff Shi into thinking that we are actually a decent side with minimal reinforcements needed over the summer.

Thank God then, that they were reminded of the side’s unshakable levels of frailty, which should act as a yardstick from which to shape their close-season recruitment drive. (Games against Cardiff City away, Burton away, Birmingham City home, Rotherham home and Wigan home should also act as likewise).

If Fosun’s mid-to-long-term plans are to be taken seriously, then a nostalgic nod to hard-luck failures of yesteryear must be replaced by a hard-nosed search for ruthless winners. It’s that simple.

If – and it’s a big if – we are to get promoted from this hell-hole of a league, we don’t need to look too far from home to understand what is needed to get out.

Central midfield

In 2002/3, a rotated triumvirate of Cameron, Rae and Ince ensured we were not only good enough to last the pace, but actually accelerate into the play-offs with bona-fide momentum. All three would guarantee you a 7/10 performance in virtually every game they played, whenever called upon.

In 2008/09 – our only other comparable year of success – Karl Henry and David Jones were equally consistent, if not completely underrated compared to the three names above, whose cult statuses have long been decreed. The originals, perhaps, so therefore the best? No matter, the maligned Henry, in particular, was the base from which our incredible Championship winning season was formed. He was another 7/10 guaranteed performer week in, week out.

It’s a common theme amongst winners, not least when looking at other successful sides to make hay in the Championship.

For Reading, read Sidwell and Harper. For Bolton Wanderers (on multiple occasions) read Pollock, Sellars and more latterly Per Frandsen. For Sunderland, see Kevin Ball / Lee Clark and didn’t Tigana’s Fulham also feature Clark and John Collins? And while I really don’t want to mention them, I will utter the names McInnes and Greening in two separate Albion seasons.

At present, we don’t have a single player in our squad capable of lacing these players’ boots. Not in terms of metronomic consistency.

David Edwards offers you a 7 (usually if he scores a goal) and anything from a 4 or 5/10 on most other occasions. Maybe Evans could imitate David Jones if a worthy lieutenant was alongside, but ifs and ands are pots and pans.

We haven’t got time to find out, have we? Jack Price, a player I admire greatly, might also be better blessed with a natural leader from somewhere, while Saville and Coady are proven dross.

Saiss, possibly, could thrive in the right environment, but when it’s almost exclusively on the bench, then you sense we’ll probably never find out.

Conclusion

Get ruthless here, because it’s the most critical area of concern, more so than a goalscorer in my humble opinion.

Saville, Coady*, Evans, Edwards can all go.

Prince and Saiss probably already have, going by the comments made about foreigners by Thelwell in a recent FP and the need for a 75% / 25% split between domestic and foreign players.

Ronan has shown plenty to suggest he can play a part, but one midfield general is needed from somewhere.

*Unless deployed exclusively as a right back

Defence

Many fans hanker after a modern day version of Joleon Lescott or Dean Richards – and with good reason. They were class acts.

But more than individual flair at the heart of the back four is a need for a genuine partnership between two preferred players, whoever they might be.

The unassuming but no-nonsense Paul Butler assumed rock-like proportions alongside the prodigious Lescott in 2003, while a defender cut from the same cloth as Butler came back into the fold to see us over the line in 2008/09 – Jody Craddock.

Bells and whistles aren’t so critical in central defence – muck and nettles are.

I refer back once more to that all conquering Reading team, with mainstays Sonko and Ingimarsson forming the foundations. QPR would get promoted with Clint Hill and Elphick with Bournemouth.

Conclusion

It looks like Danny Batth and Kortney House are our current first choice pairing.

They don’t stack up unfavourably on paper to the many individuals with championship medals from previous seasons, as per above.

But they still lack that rumbustious sense of leadership that any successful side craves.

They need help and we need to strengthen. Asking Ethan Ebanks-Landell to meet the requisite levels of consistency is asking a lot, while Williamson has been a laughable waste of money, even if he does hint at those levels that are needed.

Bring in a proven centre half.

Strikers

Of all the positions to remedy in the summer, this one is it.

It needs no explanation. In 2002/03 Kenny Miller and Nathan Blake scored plenty, while we all remember Big Chris and Sylvain a few years later.

Conclusion

I have a hunch that Bodvarsson could be a better bet to come good next season than Dicko, whose track record might be more compelling, but appears to have lost that intuitive knack he once had of being in the right place at the right time. And on the few occasions he is, he misses.

When I say ‘come good’, I mean 10 to 12 goals over the course of the season.

If both are sold then they can have no complaints. Joe Mason should be sold. Can we hang our hat on a player like him?

Lambert then has to bring in TWO strikers to consign the above to long term substitute options. One could be a ‘number 10’ to replace Mason.

