Man City 0 Wolves 0 (Man City win 4-1 on penalties)

Bright Enobakhare is a special talent.

It’s 20 years since Robbie Keane summersaulted into the spotlight and this is the first time since a genuine attacking star has been unearthed.

We’ve got to love him, protect him, accept his shortcomings, forgive missteps and just keep encouraging progress. It will come.

Last night was an at once uplifting and chastising experience for the 19 year old, leading the line exquisitely against high calibre opposition but falling at the last with hero status agonisingly within his grasp.

Had he taken the final and most glaring of all his chances in the dying seconds of normal time we’d be talking about a win to eclipse anything Paul Lambert’s team achieved in last season’s FA Cup.

As it is we’re left nursing the mother of all hard luck stories as our brave warriors achieved the impossible and shut out Pep’s unstoppable juggernaut for over two hours of absorbing football.

They threw the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the downstairs toilet and about £500 million of players at our second string and still couldn’t get through.

The excellent Will Norris only made two meaningful saves all night and one of those was a result of his own misplaced pass to Sergio Aguero, which says much about the efforts of the wall of old gold erected in front of our young goalkeeper.

Batth, Hause, Coady and Bennett (who more or less played at the back and rarely ventured above halfway) blocked everything and denied City any room inside the 18 yard box.

Price and N’diaye did an equally important job ahead of them, preventing the assembled masses from unloading in those pockets of space just outside the penalty area.

The one criticism of the first half was how cheaply possession was surrendered, but as the Etihad grew increasingly agitated Wolves began to acclimatise.

Costa, Marshall and the sensational Vinagre (who contained Sterling and manipulated the ball under pressure superbly) all marauded forward and were only a final ball away from kicking down the door.

Bright will take the flack for his hat trick of failures but Costa frittered away an equally presentable opening that he was unable to lift over the inspired Bravo in the City goal.

Our flying winger still looks well short of match sharpness but this was a step in the right direction. The minutes and the confidence garnered will hopefully be the launch pad for his season.

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His replacement down the right Connor Ronan, another player still months shy of his 20th birthday, belied his years with a performance of true maturity.

Yes there were a few misplaced passes when the out ball wasn’t always on but his overall contribution was huge. The awareness to know their left back’s legs had gone in extra time and continually run in behind shows his intelligence.

And intelligence is something that summed up this team performance along with grit, determination and a relentless desire to compete.

But those latter adjectives all suggest effort rather than ability and this monumental effort was as much about footballing capacity as any of those raw materials.

We should all have woken up buoyant this morning, safe in the knowledge we already have the depth and quality any team could ever need to compete in the Premier League let alone campaign to get into it.

We’re going places, make no mistake about it.

Man City Vs Wolves Preview

As someone who dreams of Wembley this isn’t ideal.

The problem with Man City compared to some of the other top brass is their reserves are better than most Premier League sides.

Even if Nuno fields our best eleven, which I don’t think he will, they’re going to find the going tough.

We’ve got nothing to lose and all the jazz, but hopefully we make a game of it and push them at least some of the way.

Man City

I don’t need to tell you that Pep’s boys are steamrollering everyone. Saturday’s 3-0 win over Burnley was their 11th consecutive victory.

They’ve netted 32 goals in just 9 league matches and are yet to lose a single game in any competition.

Definitely due a defeat then. Splendid.

Sergio Aguero is working his way back to fitness so he may well play, looking for the goal that will make him their all time top scorer.

Some others who didn’t start at the weekend include Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gündogan, Brazilian wonder-kid Gabriel Jesus and two time Champions League winner Danilo.

They needed a late Leroy Sane goal to overcome our stripey friends down the round in the previous round but will feel confident of easier progression on their own patch.

Wolves

Over to you Nuno. If it were me I’d play our strongest team as I couldn’t resist seeing what they could do against the very best. If he wanted to change a couple around, maybe this is a compromise:

I’ve got nothing against our reserve players by the way. Quite the opposite actually, I rate almost every one of them. It just comes down to consistency and giving us the best chance of being competitive.

All the summer recruits will be desperate to play. They didn’t jet in from Porto and Atletico Madrid to turn it on at Burton I imagine so they’ll want the spotlight.

That’s what I’m hoping anyway, as it increases the chances of the best players taking part. If they don’t though, at least they’ll be nice and rested for Saturday I suppose.

Predictions

Call me a dreamer if you like but I reckon we’ll…get totally smashed.

That’s no slight on our excellent team. I think the lads have got every chance of going there and acquitting themselves very well. I just think Man City are playing on another level to everyone else and you’ve got to back them for a comfortable victory.

Wolves have got to do what they’ve done very well already this season, look after the ball. City will likely dominate possession, but when we do get it, we’ve got to keep it and use it effectively.

Have a right good go lads.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Man City 2

The thick heavy raincloud that soaked us all to the skin at full time was probably the most poignant moment of all.

