Fulham 1 Wolves 3

What a difference two weeks can make.

It wasn’t so long ago we were heading into fixtures against Ipswich and Rotherham with little (if any) confidence about our prospects.

Now, after two excellent performances against talented opposition, the urge to look up the table rather than over our shoulders is beginning to return.

Paul Lambert deserves credit for masterminding this turnaround in form, though the measures he’s taken to achieve it are fairly simplistic.

When you field your best attacking players and play others in their correct position, a positive outcome is more likely to be received than if you’d done otherwise.

Take the reigns off this Wolves team and they’re a match for any team in this division.

Fulham (an excellent side, by the way) were cut open with regularity yesterday, particularly down the flanks where Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro were back to their diminutive best.

It’s taken this writer some time to warm to the latter but we’re undoubtedly a better side with him than we are without.

That’s an assertion Costa is sure to agree with, given that he seems to benefit from Cavaleiro’s presence more than any other player.

With two buccaneering wingers to focus on (not to mention Ben Marshall and Andi Weimann), teams can’t afford to double up on Costa the way they were a few weeks back.

That gives him the freedom to run at teams and, as Fulham’s full backs found out yesterday, damage them.

If we can keep both players fit and focused over the summer then next season could be mightily enjoyable, providing the spine of the team is also improved.

Given the mooted interest in Costa from a number of Premier League sides, that could prove a difficult ask.

For now though, let’s savour this most satisfying of weeks and hope that it’s the beginning of a strong end to the season.

Reading 2 Wolves 1

Yesterday’s game drew neither the fanfare or headlines to match Haye v Bellew but like other recent defeats was reminiscent of your average boxing match.

Wolves, ever the plucky underdog, rolled with the punches against a heavyweight foe but once again found themselves floored by full time.

Reading may have only claimed victory through two fortuitous goals but the reality was they never really needed to step out of second gear, despite the best efforts of Paul Lambert’s team.

This has become somewhat of a recurring theme, so much so I’m beginning to suspect we’re just not good enough for what has become an exceptionally competitive division.

The sight of George Saville ambling around at left back (a new nadir in Lambert tactical innovations) is unlikely to be erased from my mind anytime soon.

Similarly, another afternoon spent watching Connor Coady unsuccessfully impersonating a Championship midfielder left me evaluating my life choices.

However, as was recently pointed out by one of my neighbours in the North Bank, bemoaning the limitations of specific players is a fruitless exercise as the overriding fault with our current team is a collective matter rather than one lying with specific individuals.

Costa and Saiss aside, none of yesterday’s team stood out as being of the standard needed to get out of this division.

This of course is a major failing on the previous regime’s part, though some of the culprits remain knowingly at large.

What our owners will do about this in the long run is anyone’s guess but in the short term it’s left us dependent on the continued failings of Bristol City, Wigan and Rotherham.

And what a sorry state of affairs that is.

Wolves 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Anyone reading the programme notes of Kevin Thelwell and Danny Batth who didn’t know better would think Wolves are a club riding an upward trajectory towards the upper echelons of the Championship.

According to Thelwell, ‘there is a feeling that everything is coming together and that there are promising and exciting times ahead’.

Batth, on the other hand, believes that Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle showed that ‘there was very little between us and them’ and that ‘we all came away from the game thinking that we are not too far away from where we want to be’.

I pride myself on being a positive thinker but the posturing of our Sporting Director and Captain, regardless of tonight’s result, is delusional.

Wolves are 18th in the table on merit and are in real danger of sinking further if they don’t learn to raise their game against opposition of Wigan’s ilk.

No disrespect to the Latics, but they were begging to be beaten tonight.

From the get go it was clear to see why Warren Joyce’s men have been entrenched in the bottom three for much of the season and yet we rarely pressured them.

In a similar vein to our showing at Burton Albion, our default tactic was to either hit long balls to an isolated frontman or play sidewards passes within our own half.

All too easy for the opposition, with only teenagers Bright Enobakhare and Connor Ronan attempting to drive play forward.

As the game dragged on, you could sense the familiar feeling of impending doom engulfing the terraces. We all knew what was coming.

And yet when Jake Buxton bundled in the winner late on, you can’t help but be apoplectic. How can a team self implode with such regularity?

The reality is that these sort of games simply expose the truth that Thelwell, Batth and co. are seemingly in denial of – we’re just not that good.

Morgan and Moxey’s reign of frugality left us with a spirited but ultimately limited and unexperienced squad that staved off relegation only by retaining togetherness and through the unpopular but ultimately effective tactical manoeuvrings of Kenny Jackett.

