Wolves 2 Norwich City 2

Like many of you doubtlessly were, I was seething at full time.

I imagine the subject of most attendees’ ire will be at referee James Linington and fourth official Andy Woolmer for their timekeeping, but in truth neither can be accused of influencing this result.

Sure, the former was a little on the whistle happy side but when two teams move the ball with the sort of pace that Wolves and Norwich do, fouls will always be conceded.

Unlike many of those sat around me in the North Bank, I didn’t really begrudge any of the decisions that went the way of the visitors.

On tonight’s evidence, Daniel Farke is building a very decent side that should contend for promotion next year.

Their chances will of course hinder on whether they keep James Maddison, who is without doubt the best opposition player I’ve seen play live this season.

I thought he was tremendous this evening, and will be keeping my fingers crossed that the rumours of our interest in signing him are true.

But that’s enough about Norwich. The real reason we slipped up tonight, a potentially unpopular opinion though it may be, is because Nuno got his substitutions horribly (and uncharacteristically) wrong.

In the first half, Costa and Cavaleiro were enjoying the freedom of Molineux against the Canaries’ full backs.

Both were instrumental in creating the space needed to craft the opener, with their direct running also contributing to the healthy tally of dead ball situations we racked up in the early throes of the game.

The second goal was conjured from one of those exact situations, Douglas again delivering the goods and allowing N’Diaye to net his second goal in three games.

Our dreams of a Molineux rout to match the recent Sheffield United game were dashed, however, by a quick Norwich response served up by Maddison and scored by the imposing Christoph Zimmermann.

This led to a typically nervy end to the first half, though few would be fearing a second half quite as arduous as the one we were made to endure.

Costa’s removal at the break was seemingly down to a knock sustained during the first 45, one which had admittedly slowed him down.

But the decision to hook Cavaleiro – arguably our best player as of late – when Norwich were in the ascendancy was baffling.

I’m not going to dig Benik Afobe out too much given he is still in the early throes of his feted Molineux return, but his signing looks a gesture of pure romanticism at present.

Contributing precisely nothing to our performance, he was more a hinderance tonight than anything else.

Let’s hope we’ll be able to put this down to stage fright in the near future, but Leo Bonatini and Rafa Mir must be feeling slighted whilst twiddling their thumbs.

The lack of width caused by Costa and Cavaleiro’s removal left the opposition with plenty of space to play with and, though few shots on goal were resultantly mustered, an equaliser began to feel more and more of an inevitability as the game dragged on due to their possessional dominance.

After Morgan Gibbs-White, mightily impressive once again, spurned a great chance to put the game to bed it felt as if the ink had dried on a grisly script and, sure enough, the scores were level at the death thanks to Nelson Oliviera’s speculative piledriver.

With Cardiff increasingly breathing down our necks, things are about as close to squeaky bum time as they’ve been all campaign.

Alas, we’ve done enough so far to suggest that there’s no cause for anything other than slight concern. Saturday’s game against a flying Fulham side will no doubt prove difficult, but we’ve said that before plenty of big games this season and come out smiling.

Let’s hope we do again.

Wolves 0 Nottingham Forest 2

Perspective is often the hardest thing to keep in football, particularly after you’ve enduring an afternoon as galling as this.

But it’s the one thing we should all be keeping a firm handle on in the wake of Wolves’ first league defeat since October.

Poor performances can never be entirely excused but after providing us with six months of some of the best football seen in old gold, this team deserve to be cut some slack.

Credit ought to go to Forest for the shut-out too, Aitor Karanka has got them well drilled at the back.

That being said, it’s important we don’t mask our disappointment completely.

This was the poorest Wolves have been all season, and raises some urgent questions at the mid-way point of the January transfer window.

Do we need another striker?

Can our wing-backs make it through the second half of the season?

Are we creative enough in midfield?

All relevant queries that Nuno will no doubt be mulling behind the scenes.

The first conundrum will of course hinder on the impact Rafa Mir makes when brought up to speed, but it’s fair to say that Leo Bonatini isn’t having the best of times at present.

After a prolific start to his Wolves career the Brazilian is cutting a forlorn figure that offers little to the team, so much so that it’s certainly worth questioning whether he’s worth shelling out a transfer fee for.

