Derby County 3 Wolves 1

Quite a few people pointed out I’d incorrectly named Andreas Weimann in my preferred XI to this game, despite the fact he was ineligible against his parent club.

Fair enough.

Just as well as he couldn’t play though, as we might not have seen Nouha Dicko’s best performance of the season.

For the first time in a long time our once prolific striker was barreling towards defenders and making things happen with powerful, direct running. That bodes well for next season.

Despite not being rewarded with a goal for himself, he did lay one on a plate for Ben Marshall in a rare moment of cohesion from Wolves on an otherwise poor afternoon.

You can point to Cavaleiro’s stupid sending off as a key moment, but Derby were coasting it well before lapping up the benefits of numerical advantage.

If you look at the goals, discounting the countless opportunities they created besides, it’s clear an inability to defend down our right was targeted and exploited.

David Nugent was all alone at the back post for his opener and Conor Coady himself was then skinned far too easily for the second.

I talked a lot in the preview about getting the balance in central midfield right, but starting next season with two specialist full backs must also be high on the agenda for Paul Lambert.

Don’t get me wrong, Coady has played superbly on several occasions in the back four, but he’s doing a job not mastering the art.

Midfield was again a problem though. You need only look down the Derby teamsheet to see the gulf in class between two sides pursuing the same goal.

Bryson, Butterfield, Johnson and Ince would all walk straight into our eleven and that sort of disparity simply can’t exist next season.

OK, we’re without two of our best outfield players (Costa and Doherty) as well as our first choice goalkeeper, but this was yet another reminder of just how much work there is to do over the summer.

It can’t come soon enough.

Derby County Vs Wolves Preview

Central midfield is the issue.

I know we’ve all got opinions on individuals operating in different areas of the pitch, but I’m convinced if Paul Lambert can address this one deficiency, we’ll do good things next season.

Against Blackburn and again on Tuesday in the defeat to Huddersfield, there was no attacking impetus from central areas, other than the times Ben Marshall stepped inside to make something happen.

Lambert’s got seven first team midfielders on the books (Edwards, Coady, Price, Evans, Saville, Saiss and Oniangue) and no combination is good enough in possession to consistently do what’s required.

If you want willing runners, closing down and all the ugly stuff then the above will do that (hence why we’ve taken some big away wins this season). You might keep two or three of them for this purpose.

But get rid of four or five of the above, bring in two better technicians and also look to extract the most from the likes of Enobakhare and Ronan who also have the necessary skillset.

Derby

If one team have underwhelmed more than Wolves this season, it’s got to be Derby. Cash was splashed again to help Nigel Pearson reconfigure an already capable squad to his liking.

Vydra and Anya arrived from Watford with lots of Championship pedigree and with others already there like Ince, Johnson and Butterfield, it seemed inconceivable they wouldn’t make the play-offs.

But looking at the table with two games to go, it’s clear they’re nowhere near. The higher powers at the club have to take responsibility for bad appointments and/or not showing enough patience.

It did look at one stage that Steve McLaren was going to get it going again, but after a good run of victories it was back to inconsistency and he also bit the bullet.

Gary Rowett seems like a very good manager, but you wonder how much time he’ll be given at Pride Park if they don’t get out the traps quickly next season?

Wolves

It would be pretty handy to have Helder Costa fit again. I really hope this injury is serious enough to be keeping him out and it’s nothing to do with his imminent departure. Sadly, I’m not convinced.

If he is able to make it back, the above is the team I’d play. Burgoyne might be our only fit keeper but I’d persevere with him anyway, despite letting in a soft goal in midweek. Incidentally, I was surprised Lambert chose to throw him under the bus for that in his post-match summary.

Both Silvio and Iorfa are playing for their futures so let them carry on I say. Despite a few wobbly moments I thought Silvio did some good things and showed strong positional play. We’ll be in the market for at least one full back in the summer and if he can convince over his fitness, he could be like a new signing.

My instinct is that Price, Coady and Edwards are the three to keep. Price because we know he can perform when partnered with better technical players. Coady because he can occupy different positions and Edwards for goals and impact.

But none should be nailed on starters next term and to compensate for what we lack moving going forwards in midfield tomorrow, I’d play an attacking trio behind Weimann who still looks like he’s got the bounce in his step to do something.