If only it could wash clean those murky crevices of deception around Molineux then we could at least picture some sunnier afternoons.

To dream an impossible dream.

Aguero broke the deadlock. Hearts broken months ago

To close our eyes and drift into a calming world of serenity, where stammering novices can’t be heard, where white elephants can’t be seen, and where the words of an empathetic, modest board float freely.

With our new North Bank seats breaking up before a ball had been kicked, such dreams are as far from reality as we are from Bolton Wanderers.

Rubber stamping our relegation from the Premier League was surely no great shock or sadness for anyone connected with Wolves this afternoon.

That Terry Connor genuinely looked like it was when choking back the tears was probably the scariest sight of the lot – were it not for Steve Morgan pictured laughing and joking as our grim fate was sealed.

Maybe he was chuckling at the vision of 34 rows of seats in the upper North Bank, and the irony that few will ever be sat on, if indeed they are screwed to the ground properly to begin with.

My final crumb of aspiration still battling this mortal coil hopes he’s smiling for more positive reasons.

For a post mortem that will begin on Monday morning, with no brick in his Red Row empire left unturned in a quest to avoid an April Shower like this.

For Guedioura – Forest fans’ best midfielder since Lars Bohenan – to return to Compton with the urgency of a JCB digger.

For Michael Kightly’s contract to be resolved with similar speed.

And maybe, just maybe, for a concession of remorse to make a back page lead instead of an insulting platitude about ‘perspective.’

The sight of the new North Bank seats falling apart was bad enough, as was Tevez winning a free kick for clearly obstructing David Davis in the build-up to City’s second.

But wretched as both were, they didn’t come close to the saddest spectacle of all, as I searched for the shoulder of an old comrade or two.

No spittle to land on Tel’s head in front, no Big Mark to share that look of disgust to the right and no Mike beside me for chocolate comfort.

One-hundred-and-fifty-years-worth of Wolves DNA replaced by wet empty plastic.

A chance for them to dream of brighter days than these? Therein lies the rub Mr Morgan.

Wolves Vs Man City Preview

It was nice to halt a run of 7 straight defeats with a hard-earned point against Sunderland last weekend. However, of even greater concern is our frankly pathetic home form since the turn of the year.

We haven’t taken a single point on our own patch since the 2-2 draw with Norwich way, way back in December. That’s 8 home league defeats in a row, with an FA Cup loss against Blues thrown in for good measure.

Dave Edwards bagged the winner last season

Without wanting to harp on and pile the misery high, surely this is yet another wake-up call to Jez and Steve that the rebuilding of Molineux should have continued on the pitch before work commenced off it.

Only Man City and Everton are still to pay a visit this season, meaning there’s a genuine possibility that our next home win might not come until August, 8 months after the last one. It’s almost so terrible to contemplate, it’s funny.

Hopefully though it won’t come to that, but we’ll certainly need a major upset to further derail Man City’s title aspirations. Regardless of how United fare in the early kick-off, Roberto Mancini’s team will be desperate for the win.

Their away form is far from sparkling. Aside from their 8 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats have hampered their progress severely, but a 6-1 drubbing of Norwich last time out won’t have done their confidence any harm.

With Carlos Tevez firmly back in the groove, a player whose been a constant thorn Wolves side in recent years, there’s even more reason to fret about our prospects.

The Team

TC surprisingly (in my opinion anyway) went 442 against Sunderland, leaving out Kevin Doyle in favour of SEB and Steven Fletcher. Without doubt I’d be reverting to 451 for this game. Here’s my preferred team:

De Vries, Foley, Stearman, Berra, Ward, Henry, Davis, Milijas, Kightly, Jarvis, Doyle

When you wait so long for a cleansheet, it’s probably best not to tinker with the back four, so I’ll resist my urge to put Ronald Zubar back in against my better judgment.

Sadly, Wayne Hennessey won’t get a chance to build on that minor success as he’s been ruled out for 6 months with knee ligament damage. Get well soon Wayne. De Vries will surely now get his chance for a run of games.

I’d bring Doyle back in as the lone forward after his encouraging performance against Arsenal and drop the other striker in place of a midfielder. I’ve chosen Milijas but TC will almost certainly go for Dave Edwards.

Prediction League

Only two people said we’d draw with Sunderland last weekend and they were myself and pass and move.

Neither of us got the scoreline though, so it’s only a point each.

With just 4 games to go, the action at the top of the Prediction League is certainly hotting up. Barring a late surge from someone lower down the table, it would appear to be a 3-horse race between Kowloon Wolf, Ade in China and Exeter Wolf. I’ll dig some sort of prize out for the winner to commemorate the achievement.

Next year I will probably tweak the points system, so if you have suggestions feel free to make them as a comment or by emailing me.

This weekend I have to predict defeat. They’ll just have too much for us to handle.

