Wolves 1 Cardiff City 2

I’m not surprised, just disappointed.

Embed from Getty Images

Cardiff, as expected, made it difficult for Wolves to play; marking tightly, giving away niggley fouls and generally denying their opponents any sort of fluency.

Unlike the wins over Middlesbrough and Derby, we didn’t win enough of those mini battles and you always felt the momentum was with Neil Warnock’s side.

They’re an impressive, powerful team, full of pace and menace. Zohore and Mendez-Laing were the danger men and really exploited the space down the sides of our back three.

Miranda struggled to get to grips with the impressive Zohore in the second half and that was the root cause of their opening goal.

Boly too had a few shaky moments and when he let the ball bounce between his legs, Mendez-Laing was quick as flash to run on the overlap and power home the winner.

That was a costly mistake because Wolves had got back into the game thanks to a well developed Bonatini equaliser and tails were up.

But once Cardiff got ahead for the second time, it felt like there was one inevitable conclusion.

Those are the moments that determine these horrible, knife-edge contests and Wolves were five per cent off it today.

There were positives in the shape of Enobakhare who I thought was excellent again and unfortunate to be taken off.

Jota too stuck to his task well and didn’t allow himself to be bullied by some rough treatment. He looks like he can handle the physical challenges that lie ahead.

Another goal for Bonatini too and those are the finishes we need, inside the box latching onto any little flick that might come his way. He had a strong second half.

Neves and Saiss weren’t able to influence the game as they have done previously and that really restricted our attacking potency.

I lost count of the number of inch perfect diagonal passes we saw at Derby, affording our wingbacks acres of space to play in the forwards.

Today, against a well disciplined Cardiff side, we rarely got into those key positions and for that you have to credit the opposition.

We saw some some dark arts for sure, as you’ve come to expect from a streetwise Warnock team, and they could easily have been a man down before half time, but these are the challenges you need to rise above if you want to be a top Championship side.

The time wasting, the gamesmanship, the off the ball fouls – it’s a dog-eat-dog league and the refs can’t see everything. You’ve got to find ways to win whatever the opposition are doing.

There’s still lots to feel good about moving towards what looks an easier run of fixtures, but this was a reminder about how hard this team has to fight to play their brand of football.

It was never going to be easy.

Wolves Vs Cardiff City Preview

You need only look at the teams sandwiching Wolves in the table to remember how easy it is to come crashing back to earth.

Embed from Getty Images

Lose 10% out of your performance and the Warnocks and McCarthys of this league are ready to gobble you up whole with their belligerent brand of football.

It’s been wonderful to see Nuno’s boys silkily navigate these tricky looking opening fixtures with a degree of comfort but there would be something particularly satisfying about winning this one.

I’ve got nothing against Cardiff or Neil Warnock, but the combination of their impressive start and the powerful makeup of their side means they’d be a notable scalp.

After all, if none of the promotion favourites can beat us and none of the archetypal Championship powerhouses can get it done, who else is left?

Cardiff

I did a pre-recorded interview for Radio Cardiff ahead of this game and the presenter asked me if I was surprised by how well they’d started. Hardly.

If you look at what they’ve done since Warnock took over midway through last season and the side he’s put together, they were always going to be up near the top.

They’ve got three giants at the back in Sean Morrison, Sol Bamba and Ecuele Manga, which immediately makes me sweat thinking about defending set pieces.

Further forward you’ve got the pace and trickery of Hoilet, Tomlin and intriguingly the former Wolves man Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. Looking forward to seeing what he’s got to offer.

Then big Kenneth Zohore up front, whose been a revelation since Warnock took over and was subject to a failed £10 million bid from Hull just yesterday.

They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at this burgeoning Wolves team and if they enforce their game, it’ll be a difficult afternoon for the home side.

Wolves

It’s amazing what happens when you keep a settled side with players all in their best positions isn’t it? I think too many managers over complicate the process in search of a winning formula.

Cavaleiro and Dicko are the only two really pushing for a start, assuming no injuries to other players. But both of them have done well coming off the bench so why change?

Right now you just want everything to stay the same for as long as possible to see if we can continue riding the crest of the wave.

I still think the club are planning to introduce another striker before the month is out, but given how well we’ve started and the players to come back, it’s probably not the mandatory acquisition it was once deemed.

Predictions

Unfortunately, my hands are tied once again. We’ve won all three games and I’ve predicted draws in each of them so I can’t buck the trend.

If you’re less superstitious than me and fancy backing the Wolves, Bethut have a a range of predictions, tips and bookie offers which you might find useful.

This will ultimately come down to who can enforce their style of play on the game. If it becomes about power and physicality Cardiff will be on top, but if Wolves can get their technical players to dictate it will be an entirely different contest.

