It’s bad enough losing yet another game where our hopes were smashed like a Stale Solbakken dugout.
It’s even worse that George Friend – yet another ghost of Mick McCarthy-past – was a major scourge, winning the all-important penalty and generally infuriating us throughout our defeat to Middlesbrough.
So because my levels of depression have caused me to plumb the depths of my tortured mind, I have concocted an entirely plausible Wolves XI that could well be in place now, but for a less cantankerous old relic of a manager, a board with a modicum of foresight who had the balls to challenge him and a current head coach who is suffering from an affliction known as ‘the brainfarts’.
1. Carl Ikeme
To call him competent would be a disservice. Ikeme was a huge presence between the sticks during our recent renaissance, made numerous top-class saves and offered a sense of reassurance to our back four after developing an understanding that comes from years of hard work. Now in his pomp, with a call-up to Nigeria under his belt, he is dropped for a flaky Arsenal loanee. Quite possibly a shadow of his former self as a result.
2. Nathaniel Clyne
Remember when Crystal Palace were on their knees, deep in administration and desperate for any pennies they could lay their hands on?
It was barely five years ago. Oh how times change.
Anyway, Neil Warnock said we made a £1.5million bid for Nathaniel Clyne AND Victor Moses in a bid he described as ‘laughable.’
Of course, Jez Moxey denied this, but did admit in Feb 2010: “We did make an offer for Nathaniel Clyne but it was more of a speculative bid. We like young players and thought he was one for the future. But we’re inundated with right-backs at the moment, so it wasn’t high on the agenda.”
Suffice to say we didn’t get an England star in the making, presumably because we wouldn’t pay the required rate. Southampton did, eventually selling him for £12.5 million.
3. George Friend
Good old Mick McCarthy eh? Identified Friend as a talent in the making, refused to ever play him owing to an obsession to a laughably useless Stephen Ward, and then sold him for peanuts.
Funnily enough, Friend actually was a talent in the making and was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in 2014/15 for his marauding exploits as a Boro left back.
4. Richard Stearman
No more questions M’Lud. (In a dark sense of jovial banter, Jackett has hilariously bemoaned that experienced defenders are currently hard to come across. Stop it Kenny you wag!)
5. Jason Shackell
The only chance I remember centre-half Shackell ever getting was at Deepdale, Preston, as an emergency goalkeeper when Wayne Hennessey was sent off.
Brought to the club as a no-nonsense general with a sweet left foot and a huge on-field presence, Norwich’s player of the year (before joining us) surprisingly went on to blossom for Derby, signed up for Burnley as skipper, spearheaded them to promotion to the Premier League and returned to Derby. Last seen grinning in a 4-2 thrashing the other week. For info, we opted for Neill Collins.
6. Adlene Guedioura
The day after Stale Solbakken signed for Wolves, Guedioura was sold to Notts Forest having been farmed out there while we were in the Premier League with 24 players in a 25 man squad.
Deemed a player of the year candidate in only a handful of games at Forest and primed for a Championship crack with Wolves, we sold him, causing Jez Moxey to say at the time: “The manager makes the decisions on the buying and selling of players.”
A strange quote to pin on our new manager, when he’d never seen him in the flesh.
So a player we bought for £2million with oodles of ability was sold for £1million* Job. Done.
Guedioura then came back to haunt us with a thunderbolt in a 2-1 home defeat to Forest and is now starring in the Premier League with Watford.
Newsflash: It was never a footballing decision and the manager was hung out to dry. An enraged ‘close source’ called me on my mobile at the time to say it had nothing to do with football and Solbakken didn’t have a say. Something to do with an unsavoury training ground bust-up with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
Honesty clearly wasn’t the best policy in July 2012, in much the same way that it isn’t in 2015.
*Probably my mistake, as the fees were ‘undisclosed.’ My bad.
7. Elliott Bennett
A talented young and hungry player who was either deemed not hungry enough, or just not good enough.
