Wolves 0 Huddersfield Town 1

Since their jubilant arrival in sunny Wolverhampton last summer, our Chinese owners have often spoke about the size and potential of the club and the importance of returning it to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

And yet a glance up the Championship table sees Barnsley, Cardiff, Brentford, Reading, Huddersfield and Brighton sitting comfortably above us.

All due respect to these clubs – they’ve more than earned their respective standings – but none bare anything resembling our history.

This isn’t delusions of grandeur on my part, it’s fact.

But under the bumbling premiership of Fosun, Kevin Thelwell and to a lesser extent Laurie Dalrymple – because, contrary to popular opinion, we can’t blame Morgan and Moxey for everything – we’re now in a position where opposition as modest in stature as tonight’s can turn up at Molineux and claim three points without breaking sweat.

Paul Lambert made six tactical changes to his team but on recent evidence it’s apparent that there’s no winning formula to be found in the current side.

Truthfully, the blame for this can be afforded to every outfield department but having watched the ease with which two of this season’s success stories, Brighton and Huddersfield, passed circles around us it’s hard to argue against the notion that the midfield is our Achilles heel.

Sure, our strikers are laughably impotent but they might have mustered a few more goals if we had some vision in the middle of the park.

Be honest, who doesn’t see the sale of Kevin McDonald as anything other than scandalous?

God may love a trier but as professional as Dave Edwards may be I’d be thankful if I never had to endure another 90 minutes of him hiding behind opposition midfielders whilst we’re in possession.

No manager can legislate selecting any midfielder at this level that is not comfortable with the ball at his feet – the ever increasing standard of the league won’t allow it.

Though it’s a deficiency that is symptomatic of all our midfielders (except perhaps Saiss) the fact that Edwards is picked week in, week out regardless of form means he deservingly bears the brunt of most fans’ criticism.

Don’t let 10 goals fool you, we’ll never get promoted playing this guy every week.

Of course, ‘Deadly’ wasn’t alone when underperforming tonight. His bearded counterpart churned out one of his worst performances in a Wolves shirt and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson continued his excellent impression of Tomasz Frankowski with aplomb.

Crumbs of comfort could be found in Silvio’s solidity, Morgan Gibbs-White’s youthful endeavour and the long awaited return of Jordan Graham but, truth be told, this was a damp squib not dissimilar to the dross served up on Saturday.

I’m yet to be convinced that Lambert possesses the ruthless streak that is needed to arrest this malaise but the efficiency of Andi Weimann and Ben Marshall since their arrival in January, coupled with his feats at Norwich in years gone by, suggest he knows enough about the Championship to at least engineer some improvement on this term.

Whether that faith is misguided is a question that won’t be answered for some time so perhaps it’s wise that for the time being we relish the prospect of a Molineux free summer.

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.