Rather than improve that group in the summer, Fosun empowered them by commissioning an agent led recruitment drive that saw us add an eclectic mix of nobodies of which only two – Bodvarsson and Costa – have thus far proved to be of any use.

What we’re seeing now is the results of such lax mismanagement – a team that is worse than the one that cantered to the League One title three seasons ago and indeed in real risk of taking us back there come the season’s end.

To perform with such brazen indifference tonight was an insult to the opposition and the fans, many of whom abandoned their better halves on Valentine’s night to endure proceedings.

If this season’s not to end in disaster, it simply cannot happen again.

* Details about the best gift ideas for men can be at Thatsweetgift.

Burton Albion 2 Wolves 1

I never thought I’d begin any piece of writing by paraphrasing the mildly annoying American rock band Paramore but the lyric ‘that’s what you get when you let your heart win’ seems appropriate for this particular report.

After the jubilation that followed last week’s heroics at Anfield and the impressive midweek victory over Barnsley, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the good times would continue to roll at the Pirelli Stadium.

But, in true Wolves fashion, that was not to be and we all should have known better.

This club has a famed habit for kicking you in the nether regions when you’re feeling most hopeful and, true to form, the away contingent were made to endure our poorest showing under Paul Lambert.

It’s hard to recall a more unimaginative performance than the one that was churned in yesterday, our only tactic being to hit long balls to a striker that was at least half a foot shorter than the two centre backs marking him.

Burton’s torrid pitch no doubt played a part in this, with the players looking uncomfortable on it from the onset, but that excuse can only take you so far when Bristol City, Preston and Wigan have all claimed victory on it at various stages of the season.

The narrowness of the field stymied the counter attacking play that has become synonymous with Lambert’s Wolves and subsequently Weimann, Dicko and Helder Costa – the latest subject of a variation on the Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ – were left isolated for much of the game.

The home side on the other hand looked empowered by the conditions and dictated most of the play in a largely uneventful first half, with their recent influx of loan signings appearing to have added quality to the side that claimed a point at Molineux last September.

Keeper Jon McLaughlin conceded the initiative when he bundled Dave Edwards over just before the break and allowed Costa to claim his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

It was a lead that flattered us and none of those crammed into the glamorous Russell Roof Tiles Stand were under the illusion that a major improvement was not required in the second half.

That was not forthcoming and the Brewers claimed a deserved equaliser on the hour mark through loanee Michael Kightly, becoming the latest beneficiaries of our notorious ex-players curse whilst doing so.

Wolves never looked capable of responding and Lambert was frustratingly rigid in his tactics, preferring to send Bright on ahead of Bodvarsson and deadline day recruit Ben Marshall.

By the time the latter pair had come on, the game was drawing to a close and we were hanging on for a point.

Torrid defending, otherwise known as the theme of our afternoon, prevented us from doing that and Cauley Woodrow tucked in a late winner that well and truly erases the feel good factor of last week and leaves us just seven points clear of the trapdoor.

Four successive league fixtures at home offer ample opportunity to rectify this but there can surely be seldom repeats of today’s showing if we’re to end the season comfortably.

Wolves 3 Bristol City 2

As far as Christmas presents go, a scrappy home win against a team ranked only marginally higher in the lower echelons of the Championship table is hardly the most grandiose of gestures.

But considering this was our first win at Molineux since September 24, it really did feel like Santa had come to town.

Prior to Tammy Abraham’s equaliser, you’d be forgiven for scoffing at the suggestion that the Robins were capable of causing a swashbuckling home side too many problems.

Another goal from Dave Edwards, his fifth in eight games, gave us a deserved early lead and a second seemed inevitable given the gusto with which we attacked a seemingly overwhelmed opposition.

However, profligacy in front of goal proved our undoing and, in scenes eerily reminiscent of our first half showing against Fulham, we headed in to the break trailing.

The aforementioned Abraham was irrepressible for most of the afternoon so our defence can perhaps be excused for being outdone by City’s first goal but nothing can justify the paucity of their efforts for the second strike; you simply cannot defend set pieces in that way and expect to go unpunished.

One has grown to suspect that Paul Lambert’s remedy for our fragile back four is to simply outscore the opposition and our second half showing enforced that theory resoundingly.

Despite a stuttering start, the players were reinvigorated in their attempts to level things up and, after a series of near misses and questionable oversights by referee and pantomime villain for the day James Adcock, were deservedly rewarded for their efforts.

Helder Costa’s strike was beautiful to behold and offered a glimpse as to how potent an attacking force we could grow to be under Lambert’s stewardship, given a clean bill of health and some wily recruitment in the next transfer window.

Adcock was presumably keen to atone for his prior sins when he awarded a not so blatant penalty in the final ten, one which was dispatched with aplomb by the ever improving Ivan Cavaleiro.

