Wolves 2 Bradford City 0

If Friday was a day of change, Saturday was business as usual.

Wolves Bradford

Another home match, another convincing performance, another well-earned three points.

Another cleansheet, another McDonald masterclass, another Dicko goal.

To the uninformed looking inward, Wolves might seem weaker for the loss of those familiar Deadline Day departures.

The reality is they are infinitely better off.

Where once there were only names scribbled together on a sheet of paper, now there is a team.

A defence that can actually defend (fewest goals conceded in the football league), a midfield that can actually pass and a strikeforce that can actually score.

Add to that a manager who actually knows what he’s doing and you’re suddenly talking about a strong, formidable Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It might only be League One, it might only be Bradford City but the football is as good as it’s ever been.

For as long as time can remember, opposing managers have instructed their teams to start strongly and turn the Molineux crowd against the home side.

These days, the opposition are lucky if they get a foot on the ball for the first twenty minutes as Wolves pass, move and repeat with pleasing efficiency.

If Mick McCarthy’s brilliant 2008 team were a shot-gun to the head, Kenny Jackett’s current crop are more death by a thousand cuts.

It’s a smarter approach. More efficient, more technical, and worryingly for their promotion rivals, more sustainable.

Bradford can count themselves unlucky for two fabulous strikes that rebounded off woodwork and for a poor individual misjudgment that saw them reduced to 10 men for a significant portion of the contest.

But you sense that even had the rub of the green been more favourable to the visitors, Wolves would still have found a way to win.

Even Leon Clarke’s profligate debut couldn’t tarnish what was another measured and highly satisfactory home performance.

Nothing less was expected.

Highlights

Wolves Vs Bradford City Preview

Wolves were rightly accused of inactivity last January, as the club continued their journey towards League One.

James Henry Bradford

I don’t think the same criticism can be tabled this year. The manager seems to know exactly who he does and doesn’t want and is being backed to prune and shape the squad as he sees fit.

Along with the crucial acquisitions of Henry and Jacobs, the strikeforce has also been dramatically overhauled. Dicko and Clarke are in. Doyle, Griffiths and Sigurdarson could all be out by the end of today. Cassidy has already been dismissed for the season.

The major surgery that this squad needed back in May has been successfully performed. Deadweight has been removed, talented, hungry players have been added and I would bet good money the wage bill has been significantly reduced in the process.

I now look forward to home games again as we have have a manager and group of players all pulling in the right direction. We’re a good team to watch these days.

BradfordBradford_City_AFC

When Wolves won at Valley Parade earlier in the season, it was considered a milestone victory against a promotion rival.

Things have turned sour for City since then and they’ve plummeted towards midtable. They’ve also sold their talisman Nahki Wells to Huddersfield, which is a further blow to any aspirations they might have held.

The Bantams are without a win in their last 10 matches, drawing 7 and losing 3. Their last victory was way back at the end of November.

Still, they’re a tough nut to crack as both Preston and Leyton Orient found out in recent stalemates.

Wolves

Even if Doyle, Griffiths, Sigurdarson and Hennessey leave, there remains excellent competition for places. That’s a testament to the work the club have done from the summer to now. I would expect the same team as Tuesday tomorrow:

Wolves team for Bradford

If KJ wanted to revert to a more orthodox 442, he now has Leon Clarke, the league’s joint top-scorer, at his disposal. I imagine he and Dicko would make a good partnership at this level.

Whatever you think about Clarke’s previous, the club have done exactly what I hoped they’d do in the summer – poached a proven League One player.

With more big names heading for the exit, the squad might not look as strong to outsiders but I like the way we’re quietly going about our business. I think our young team will surprise a few people in the years to come.

The odds

Wolves are strong favourites for the win at 4/7. The draw is 10/3 and Bradford are outsiders at 21/4.

If you’d taken my tip from Tuesday and backed Kevin McDonald for the first goal, you’d be a few quid better off right now. He’s a generous 11/1 to get the opener again tomorrow.

New signing Leon Clarke is 7/2, while Aaron Mclean is Bradford’s most likely route to goal with odds of 17/2. All odds are available here.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to the 54 (practically everyone) who thought we’d win on Tuesday. Coops, Chris in Dublin and johnhpayne went all out for the 3-0, so deservedly doubled their tallies. Well done lads.

I think Bradford will cause us problems tomorrow with their physicality, but I just can’t predict anything other than a Wolves victory.

We’re getting on top of teams from the very start at Molineux and smothering them with smart, possession football. That’s very difficult to prevent on such a big pitch.

We might stutter, but I think we’ll prevail victorious.

3-1

Up The Wolves!

* P.s. due to my sister’s wedding tomorrow and Ben also being waylaid by a social engagement, does anyone fancy having a go at a match report? Email me if you can do it: tom@thomasbaughmedia.com.

Bradford City 1 Wolves 2

Prior to yesterday, those of a glass half empty persuasion were quick to point out ‘we haven’t beaten anyone yet’.

James Henry Bradford

It’s nice then to finally put that notion to bed, as Wolves overcame top six opposition for the first time this season.

This is now a record breaking start for Kenny Jackett, the best opening run the club has ever enjoyed to a league campaign.

More records tumbled as the Wolves bandwagon rolled on: the first goal conceded in the first half of any match, the first time Wolves have fallen behind away from home and the first time they’ve come back from a goal down to win.

Fitting then, that on a day a few trends were bucked, Jamie O’Hara’s name should reappear on the teamsheet, albeit as an unused substitute.

One wonders whether it was the growing clamour for his reinclusion or the need to put the midfielder in the shop window that prompted an unlikely comeback?

Either way, it will be intriguing to monitor his progress in the weeks to come and whether he actually makes it onto the pitch.

Kenny hasn’t shied away from the big decisions thus far and yesterday was another uplifting demonstration of a brave and flexible approach.

After falling behind early, the gaffer wasted no time in changing shape and introducing Kevin Doyle. The rewards were instantaneous.

James Henry’s slightly tame effort was perhaps fortunate to find a way in, but a pinpoint cross for Richard Stearman minutes later was certainly no fluke.

Recruiting the Millwall winger looks to be another masterstroke. He’s a confident performer, happy to carry the ball forward and threaten the opposition goal.

At the opposite end, Carl Ikeme’s impressive shot stopping capabilities were once again showcased, as Bradford piled forward second half. Are his performances the most significant factor so far? It could easily be argued.

What can’t be disputed now is that this young Wolves side are a legitimate force at this level of competition.

A lot has been made of the club’s financial clout and the leftover quality of our Premier League years, but it’s actually much simpler attributes that have carried us into the top two. Namely, team spirit and a pleasing appetite to work together as a team.

With hopefully more to come, the message to our rivals should be clear: you haven’t seen anything yet.