I’m confident, lets just say that.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Wolves 3 Cardiff City 1

Perennial sore loser Neil Warnock said this result owed more to luck and refereeing decisions than anything Wolves accomplished.

‘I don’t think they won the game, I think we lost it. We didn’t get the rub of the green on certain decisions but you’re away from home and don’t expect that.’

Respectively Neil, I disagree.

This was a satisfying win against a robust, atypical Championship outfit who played the percentages and loaded the box at every opportunity.

It’s the type of game we’ve lost over and over again all season, which is why we’ve been plying our trade at the wrong end of the table.

A milestone victory then and my personal pick of the four straight wins Paul Lambert has now overseen that have catapulted us away from immediate strife.

Credit the manager too because the balance of the team once again looks spot on.

With the exception of the goalkeeper (no offence Andy) I’d happily watch that starting eleven for 46 matches next season and feel confident they’d crack the top six.

Although they couldn’t muster a cleansheet the back four were solid and looking across the line, there’s a nice blend of guile and technical ability.

I’ve got mixed views about Connor Coady at right back but you’ve got to admire his combative nature and he offers a useful contrast to Doherty whose devestating going forward but at times too relaxed out of possession.

Batth is much criticised but Cardiff got little change out of him yesterday and his two towering headers were just reward for an accomplished performance.

Alongside the pace of Hause and with two midfielders sitting in front, the skipper looks far more comfortable. We should be looking to make an upgrade in defence, but quality center halves are an increasingly rare commodity.

There’s a pleasing blend further forward too with Evans and Edwards grafting to win possession and set others free.

Costa, Cavaleiro and Marshall all benefitted and their combination play could just as easily have opened the gates before Batth’s more ‘direct’ route to goal ultimately put Wolves in the driving seat.

Marshall is racking up the assists and will definitely be a key performer next season, regardless of whose around him.

But that’s the key question – who will be around him?

The prospect of retaining Helder Costa seems ever more unlikely. 10 league goals and 8 assists now in addition to his cup exploits must make him the hottest property outside the Premier League.

Now he’s back playing with a few decent technicians around him, it’s clear to see what he could do at a top team. He killed this game with one moment of sublime skill after single handedly accounting for Fulham last time out.

If he does go, as seems inevitable, the only upside is that will free up funds to add several new players to a burgeoning team.

Much to ponder in what’s already looking like a long old summer.

A win against Forest on Tuesday and we can all get the deck chairs out.

Wolves Vs Cardiff City Preview

It would be nice to cancel out those five straight league defeats with five straight victories.

With three wins already in the bag and two winnable fixtures in the next five days, it’s certainly possible.

But our performance levels at Molineux this season have been woeful so I don’t think anyone will be counting chickens.

Based on our home form alone we’d actually be in the relegation zone, cut adrift from safety (see the table here). Compare that to sitting fifth in the away table and it’s a pretty stark contrast.

With six of our remaining nine games at Molineux, we need to address this imbalance.

Cardiff

While we’re talking about theoretical tables, Neil Warnock said this week Cardiff would be third based on their results since he took over earlier in the season.

Much like he did at Rotherham, he’s turned their fortunes right around. You can’t deny he’s a great manager at this level.

It was interesting to hear him speak quite disparagingly about former Wigan boss Warren Joyce a few weeks ago and he went on to claim there weren’t many good managers around.

I’d disagree with this statement as I actually think the Championship have a lot of talented coaches. Perhaps not with his experience, but strong characters who I’d expect to see manage in the Premier League at some point.

They’re already talking about a promotion push next season but I think that’s quite premature. Good luck to them but things can turn sour in this league very quickly.

Wolves

I think Paul Lambert has to really go for it in the remaining home fixtures. Play the matchwinners as he did at Fulham, be a bit more open and just go all out for the win. If he does that, the crowd will respond.

That team oozes with pace and attacking potential. Weimann has got himself a couple of goals playing through the middle so must be persevered with.

The presence of Cavaleiro and Marshall really does free up Helder Costa to play to his maximum, while those two players have proven very useful themselves in this little winning run.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about creating a positive atmosphere inside Molineux but for me the manager really sets the tone on a match day with his team selection.

Predictions

If you’re looking at this game, Forest next Tuesday and Bristol City away next weekend as a block, you’d probably say this one looks the toughest.

I expect Cardiff to be physical, well drilled and tough to breakdown. A very typical Championship outfit.

But if Paul Lambert is bold in his approach, I think we might just win it.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Cardiff City 2 Wolves 1

Listening to Wolves’ soul destroying surrender on the radio probably begged more questions than Bradley Walsh on my favourite quiz show.