Ours was naturally a lead that was far from easy to defend but retain it we did, though the chagrin of the opposing manager and traveling support suggested that video technology would have deprived us of the three points.

However, given the gratingly bullish demeanour of Lee Johnson, this detail only served to sweeten the taste of victory.

Before signing off, a word on some of the individual performances seen yesterday.

Connor Coady is not so convincing as to suggest he is the long term solution to our right back conundrum but he certainly looks a better immediate fit that Dominic Iorfa.

Danny Batth is in greater need of a fully fit Mike Williamson than anyone else; whether as a defensive partner or much needed competition for a starting berth, our captain is sure to benefit from his presence in the squad.

Jack Price is more crucial to us than any other player barring Costa, such is his ability to calm proceedings around him and more crucially quicken the transition between defence and attack.

Finally and most obviously, Costa and Cavaleiro offer the key to a surge up the league table. When on form, these pair are arguably better than any other winger in the division. Keeping them fit has to be a priority moving forward.

Reasons to be cheerful have been in short supply this season but yesterday offered more signs of life than have been seen at any point since the early throes of the campaign.

Let’s hope they’re not just for Christmas.

Wolves 4 Fulham 4

If E.T. asked me to explain to him the experience of being a Wolves fan, I’d show him the highlights of this Christmas cracker.

The stuff of neutral’s dreams and an exhausting experience for those on the terraces, so determined were the efforts of both teams to throw the three points away.

It was Wolves who first conceded their lead, with Stefan Johansen given ample space to lash into the top corner of debutant Harry Burgoyne’s goal.

That strike cancelled out Kortney Hauses’ scruffy opener and was arguably against the run of play as Wolves had up until that point set the tempo of the fixture, with Helder Costa and the improving Ivan Cavaleiro once again serving as the focal point of our attacks.

What ensued between the time of that equaliser and the half time whistle was symptomatic of the majority of our performances this season. The defence wiltered at the first sight of sustained pressure, our midfield trio went missing and, before you know it, Fulham are 3-1 up and seemingly cruising to a routine victory.

Burgoyne, who to me recalled memories of a young Wayne Hennessey, must be ruing his luck as his performance did not warrant the concession of four goals.

The youngster would have been forgiven for thinking that the gods were conspiring against him when Tom Cairney lashed Fulham’s third into the goal, it being the sort of strike that he’ll probably try to score a dozen more times this season without reward.

Those who have been watching Wolves over the last two seasons will know that our teenage goalkeeper was always on a hiding to nothing with our current quadrant of defenders playing in front of him.

It was another bad day at the office for all involved, regardless of the fact that Hause and Matt Doherty both bagged themselves a goal.

January’s transfer window cannot come soon enough for Paul Lambert, so desperate is the need for him to add experience to our defensive ranks. It’s a shame that injury has deprived us of the services of Mike Williamson, who would have surely curtailed some of the more basic errors we’ve been making, but we simply cannot afford to wait for the former Newcastle man to regain fitness.

Kevin Thelwell and our new head coach must deliver a commanding centre back in his mould if we’re to start seriously climbing the table and there is an argument also to be had about the need for at least one new full back, given Dominic Iorfa’s frightening regression as of late.

Thankfully, the noise coming out of the club indicates that Lambert will at least be co-leading our mid-season recruitment drive and he’s already spoken of a desire to cut the wheat from the chaff and add some division standard players to our ranks.

Given the state of affairs at halftime, we should take comfort from the spirit shown by the players when clawing their way back into the game. Enthusiasm waned very quickly under Walter Zenga’s stewardship and was never present during Rob Edwards’ brief stint at the helm but the first team once again seem to be playing for their manager, though the visiting side were most generous in their defending for large periods of the second half.

Doherty was given the freedom of Molineux when tapping in Nouha Dicko’s nod on and Cavaleiro had acres in which to sprint before scoring our third, though the fashion in which he did was worthy of praise.

When Dave Edwards buried our fourth it seemed as if we’d completed the most unlikely of comebacks but in true Wolves fashion room was left for a final twist in the tale, that being a second goal for Floyd Ayitè and another equaliser for the Cottagers.

Of all the goals conceded, it was the fourth that was the cause of the most porous defending. You can’t excuse leaving the front and back post exposed at any level of professional football, let alone the division below the top flight.

It was a frustrating end to an otherwise encouraging performance and it’s fair to say that nobody associated with the club has any doubts about the size of the job Lambert has on his hands.

Fosun will need to deliver players of a far superior standing to the likes of Gladon, Oniangue and Silvio if they’re to realise their oft stated Premier League dream.