Wolves 2 Bolton Wanderers 2

If the intent was to banish the anger surrounding the club’s transfer failings, things couldn’t have gone much worse.

Bolton celebrate

Squandering a two goal lead and being dominated at home by the league’s bottom club certainly wasn’t the plan as Jez Moxey prepares to lick the envelopes on those ever less enticing Early Birds.

An attacking trio of Rowe, Sigurdarson and van La Parra almost felt like a dirty protest from the head coach, serving to underline a crippling lack of resources and the rapid deterioration of a once talented squad.

Sure it was nice to see Joe Mason emerge from the pocket to stroke home a debut goal, but our marquee January signing was almost totally anonymous from there on out.

He can hardly shoulder the blame though.

How can a number 10 expect to thrive when the players around him are only interested in hit and hope?

We used to play the ball out from the back, looking to thread it between lines or failing that out wide to a player with the pace and skill to make something happen.

Last night was ‘shut your eyes and hope for the best’. Lash it forward and make Siggy run.

It was only thanks to overly generous Bolton defending and a fine solo goal from James Henry that Wolves somehow worked themselves into a winning position.

Quite how they managed to surrender it against a team who, for all their dominance, looked incapable of testing Carl Ikeme, is really anyone’s guess.

Yet somehow it felt right.

To have emerged victorious would have been a tonic, but contradictory to the almost unanimous sense of displeasure surrounding the events of January.

This was a more fitting climax to another episode of misery in what’s already been a season of continual disappointment.

Scratching around for positives, it seems likely there will be loan additions, Kenny Jackett can certainly select a better eleven and we’re mercifully a safe distance from relegation peril (for the moment).

But less than six months after the club defiantly stated the goal was to improve on last season, we’re all left wondering how they got things so completely and utterly wrong?

Wolves Vs Bolton Wanderers Preview

I really wanted to wait until Tuesday morning to write this blog.

Bolton Wolves

Only then will we know precisely what Wolves have and haven’t done in the transfer window.

But with my own deadlines to meet, I can only comment on a dreary Sunday evening about what’s been a disappointing January.

And as much as I want to be measured and patient in my assessment of new recruits, right now it feels like the squad is regressing.

We’ve lost shed loads of pace and devilment through departures and injury and done nothing to address the issue.

It’s the same old Wolves really – lots of investment in potential and stars of the future, but little to enthuse about the here and now.

Bolton

bolton logoThe Trotters haven’t won a single away game in the Championship all season, losing 11 and drawing 3 of their 14 matches to date.

But then again, they hadn’t beaten anyone until Wolves rocked up at the Macron back in September and they secured a routine 2-1 victory.

It then took them another three months to win again, when Blackburn finally saved us from being an embarrassing name check in their miserable season.

Financial woes, a fire sale and the threat of liquidation hasn’t stopped Neil Lennon keeping them in touch with safety though and they come into this game with a chance to further reduce the arrears.

They’ve still got some useful players knocking about too, several of which have been linked with Wolves this month, and have very little to lose in their current situation.

Wolves

With Edwards, Zyro and new signing Mike Williamson beefing up Tony Daley’s treatment room, Kenny Jackett will be happy to at least have Joe Mason fit and raring to go.

Wolves team for Bolton

There’s an immediate slot for our new striker/number 10 to occupy with Dave Edwards out for the foreseeable so no reason he won’t get his Molineux debut.

Funnily enough, Mason and Le Fondre know each other well from their time together at Bolton (and Cardiff) where both enjoyed successful loan spells.

If the remaining 10 are good to go, I can’t see the manager making too many changes. They were impressive in the second half at Loftus Road, showing there’s still an appetite to compete and the ability to do so.

Predictions

Surely we’re not going to get doubled by a team who’ve only won two other league matches? They’ve long been a bogey team but that would take it to a whole new level.

I might sound all doom and gloom, but I really liked what I saw against QPR. Coady and McDonald are getting better the longer the season goes on and if van La Parra keeps hitting the heights, we’ve always got a chance.

Instinctively, I reckon this might be a draw but to counter balance my negative outlook, I’ll back us to secure the maximum.

2-1

Up The Wolves!

* Our very own StuWolf is joining Sky TV’s presenter Jeff Stelling on his “Men United’s Walk” for Prostrate Cancer on 26th March 2016 and I encourage you to support him in his efforts. You can learn more and sponsor Stuart on his JustGiving page here.

Bolton Wanderers Vs Wolves Preview

We’re heading into the unknown.