Predictions

I don’t think we’ll see anything like my proposed lineup tomorrow, but this could be a decent game for our try-hards to camp out and spring on the break as they did at Elland Road.

Derby have good quality though and I’m expecting them to ultimately put us to the sword at a ground where we’ve struggled to compete in recent years.

2-1 to the Rams.

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Wolves 2 Derby County 3

During his time on caretaker duty, Rob Edwards has often spoke of a desire to see Wolves play with a clear identity.

This is perplexing to me as to my knowledge the team has been doing just that from this season’s beginning.

Early leads have been handed to the opposition with unfathomable regularity and bountiful character has been shown just as games have grown irretrievable.

That is more or less the story of our season so far and today was no different, though the first half showing did manage to set a new barometer for sheer awfulness.

Incoming manager Paul Lambert (a good choice in my opinion) knows a thing or two about haphazard defences from his arduous time in the Villa Park hotseat but today’s defensive quadrant, not to mention those behind them in reserve, promise to provide his toughest challenge yet.

Danny Batth was disgracefully signalled out as the chief offender but the reality was that, despite him being at fault for Derby’s second goal, he was far from alone in the mistakes making department.

Dominic Iorfa, Matt Doherty and the laughably overrated Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (who has looked more like a FC United loanee than Manchester United since his arrival) were all guilty of error throughout the 90 and it’s hard to imagine that the opposition will have an easier first half than the one they enjoyed today.

However, our problems are certainly not restricted to defence. Though our attacking players are certainly not short of quality, one or two were exposed today as being devoid of the sort of character and commitment that is expected at the Molineux.

Joao Teixeira is a player I’ve struggled to warm to since his arrival and his rotten attitude was there for all to see today, with the deputy gaffer deciding after a mere half hour that he wasn’t up for it.

Meanwhile, Ivan Cavaleiro continued to make his pitch for the moniker of worst record signing of all time with another fitful display that does little to dispel the suspicion that he’s actually no better than the chap we farmed out to Bolton this summer.

Perhaps more patience needs to be afforded to our contingent of summer signings but with almost half the season gone we ought to think about when’s fair to label Jorge Mendes’ stable of foreign imports as flops.

Credit where it’s due though – we had a go at Derby in the second half and may have taken a point had the referee been a bit more consistent in his decision making.

It’s hard to bemoan bad luck when you consistently make life difficult for yourself though and until Wolves can cut the amateur mistakes out of their game it’s hard to see us getting anywhere close to realising Fosun’s ambitions for the club.

Over to you Paul.

Wolves Vs Derby County Preview

It looks like being Paul Lambert.

 

And if you read my previous blog you’ll know I’m in favour based on the candidates that were known to be in the running.

There’s too much heat around Nigel Pearson for him to be taken seriously and Tim Sherwood has no Championship pedigree.

Experience of the league was a key requisite for me so that ruled out any other experimental appointments from abroad. The timing just isn’t right.

In the mean time Rob Edwards and Scott Sellars will be armed with the task of trying to win our first game since the end of September.

Derby

derby_county_f-c-_logoOn the face of it you would have thought Derby would have been dead certs to be in the top six at the start of the season.

They appointed a manager in Nigel Pearson (who for all his faults) has successfully navigated the Championship.

Additionally, he was given the funds to re-shape the team and spent decent money on Vydra and Anya who have both proven themselves at this level.

That said, they did allow Chris Martin to leave on loan (I wanted him at Wolves) and Jeff Hendrick departed for Burnley, both of whom have been key performers in recent times.

This is definitely a transitional period for what’s been a fairly settled squad in recent seasons.

But poor results saw the powers that be surprisingly turn the clock back and invite Steve McClaren in for a second bite. That has the whiff of not really knowing what to do in terms of taking the club forward.

Wolves

More than a few people didn’t like the team selection at Blackburn but I didn’t think it was far off.

team-for-derby

If it were me, I’d drop Danny Batth who I think is struggling lately and give Richard Stearman a run in the side.

I’d also swap Saiss for Teixeira and bring Cavaleiro in for Wallace. We finished the game at Ewood Park strongly with those players on the pitch and at home I think we need that impetus from the start.