If we’re playing David Edwards for much of next season because we’re ‘relying on his goals’ then we can forget about promotion.

So quality – and quantity – is required here as the cupboard is bare.

Wingers

As far as Wolves’ DNA goes, if not a promotion push itself, then nothing gets the turnstiles ticking quite like a cocksure winger in full flow, in complete and utter faith in his own ability.

Hancocks, Mullen, Wagstaffe. Even Daley and Froggatt were a nod to our heritage, albeit a fatal one as luck would have it.

Mark Kennedy was the mercurial one back in 2002/03 who got bums off seats quite unlike any other player that year, even if he did frustrate at times. Shaun Newton more ‘Robin’ to the Irish Batman, offering a steadying level of consistency which often went unnoticed (see Wolves’ second goal v Newcastle in that FA Cup game as an example).

We were just spoilt rotten with Kightly and Jarvis under Mick. to have one of those was a blessing. Two was downright taking the mickey, which we did on a regular basis to opposing teams.

And then there was Bakary Sako, who we all loved mostly because he was a player to electrify – and partly because he represented the very antithesis of the anaemic last knockings of the McCarthy era.

So to ask for two players of Helder Costa’s ilk is wishful thinking. To have Costa in the first place might be a long shot in itself, going by the general undertones which accompany each man-of-the-match performance.

Conclusion

Just to keep Costa alone is as big a statement as signing him in the first place.

Call me old fashioned but I like a winger with pace – and obviously consistency. This means the jury is still out on Cavaleiro for me. In Weimann (should he sign) and Marshall, we have adept operators to add some balance, both of whom are good enough to sustain a promotion challenge.

Of course, Ivan could continue as a crowd pleasing match winner too.

Basically, sign Weimann and keep Costa.

Goalkeeper

Ikeme is more than good enough. I maintain he’s a better keeper than Hennessey.

Conclusion

Lonergan will be released. Burgoyne will deputise no doubt, which would please me.

Full backs

Hardly a position to shift the necessary number of season tickets to trigger the refund, but an important one.

Matt Doherty should play a significant role in a tilt for the Promised Land. Coady can only be seen as a stop gap on the right, albeit an effective one.

The bigger conundrum is Dominic Iorfa, whose career is in inverse mode. He does possess mobility, and I refuse to believe that a player can lose all of the virtues that made him so eye-catching under Jackett.

Conclusion

A left footed left back is a must.

And finally…

In our only two seasons of success in this league – not to mention all of those other sides who’ve eventually conquered – they all shared one common trait that every successful side needs: Luck!

By luck, I mean keeping key players fit for a good 75% of the season. This is not something that can be controlled entirely, but Lambert will surely have taken note of the Mike Williamson debacle, if not Joe Mason as well.

It’s a big ask to get out of this season, even with all the resources under the sun as we all know from bitter experience. Curle, Richards, Keane and Bully just a few legends never to have managed it in a Wolves shirt.

It will be far from easy. BUT by being ruthless, with the onus on finding consistent performers, it can be done!

Comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Awesome stuff Ben.

    You said it was a long read, but there’s so much to kick around here I could double the length in my reply.

    Members of the 2003 play-off winning team should hang their head in shame that it took them until Christmas to get their act together. That squad was next level good. If they’d kept Murray and Lescott fit the following season, I think we’d have comfortably stayed in the Premier League.

    The club would have to work miracles to get anything close to that. I don’t know where you find an Alex Rae or Paul Ince today. Not just the quality but the personalities that drive teams forward when things are going sour. Dean Sturridge was arguably the best finisher I’ve ever seen in old gold, but even he couldn’t get in the starting eleven. Rae was also on the bench in the play-off final. That shows you the strength of that squad.

    What we can definitely do is get a couple more experienced players who still have that appetite to compete. Maybe one or two Premier League stars who want one last challenge similar to Ince/Irwin.

    The 08/09 team was all about graft. As good as Kightly and Jarvis were – and I agree, they were outstanding – they also worked up and down the line tirelessly, which allowed us to play two strikers and overwhelm teams. And of course our forwards finished their dinner – SEB particularly.

    We also had the likes Foley, Henry and Jones who churned out consistent 7/10 performances to keep things moving. It was a real team effort to get over the line.

    The similarities between the two sides and the lessons we must carry forward (in my opinion) would be:

    1. Got to have a striker capable of scoring 20+ goals.
    2. Got to have at least a couple of experienced players who’ve been successful in this league or higher.
    3. Got to have a team who collectively put in the hard yards. No room for passengers.
    4. Got to be lucky with injuries to key players. That’s a big one I agree wholeheartedly with. Same as when we won League One. Hardly anyone was out for a significant period.
    5. Got to have something resembling a settled first eleven for most of the season.