Bolton

With Stearman sold and Dicko out for the season, there’s suddenly a heavy burden on new faces to come to the fore.

In addition, potential needs to be realised fast with young players now told to sink or swim, particularly across the back four.

Interesting times indeed, but with such sweeping change and key personnel missing, is a promotion push still realistic?

I’m really not sure.

Bolton

bolton logoThanks to Bolton fan Dan – who runs his own fan site The Lion of Vienna Suite – for giving me the lowdown on his club. Here’s what he had to say:

We’re in a bit of a weird place at the moment, with our current financial woes and key players leaving. It’d be reasonable for outsiders to consider us as relegation fodder but Neil Lennon has worked miracles with in his limitations and managed to bring in promising new players.

We may be without a win so far this season but performances have been very good, we just don’t have any clinical edge upfront.

With only one goal to our name so far, due to Gary Madine misfiring and Zach Clough still learning to adapt to being a marked man, it’s been really letting us down. We’re a goal scorer away from being a really competitive side.

On to Wolves, I like you a lot. I think you play a nice style of attacking football and you have three of the best strikers in the division. I did have you down for promotion, but I feel Nouha Dicko will be a massive loss for you.

Whilst Afobe and Le Fondre will undoubtedly still get goals, as an outsider looking in it seems as if Dicko was the player who made the attack tick and instigated goals. He’s the player that made you look great, and I don’t know how you’ll cope without him.

Wolves

I think coming back against Charlton last time out showed we’ve still got the capability to compete with the group we have. But the bar was supposed to be set a bit higher this season.

Wolves team for Bolton

When you look at the above XI, it’s really not a bad side and there are also a couple of players who can come in and potentially make a difference, including new signing Nathan Byrne who may prove a key acquisition.

But when you take away the explosiveness and goals of Sako and Dicko and the leadership and experience of Stearman, which ultimately wasn’t even enough last season, you’re left wondering if this squad and team really has the minerals to get it done?

Without that pace and direct threat in attack, it means teams can worry less about what’s coming at them and more about getting forward themselves. That puts more pressure on an inexperienced and creaky back four.

The gaffer

Predictions

Kenny talks above about finding a way to win consistently and that’s my principle concern. Can this team consistently beat other Championship sides? I’m not convinced yet.

I think we’re more ‘competitive’ than ‘spectacular’ this season and competitive teams need to be tight at the back, which we haven’t been.

But even though Dan reckons Bolton have played well, they’re in the bottom three for a reason and we should go there looking for a win.

We never win at the Macron (or previously the Reebook) so I’m operating on hope and a law of averages that we will this time.

A narrow and nervous 2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Bolton Wanderers 2 Wolves 2

James Henry is a tricky player to evaluate.

HENRY AT BOLTON

Yesterday’s rescue act was certainly no fluke. He’s scored that type of goal many times for Wolves, Millwall and even in a short loan spell at Bournmouth.

That’s now four this season for the winger, adding to the 10 he managed in League One last term. Not bad when you consider he’s been regularly weighing in with the assists too.

With the numbers heavily stacked in his favour, why then is Henry always on the fringes of the team?

He was dragged off on consecutive weekends following indifferent displays against Blackpool and Charlton. And even yesterday’s heroics were condensed into a 20 minute cameo from the bench.

Prior to that he was superb in the victory at Blackburn and seemingly integral to how Kenny Jackett wants to setup away from home.

Would consistently inconsistent be a fair assessment?

Perhaps failing to maintain that level of performance in the Championship is the reason he hasn’t progressed further and why their were seemingly no rivals for his signature twelve months ago?

Either way, flashes of brilliance will always mean he’s a useful player to have around the squad, if not the team.

Nouha Dicko has always been consistent for Wolves and his early finish was typically composed, after sprinting onto Kevin McDonald’s hooked pass.

Bolton’s equaliser was a superb set piece from young Zach Clough, but the striker’s second to turn the game on it’s head minutes later was less impressive from a Wolves perspective.

There’s no way Clough should have been able to work the ball onto his favoured right foot with so many bodies in the box and Carl Ikeme could certainly have got a stronger hand to what seemed a tame effort.

That looked costly as the second half drifted towards an inevitable conclusion until Henry stepped forward.

With Bakary Sako hopefully returning next weekend and competition for places in the forward positions at its toughest for a long while, I wonder where yesterday’s hero will sit in the pecking order?

As always with James Henry, your guess is as good as mine.