 

The Chase for Championship survival is now well and truly on as our pathetic failures of past regimes – mingled with some of the most gutless foreign imports known to man – lurch to yet another disaster, this time away at Cardiff.

Which begs the questions:

Which team is worse?

a) Wolves 2012/13               b) Wolves 2016/17          c) New Mills AFC 2015/16

Which team surrenders possession the most prolifically?

a) Wolves 2016/17                b) Sunderland 2005/06                   c) The Blind School

Which of the following are the slowest midfield pairing in Wolves’ history?

a) Darren Ferguson and Mark Rankine         b) David Edwards and George Saville       c) Conor Coady and George Saville

Who is the worst signing in the history of Wolverhampton Wanderers?

a) Robert Taylor     b) Ivan Cavaleiro               c) Tomasz Frankowski

Which Wolves striker is the most impotent?

a) Robert Taylor     b) Jon Dadi Bodvarrson  c) Tomasz Frankowski

Who would Wolves like to play least in a one-off cup fixture if their lives depended on it?

a) Stoke City            b) Stourbridge Town       c) Wolves under-23s

Other questions for another day would be along the lines of: Why does Tim Spiers and company idly describe our squad as being ‘well resourced with individual quality’ when it is patently clear that it is well resourced only in ‘hopeless, substandard losers who are barely adequate for League One.’

Another headscratcher was Craig Noone’s omission from Cardiff City’s line-up when he is clearly better than any winger I have seen at Molineux in the past 11 months. Ergo, Cardiff win at a canter when he came onto the pitch.

Meanwhile, is there a single fan whose heart doesn’t sink when Helder Costa is substituted?

Questions about Fosun’s commitment to a League One club really don’t bear thinking about just yet, but unless Lambert can act quickly in January, then I’ll expect to be asking them soon.

Cardiff City Vs Wolves Preview

It’s hard to say whether we’ve really progressed since Paul Lambert took over.

 

But I do know I feel an awful lot better with him in the dugout than Walter Zenga.

And anyone who might accuse the Scot of lacking his predecessor’s passion obviously didn’t witness our head coach leaping over the advertising hoardings to retrieve the ball on Saturday as Wolves hunted an equaliser.

He cares alright and I reckon once he’s able to get some of his own bodies into the side come January, we’ll see an upturn in fortunes.

In the here and now, this is a big game. We’re not quite at the point of calling it a relegation six pointer, but it’s one we could do with winning or at the very least, not losing.

Cardiff

It says a lot about Neil Warnock that my immediate thought upon hearing of his appointment at Cardiff was ‘they definitely won’t go down now’.

He’s not many people’s favourite character but you can’t question his credentials at Championship level. Not just his promotions with Sheffield United and QPR but also the rabbit he pulled out of the hat at Rotherham last season.

You need only look at how they were doing before he went there and subsequently after he left to realise the impact he made. Astonishing really.

Cardiff were in similar strife and he’s started digging them out. Three wins, three draws and three defeats might not seem remarkable, but that’s midtable form from a team who were anything but back in October.

They’re still in the bottom three heading into this game, but a win would take them above Wolves and possibly a few others.

Scoring too few and conceding too many is not an ideal combination and the statistics show them to be among the weakest in the division on both fronts.

The free transfer additions of forwards Ricky Lambert and Junior Hoilett and big Sol Bamba at the back have helped, but the latter is suspended for this one after getting sent off at Ipswich at the weekend.

Wolves

I think Fulham exposed our biggest frailty at the weekend, which is the center of midfield.

We’ve got problems at the back for sure (big problems), but we’re not strong enough in the middle of the pitch and that’s leaving the defence vulnerable.

Conor Coady was the weak link for me. His obvious deficiencies with the ball mean he has to cover the ground and make tackles to justify his selection and he didn’t do enough against Fulham. That said, he won’t encounter better technical opposition this season.

I think Oniangue would be the obvious replacement, but I’m not sure he’s up to speed just yet. Playing both Saiss and Price is another interesting idea but one I’m not convinced Lambert would entertain.

Stearman should return in my opinion and I’d also be tempted to make a change at full back, possibly bringing in Silvio or Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The above would be my preferred eleven.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

This one looks tougher than the league table suggests. They’ve got some good Championship performers in their group and a manager who can get the best out of them.

They don’t score many goals, which bodes well for our leaky defence and I just wonder whether the absence of Sol Bamba might tip the scales in our favour?

Whoever Paul Lambert plays up front has a big responsibility. We can’t afford our strikers to go on being so wasteful.

I’m playing it safe with a 1-1, which wouldn’t be a terrible outcome.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Save