    My concern is that Wolves have so many players, particularly when you factor in trying to blood youngsters, that the waters become muddied. I agree that we must be ruthless over the summer, even if that means one or two leaving that go on to be successful elsewhere the squad is far too bloated. I’d settle for three high quality signings right down the spine who will walk into the starting eleven and about 7-8 people leaving to avoid constant tinkering.

       12 likes

  2. Twixfix says:

    Your analogy of Promotional DNA requirements are bang on Ben (and Thomas) and the comparisons of previous successful campaigns to what’s is now required is uncanny.
    My take on it is like yours mate …..WE HAVE GOT TO BE RUTHLESS.
    Never mind those current squad players signed up for another 4 years ….if the performance and more important RESULTS aren’t forthcoming from the off … shoot them off.
    Managers usually lose their jobs sooner rather than later if results don’t match plans / expectations.
    For sure we can’t get rid of 10 and sign another 10 ….similar business to this campaign (which has turned out to be flawed) will NOT work again.
    We need , in the areas you suggest and with many of the players too, to bench them for QUALITY SIGNINGS…..it will cost money but managing them out is sometimes a harsh necessity. (Rooney being a good example)

    I am hoping for some improvements in Quality and Marshall and to an extent Weimann show what Lambert can see in a player…I just hoe it doesn’t become an Old Boys Club.

    Still at least Thelwell didn’t get too involved with the above two.

       3 likes

  3. Bagsy says:

    Great stuff Ben. A lot of sense over sentiment in there, which is something I often lack in my support. I’ll hold my hands up and admit to having huge soft spots for the likes of Price, Dicko and Edwards and never like to see them getting stick, but you’re absolutely right – we really do have to move on and bring in the sort of quality that will take us forward. We don’t need anymore new faces who will only add to the Wolves way of recent seasons in which we tantalise and frustrate in equal measures during another season of inconsistency that ultimately ends in disappointment.
    There are plenty more people on here who know more about the game, the players, wage structures, financial regulations, transfer dealings, etc, but I look at the likes of Glenn Murray and Knockaert in the Brighton side and think surely it isn’t beyond the realms of reality to think they’re the level of players – with proven Championship/Premier League experience – we should be bringing in? I have no idea what they cost or are earning, but if we are serious about getting into the top tier – and staying there – surely they’re the sort of player we’ll need to get there, at least.
    Still, the optimism remains and there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully this summer we’ll make massive strides towards it, and not meet the train coming the other way.

       6 likes

    • Wokingham Welsh Wolf says:

      Excellent article Ben.

      Many thanks to you and Thomas for all your hard work in keeping this excellent blog going.

      I’m with you Bagsy, save that I’ve never had the same soft spot for Price that I do for Dicko and Edwards (too much sideways stuff slowing the game down, when we should be using our pace up front).

      You mention Brighton and I am amazed that we couldn’t get a proven Championship striker like Glenn Murray, if we really do have ambitions to get to the Prem. What would we have achieved with his 20 odd goals this season?

      I am also mystified why Lambert doesn’t seem to rate Saiss other than as a bit part player, even more puzzling when you see how often we give the ball away in most matches.

      UTW!

         0 likes

  4. Excellent article.

    But who is in charge of recruitment really?

    Thelwell – don’t trust him to sign anyone!

    Mendes – while we can’t complain having signed the likes of Costa, I worry bringing in more unproven foreign talent doesn’t give you the instant success required to hit the ground running. As overseas imports take time to settle.

    PL – he has to solely be in charge of first team recruitment. He also has to be ruthless and I worry that ‘we’ve got a good group of lads’ rubbish clouds judgment when assembling a team. These players have had their chance over 2/3 seasons and are no where near good enough to challenge for promotion.

    Agree that a CB, CM and ST are a must and need to walk straight in the team. I still feel we need at least 5 new additions to go straight in the starting line up but again it’s a big ask to expect them all to gel straight away and deliver consistency.

    I think next season will probably again be a step to far as there is too much to fix. I just hope we see progress and challenge for at least the play offs.

       2 likes

  5. Bedford Wolf says:

    Good stuff Ben (though I still think my ‘snog, marry, avoid’ analysis was funnier). In the main it would appear we speak the same language. Like you I have been saying for ages that the main problem isn’t the more obvious ones of centre back, left back and striker, though all those ARE problem areas, but the central midfield. My deepest concern about Paul Lambert is that he seems to rate Evans, Edwards, Price and Saville higher than either Saiss or Oniangue which I find deeply worrying. In my humble opinion both Saiss and Oniangue, from what we have been allowed to see of them, are proper footballers and greatly superior to Evans, Edwards, Price or Saville but seem to have been sidelined purely on the basis that they are foreign.

