Leeds United 0 Wolves 1

If you can’t have your own party, you might as well ruin someone else’s.

‘You’re going nowhere, we’ll see you next year’ was the gleeful chorus emanating from the away end as Wolves helped ensure Leeds ended the bank holiday outside the play-off places.

Thanks to Nouha Dicko’s well constructed first half strike and favourable results elsewhere, we will indeed be here next year.

Phew.

As for Leeds, they’ve got three games to scramble back into the top six and escape the same fate.

This match was a painful reminder for them about how unforgiving this division is and just how difficult it is to forge an escape.

Wolves, hopeless in their last two outings, carved Leeds open for fun in the first half and could easily have been over the hills and far away before the home side bothered turning up.

But with just a one goal deficit to overturn, they made it an uncomfortable finale, launching high balls for their giants to attack.

Jansson, Doukara and Wood could all have done better with good headed chances, while we have Kortney Hause to thank for keeping Kemar Roofe’s late effort out.

The recalled Stearman and Williamson mopped up the rest in highly accomplished outings. Will either earn a new deal I wonder?

Andi Weimann seems certain to sign up on a permanent basis and he looks a good addition for second tier football – full of energy and commitment with enough quality to hold his own.

The Austrian played through the middle alongside Nouha Dicko and should have added his name to the scoresheet, but his smart runs in behind remain a good option.

As for fellow January recruit Ben Marshall, the former Blackburn man continues to go from strength to strength.

He’ll be an important player next season and more additions of his Championship-proven pedigree should be the first order of business for Thelwell and co.

The mere fact that Paul Lambert used the term ‘bare bones’ in his post match interview when describing his bloated squad shows how little he thinks of much of the supporting cast.

Summer starts now.

Leeds United Vs Wolves Preview

Wolves have managed to achieve yo-yo club status without leaving the division.

Five consecutive league defeats here, five consecutive league wins there and now back to back losses and a strong possibility of another setback tomorrow.

That’s difficult to accept as a football fan and shows exactly how difficult it is for any manager to get a handle on this group of players.

There’s obviously talent within the group. Our cup exploits and occasional league upturns show that Paul Lambert has something to work with.

But he’s got to discard the dead weight sharpish, develop a settled group and with that will come greater consistency.

For now though, we can expect a typically bumpy landing to finish the campaign.

Leeds

It did appear in the early months that Gary Monk would be just another manager Leeds use up and toss on the scrap heap.

But he’s worked wonders in a limited period and with limited resources to give them that consistency that has alluded Wolves for years.

It’s helped their cause no end to have Chris Wood rattling in goals left, right and center proving why we pursued him, albeit unsuccessfully, for so long.

Their win at Molineux earlier in the season was as ugly as they come, but you could see they were compact and difficult to break down, ingredients for success at this level.

A late goal at St. James’ Park on Friday (Woods’ 25th of the season) got them a useful point, but 7th placed Fulham are now breathing right down their necks, just three points back and with a superior goal difference. Only a win will do for them.

Wolves

Over to you Paul. I have no idea what team I’d pick other than knowing that the difference between any lineup that includes Helder Costa is considerable.

If Ikeme is back I’d put him back between the sticks. Andy Lonergan had a great games versus Forest but should have done better with goals conceded in all three of his other recent appearances.

It seems like madness to me that Weimann banged in a few goals when played through the middle and has subsequently been shifted out wide. I’d give him another go as our main striker.

Who knows what we do in midfield. I’m starting to think that none of the individual players we have in there are good enough.

Saiss has played poorly and nearly cost us goals in his last two performances, while Edwards, Price, Saville and Evans have their own deficiencies that counter balance their positive attributes. I’m not sure I’d hang my hat on any of them to get us promoted.

Predictions

We need one more win to be absolutely certain of safety and if we get stuffed tomorrow and other results don’t go our way, there might be some pressure on that Blackburn game next weekend.

I think we’ll probably lose here, but even a point would be welcome to stop the latest rot.

2-1 Leeds.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Leeds United 1

The things is, Leeds weren’t very good.

 

That makes this inept, clumsy, one-paced performance all the more difficult to stomach.

With 20 minutes left when Silvio poked the ball into his own net following Matt Doherty’s horror show, why did it feel like there was no way back?

Probably because Wolves couldn’t complete two successive passes, let alone find a way to break down a resilient, albeit rarely threatened back four.

Even when they went direct the usually reliable Bodvarsson flapped and flailed, unable to reach his usual superhuman standards.

The dream of 442 with the Icelander alongside Nouha Dicko made for a grim reality, with the latter still some way off match sharpness.

Costa and Teixiera shone occasionally but were guilty of trademark physical weakness and poor decision making.

In their defence, Wolves’ build up play was so laboured and one-dimensional it meant playmakers were rarely able to get up the pitch and occupy meaningful positions.

Edwards was combative and Saiss tidy but neither dictated the play or offered a meaningful platform to work from.

In short, Zenga’s selection and tactics didn’t work.

And with just a single point from that last 15 available, patience is wearing thin with a manager who continues to bemoan misfortune rather than the shortcomings of his team.

We’ve spent most of the season pointing to early mistakes, but it was a second half vanishing act that cost us today.

Wolves simply didn’t re-emerge after the break and without any sort of consistency over 90 minutes, it’s difficult to see how this team can be successful.

Accompanying these hot and cold performances is a lack of identity.

How do we characterise Zenga’s team?

Do they press? Do they pass? Do they look to go wide and get crosses in? Are they direct? Are they compact defensively? Do they break quickly?

They’re everything and none of these things at different times and that’s a problem. The game plan is neither obvious or decisive.

The Italian says he’s 100% sure things will improve and after this limp outing, it’s hard to believe he’ll be wrong.

But will better be enough?