One man’s rubbish was another man’s treasure as Paul Lambert soon picked him up and played him in the Premier League after winning promotion before that.
The thought of a rasping winner at White Hart Lane still makes me feel physically sick to this day.
8. Mark Davies
‘Ooh, he’s such a horrible little cheat’ shouts one club apologist. ‘He’s a terrible piece of work’ screams another.
For all the scurrilous rumours about Mark Davies’ personality – concocted to cover the arse of an incompetent manager – Mark Davies committed just two cardinal sins as far as I can recall.
1. He went on loan to Leicester City in 2008/09 and played out of his skin.
2. He came back and had the temerity to enquire if his performances warranted first team start any time soon.
Like Oliver Twist asking his master for more food, Mick McCarthy boomed: “MORE?!” and tried to pack him off to Leicester again.
So a lad we’d reared from the age of nine, representing England u16s, u17s and u19s, asked to leave his hometown club.
Apparently he was offered a new contract, the terms of which will never be known. Hmm…
…Oh well, he wasn’t fit to lace Nigel Quashie’s boots anyway.
9. Sam Vokes
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Sam Vokes scored more league goals than Andy Keogh in the season we won the Championship.
Also correct me if I’m wrong, but sycophantic, happy clappers wouldn’t have a bad word ever said about Keogh, as I believe I missed out on the monthly Keogh Cult Meetings while I was watching Chris Iwelumo score for fun with Ebanks-Blake.
One player is still fawned over for a single goal at Wigan. The other slated for a miss against Manchester United.
One player now plays for the mighty Ratchaburi in Thailand. The other plays for Burnley who are miles ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
And those nasty ‘boo-boys’ are called fickle?! Hilarious.
10. Leigh Griffiths
Despite nobody ever substantiating the claim that Leigh Griffiths was homesick and wanted to leave Molineux, we have all taken it as read that he’d had enough and wanted to go home. We must count ourselves unlucky then, being as two of the three homesick players in the history of football played for Wolves (Griffiths, Jelle van Damme and Swindon Town’s Joey Beauchamp, for info).
My recollection is we signed Leon Clarke before our top scorer had even left for Celtic, causing Griffiths to retweet an Official Wolves tweet
saying we’d agreed to sign Leon Clarke. I know how I’d have felt.
So off Griffiths went and my dreams of a Dicko / Griffiths strike force was dashed precisely because:
a) You’re not allowed to dream (unless it’s an impossible dream on the back of a songsheet strapped to your faded plastic seat)
b) Wolves would not entertain the prospect as we wouldn’t be so stupid as to keep both when one can pay for the other.
Whoops, silly me…
…Like Mark Davies, Griffiths is scum of the earth and a poisonous character that we can well do without. Got it? He is scum. Repeat after me. Leigh Griffiths is scum. Or homesick? Or both.
11. Jordan Graham
I’ll throw in Graham’s name in an attempt to prove that I, Ben Smallman, can actually be wrong when it comes to Wolves players, being as I have been 100% correct on the other 10 names above and almost always am correct. And this isn’t in the benefit of hindsight either. Ask Thomas.
Another close source revealed that on the training ground, Jordan Graham was the most technically gifted player week after week after week last season, but never got a look in.
Another Oxford supporting friend told me he’s already earned cult status at Oxford United for dismantling arch enemies Swindon on his own last month.
I predict he’s a better player than anyone we currently have on our left hand side, and that we’ll sell him for around £100k without ever playing him, preferring Jed Wallace instead.
I then predict his new employers will cash in a year later for around £1.5 million, as the words ‘Golden Tit’ echo around my tortured mind.
So there you have it.
A certified numpty has come up with a team that I’d wager would be doing a heck of a lot better than anything out on the pitch at the moment.
What does this prove?
Nothing, other than that I’m a better qualified judge of a football player with a stronger faith in my convictions to challenge any manager’s decision to ostracise said players, were I a chief executive of a football club on around £500,000 per year.