       8 likes

    • I absolutely agree. Price and Saville are, at best, Division 1 performers, and should depart. Evans and Edwards, may be decent squad members available for emergency purposes, but are nowhere near good enough for regular inclusion in a side with genuine promotional ambitions.

      Onangue was moved out without being given any opportunity by PL to show what he is capable of, and even at this late stage of the season too little is known about Saiss, simply because he has never been given a decent run in the side. But the little we have seen clearly shows that he has far more natural ability than either Edwards or Evans.

         3 likes

  6. admant says:

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. Agree with you on all counts.

    It should be widely accepted by fans and management alike that Up front and at the back some BIG signings are necessary.
    If Graham and / or Zyro return and we SOMEHOW hold on to Costa then we may yet have the two shit hot wingers you allude to Ben. Which would be incredible.

    For me it pivots on Costa. Selling suggests another mid table finish whilst keeping him and adding a 20+ netfinder up front should be enough to give us a top 6 finish.

    Simples.

    Roll on Transfer window, lets see what you got !

       2 likes

  7. Brompton Wolf says:

    Now that is one good post Ben. As I am still at work, I am unable to comment as freely as I would like, but would certainly like to discuss this further. So ……….. here comes the plug…… if you are free to dine with us on Sat 6th May along with your good lady and Thomas and his, then I would be honoured. I am sure I am not alone in saying that both Thomas’s and your work on this blog has been truly amazing and I would certainly enjoy your company.

    Please think about it and throw me a menu choice and I will reserve seats at the table.

       4 likes

  8. Brompton Wolf says:

    Ben,

    Just read your post on the update thread. See you on the 6th for a beer or two, and enjoy Vegas mate.

       1 likes

  9. A first class analysis Ben. Hopefully, your voice will be heard.

    My only real point of disagreement, centers on your assessment of Doherty. Solidity at the back in any promotion aspiring team is a number one priority. Unfortunately, whilst being able to get forward on occasion to good effect, D is a hapless defender, on which ever flank he plays. He is very poor positionally, tackles poorly, and thus puts great pressure on his defensive colleagues. To continue with him could be our undoing.

       2 likes

    • wolfman jack says:

      I tend to agree with you re Doherty’s defensive ‘attributes’ but I like his contribution when he gets forward as he has the ability to play defence-splitting passes (e.g. QPR away, Cardiff home). Might be worth trying him in a midfield role.

         0 likes

  10. Clive from Houston says:

    As so wisely stated above, all new recruits should be bedded in, gelled and acclimatized well before the season starts.
    If Lambert is the manager we all hope he is, targets will already have been identified, ready to be signed on day one of the transfer window, budgets for fees and wages discussed, and the dross to be swept out of the club decided upon.
    Its no good waiting until the last kick of this season to decide if a player is staying or going, if he dont know by now, he should go as well!!
    Talk about a ” pre season” to me is bollocks.
    Players are highly trained ( and over paid) professionals, and a pre season smacks of having to teach them the rules and basics of the game.
    They should be able to sign, smile for the cameras, then get straight on the pitch and play.
    Remember when we used to buy players on a Friday and stick them straight in the first team the next day and expect a great performance from them?
    Anyone else remember a certain Mr Dougan, on his home debut a week after signing, and that glorious hatrick against Hull?
    I do!!!
    No, Mr Lambert, I for one do not want to hear about potential targets, timing and all the other platitudes that might be forthcoming, I want to see signings within a week of the transfer window opening.
    Your shit should already be together!!

    FOwb

       5 likes

    • The style of play is much more varied than it was back then. Now you have to be able to read what your teammates are thinking and know their preferences for receiving the ball.

         0 likes

  11. It’s obvious our current squad isn’t good enough to make the promised land otherwise we would be much closer to it by now. However, I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of the loss of Graham and Zyro and Nouha’s inability to regain his previous form in our all too frequent pathetic performances.
    During our recent winning run, our threat up front helped to keep the pressure off our defence but Ashton Gate showed that if that threat is reduced, our midfield is all too easily overrun, even by lesser lights in the division.
    So I feel that we have plenty up top, with or without Costa (preferably with of course), but quality reinforcements further back are essential. Only Ikeme and Hause would be dead certs for me next season, with others chosen according to how Lambo feels they fit into the style he wants to play.
    I don’t foresee such wholesale changes over the summer however, but I do foresee a much more successful season and at least a playoff finish.

    Great article Ben with much food for thought. 🙂

       4 likes

  12. Marney says:

    Great write up Ben , loads of memories to attach to those names ,
    I recently took my boy and I along to a Man U ledgends game ! The cost of which I equated to the cost of a junior season ticket at Huddersfield for next year ! Seriously, how weird or wrong is that ! Bearing in mind my only interest was in a certain mr Denis Erwin,
    there’s a name you can build a defence around, actually can you build a defence around a full back ! Not sure but you get my drift, Irwin , ince et el are the type we need but seriously, ‘thelwell ‘ can he identify that type of player !!