Whether the solution already lies within our ranks or must be recruited is a nut the management team need to crack sooner rather than later, as we scarcely landed a punch on Forest despite our dominance in possession.

The stark decline of Helder Costa is a concern that only exacerbates this conundrum, with his dire cameo no doubt leaving everyone wondering where the thrilling player of last season has gone.

Matt Doherty and Barry Douglas’ burdensome afternoons are perhaps not so much of a worry, given their general excellence throughout the campaign thus far.

But it’s hard to dispel the fear that Doherty is at risk of being burned out, especially with there being no obvious cover for him within the senior ranks.

Likewise, the travails of Rueben Neves and Romain Saiss ought to be looked upon as something of a minor blip.

Neither were especially poor yesterday, and Alfred N’Diaye and Morgan Gibbs-White are no slouches. Indeed, a case can be made for the latter being our best performer in this game.

Nonetheless, our passing has been worryingly predictable as of late and this will no doubt be addressed on the training field over the next week.

Like the majority of Wolves fans, I have complete faith in Nuno’s ability to tackle these issues and trust the team to adapt to the solutions he provides.

One quick glance at the league table will show that this is no time for sirens, but rather calm contemplation. As the gaffer has no doubt already said, we go again at Ipswich.

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Wolves 0 Swansea City 0

Given the contrasting fortunes of the two teams, the scene was set for an upset.

Considering the paucity of the Swans’ current team, it would hardly have been a giant killing but the prospect of putting Premier League opposition to the sword was enticing nonetheless.

Unfortunately, some goalkeeping heroics from Kristoffer Nordfeldt deprived us of that opportunity.

Even the most ardent of opposition supporters would agree that this was a game bossed by the home side.

Frankly, we looked streets ahead of Carlos Carvalhal’s team at times and should have been a goal up well in advance of the first contentious decision of the day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the ever mercurial Bright Enobakhare that was guilty of spurning the best of a few good goalscoring opportunities.

With the goal seemingly at his mercy courtesy of a rather frenetic first half defensive scramble, he contrived to screw the ball wide.

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It was a glaring blemish on an otherwise enterprising performance, and will no doubt have given Nuno food for thought about where the young forward fits into his long term strategy. Perhaps a loan move would iron out some of the shortcomings that are currently holding him back?

Other fringe players that impressed were Alfred N’Diaye, who did a first rate job of playing the midfield destroyer role. What a complement it is to Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss that he can’t get into the eleven on a regular basis.

Alongside him in midfield was our World Cup winning prodigy Morgan Gibbs-White, who thrilled the home crowd with some really enterprising play that included one truly delicious ball over the top of Swansea’s defence.

Sadly, his was a performance we weren’t able to enjoy for long due to Anthony Taylor’s decision to give Ruben Vinagre his marching orders for a dangerous but unintentional foul on Nathan Dyer.

Vinagre was later joined by Leroy Fer, who saw red for a petulant but ultimately harmless flick of the leg after a mightily impressive Helder Costa managed to evade his initial tackle.

Like many, I at first thought that Vinagre had been most unlucky to be given his marching orders but video replays have proved the decision to be an astute one.

That being said, I will point out that various Wolves players, though mostly Diogo Jota, have been on the receiving end of far worse tackles this season and the culprits – whether playing for Cardiff, Birmingham, Preston or otherwise – have gone unpunished. I’ve no issue with our players being corrected when they fall out of line but find the inconsistency in decision making most frustrating, as I suspect Nuno does too.

That frustrating sideshow aside, it was perhaps the performance of Costa which was the most notable feature of this stalemate.

After a stop-start first half of the season which so recently featured a truly dire showing in our triumph at Bristol City, the winger was back to his diminutive best and often careened past the opposition backline in a manner akin to last season’s vintage.

Hopefully it’s a level he can sustain as competition for places are only set to increase up front on account of the exciting addition of Rafa Mir to our ranks. Though limited to a cameo today, the Spaniard looks as if he possesses the physical attributes needed to add further variety to our attacking play.

Despite the presence of Mir, Costa and Cavaleiro, however, this tie fizzled out into somewhat of a damp squib that is likely to be remembered best for the two sendings off.

Still, encouragement should still be taken from the fact that we once again more than held our own against top flight opposition – albeit one that is likely to be swapping places with us at the season’s end.