Wolves 1 Birmingham City 2

I’m still trying to land on the most disappointing thing about this poxy defeat.

It might have been Carl Ikeme’s butter fingers that presented another toothless away side with a precious lead to cling onto.

Or it could be allowing David Davis the freedom of Molineux to spank in a second and mercilessly taunt the South Bank.

Or simply our one-paced midfield making David Davis look like Roy Keane.

Then again maybe it was our meagre attempts to cash in against ten men after Paul Robinson was rightly dismissed for being Paul Robinson.

Or perhaps our distribution out of defence and Danny Batth’s endless hoofs forward to nobody in particular.

It’s difficult to overlook Helder Costa’s repeatedly over hit crosses that robbed Wolves of any momentum in the early exchanges or his subsequent hour long vanishing act.

And we mustn’t forget yet another goalless game for Bodvarsson whose beginning to make Bjorn Sigurdarson look prolific by comparison.

How about Nouha Dicko, who did finally score, but still looks bored, uninterested and five yards off the pace?

Maybe it’s the manager, who promised so much in January but has delivered literally nothing in February.

Yes, it could be the naked statistics that show five defeats in a row for the month with just two goals scored in the process.

And the fact three of those defeats came against three of the worst teams in the division.

Actually, it’s probably none of those things.

It’s more the realisation that we’ve relinquished £25 million in transfer fees and ended up with a worse team than we had last season.

All this made worse still knowing that the owners, the academy, the stadium, the fan base and everything else you need to be successful are all there and it’s simply the case that the people in power are demonstrating a gross inability to just connect the dots.

I’m not stupid enough to expect instant success in such a competitive environment, but surely – surely – we can expect better than this?

Disappointing would be an understatement.

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Wolves Vs Birmingham City Preview

15 games to go and we probably need to win at least a third of them.

That takes us up to 50 points and then a handful of draws should see us safe from total catastrophe.

Molineux holds the key with winnable matches against Blues, Rotherham, Forest, Blackburn and Preston still to come.

I think we’ll just about get there but panic will really set in if we don’t start putting points on the board soon.

Looking at how things are going for Birmingham and Gianfranco Zola this has the feeling of a must-win.

Blues

After we brushed them aside at the start of the season I couldn’t believe  Gary Rowett managed to get Blues right up towards the top six again.

I was even more staggered that the club then decided to dispense with his services for seemingly no good reason at all.

They’ve been sinking like a stone ever since and come into this game (like Wolves) on the back of three straight losses.

Zola has only managed one win in 14 matches and suffered 9 defeats in a thus far traumatic return to management.

I always thought Rowett was getting the maximum out of a very average group of players, so it’s no great surprise the Italian has fallen short.

He’s started to bring in his own players and adjust the way they play, but that transition will never happen quickly so regardless of what happens in this game, I think they’re in for a bumpy ride between now and May.

Wolves

It’s disappointing that Connor Ronan has been all but ruled out for the remainder of the season. He’s been consistently very good.

The above is what I reckon the starting lineup might be if Joe Mason is fit enough to play.

He is the only striker / number 10 who seems to consistently get into good positions to score so has to play.

I like Enobakhare but end product has been in short supply despite some good runs and link up play.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

We’ve lost four games in a row and only scored one goal in that time, so we’re not in a good place.

The performances against Newcastle and Chelsea weren’t too bad, but Burton and Wigan were as bad as it gets.

My concern is that this game pans out more like the latter and we’re frustrated by another team who can’t buy a win.

I think we should win but I don’t have a lot of confidence so I’m climbing on the fence.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Birmingham City 1 Wolves 3

Last Christmas a family member bought me the autobiography of noted psychopath Roy Keane.

It was a predictably colourful read covering the final moments of a fiery playing career and latterly, his transition into management.

After a bumpy start in his first coaching job at Sunderland, Keane scouted Coventry striker Stern John. He noted how every ball forward to the Trinidad and Tobago man stuck and allowed his team mates to move up the pitch.

John made the move to the Stadium of Light in January and immediately established himself as a vital cog in the machine. Sunderland lifted the Championship title in May.

In case you’re wondering, I’m labouring towards a point about the Jon Dadi Bodvarsson effect.

We should all be giddy because Wolves finally have a forward who can make it stick and in this competition that’s massive.

Stand it up high, fire it in low, lump it down the channel – all service gratefully received.