Increasingly, I’m not so sure.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

Mick McCarthy reckons Christophe Berra is the best defender in the Championship.

 

This from a man who once went on record as saying Kevin Doyle put in the best performance he’d ever seen by a striker following a game in which the Irishman didn’t even score.

Anyway, Mick’s logic was that the Scot is ‘big and powerful and wins it in the air, he’s quick, he blocks things and is good at defending corners’.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure I agree with the quick part.

What’s funny is that in describing the former Wolves man, it made me realise this type of defender is exactly what we’re lacking.

The goal at Brighton once again felt soft, after similar disappointments against Norwich and Wigan where stronger defending may have changed the outcome.

Leeds

leeds01Gary Monk’s team are (statistically anyway) a lot like us in that they don’t concede loads but don’t score that many either.

Hence why we’re both in and around midtable and needing a few wins to get closer to the top than the bottom.

Perennial Wolves target Chris Wood has been their talisman thus far and his 8 goals in a team that aren’t blessed with finishers have been crucial.

Given what I’ve previously said about our inability to defend crosses, his considerable presence would seem an obvious route to goal for Leeds tomorrow.

After a good winning run that saw them climb the table, they lost at Derby and drew at home to Wigan in midweek.

Wolves

It was good to see Nouha Dicko get some minutes but I’m not sure he’s the man to lead the line in the current system.

team-for-leeds

Like many people I’d be interested in seeing him get a sustained run alongside Bodvarsson rather than in place of the Icelander.

I also wonder whether deploying two deep lying central midfielders and playing two out and out wingers might be worth a go at home?

The composition of the above team seems about right, with my only concern being physical power in the center of midfield. We could get overrun depending on how Leeds setup.

It’s about time Cavaleiro started showing the same type of form his compatriot has been producing on the opposite flank. If we can get the two of them playing well, it could be a game changer.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Call me an optimist but I think we might win this one.

I don’t know enough about Leeds to be definitive in that opinion, but looking at their results and our recent performances (notwithstanding the scores), I’m hopeful.

As always, team selection will be key. It looks to me that Zenga is closing in on his first choice eleven, so I hope he’s not tempted into wholesale changes.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

*Prediction League fans will be happy to know I’ve finally updated the table.

Save

Save

Leeds United 2 Wolves 1

And so this season brings yet another ignominy.

Leeds away

Losing to Leeds twice may not be chief amongst the sins we have borne witness to this campaign but it is jarring nonetheless.

Though the margin of this defeat suggests otherwise, feedback from Elland Road suggests we were well beaten by Steve Evans’ side.

For me, this season has reached a nadir comparable with Glenn Hoddle’s ill fated tenure as manager.

Our style of play is certainly every bit as directionless as it was for the majority of the 2005/06 campaign.

And whilst we have now pored over Kevin McDonald’s omission from first team proceedings for what seems an age, it’s a topic that’s nigh on impossible to ignore when the team is so destitute in attack.

The Scot hasn’t had a vintage year but remains our most creative outlet and is surely worthy of restoration to the team, irrespective of where his long term future lies.

I’ll neglect Kenny Jackett’s illogical persistence with Bjorn Sigurdarson up front as it seems folly to do so when his immediate rivals for a first team berth are doing so little to displace him.

With no clarity on next year’s budget forthcoming from our board – a reality which is hilariously ironic given the name of our new sponsor – it appears the burden on Nouha Dicko’s shoulders will be plentiful next season.

I found it disappointing to see Dominic Iorfa return to right back after having the best game of his difficult sophomore season against Hull.

I appreciate that Danny Batth is our captain but, with only four games left to contest prior to kick-off and diddly squat left to play for, it’d have been nice to see KJ give Friday’s partnership an extended trial.

Still, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from this season is that our Head Coach is a man that certainly knows his own mind.

It’s just a shame he’s not so sure about his best team.

Leeds United Vs Wolves Preview

The first meeting between these two sides back in December was an astonishing game.

Leeds celebrate

Wolves totally dominated the first forty minutes but failed to take their chances, then Leeds steamrollered us for the next half hour like I’ve never seen before and won the day.

Sam Byram scored twice and we never got to grips with him, so I’m thankful he’s since sodded off to West Ham.

We could (realistically) finish as high as 11th or as low as 17th and although it ultimately matters little, a top half finish would be my preference.

Leeds

leeds01Like Wolves, Leeds have had a few surges dotted around the season but never performed with enough consistency to threaten the top six.

Steve Evans is always good entertainment and I think if they keep him around for a while he could make them competitive in the top half.

But their owner remains trigger happy and after a recent run of bad results Evans’ neck was seemingly on the block. He survived then but you wonder whether he’ll last the summer?

They come into this match on the back of a couple of wins, one of which was a last gasp victory over Reading at the weekend.

Our old mate Chris Wood scored twice on Saturday, but looked toothless at Molineux earlier in the campaign.

Wolves

I reckon Kenny Jackett wishes he had Chris Wood right now given that his forwards look incapable of scoring.

Wolves team for Leeds

To me it’s the one position we look weakest. Say what you like about strikers not getting chances, but I’ve got to believe Nouha Dicko would have done better.

With Dave Edwards still on the road to recovery I wonder whether he’ll be spared the midweek exertion? That could open the door for Joe Mason.

Helan and Henry would be my first choice wide players for the remaining games, unless Connor Hunte is considered ready to start.

I imagine Danny Batth will return if he’s recovered from illness, but I’d like to see the same back four given another go.

The gaffer

Predictions

I’ll go for a score draw. Leeds aren’t great at Elland Road this season (their home record is worse than ours) and I saw enough against Hull to suggest we’ll do alright.

That said, we’re hardly full of goals and that will always hold us back, regardless of how solid we are defensively.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!