Burnley 1 Wolves 1

There’s nothing more beautiful than potential being realised.

Wolves celebrate

Matt Doherty is a valid example. He looks like he’s hit his stride since Christmas, performing consistently at a level beyond his previous best.

At 24 and with plenty of experience to draw on, he’s now coming into the best years of his career, which I hope are spent at Wolves.

The same could be said of our midfield trio.

Jack Price (23), Connor Coady (23) and George Saville (22) have all demonstrated growth of late and their future development is likely the reason Kevin McDonald is sitting it out.

The big Scot must have been itching to get on against his former club today, but with his junior colleagues performing admirably against the league leaders, he could only watch from the sidelines.

Both Price and Saville came close to giving Wolves the lead as they turned up the heat either side of half time after weathering an early onslaught.

It was then fitting – but against the run of play – that Sam Vokes put Burnley ahead.

Fitting because he was a player who always demonstrated great potential at Wolves but perhaps didn’t get the chances he deserved at a time where developing youth wasn’t high on the agenda.

These days it’s front and center, a fact demonstrated by the average age of our team being significantly lower than every other team in the league.

But many of these young players aren’t inexperienced kids anymore.

Beyond those already mentioned, look at Dominic Iorfa and Kortney Hause. Both just 20 years of age and with well over a season’s worth of Championship football under their belt already.

They could both go on another level next season and be the building blocks on which a serious top six tilt is constructed.

The returning Jed Wallace (himself only 21) looks immediately better for his spell of first team football at Millwall and played well up until his withdrawal through injury (typical).

If nothing else, today’s result, along with the gutsy (if not particularly attractive) performances we’ve seen against Blues, Derby and Bristol City show that this young team can’t be easily pushed over.

What they’re lacking is the devilment in the final third to really hurt the opposition in the spells in which they’re in the ascendancy.

Perhaps that will come next season when a (fingers crossed) fully fit Nouha Dicko is added to the armory?

Similarly there’s Jordan Graham to consider and even without his considerable talents, the emerging Connor Hunte who could yet be just as good.

And we haven’t even spoken of the conveyor belt of talent rolling out of our under 18s this year or the clutch of experienced pros who should return to the fold.

Danny Batth came all the way through the system of course, so it felt poignant today that he thundered home the late header that rescued a much deserved point, for his burgeoning team.

It feels like a difficult time to be supporting a club drifting towards a mediocre finish, but I just wonder if next season we may look back on this period as being the start of better things.

Exciting times ahead for sure – if potential is realised.

Burnley Vs Wolves Preview

There are 12 teams below Wolves in the Championship table.

Grey Wolves

11 of them have sacked a manager this season with only Karl Robinson at MK Dons lasting the course. Talk about fickle.

Even two of the clubs in the top half have made a change for crying out loud. It’s ridiculous.

It’s not so much a merry go round, more a swirling vortex of unrealistic expectations.

I remain pleased Wolves haven’t pulled the trigger, because for all his questionable actions this term, I still vehemently believe we’ve got the right guy for the job.

Burnley

Burnley_FC_logo_(1960-1969,_2009-2010)The Clarets are flying high and as of late are starting to disappear over the horizon in what once looked a hotly contested promotion race.

Six wins in a row and eight wins from the last ten have transported them from play-off hopefuls to pacesetters with just nine games left.

A good number of those fixtures are at home against crappy midtable teams like us, so they suddenly look odds on to make an immediate return to the top flight.

It’s quite painful viewing for Wolves given that a number of their best players were once part of our own title winning team. Jones, Vokes, Ward and to a lesser extent Kightly have all played a role in what’s been a great season for Sean Dyche’s side.

Wolverhampton born Andre Gray has also proven a wonderful acquisition and he comes into the game as the league’s top scorer. In fact Burnley as a team have scored 10 more than anyone else.

They also have the best home record in the Championship, just to hammer home the magnitude of the task facing us on Saturday.

Wolves

It’s about time Jed Wallace was called back. Millwall fans are gutted to see him leave, which is great to hear. He hasn’t yet been given a sustained run in our side but now should be his time.

Team for Burnley

Saville looked jaded in that second half against Blues and I simply can’t name a Wolves XI without McDonald in it, so I’d have to give Byrne the hook too.

I’d like to see Wallace in that number 10 role, because I don’t think we’ve currently got anyone suited to it, but he’s been playing wide right at Millwall and playing well, so maybe that’s where he should continue?

Kenny says below he might need a game or two to reintegrate but I don’t see much point given our current status. Why not just chuck him in? I would.

We need another strong defensive showing as it’ll be tough to get anything even if we’re not handing out freebies. Hause has slotted in well since returning to the center of the back four. We could still do with Williamson though I reckon.

The gaffer

Predictions

Got to be a defeat – sorry lads. The only thing to hope is that by a law of averages Burnley can’t keep winning, but that’s some serious straw clutching.

Kenny is always saying we need to be conceding zeros and ones to be successful, but I reckon we’ll be shipping two or three on Saturday, so that limits our opportunity.

But I’ll back us to score – 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Burnley 0

One positive you can extract from a thus far disheartening season is that none of the current top three have beaten us.

Afobe disappointed

Hull, Brighton and now Burnley have all come to town and none have looked even marginally better.

Equally though, Kenny Jackett hasn’t been able to squeeze that extra few percent out of his players to turn one of those stalemates into victories.

And that’s all it came down to yesterday, finding that little bit more to overcome a competent and surprisingly workmanlike Burnley side.

They sprinted from the blocks and could have been over the hill and far away before the home side got properly started, but thankfully early chances were squandered.

An even and largely forgettable first half followed but the second period was played out almost exclusively in the visitors’ half.

Wolves huffed, puffed, scrapped, squeezed and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but never once forced Tom Heaton into a save.

Benik Afobe typified the performance, admirably going to war and doing all the ugly things he rarely had to do last season.

But when he was required to do what he does best, the game’s best chance came and went with the goalie left untroubled.

Say whatever you like about the many factors contributing to the team’s inconsistency, but if their talisman was firing there would be a few points more on the board.

That said, the supply line hasn’t exactly been free-flowing of late.

James Henry and Dominic Iorfa combined effectively throughout but nearly all of those surges ended with a looping cross to nobody in particular.

Over on the left Sheyi Ojo did little but lose possession and fall over in another uninspiring start.

Nathan Byrne can count himself unfortunate to find himself second in the pecking order, while Jordan Graham must wonder why he was recalled in the first place?

At least in the center of midfield there’s some clarity with Jack Price imperious on his return to the side.

When you’ve got two midfielders who consistently demonstrate an appetite to get on the ball and make constructive passes, it makes life easier for everyone.

The cleansheet was another welcome plus and after being pulled around for the first fifteen minutes the back four looked settled and comfortable.

Mike Williamson was initially stretched by the pace of Andre Grey but soon found a rhythm and performed effortlessly throughout.

Kenny Jackett would be wise to extend his stay for as long as Steve McLaren will permit.

With a two week break to dissect another inconsistent run of results, a solid foundation would at least be a good place to start.