       0 likes

  13. StuWolf says:

    “Looking back” (Over your shoulders)
    Well we have been since the heady days of Div1, we’ve been poor, we’ve been clueless, rudderless and managerless, all in all, bleedin hopeless. Lovely to see others now confirming what those of us who had to endure it for 90 minutes each week knew, that which PL has stated in the press since Saturday’s rubbish, we are just not good enough or consistent enough, and he’s a top coach? Really, and it’s taken him this long, WTF, add Barnsley away to that long list of games to forget (we won that one by the way, but dog knows how) and it all starts looking as grim as it is in reality.

    Let’s see Mr toothless weild the axe in the summer, let’s get real here folks, mediocre football ain’t taking us to the promised land, it is not even going to get us in tne play offs. I truly believe that PL is still not safe, If my mate is to be believed Price is off down the road in the Summer, loads of guys at the U23’s were backing it up and they live, breathe and sleep all things Wolves.

    I for one am fed up with the under achievers in our team, those that turn up and then don’t cut it out on the pitch, we’ve suffered that treatment as fans for too long. If we’re serious with our ambitions to make the Premier, Lambert has to get his finger out, it could be said he’s a genius for getting results with some of those players, but it could also be said, he’s a fool for the one’s he chose to keep, over the one’s he’s sent out on loan or kept on the bench.

    How many times have we raved about a performance and then the next game they throw it all away with a half hearted performance, what is it with these guys, if they’e tired after a couple of games should they really be part of the squad. No is the answer, that simply is just not good enough.

    I see Anderson Talisca has been drawing loads of attention, well we want a No 5, let’s get out there and get him, if we then say we shouldn’t be looking at paying those kind of wages, then we shouldn’t be looking toward the Premier, because that’s what it is at that level so sign up or forget it. Put up or shut up.

    There’s a full back at Chester with about 12 clubs after him, he’s 19 and has been made Captain on his performances, go get the bugger, don’t feck about grab it by the horns. Apparently, Iorfa’s dad has been bad mouthing Lambert off for his treatment of his son, well we know how he feels, Iorfa has treated us badly, sitting back slacking while the World was at his feet what does he expect, lazy, pure and simple.

    Bugger buying a Striker with 20 goals a season in him, we need two, let’s tear teams apart for a change, other teams don’t sit back on one goal leads, they spot a weakness in a team and they go for the throat our goal average is always in the red, never the black, Wolves? More like lambs. Lamberts lambs.

    Wield that axe Lambert, get Quality staff in situ, let’s pull down the barriers and shoot these hoodoo’s squarely in the head, why does it only seem to happen to us, but all the time. Learn the lesson we’ve been taught, let’s get ruthless and brutal and storm out of this league playing great football on the ground with two wingers (the Old Wolves way) stop rolling over and asking teams to kick us squarely in the nuts.

    Rant over, let’s have action not words.
    COYW’s

       6 likes

    • wolfman jack says:

      ‘Apparently, Iorfa’s dad has been bad mouthing Lambert off for his treatment of his son’

      The article I read said that Iorfa’s Dad claimed PL was not playing him because he (Iorfa) had opted to play for Nigeria rather than ENGLAND at senior level. Clearly his Dad doesn’t know that PL is SCOTTISH, (or else the whole thing was fabricated…)

         0 likes

  14. The Newt says:

    Fond memories thinking of Jones and McCarthy’s teams. Interesting how Jones favoured experience with only a handful of young players and McCarthy vice versa. The common factor was both sides had leaders on the pitch, steady 7/10 performers each week and strikers scoring goals. We are lacking all three at the minute but I’m probably in the minority here as I do think we have some players who could all play a part in a good Championship squad with better players alongside them.

    I tried the Snog Marry Avoid game and counted 35 players with first team league experience so in order to bring in players we need to move out around 15 in the summer which will take some doing. I came up with 9 straight away and then a further 10 where it was a case of either one or the other.

    I would like to see Lambert bring in 3 or 4 players similar to the level of Marshall and Weimann and then fingers crossed 1 or 2 better quality foreign lads similar to Costa using the Mendes link if possible.

    And if Costa does want to go then lets learn from past mistakes (Henri Camara) and sell him quickly and not have it dragging on all summer and sell him too late in the day to reinvest the money wisely. If they want to go then let them go.

    Whatever happens it will be an interesting summer window.