4-1 City.

If you’re at Molineux, have a great time and roar the lads on as you always do.

Up The Wolves.

Man City Vs Wolves Preview

On the surface, a 20-1 bet on a 16th placed Premier League team in a two horse race should represent fantastic value for money.

However, anyone who has seen the two teams play of late will tell Victor Chandler and co that they are probably being a bit generous with their odds, not least when City’s reserves have just spanked us 5-2.

The two sides played out a 7 goal thriller last season

And if Mick obdurately sticks with his preferred 4-4-2 system that guarantees a two goal deficit at half time, the bookies may as well stick a nought on our end.

Even a mindless idiot can see that.

The Team

Our battle hardened manager will surely go 4-5-1 for a game that nobody has us down to get anything from, and a game where many pundits believe the pressure is off completely.

Whether the expected system change has more to do with the class of opposition rather than lessons learnt is up for conjecture, however.

The big question is, who will play in midfield for this one, as it is unlikely Mick will drop the leaden footed Berra or Johnson, despite leaking goals like a sieve during this painful winless run.

If he opts for David Edwards, many fans will be annoyed, bearing in mind Guedioura and Milijas have offered far, far more on Carling Cup showings alone.

That doesn’t make them numpties mind. They probably just remember Anfield like me.

If he does pick one of Guedioura or Milijas to go alongside O’Hara and Henry, most supporters will be supportive, no matter the result. It’s what many have been demanding all season. I go for Guedioura, as he has the better engine and we’ll be doing a hell of a lot of chasing.

As for the wingers, you’ve got to presume that Jarvis will play, being as he is the only player in the entire squad with any pace to trouble any team, despite his poor delivery of late.

I hope Hunt plays on the other flank, even if I am one of Hammill’s biggest advocates. My reasoning for this? That we are going to have to work damn hard on Saturday and a feral-type performance from the Irishman will have the potential to break up the Poznan.

Doyle will plough a lone furrow in a formation where he has always played his best football for Wolves.

The only other change might just be Zubar for Stearman, if the Frenchman is fit. If he is, I’d play him.

The team I expect Mick to play:

Hennessey, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Henry, O'Hara, Milijas, Hunt, Jarvis, Doyle

Prediction League

A handful of people predicted a draw against Swansea last time out but only Baltimore Wolves got the scoreline spot on.

Congratulations on a well-earned 3 points.

In all my years of supporting Wolves, this past week has been the most divisive, upsetting and downright painful that I can ever remember.

Feeling marginalised is one thing. Feeling like a lost child stuck between warring parents is quite another.

With that in mind I will utter the words I hope to never utter again.

Forget the result and let us all hope for a performance to take genuine heart from.

The daft thing is that we’ll probably get one, and Mick will then stick with the team that most mindless idiots have been crying out for for weeks.

The even dafter thing is that we might just pull out a freakish result. It has been known.

Come on you Wolves!

Double trouble?

I don’t know about you, but I’m ecstatic there’s a match tonight.

Even if it is the League Cup. Even if it is against a side that disposed of Man Utd 6-1.

Bring it on.

I can jabber on about even the most mundane Wolves-related issue with the best of them, but there comes a time – usually when the football itself is no longer the focus – that you have to ask yourself ‘what’s the point?’.

I think we’re at that stage now.

Happy memories from the last home match against City

The fans, as is their right, will continue to probe and debate, but I don’t see what good the players and particularly the manager speaking out can do.

Just get on with it.

Never has the phrase ‘let the football do the talking’ seemed so pertinent.

Of course that’s no easy task with back-to-back matches against the best team in the league. Yikes.

But despite many saying the fixtures couldn’t have worked out worse, I’d argue they couldn’t have been better.

For starters, Molineux will hardly be a cauldron of bitter disgust tonight. Less than 8,000 turned up for the Millwall game in the previous round and that wasn’t even on the box.

So with Jez hiking the prices and the Sky cameras rolling, I’ll be staggered if the ground is anywhere near half-full, despite the illustrious opposition.

What’s more nobody expects us to overcome Man City’s second string and only a scant few are bothered about a place in the quarter-final of the cup with our league form in such alarming disarray.

In fact, I’d wager every single Wolves fan would swap a loss tonight for a win on Saturday (most would probably make the same exchange for a draw).

By my reckoning that means Mick and the players have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I hope they make the most of this.

The same logic applies to Saturday.

Sure we’re desperate for Premier League points but the pressure is well and truly off, particularly with the match taking place in Manchester.

Anything gained, other than a good hiding, will be a welcome bonus and provide a timely boost ahead of a gargantuan fixture at home to Wigan the following week.

Personally, I wouldn’t want another match against a side around us immediately after the debacle of Swansea.

I’m positive Mick feels the same.

Here’s hoping for better times and better football.

Up The Wolves.