Rob Edwards

Predictions

However bad things are at Derby, I’ve got to believe they’re better than 19th.

I’m looking forward to seeing how they setup though. In recent times you’ve come to expect possession football, but I sense this time it could be different.

They’ve got good players so I expect them to cause our creaky defence problems, but I think we should be able to ask a few questions ourselves.

2-2.

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Wolves 2 Derby County 1

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Saville

How do you do it Wolverhampton Wanderers?

With any victory down the final stretch seeming fanciful, Molineux anticipated another chastening afternoon.

But with a roll your sleeves up attitude and a fantastic team ethic, hope returned and Derby were swept to one side.

George Saville is an unlikely hero based on so many anonymous outings to date, but the former Chelsea man was inspired.

Hard in the tackle (albeit in conceding the free kick for their equaliser), neat in his passing and clinical in the final third, this was finally potential realised.

Alongside the steady and reassuring presence of Kevin McDonald and the possessed Conor Coady, Saville’s role in the side suddenly makes complete sense.

A word too for Coady, who pushed his midfield colleague close for Man of the Match and was a constant driving force. This was the performance he was bought to consistently deliver.

We’ve seen glimpses against Blues and QPR, but this was Coady’s finest outing in a Wolves shirt to date.

It was also proof positive that these players are prepared to give everything for their under fire head coach.

Quite what possessed people into chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ is beyond me, given that Kenny Jackett had both his tactics and team selection spot on from the outset.

I might not have hooked Nathan Byrne either, but given that everyone (including myself) thought Derby would swat us away, he’d earned sufficient credit to do as he saw fit.

Anyone disagree?

Jackett will have been pleased by the natural balance Jeremy Helan brought to the left side of midfield.

The on loan Sheffield Wednesday winger was an effervescent presence and his combination play with Matt Doherty a feature of the team performance.

Doherty himself was brilliant, frequently getting in behind Derby’s back four and finding the inch perfect cross for Saville’s match winning moment.

Most pleasingly for everyone though, after so many dull, attritional Molineux contests, this was an afternoon to savour, fizzing along towards an exhilarating finale.

A most welcome interlude in otherwise trying times.

Nice one lads.

Wolves Vs Derby County Preview

Firstly guys, apologies for the outage.

Derby

I know conspiracy fans were salivating at the idea we’d been shut down by the club after Ben’s excellent post, but it was actually a much more basic and boring reason.

It did look at one stage that we’d be offline for considerably longer, which wasn’t entirely unappealing when facing up to writing this preview.

But as we’re back, I don’t want to disappoint you Prediction League fanatics (the table for which I will update over the weekend).

Derby

derby logoWhile we’re being informal, Derby can do one, with all their money and ambition. Makes me sick.

They even sacked their manager because the football wasn’t up to scratch, even though they were in the top six.

A couple of wins have recently got them back on track after it looked like they might completely fall away, much like last season.

But we know first hand they’re a good team with some excellent individuals.

I just wonder whether the big money arrivals have taken away from the overall team ethic that has impressed for a couple of years now without getting them promoted?

They tonked us again at Pride Park earlier in the season, so it would be nice to get some measure of revenge tomorrow.

Wolves

I think the arrival of Jeremy Helan has to be considered a positive. Pace in the attacking third is something we’re lacking and if nothing else, he brings that to the table.

Team for Brentford

As I’m writing this on a train, I don’t have the access to create a new team graphic, hence why I’ve used the above. But I actually wouldn’t play this team.

We need to stifle Derby and stop them playing football. If we try and go toe to toe, we’ll get beaten easily. I’d pack the midfield and just play one up top.

As for the new boy, yeah, I’d throw him straight in. Why not? He can’t do any worse than our other wide players have done in recent times and may inject some confidence and energy into a beleaguered team.

The gaffer

Predictions

It’s impossible to predict anything other than defeat.

I think Derby look better on paper than the collective sum of their parts these days, but they should have far too much for us.

As mentioned above, our best chance is to restrict their play and attempt to break quickly when the opportunity presents itself.

I don’t think we’ve got the discipline or the quality to do it effectively though, so…

3-1 Derby.

Up The Wolves!