       3 likes

  15. johnok says:

    Totally agree Ben 100%, but a major factor in any team is what the coach can get out of every player he coaches.
    That brings me to PL Does he have the nous to bring players on or players in.
    I know he did have a good side with Norwich once and they played some good football.
    I’m not convinced he is the man for the job,He’s had 2/3 of a season and apart from 5 wins on the spin he’s not been much of an improvement imo.
    That brings me to Chris Houghton a coach who knows the game and players well and has done really well with limited funds.
    He’s the coach we could have had and imo would have got us into the prem a long time ago.
    He’s worked wonders with what he’s had available to him.

       1 likes

  16. Exiledwolf says:

    Thanks Ben, totally agree. It really should be too early to think about next season but then most of Wolves’ energies have been expended at the wrong end of the table. So now is indeed the time to plan ahead, particularly as PL should have a head start on many of our potential rivals in the Championship next season.

    It’s already been said but we are desperately short of leaders across the pitch. Yes please, someone in the Ince/Rae mould. Going further back, a Mike Bailey would be a godsend, as would someone of the caliber of Frank Munro in defence. And, talking about the good old days – Gladys Knight anyone? – anyone remember that wee striker Hugh Curran?

       1 likes

    • theDOOGooder says:

      I remember Hughie Curran.

      He had the Ronaldo knack of ‘defying gravity’.

      He would get up in the air for a cross and still be up there when his header was nestling in the back of the net.

      Don’t remember Gladys Knight though.

      What position did he play?

         0 likes

      • Exiledwolf says:

        Gladys Knight and the Pips might have made a decent strike force, with perfectly orchestrated movements. That Midnight Train to Georgia never did turn up.

           2 likes

        • Bedford Wolf says:

          Gladys Knight and the Pips always reminds of arguably the best cartoon strip I ever saw. It was in the 1970’s I think and was by Charles Schulz and featured the dog Snoopy. It was basically a series of drawings of said dog stuck inside a suit of armour. At the end it simply read ‘Help me make it through the knight’. Brilliant.

             3 likes

        • Brompton Wolf says:

          When I play it (and I do a lot) it, part of it reminds me of Jamie O’Hara…….

          He kept dreamin’ (dreamin’)
          That someday he’d be a star
          A super star, but he didn’t get far
          But he sure found out the hard way
          That dreams don’t always come true

          Love that song. Especially the backing vocals lol.

             1 likes

  17. If anyone thinks the like of Edwards, Evans, Batth, Saville, Wallace and Stearman still have something to offer look at the Bristol City game the Wigan, Rotherham, Cardiff, Burton and so on. And yes Batth scored a couple against Cardiff at home but the the bad performances far out way the good and these players have been here now 2 or more years some far longer and still cannot find consistency.

    They have all produced flashes but its no good doing it every fourth game to get out of this Leauge it has to be the opersite.

    All the above I believe have reached there level and that level is not and good enough to get us out of this league.

    The Leauge table over the last couple of seasons says it all about this squad……….put simply try as they might work as hard as they do they don’t possess the skill level required to get us out of this Leauge.

       6 likes

    • Bedford Wolf says:

      Well said that man – as on a few previous occasions I find myself agreeing with you 100%. That’s very unusual for me, trust me! I cannot fathom how players who Jackett deemed not good enough when we were in League 1 are now seen as worthy of being in the starting eleven.

         2 likes

  18. RickRack Wolves says:

    Some great comments & think we’re all much of a muchness on here, but theres always a but!
    We have a number of positives:
    No M&M – whilst we’ve enjured a pretty shite season overall, we paid £13m for one player M&M would have both had left sided intercerable heamoragies merely at that thought of a multi-million pound deal.
    Costa can play and his goal against sheepshaggers will long live in my memory.
    Liverpool – enough said
    (& no I ain’t forgot Rotherham or willing to forgive)
    Fosen ain’t playing at this football game, they are a business with a short/med/long term plan & strategy.
    I believe they will be as ruthless as needed to gain Prem football before 2020
    For me we now have a few options now – as we’re safe (I believe) PL to start pre-season now – play some football in next 6 games, get Graham, Zyro, Saisse, Enobakhare, Wilson on the field & we can see what theh are about.
    PL to start telling to leavers now they’ll be going & don’t play them again!
    Get new recruits in as early as possible with clones of thd following required:
    Emelyn Hughes
    Denis Irwin
    Paul Ince
    SEB
    Then we can look forward to a stonking great 2017/18 cus it cannot be worse than this year & we have owners that will demand success.

    PS Costa ain’t going unless he drives his exit himself – cus Fosun recognise the revenue from the Prem rather than £12m in one deal

    PPS Great article to kick this blog off………..

    COMB FOwb We are Wolves

       1 likes

  19. WABFK says:

    Every one agrees that we need to move a lot of players out in the summer.

