While much of the footballing world is musing over Manchester United’s apparent fall from Fergie, us Wolves fans have been consumed with a far more onerous question…
…How do you solve a problem like our midfield?
To answer the conundrum, which has directly contributed towards Crawley, Swindon, Walsall and – to a lesser extent – Shrewsbury domination, I refer you to Sir Alex himself, and a team-talk given to his embryonic title winning side back in 1993.
As he demanded that full backs Irwin and Parker both bombed on as frequently as their little legs would carry them, centre half Steve Bruce politely enquired about the ensuing implications.
‘It would leave us 2 v 4 at the back boss,’ whispered Bruce, to which Ferguson promptly replied: ‘Deal with it then!’
Okay, so the anecdote might have been paraphrased a little, but you get the general gist, which led me to a flashback to the opening games of the season, when our gold shirts were glistening brightest.
Both full backs – Matt Doherty in particular – were marauding past our widemen to get in behind opposition defences more times than we’d seen in the past 3 years put together.
Doherty’s ability to pretty much dictate the entire flow of one Gillingham game was testament to his own athleticism, if not the away side’s various inadequacies.
These days, I barely see Doherty passing the halfway line in my biggest disappointment of recent weeks.
That our midfield four look increasingly isolated and one dimensional as a result is an inevitable consequence, rendering the argument over Davis, McDonald, Evans, Price, Foley or Edwards as largely irrelevant.
In the eyes of sage footballing critics more knowledgeable than I, players make successful teams rather than the systems they operate in.
From seeing a number of perfectly adequate if unspectacular central midfielders this season, I think the opposite actually applies to this Wolves team.
Some fans have been taking a step down memory lane of late, to the days when we were last in division three and battering virtually every team to come to Molineux in 1988/89 (bar Bristol Rovers and that damned Nigel Martyn!)
Nostalgic visions of Bull and Mutch light up their senses as they recollect d’Artagnan’s answer to football, with a dose of Nigel Benn-like belligerence lumped in for good measure.
As a nipper, I still remember Mark Venus and Andy Thompson as dots on the horizon, bombing up and down the pitch like a game of Commodore Pong. I can still remember Thommo belting in a long ranger at the South Bank against Mansfield Town (6-2 win), courtesy of a Mark Kendall-created divot that groundsman Billy Pilbeam once wagged his finger at!
In those dewy-eyed days of unbridled happiness, we would respect our opponents first and batter them so heavily thereafter to consign the very notion of defeat as irrelevant.
The most exciting aspect of this season’s beginning is the very real prospect that those days can easily return – irrespective of midfield personnel – if we add a splash of Manders Paint spirit to our upwardly mobile side.