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.

Man City 4 Wolves 3

If Wolves had found an equaliser in the dying embers of this thrilling contest, I doubt many in blue would have begrudged us the point.

As it was though, City’s quality in the final third (coupled with our own defensive frailties) was enough to see them through.

In Carlos Tevez, they possess a player capable of turning a game single-handedly and that was exactly what he did at the start of the second half, slaloming through our clumsy defence and finishing clinically to put his team in the driving seat.

City's goal just before half-time was crucial

It was a bitter pill for everyone in old gold to swallow because Wolves had very much been in the ascendancy up to that point. In fact, had it not been for some sloppy marking in the final minutes of the first half, where Stephen Ward got drawn to the ball allowing Kolo Toure to get his shot away, we’d have deservedly gone into the break a goal up.

Mick McCarthy deployed an attack-minded eleven, with Jones and Milijas operating in midfield and it paid dividends in the opening exchanges. When the latter of that midfield duo stole in to poke home the opener, it was no less than Wolves deserved for their early dominance.

It could and perhaps should have got even better, when Fletcher and Hunt conjured up a moment of magic to open the gates, but Jarvis saw his goal-bound effort blocked when a bulging net seemed inevitable. That was a turning point for me because at 2-0, I think this game pans out differently.

As it was though, City battled back and having taken the lead just after the interval, really turned on the style. A swift counter-attack saw Dzeko tee-up Toure and the Ivorian finished with aplomb. Tevez then headed in a killer-fourth as it looked like the home side would run riot.

Credit to Wolves though, when the opposition eased off, they punished them. First, a clumsy challenge from Lescott allowed Doyle to stroke home from the spot and then when Ronald Zubar’s header was adjudged to have inched over the line, the comeback was on.

We had chances to level it up too, Milijas breaking into the City box and over-hitting a cross when four players in gold shirts were waiting to pounce. Then, with the seconds ticking down, forgotten man Mujangi-Bia cut inside and let-fly; his deflected effort spinning agonisingly wide with Joe Hart completely wrong-footed.

And that was that.

In many ways a disappointing result on the balance of play and questions have to be asked about our defending at times.

But spirit is one thing you certainly can’t question.

To score three goals against the meanest defence in the Premier League and at times outplay the team who currently occupy top spot shows that we’re more capable than many give us credit for.

And credit is something Wolves certainly deserve for this performance.

Man City Vs Wolves Preview

After downing Chelsea at Molineux and escaping Doncaster with a draw, Wolves head to Eastlands this weekend looking for another positive result against high-flying Man City.

On paper, our away record remains abysmal. We’ve lost 8 out of 10 games on the road and although I believe our performances have merited a greater return, the hard facts show we’ve been poor. It’s just as well our home form has improved or we’d be completely cut-adrift at the bottom.

Wolves lost this fixture 1-0 last season

By contrast, City have identical home and away figures, with six wins, two draws and two defeats on both sides of the stats. Of course, one of those two away defeats came at Molineux. Wolves were excellent that day and deserved to win the game. We can but dream of a repeat performance.

Tellingly, Mancini’s boys have enjoyed a fine run of form since that unexpected setback and have put themselves firmly in contention for the title. They boast the best defensive record in the league and with players like Tevez, Johnson and Silva at their disposal, they’re not short of options going forward either.

So it’s a big ask for Wolves to get anything from this one and team selection will be all important. Elokobi’s suspended for three games as we know, so Ward is almost certain to deputise. With SEB also ruled out with a hamstring injury, it seems likely we’ll continue with Doyle and Fletcher up top. Here’s what I reckon the XI will be:

Hennessy

Zubar
Berra
Stearman
Ward

Hunt
Foley
Edwards
Jarvis

Doyle
Fletcher

Personally, I’d revert to 4-5-1, drop Fletcher and bring a third midfielder (Milijas) into the side. Whilst the 4-4-2 served us well against Chelsea, we had a real joy against City earlier in the season by getting wide players into advanced positions. Jarvis in particular was a thorn in their side all afternoon.

Whatever Mick does we should be bolstered by the return of Karl Henry and Jody Craddock. Both players featured in a reserve game this week, so I’d expect both to be named amongst the substitutes on Saturday. Our squad remains threadbare so we need them back as cover.

Prediction League

Congrats go to Super Kev Doyle and Jon Sidwell for picking up 3 points last time out. Both correctly predicted a bold 1-0 win over Chelsea and it paid off big time. Super Kev deserves a special mention as he also got the result spot on at Anfield. What a double!

Jub, Sleachy and Rich all added a point to their respective totals by getting the outcome right but without the score.

This weekend I’m going for the draw. Obviously it’s a tough fixture, but we’ve shown all season that if we set our stall out and don’t give away silly goals, we can give anyone a game.

Surely we’ll string back-to-back results together again at some point this season and it would by typical of Wolves to achieve that on the most unlikely of weekends. 1-1.

If you’re heading to Eastlands, have a great time and get right behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.