Wolves 0 Huddersfield Town 1

Since their jubilant arrival in sunny Wolverhampton last summer, our Chinese owners have often spoke about the size and potential of the club and the importance of returning it to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

And yet a glance up the Championship table sees Barnsley, Cardiff, Brentford, Reading, Huddersfield and Brighton sitting comfortably above us.

All due respect to these clubs – they’ve more than earned their respective standings – but none bare anything resembling our history.

This isn’t delusions of grandeur on my part, it’s fact.

But under the bumbling premiership of Fosun, Kevin Thelwell and to a lesser extent Laurie Dalrymple – because, contrary to popular opinion, we can’t blame Morgan and Moxey for everything – we’re now in a position where opposition as modest in stature as tonight’s can turn up at Molineux and claim three points without breaking sweat.

Paul Lambert made six tactical changes to his team but on recent evidence it’s apparent that there’s no winning formula to be found in the current side.

Truthfully, the blame for this can be afforded to every outfield department but having watched the ease with which two of this season’s success stories, Brighton and Huddersfield, passed circles around us it’s hard to argue against the notion that the midfield is our Achilles heel.

Sure, our strikers are laughably impotent but they might have mustered a few more goals if we had some vision in the middle of the park.

Be honest, who doesn’t see the sale of Kevin McDonald as anything other than scandalous?

God may love a trier but as professional as Dave Edwards may be I’d be thankful if I never had to endure another 90 minutes of him hiding behind opposition midfielders whilst we’re in possession.

No manager can legislate selecting any midfielder at this level that is not comfortable with the ball at his feet – the ever increasing standard of the league won’t allow it.

Though it’s a deficiency that is symptomatic of all our midfielders (except perhaps Saiss) the fact that Edwards is picked week in, week out regardless of form means he deservingly bears the brunt of most fans’ criticism.

Don’t let 10 goals fool you, we’ll never get promoted playing this guy every week.

Of course, ‘Deadly’ wasn’t alone when underperforming tonight. His bearded counterpart churned out one of his worst performances in a Wolves shirt and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson continued his excellent impression of Tomasz Frankowski with aplomb.

Crumbs of comfort could be found in Silvio’s solidity, Morgan Gibbs-White’s youthful endeavour and the long awaited return of Jordan Graham but, truth be told, this was a damp squib not dissimilar to the dross served up on Saturday.

I’m yet to be convinced that Lambert possesses the ruthless streak that is needed to arrest this malaise but the efficiency of Andi Weimann and Ben Marshall since their arrival in January, coupled with his feats at Norwich in years gone by, suggest he knows enough about the Championship to at least engineer some improvement on this term.

Whether that faith is misguided is a question that won’t be answered for some time so perhaps it’s wise that for the time being we relish the prospect of a Molineux free summer.

Wolves Vs Huddersfield Town Preview

The good news is this can’t possibly be any worse than Saturday.

Even if we get well and truly roasted the entertainment value alone will make it a marked improvement on the weekend’s atrocities.

The bad news is it could be pretty unpleasant if Wolves don’t find their mojo.

Huddersfield still need one more victory to be mathematically certain of a play-off position and after getting blasted by fellow promotion chasers Fulham they’ll want to get that monkey off their back sooner rather than later.

Perversely though, their eagerness could play into our hands.

Huddersfield

I’m looking forward to seeing David Wagner’s team up close and personal. I didn’t go to the reverse fixture earlier in the season but I’ve seen them a few times on the TV and been impressed.

They’ve got good energy, bundles of creativity and that all important explosive pace in the final third.

Wagner has made folly of the idea you need experience to be successful in the Championship. Both he and most of his players are learning on the job and going along nicely.

The German has coaxed something like consistency out of Rajiv van La Parra, which itself is commendable. How he acquits himself tomorrow will be very interesting. I always thought he was useful despite blowing hot and cold.

Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy has also been getting rave reviews and he’s another I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on. He’s currently on loan from Manchester City and a host of clubs will be sniffing around in the summer.

Wolves

Paul Lambert has already declared his intention to ring the changes so who knows what that might mean for the starting lineup?

The above is just one idea based on the assumption that Costa and Doherty are out injured and Enobakhare is back in contention.

Now Dominic Iorfa has had a stretch on the sidelines, maybe he can come back in and show some of the form that made him a standout in his early appearances for the club?

I’d play him and Marshall as the full-backs to give us some proper width and allow Weimann and Cavaleiro to drift inside. Price and Coady holding.

I don’t remember reading about an injury to Bright but I think he’s the exact type of player we missed on Saturday. Someone who can introduce fluidity to an otherwise pedestrian performance.

Prediction

I predict defeat, but hopefully one that offers glimpses of individual potential for next season.

Like it or not, we will still have this nucleus of players to work with, so Paul Lambert has to find winning combinations and players who can step up and perform consistently next time.

2-1 Huddersfield.

Up The Wolves!

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Huddersfield Town 1 Wolves 0

It’s difficult to know if the reverse of this fixture will also be a top of the table clash but today’s contest certainly lived up to its billing.

With the home side irrepressible in the first 45 and anything but in the second, it was the cliched game of two halves.

The main takeaway for Walter Zenga though was another slow start, with the opening and ultimately decisive goal nothing short of shambolic. Despite our clean sheets against Reading and Ipswich, our defensive deficiencies are all too apparent.

Much has been made of Danny Batth’s improvement under Zenga’s tutelage but the skipper was caught out badly in the build up to the goal, with pantomime villain Rajiv Van La Parra also afforded far too much space to tuck home on the rebound.

Huddersfield fans clearly haven’t gotten to know their new number 17 all that well, given the adulation they bestowed upon him throughout proceedings, but nobody can deny the quality of his performance today. What a shame that he only bothers to muster up this level of effort so infrequently.

Coady was arguably our best player again, though his knack for breaking up opposition attacks was largely wasted at right back. On the opposite side, Doherty turned in another typically swashbuckling performance. I can’t recall a more drastically improved player from time supporting the club.

Less impressive were Edwards and Saville, both of whom were deservedly hooked. Their limitations were pretty glaring and the fact all of the substitutes improved us drastically is unlikely to do them many favours.

Both centre backs were also poor and I’d suggest recruitment in that area needs to be considered a priority in the remaining days of the window.

As I type up this report on the coach back to Molineux, a fellow traveler has already hit the nail on the head with a succinct summary that we can’t afford to be a ’45 minute team’ if we want to achieve success this year.

Sluggish starts have been an alarming trend of Zenga’s tenure to date and although almost every other aspect of the Italian’s management has been peachy it’s a habit that needs addressing.

Still, it’s important that we remain level headed given the turbulent nature of the club’s summer activities.

I doubt there’s a Wolves fan among us that expect today’s lineup to be anything like the one that finishes the season and one suspects that patience will be required for a good while yet.

With a host of new signings to bed in and some sorely missed first team players due back from injury, it’ll take time for Zenga to identify his key players and the correct system for them to play in.

Our second half display at least suggests in time we’ll have a very good side on our hands.

Today was a frustrating blemish on an otherwise solid start and it’ll be interesting to see how we pick up again in a fortnight.