Three games down, two defeats and still I find it difficult to fault our plucky team of young warriors.
Having made the journey to Manchester anticipating a long afternoon and a glimpse of a Top 4 side in the making, I instead enjoyed a wonderful Wolves performance against a City side that looked far from the finished article.
After a frenetic opening 20 minutes, which saw our goal peppered and City camped out in our half, it looked like we’d survived the storm. But then Adebayor struck. It was an undoubted finish of real quality, firing home hard and low from an acute angle, but whether Hennessy could of done better at his near post, is difficult to say.
It looked for the world that City would run away with the match and more goals seemed certain to follow. The pace and quick-passing was more than we could handle and there wasn’t much being offered going forward. Tevez headed wide when he should have scored, Robinho was working openings and all over the pitch, they just looked to be first to everything.
But then it changed…
Almost out of nothing, Matt Jarvis ducked and dived through a few challenges and curled in an absolute beauty, which forced Shay Given into a world class save. It was a sign of things to come.
Doyle and Elokobi came on at the interval for Halford and Milijas as we switched to a 4-4-2, and the complexion of the game completely changed.
Of course City forced some good openings, that’s inevitable with the quality they have and Wolves chasing the game. Ireland slotted wide when clean through and Adebayor ran out of space after rounding Hennessy. But between these chances, it was very much the boys in old gold enjoying the better of it.
Keogh came to life playing alongside Doyle, who also showed glimpses of why we paid 6.5 mill for his services. Jarvis continued to cause havoc down both sides and all of a sudden, Henry and Edwards got to grips with the middle of the park and started picking their passes.
Our moment came and went when Keogh cannoned a shot off the bar and you suddenly got the impression, we were just going to come up short.
But the bombardment continued and we rained down countless balls into their box, without really connecting with anything.
Back to front, it was an awesome second-half performance from Wolves. Mancienne and Craddock stood up strong and covered each other’s tracks for the whole 90 minutes. Much credit must also go to the likes of Stearman, Edwards and Ward who huffed and puffed throughout, driving us on and shutting down space. Keogh continues to be a man transformed and his partnership with Doyle showed signs of genuine promise.
So all in all, a defeat with plenty to be positive about.
But by the end, with City fans heading for the exits early, I couldn’t help but think about what might have been.
Here’s a player-by-player rundown:
7/10 – Was always going to be a long afternoon for the Welsh international. Could he have done better with the goal? Maybe. But other than that, he handled and kicked well throughout. Did well to force Adebayor wide when clean through and spread himself well to put Ireland off.
7/10 – Given the horrid task of keeping Robinho quiet and at times the Brazilian twisted and turned him inside out. But as the match progressed, he seemed to grow in confidence and take control. Making himself a real contender for a regular starting role.
7/10 – Despite being caught out of position a few times, I thought this was another solid performance from the young defender. Struggled against the pace and power of Adebayor at times, but never let his head go down and battled right to the end.
8/10 – Best performance of the season so far from Jody. Headed and kicked everything away and was hard in the tackle all afternoon. Definitely looks better alongside the pace and skill of Mancienne. Won’t be disappointed if the two continue against Hull.
7/10 – Consistent again. Played the first half at left back and most of the second on the left wing. In defence he once again looked solid enough but was exposed a few times by Wright-Phillips. Was maybe a little lucky not to concede a penalty for a tug on the wide-man. When moved further forward he caused Richards a few problems with some good footwork. Subbed late on but another good showing.
6/10 – Looked a bit tired to me and struggled to assert himself in the way he did in previous games. We know he’s carrying a knock so it was little surprise to see him withdrawn at the interval.
7/10 – A few loose passes in the first-half could of cost us dearly, but he had to make those risky balls as nobody was offering up. In the second half he was much more in command and looked strong against top quality opposition.
5/10 – Not a great day at the office for the Serbian. Struggled in the first half as City closed everything down and gave him no space to operate. He still looked tidy enough on the ball but this wasn’t his game. Taken off at half-time. He will surely have a big role to play in home games as we try to unlock defences.
7/10 – What you see is what you get from Edwards. Runs all day long and when we switched to a four man midfield in the second half, we needed that engine at both ends of the pitch. Competed well and picked out our wide men on countless occasions. Will he keep his place against Hull?
8.5/10 – Probably just pips Craddock to the Man of the Match champagne for Wolves. Wasn’t as effective in the first-half but still forced that world class save out of Given with a flash of genius. In the second half with Wolves on the front foot, he was a great outlet down both flanks. I still think there’s more to come from Jarvis and that is a very exciting prospect.
7.5/10 – As a lone striker in the first half, he was surrounded and bullied by Dunne and Toure. Alongside Doyle in the second half, he came to life. Got into all kinds of good positions, drifted in a lovely cross that his strike partner couldn’t quite connect with and smashed a volley against the bar. Deserves nothing but credit for how he’s handled the step up.
7/10 – With crosses raining into the City area late on, Mick threw Big Sam on to get on the end of something. Got up and competed but nothing really fell his way. Maybe deserves more time on the pitch than he’s getting but difficult with Keogh playing so well and our other stars returning from injury.
8/10 – The first time I’ve seen Doyle and boy did he impress me. Held the ball up well and looked strong. But when he managed to find space, he came to life and was a real threat. If this promising 45 minute cameo is anything to go by, that £6.5 million might end up looking a snip.
8/10 – What can you say about Big George? Everyone wondered how he’d stand up to the more skillful, tricky wingers of the Premiership and he showed yesterday, that he wasn’t having any nonsense. Wright-Phillips tried to take him on but ended up eating a grass sandwich. Going forward, his quality needs to improve but he still sent in a couple of decent balls. His sheer presence on the pitch makes a difference, which always makes him a player you have to think about picking.