Today the Icelander was the sole representative of the new blood, surrounded by players who last season showed themselves to be toothless.

But with a ruthlessly effective target man to feed off, the likes of Mason, Wallace and Coady were transformed at St Andrew’s.

Mason in particular is loving life and his stunning finish to draw Wolves level just after half time was one of many impressive contributions.

Busy would be a good adjective to describe Mason who can infuriate by wasting the many useful positions he occupies, but with the goals starting to flow he could be the season’s bonus ball.

Jed Wallace has had a stop-start Molineux career up to now and today was the first time he’d caught my eye, often turning sharply, demonstrating a useful turn of pace and getting shots away. With time and confidence you sense he could reach much greater heights.

Utility man Conor Coady was back in his preferred position and swarming all over the Blues midfield as he did so effectively in the same fixture last season.

He too had a powerful drive turned away by Tomasz Kuszczak in a good first half showing from Wolves in which they were unlucky to find themselves trailing.

Birmingham were direct throughout. It was all crosses and long diagonals up to Clayton Donaldson, but Che Adams always looked a threat and his crisp finish was exactly what the away side had been lacking.

Walter Zenga will have been frustrated that such incisive approach play and effective counter attacking from his side wasn’t rewarded with a goal.

He needn’t have worried though, as Mason’s bullet, Batth’s close range follow-up and Bodvarsson’s thumping third more than made up for that first half indecision.

In his post match press conference the manager spoke of his desire to bring in forwards and defenders to balance the squad and for sure, both would come in handy.

At the back, Hause is still struggling to marry consistency with obvious talent and an experienced head would be a welcome addition. Luisao anyone?

Up top, the sledgehammer Bodvarsson and the reborn Mason could soon be joined by Nouha Dicko, but further competition for places is a must.

With some hard graft off the pitch before the end of Augst to accompany the relentless spirit being displayed on it – this could be a season we really make it stick.

Birmingham City Vs Wolves Preview

As much as we’ve all derided last season’s squad, they’ve now gone seven games undefeated in all competitions dating back to April.

Most of those performances have been agricultural at best, but the results have been solid.

That’s given Walter Zenga a platform to build from, but as we saw on Tuesday it’s painfully clear where additions need to be made.

Creatively we’re lacking, even with the occasional razzmatazz of Teixiera and Costa.

There’s been a lot of speculation but we’re rapidly approaching the final week of the transfer window and I expect things to hot up before the end of August.

Birmingham

356px-Birmingham_City_FC_logo.svgI thought Blues played above themselves for most of last season and that’s sure to have raised expectations at St Andrew’s about what could be achieved this time.

They’ve consistently added to their squad – even last week recruiting Che Adams from Sheffield United and fellow striker Greg Stewart from Dundee – so there’s clearly renewed ambition.

I got this from Blues fan Rob from Vital Birmingham City:

Blues haven’t had a bad start to the season – as five points from a possible nine suggests. But we do have a knack of shooting ourselves in the foot, as we did at Wigan. We need to learn to control games more rather than sitting off and letting the opposition attack us. 

Wolves are an unpredictable side. Walter Zenga seems to be winning the fans over and will carry on doing so if the results are positive. But like any club in the Championship, getting that consistent run of results is easier said than done. 

As we approach the first West Midlands derby of the season at St. Andrew’s, I’d like to see Blues take the game by the scruff of the neck and really have a good go at them. But I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw.  

Here’s Gary Rowett’s pre-match press conference:

Wolves

The big question is whether Walter Zenga will thrust Prince Oniangue straight into the action or adopt a more softly-softly approach with the big midfielder.

Wolves team for Blues

If he does play, I can see it being at the expense of Dave Edwards who looked even leggier than usual against Ipswich on Tuesday before being withdrawn at half time.

There have been a lot of combinations in the center of midfield thus far but Lee Evans seems like the constant. I’d like to see him doing a bit more than he is, even in the holding role.

Despite the penalty miss I was again buoyed by Bodvarsson’s display against Ipswich. He gave them a tough time with what little service he received and of course showcased his skillset by winning the spot-kick.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Things came together nicely at St Andrew’s last season in one of our better team performances. I doubt it will be anything like as routine this time.

I suspect we’ll cause them more problems than we did Ipswich in midweek, but equally, I think they’ll offer more in the final third than the Tractor Boys could muster.

