While so much talk has focused on Wolves’ attacking capabilities of late – and rightly so – there remains one glaring fallibility within this team with a much deadlier consequence…
…Our lack of mental strength.
Sure, the inevitable post-game platitudes will reference half-time coming too soon at Dean Court or the referee making an error, but the stark fact remains that in yet another game where we conceded the opening goal, we’ve lost.
Couple that with Kenny Jackett making the exasperating claim that we were ‘timid’ (despite winning four of our last five games) and you can only draw the conclusion that this team lacks the requisite inner resolve to be serious play-off candidates, no matter what protestations might be given.
Of the 12 games where we’ve conceded first, we’ve taken a meagre six points. That’s six points from a possible 36, featuring one win (Leeds) three draws (Charlton, Brighton and Reading) and eight defeats (AFC Bournemouth, Rotherham, Ipswich, Norwich, Derby, Notts Forest, Brentford, Reading).
To say this is simply not good enough would be as unfair as it would be misleading when we’ve won 16 games and progressed so much, but to suggest we are serious play-off challengers on the back of these stats could never add up to making sense.
Not least when our manager suggests we were somehow fearful against our no-win-in-five-opponents when we should have been positively bullheaded! There was history between the sides too, after referee Mike Jones inflicted such misery on us all at Molineux.
What we were bashful about I have absolutely no idea, but it smacks of mental fragility.
When we secured promotion in 2003, Messrs Butler, Rae, Blake, Ince, Kennedy would saunter out of the tunnel as if success was their absolute right – despite finishing fifth and being largely responsible for the most painful heartbreak of all in 2002.
Even under the more headmasterly dictatorship of McCarthy, we still had just enough swagger in the likes of Karl Henry, Iwelumo and Ebanks-Blake to believe we were serious about what we were doing.
Yet amongst this lovably grounded 2014/15 group, there is a sense of the deferential with only Stearman’s booming voice audible amongst a pretty deprecating bunch.
After the double-dip relegation and the imposters that blackened the gold shirt, this is in many ways to be applauded. Kenny Jackett’s youth of today could never be as vociferous as Dave Jones’ raucous lot, after all.
But if we could only puff our chests out a little bit and actually believe in our own considerable ability, then we wouldn’t ‘sneak’ into the play-offs apologetically like unsuspecting Lotto winners, but we’d kick the bloody doors down like we mean business…
…Starting on Saturday against Watford at 3pm.