    How feasible is this? We are talking around 15 players in my opinion. I know some will have contracts expire (Saville Silvio Williamson) and loans will finish (Stearman CBJ) but this still leaves a lot of nearly men to move on.

    Will Fosun be happy to take a hit to clear the decks? Will we see a new bomb squad? Will there be lots of subsidised loans out of Molineux?

    It pains me to say it but Price and Doherty et all are just not good enough. Maybe MD should be tried in a more advanced role??

    If we can bring in the right quality players and bring through the cream of the youth i would be happy to lose.

    Lonegran
    CBJ
    Stearman
    Doherty
    Williamson
    EEL
    Saville
    Evans
    Price
    Mason
    JDB
    Dicko
    Gladon

    And I’m not convinced on:
    Iorfa
    Batth
    Saiss
    Oniangue
    Coady

    Edwards should be kept as i think he could come off the bench and nick you a goal but i would like to see better midfielders start.

    If all of the above left it would be an unprecedented clear out and i just cant see it happening.

    It would leave a very thin squad but if you added 5 quality signings plus quality kids, who knows?

       4 likes

  20. Simon says:

    A great read.
    Based on Dalrymple’s comments in the recent FP and the fact that they seem worried about the financial fair play stuff, I’m guessing if an offer comes in for Costa which is a fair bit more than we paid he will be gone and the money reinvested in the 3 or 4 positions mentioned.

       1 likes

  21. theDOOGooder says:

    Very thought provoking piece of writing Ben.

    I don’t pretend to agree with all of it and I don’t pretend to agree with all the various ‘must keeps’, ‘maybe keeps’ and ‘get shot of’ lists by various bloggers.

    It just goes to show how difficult this game is.

    A manager, director of football or whatever the person in charge of recruitment is called, will always be wrong in a good proportion of fans’ eyes.

    Whether we gain automatic promotion next season or struggle again, there will be a chorus of ‘I told you so!’.

    I’ve gone cross eyed reading lists of players so I’m not about to add mine.

    Over to you Mr Lambert.

    Your job depends on this Summer’s recruitment.

    If it all goes tits up, you’ll be gone but we’ll all still be here to advise the new chap in charge.

    No pressure then.

       2 likes

    • Thanks Doog. I know we disagree on one or two players.

      Your ‘over to you Lambert’ is pretty much what I said to Thomas when he said that this blog lacked solutions / who I propose should be purchased.
      I told him that I’d leave this bit to the blokes on six figure salaries!
      The days of finding an Ince and Rae are even more remote today than they were unlikely back in 2002.
      The game has become so global that we should probably be asking for the next Kante from a reserve side somewhere.
      I did have a punt though:
      I suggested Ayala at Boro as the centre back.
      I did also tentatively suggest Cattermole at Sunderland too. Both aren’t getting a heck of a lot of games and both have that sense of ‘presence’ that we so badly miss.
      But I run the risk of getting shot / losing all credibility by suggesting Cattermole don’t I?!
      It’s not the ‘snotter’ element that I’m craving. More the gumption and GERCHA to refuse to accept performances like the one last week.
      But there again, can he play up to 40 games?! That has to be the minimum requirement of any player we sign.

      Up front, it shouldn’t be massively problematic finding the right man. Basically, they have to be able to put the ball in the back of the net! No Ducken Nozens required here. Villa did it with minimal fuss when bringing Kodja in. And I’m pretty sure Hogan will come good.

      But it ultimately comes down to a bit of luck again doesn’t it? Kante, the guy I mentioned at the beginning of this reply, was brought in to play as a left winger / left midfielder at Leicester. Ranieri couldn’t have dreamt that he’d end up the defensive midfield linchpin that he eventually became.

      One thing for sure – it WILL be an exciting summer! Well, not quite as exciting as last summer, but certainly another exciting one!

         3 likes

      • theDOOGooder says:

        Cattermole is certainly an interesting name to conjure with.

        He’s certainly got the talent but, as we all know, can be a red card waiting to happen.

        A bit like Joey Barton who I thought would do a decent job for us if we had got him a season or so ago.

        Love them or hate them, they’ve got the balls to drive a team forward.

        And it’s balls that we need – preferably on the ground.

           1 likes

  22. Looneytune says:

    Great post and I would agree with most of the points raised. Taking in to account the turmoil of 3 different mananagers over the last season, the buy out by Fosun right on the cusp of the new season, the Mendes influence and draft of players brought in, no wonder we have struggled to mount any resemblance of a promotion push and until very recently we were looking at the possibility of relegation. That being said I do think a bit of stability and continuity over the close season will be a positive. We do have a draft of what I would call average championship players at best resulting in an average team. We lack leadership and skill, being really honest, how many players do we have or played that can turn games and put teams on the back foot, not many and take them out of the team and we struggle. If we want to improve and achieve our goal of premier football then it’s time to cull the present squad and be ruthless regarding who we keep and let go, some players have been here for years and not managed to push the club any further, they are and always will be average championship footballers, the new saying of the strength of the wolf is in the pack, the strength of the pack is in the wolf should apply to the team and the players in it.