A draw is never a bad prediction in a derby so that’s what I’m going with – 1-1.

If we emerge from this and the game at Huddersfield next Saturday still undefeated, I’ll be very happy with our start to the season.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Birmingham City 0

If Birmingham’s plan was to lull us all into a false sense of security, it worked perfectly.

Wolves Blues

In a feisty, low quality first half our play-off chasing neighbours barely threatened.

Wolves weren’t exactly Real Madrid of course, but they did at least occupy good positions and threaten to threaten Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal.

Connor Coady was a driving force and his two efforts were as close as anyone came to scoring in a scrappy, but not entirely unpalatable 45 minutes.

Funnily enough, for all the criticism leveled at Kenny Jackett for taking too long to make changes, I actually thought he acted prematurely with his half-time tinkering.

Bjorn Sigurdarson still doesn’t look like scoring in a year of Sunday’s let alone a month, but I did feel he occupied the Blues back four quite well and helped bring others into play.

Shoving him out wide to accommodate Michal Zyro didn’t really work and may have contributed to a significantly less cohesive second half team performance.

Truth be told, Birmingham could and should have won it from there on, given that they created a handful of very good chances that were routinely spurned by a variety of culprits.

And when one fizzing effort did find the mark from the uncharacteristically brilliant David Davis (where was this performance in a Wolves shirt?), Carl Ikeme was thankfully on his mettle.

Around that time I couldn’t work out why the South Bank were screaming for Joe Mason, when to me it seemed like the problem was the gaping chasm in our midfield.

Saville in particular seemed to be wilting as the game went on, so I can’t have been alone in hoping to see Kevin McDonald stripping off?

Still, all’s well that ends well right?

A point isn’t a bad result and some of the individual performances provide cause for optimism.

Kortney Hause impressed. Save for one first half lapse in concentration he coasted through and looks a greater prospect at center half.

Coady was high energy again. Better on the ball in the first half but got back in the second to make one vital tackle with Ikeme rounded and their man bearing down on goal.

I also quite like Jeremy Helan. While certainly not a world beater, he’s a highly competent Championship performer, operates at speed and links up well with Matt Doherty. I’d take him permanently if it’s on the table.

Nothing to scream about now of course, but possibly building blocks for a summer that can’t come soon enough.

Birmingham City 0 Wolves 2

Wolves are the Championship’s box of chocolates.

Afobe Blues

Nobody – not even Kenny Jackett – has a clue about what you’ll get from this ever changing rabble.

Thankfully this was the sweet, gooey and oh so satisfying performance we needed to devour a pretty ordinary Blues team.

From the delicious moment Paul Robinson imitated the defending of a five year old for Dave Edwards to scoff up the crumbs, you sensed it might be our day.

And for much of the remainder, Wolves happily digested everything Birmingham offered and broke menacingly to threaten.

The home side regrouped either side of the break but never once forced Emiliano Martinez into serious action.

Blues win

Any concerns that Mike Williamson might be Darren Peacock reborn in a derby debut were also consigned to the rubbish bin, as the on loan Newcastle man marshaled the back four superbly.

No doubt like the rest of us he sees Premier League potential in Dominic Iorfa who enjoyed one of his best defensive performances to date.

The Sky commentator compared the youngster to Usain Bolt as he strode across to clear out Demarai Gray and this was a display of supreme power and athleticism.

Nathan Byrne also caught the eye, consistently drifting in from the touchline and running at the Blues defence. His low centre of gravity is a real asset in those positions.

It was a shame to see him go off, but Sheyi Ojo once again looked infinitely better from the bench than he ever has starting. His well taken goal mercifully prevented a grand stand finish.

A mention too for Conor Coady, the recipient of much criticism in recent weeks, but was always well positioned to block and tackle.

Kevin McDonald was the classiest midfielder on the pitch and flanked by the engine of Edwards and the scrappy Coady, the team suddenly makes a bit more sense.

If only Benik Afobe had been on his game, Wolves would have rattled in a few more. He occupied good positions but continually let himself down, proving that nobody can play well every week.

Grant Holt fulfilled the role you’d imagine he’s destined for, entering the action for the final ten to help see out the contest. He could be a very useful addition.

The composition of the squad certainly looks more balanced with those experienced heads at either end of the pitch.

And like that uplifting moment you realise a box of chocolates has a second layer and the options are suddenly so much more appealing, everyone has rediscovered their appetite.