Highlights

Bolton Wanderers Vs Wolves Preview

There are still a few days left and I don’t want to curse things, but it’s been a satisfying January transfer window thus far.

Bolton Wolves

Wolves have added the pacey striker to compliment/deputise for Nouha Dicko and it looks like Bakary Sako will be hanging around until the end of the season.

Promising youngsters are emerging all the time and key personnel (like Scott Golbourne) are returning from injury.

I just wonder how far this squad might go this season if it can reach anywhere near it’s potential?

Bolton

bolton logoNeil Lennon was the shot in the arm Bolton needed. He’s taken the Trotters from the very bottom to midtable after picking up the slack from Dougie Freedman.

Much of that upward trajectory owes to a splendid home record that sees them unbeaten at the Reebok under their new manager.

Like Wolves, they don’t score a lot of goals but they have acquired the capability to keep things tight at the back, until the 4-2 loss at Rotherham in midweek anyway.

Adam Le Fondre has arrived from Cardiff this week. He’s a useful player and a proven goalscorer at Championship level. Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey have also come in to help beef up the attack.

Wolves

Nouha Dicko’s omission from the starting lineup didn’t raise too many eyebrows last weekend, which is testament to our hopes for Benik Afobe.

Wolves team for Blackburn

It was a tough game for the former Arsenal man to walk into with Charlton opting to keep every man behind the ball, but he showed glimpses of promise.

I suspect Kenny might rotate Dicko back into the team for this one though, if only to keep things fresh and competition for places high.

Kortney Hause struggled when pressed in possession, so it was no surprise Scott Golbourne came in to give us more forward thrust.

However, I think the emphasis at the Reebok will be in keeping things compact at the back, which will likely mean the youngster retains his place.

The gaffer

Predictions

The Reebok is a more fearsome venue than it’s been in recent times, but Wolves have picked up their away form of late and I feel confident.

We’re not scoring enough goals, which is a concern but that’s partly down to how teams setup against us, particularly at Molineux.

I think Bolton will try to press the ball and play at a high tempo, which Wolves have notoriously struggled to cope with, so it will be an interesting barometer of progress.

I’d like to go all out for the win, but I think it might end up another closely contested draw.

1-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Standards and expectations are high at Molineux these days.

Wolves Bolton

A fourth straight league victory to maintain a one hundred per cent start at home will do little to suppress either despite Wolves stuttering over the line with a jittery, uneven performance.

Kenny Jackett himself admitted afterwards that Bolton merited something from the game after dominating a second half in which his own side failed to ignite.

Meanwhile, Dougie Freedman was happy to pin the blame on Owen Garvan for a meek penalty and comical follow up as Carl Ikeme made the smart double save.

Perhaps Jermaine Beckford should have been handed the responsibility for converting the spot kick he himself won after drawing a jaded lunge from the retreating Danny Batth?

The former Everton and Huddersfield striker seems to relish playing at Molineux and scored for both of those clubs in his two previous visits to the ground. Had he been standing over the ball instead of Garvan, I doubt the home team would be celebrating another maximum return.

That said, Wolves should again have been out of sight before the interval after passing Bolton into submission with the sort of classy approach play that’s underpinned their success in 2014.

Time and time again Lee Evans spread the play with scintillating efficiency and our wingers drilled balls into dangerous areas. But time and time again, the visitors cut out the danger.

Fortunately though, just when that uncomfortable sense of deja vu was threatening to cloud another commanding first half display, Nouha Dicko somehow flicked a header underneath the Bolton keeper to break the deadlock.

Scott Golbourne had a far easier headed chance right after the break too, storming in at the back post to meet an inch perfect cross only for the ball to be cleared off the line.

After that, Bolton were in the ascendancy and Wolves, usually so reliable in possession, began to surrender the ball and invite the white Wanderers forward.

Unusually for Kenny Jackett, his substitutions were also questionable. Clarke for Dicko was of course unavoidable, but he did little to enhance his plummeting stock, albeit with very little to feed off with his team mates looking jaded and void of ideas.

But Tommy Rowe for James Henry was a particularly curious change, removing what little forward thrust Wolves had in favour of giving game time to a player whose yet to bed into a new side. And boy did it show.

Still, the gaffer will no doubt feel vindicated as Wolves ultimately saw out the closing stages with a modicum of comfort.

And it certainly feels churlish to sound critical of manager and team while the bandwagon keeps on rolling.

I suppose really, it’s just a sign of the times.

The gaffer