       0 likes

  23. wolfman jack says:

    Excellent analysis. Without getting drawn into the’ who should stay/go’ debate I would suggest that there is a clear template available about how to get out of this division (in the right direction !). You allude to it briefly – remember the Fulham teams of Keegan and Tigana ? Basically they bought in players who were not just good at the level they were playing (Div 3 to start) but were FAR TOO GOOD for it. You mention Lee Clark and John Collins. You could add in Chris Coleman who was the highest paid player outside the top division, and playing in Div 3 and later on Saha, Boa Morte, Malbranque, van der Saar. If Fosun take that approach – bring in top quality Premiership-quality players (maybe from overseas) rather than ‘proven Championship’ ones this could all be sorted very quickly. Of course the financial regulations may well dictate just how many quality players we can bring in, hence the need to focus on precisely where we need to strengthen most. For me, start with the spine of the team – GK, central defence, central midfield and a proven striker.

       5 likes

  24. WABFK says:

    John Terry anyone?

    When we brought in Ince we got a big name ex England captain out of retirement.

    God knows what we paid him but it must have been a lot. So the equivalent now is players like JT or Michael Carrick.

    I would love to set this calibre of player at the Mol now as long as they are motivated by the project then how could we lose?

       0 likes

  25. It was a travesty letting go of Kevin McDonald. One of the best central midfielders I’ve seen play for us and somebody we could have built a team around.
    I’m sure he wasn’t blameless in his fall-out with Jackett – he does have a record of leaving clubs on a sour note – but it was particularly galling to see the manager who wanted rid of him go through the door himself just a few weeks later. Big big loss.

       0 likes

  26. GoWolves says:

    This is probably the best post I’ve read in the history of this blog. Spot on. Thanks for the creative discussions and thoughtful perspectives you generate for us on this blog.

    I’ll add a few more thoughts of my own to the discussion. I agree of course we need to replace the majority of the team (as you know I have also been saying this for the past couple of years) but I have some additional underlying concerns.

    I have serious doubts PL is the right man for the job. Why, one may ask? Well, I started off thinking he was a good choice, but I’ve seen several red flags since his appointment which have me worried.
    1. His stubborn insistence to play Saville. I rank Saville as one of the worst players in a Wolves shirt (sorry), even way worse than Ward, and cannot understand why PL continued to play him other than sheer stubborness, when we have options like Saiss.
    2. He went on and on about how he was going to get rid of excess players in the Jan window … but he didn’t. Not many anyway.
    3. He had to strengthen in January, but he didn’t.
    4. He is making noises about relying on the youth system. I had hoped this ludicrous theory of relying on the youth system went out with M&M and sincerely hope we don’t re-engage in this folly again. The chances of unearthing 11+ prodigies at the same time to get a promotion winning team are infinitesimal. And the only thing that happens otherwise is they just get picked by PL teams and we never get enough strength in our own team. So I hope he is looking for a balance of experience and youth.
    5. He keeps going on about how it may be unrealistic to keep Costa. Well here is what’s realistic: if we really want to compete in the EPL we need 11 Costas! So instead of hearing the defeatist “oh I don’t know if we can keep Costa” whinging, I want to hear him tell us how not only will we keep him, but how he’s going to get 10 more!
    6. He has also shown a tendency to tinker with the team too much, and play players out of position. If you really want a ghastly comparison of players, just compare Coady as full back with the likes of Denis Irwin. Not even fit to tie his shoe laces. Watch reruns of the games Denis played for us and I’m telling you, you’d be hard pressed to find a goal we conceded that was his fault. Brilliant player.

    Look, we have an opportunity of a lifetime with Fosun’s takeover. They have the funds to take this club where we all want it to go and start something special the likes of which we haven’t seen since the seventies. But it really all comes down to execution.
    Were those 5 wins in a row just the usual annual marketing campaign to sell season tickets?
    Will we go through another wasted summer with no significant signings (or the wrong ones)?
    Will we be firing yet another manager come Xmas, and tell everyone it will be next season again?

    Or will PL show us he is the right foundation to build on, clear out the litter (complete clean sweep), keep Costa, keep Cav, keep a few others worth keeping (Saiss, Ikeme, Marshall, …), and spend some decent cash on some real proven EPL quality? Because that is what needs to be done, plain and simple.

    No more games, no more excuses, no more false dawns. If Wolves are the sleeping giant, then time to wake up. About bloody time!

    GW

       0 likes

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