Hail to the King

I can’t speak for everyone (and I suspect I don’t) but Karl Henry signing a new four-year contract is music to my ears.

Karl Henry

King Karl

He said himself that a few Premier League clubs were sniffing around and that certainly doesn’t surprise me. In the right setup, he’d be a tremendous asset for most teams.

I don’t want to get bogged down again in the ‘sideways passes’ debate, but at a time of transition, I just wanted to document that I’m thrilled he’s staying.

For all our problems and selection headaches, a spine consisting of proven Championship performers like Johnson, Henry and Ebanks-Blake shouldn’t steer us too far wrong, particularly if we can fill in the gaps around them.

In the latest round of ‘who’s in, who’s out?’ it appears Edwards is in and Milijas is out.

Ned doesn’t cut the mustard with the new gaffer evidently. Perhaps given that McCarthy, Connor and now Solbakken don’t rate him, I should accept he’s not as good as I thought he was.

Of course I can only judge him on match play and I suspect there’s more going on away from the pitch that we don’t know about (terrace rumours aside).

As for Dave Edwards, I’ve got absolutely no problem with the bloke. In fact, I’d like to see him playing on Saturday down the right. He’s performed that roll admirably a few times and I think his engine and eye for a goal could come in handy.

The Welshman gets the rough end of the stick from fans I’ve always thought (me included at times).

His best position is undeniably an advanced midfield role, where he can break forward and get into the box. Playing centrally in a flat 442 where he’s asked to get up and down, I think the game can often pass him by, but again, it’s about using players in the roles they’ll thrive in.

In the Championship his energy and physical presence are all the more important, hence why I’m hoping he gets picked ahead of David Davis.

Disappointing to hear that new winger Peszko has been ruled out for Saturday. I was looking forward to seeing him named amongst the substitutes at the very least.

Solbakken had few attacking options from the bench against Aldershot, so I hope we’re bolstered in this respect at Elland Road. Sigurdarson, Edwards and maybe even Jarvis could help in this respect.

I see it’s onto Northampton for the next round of the League Cup. That has banana-skin city written all over it. Would be nice to advance through the opening rounds in that competition for a change, so hopefully I’m wrong.

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High hopes for Henry!

Vinny Jones, Kevin Ball, Gary Holt (who?), Scottish bloke at West Bromwich too, I forget his name.

They all played virtually every game for Leeds, Sunderland, Norwich and the A****n (Derek McInnes) when their respective clubs got promoted from the hellish league we must now call home.

Check me out - in the Championship hopefully!

Then there was Jamie Pollock (Middlesbrough), Per Frantsen (Bolton). Gary Flitcroft (Blackburn), Steve Sidwell (Reading), not to mention Carlton Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday) and even Stuart McCall at Bradford in 1999.

While Aristotle inspired reasonings on the intricacies of a Christmas tree will forever elude a footballing brain like mine, I do have one specialised subject that could probably win me a place on Mastermind alone, thanks to 20 years of painful experience.

How to get out of the championship!

As many will be more than aware, I love Karl Henry from the bottom of my pencil case and need to state right now that in order for us to become only the 16th team in about 60 to bounce back up straight away, he needs to stay at Wolves and play.

As every successful team would ride roughshod into Molineux as we’d labour in the malaise of mid-table, a selfless central midfielder, usually wearing 8, would go about his business with an infuriating level of effectiveness.

I can still picture Frantsen’s flaxen hair, or Lee Clarke’s complete lack of it when Sunderland and Fulham would come to town.

And then there was Neil Redfearn’s no-nonsense style at Barnsley, not to mention Mark Kinsella’s ball retention at Charlton.

They all offered an unerring level of consistency in the centre of the pitch, and they all made me realise how damned important that position is for any team harbouring genuine hopes of promotion.

Never a 10/10, always a 7, and nothing like the Olofinjanas and Osbornes of yesteryear, who could delight one week, only to desert the next.

So more than Matt Jarvis, more than Wayne Hennessey and even more than Steven Fletcher’s presence next season, Karl Henry’s must assume the most indispensable of the lot.

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King Karl

Not a lot of people know this, but Karl Henry took a pay cut to join the Wolves.

A few more supporters might remember him arriving at Molineux with only a pair of boots to his name, hoping to impress in a pre-season game for a club he loves.

Most fans however, know him as ‘the crab’, who has been written off more times than a British Touring Car at Brands Hatch.

Not by me.

Henry - underrated?

In a statement to rival Peter Barlow at a Weatherfield alcoholics anonymous group, my name is Ben Smallman and I am a Karl Henry fan.

Saturday’s morale boosting win against Blackpool offered a long list of positives with so many players impressing, not least O’Hara, Jarvis and Adam Hammill from the brief time he was on the pitch.

But amid the malaise of the Molineux mud, I only had eyes for King Karl, whose diligence and selflessness stood out most.

His quiet efficiency alongside O’Hara suggests that we might have found a partnership that we’ve been looking for all season, despite many fans clamouring for him to be dropped at Mick’s earliest convenience.

Yet what has he done – or continues to do – that fans find so abhorrent?

He dared to get injured and have a hernia operation in his first season when we were riding high in the league, losing his place to Darren Potter for the play off semi-finals against the Albion (and a few games before that).

His reward for such a promising first season was a partnership with one of the flakiest, inconsistent and most anonymous midfielders in Seyi Olofinjana, who doubled Henry’s workload in every game with that passive, wistful air of obliviousness of which the Nigerian became famous.

And then, he spent the entire 2008/09 season defying four – sometimes five – narrow midfields almost singlehandedly, as our swashbuckling 4-2-4 formation wreaked havoc for much of the campaign.

That he provided a platform for Kightly and Jarvis to prosper might have warranted a pat on the back as he held aloft Stan Cullis’ favourite piece of silverware.

Instead, the flat capped cretin in front would grudgingly concede that our skipper had improved, but not to requisite Premiership standard and should be flogged forthwith.

We all know what happened next, as Henry starred in 34 league games, including a man-of-the-match performance at home to Villa that still defies explanation. We finished 15th.

And to complete the journey, he is now called up into Fabio Capello’s provisional England squad, just five games after returning from a nasty injury.

In today’s age of instant, disposable consumption, it’s hardly surprising that Karl Henry’s stature sticks out like a sore thumb.

Nobody reads a book when Benidorm is on the box. Few call a friend when they’ve poked them on Facebook. And when conversation stretches to 140 characters on a twitter page, it’s no wonder so many slobber ‘NOT BACKWARDS!’

They want the ball in the opposition’s third with more urgency, like the 3 star McDonald’s assistant with their Big Mac Meals.

With 200-odd appearances, a championship winners’ medal, a Premiership armband, a provisional England selection and four years of exemplary service under his belt, Henry’s pincer-like movements haven’t done too much harm have they?

Some crab.