Wolves 0 Man Utd 5

It must have been within seconds of the fifth goal flying in when that unfathomable thought entered my mind.

The brilliant South Bank in full song, the players in brief remission and some glorious gallows humour to numb the last remaining dol of pain left.

‘I am having my season ticket again,’ I declared.

The cathartic change in emotion as we capitulated to our third consecutive Sky Sports thrashing is what our CEO might describe as the ‘Wolves DNA’ kicking in.

It is only ironic that Jez Moxey’s definition of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ gene pool is the very antithesis of every indefatigable Wolves fan stood singing in the Jack Harris.

The gap between you and a crap team is this big, let alone me and my mates

Like the subsiding levels of bile in those South Bankers’ tummies, there are similarly few bland platitudes left to do justice to this entire debacle anymore.

There is barely any ink left in Tim Nash’s biro for a start, let alone pages in his shorthand book.

In this unprecedented season of sin, the notion of aspiration was replaced with pragmatism months ago.

We can barely stomach any resistance to our tragically preventable decline to the depths of despair, so we are left with our chromosomes, a good old sense of humour and eachother.

The days of berating our chief executive’s salary defying amateurism, our owner’s twisted rationale and our manager’s weak submission can wait for another day.

Until that day, we will continue to shuffle into Molineux in much the same manner we did back in November with the ever sobering thought that our team is a lost cause.

We will watch Stephen Ward make the same mistakes that Steve Coppell gleefully exploited with Jimmy Kebe four years ago, witness incompetent defending from set pieces and groan at a flagrant disregard of the very notion of ‘possession’ in between.

When quicker, more athletic players like Danny Wellbeck sidefoots home a third goal before half time, we will shrug our shoulders in much the same way as our error-prone goalkeeper did at the time.

And when Ronald Zubar assumes clown like proportions befitting of our comedy club to get sent off, we won’t even bother arguing that it would have made a difference.

Any in-depth analysis of a passage of play – let alone the game itself – is as pointless as a ‘Scouse Mafia’ banner in the grand scheme of things.

Wolves have become a laughable rudderless ship, complete with the leadership skills of Francesco Schettino.

But when our battered wreck is pulled from the depths of the Premier League in time for more familiar voyages back to N-Power, one look at those weathered, wonderful souls in the South Bank will be enough to satisfy a numpty’s DNA like mine.

Wolves Vs Manchester United Preview

How many?

That’s the only question that will occupy most people’s minds when they gander down the fixture list at Sunday’s early kick-off.

You can’t blame them either.

The team riding high at the summit of the Premier League against the side dangling gravely over the precipice.

Oh, what a night

A foregone conclusion if ever there was one.

And if a glance at the table isn’t damning enough, recent form is another kick to the privates for even the most optimistic South Bank fanatic.

United have won 7 of their last 10 games. Wolves have won 1, against a QPR team playing with a man less.

Sir Alex’s side have also plundered a staggering 10 away wins already this season from their 14 games. They’ve only lost once.

But enough of that.

There must be something Wolves can cling to?

How about the fact we’ve beaten them twice in their last three Premier  League visits to Molineux?

How about the logic that they played in Europe last night and will likely rest their better players?

How about grasping at the mother of all straws and saying ‘they’re due a bad result in the league’?

Anything take your fancy?

The Team

I think TC has to change the team from last week to give everyone a lift. It just wasn’t good enough from start to finish. Even before Blackburn moved into the lead, it was plain to see the game was slipping away from us.

This is the team I’d send out:

Hennessey, Zubar, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Davis, Milijas, O'Hara, Jarvis, Edwards, Fletcher

I’d wager not many other people would pick Roger Johnson, but I think we lacked leadership against Blackburn, so I’d give him a chance to redeem himself. He owes us a big performance.

Milijas should also come into the side to give us a bit more craft. Too often Bassong had the ball in defence with nobody but O’Hara offering up. Milijas gives us another option in this respect and allows O’Hara to get further up the pitch.

I’d play Edwards on the right for his industry as I think Doyle was totally ineffective in the position last weekend.

Prediction League

Plenty of you predicted defeat against Blackburn (13) but only 1 person got the scoreline correct.

So it’s well done to These are the days for scooping the maximum 3 points. The other 12 take a single.

I’m expecting Wolves to come out of the blocks quick in this one, but ultimately I don’t think we have enough quality, fight or spirit to get a result over 90 minutes.

4-1 United.

If you’re at Molineux on Sunday, get right behind the lads and lets try and recapture the magic of the last time United were in town.

Up The Wolves.

Man Utd 4 Wolves 1

One of the biggest criticisms of Mick McCarthy and his team in recent weeks has been ‘not having a go’ at the opposition.

Well today, whatever else you might accuse them of, Wolves most certainly had a go.

The team selection was bold; sticking with two forwards and effectively going blow for blow with the reigning champions.

Not close enough

Looking back on it now of course, that approach seems foolish given that we were completely blown away inside the first half an hour.

The gaping holes that appeared between midfield and defence during that time were suicidal, giving Wayne Rooney freedom to roam throughout.

The England striker eventually made us pay too with a rasping drive to double the lead, after Nani’s carbon-copy opener.

I felt the central midfield duo were highly culpable for this first half struggle. Henry was caught in possession a number of times and looked off the pace. O’Hara just seemed to go missing in the defensive third.

In the coverage I was watching, Gary Breen and Matt Holland both offered some excellent insights. One of the points they repeated numerous times was that O’Hara isn’t mobile enough to play as part of a two man central midfield. You’re hard pressed to disagree, particularly away from home against one of the top sides.

Both Nani and Rooney were able to get their shots away far too easily, shown inside and allowed to pull the trigger. Great finishes but still very disappointing.

The second half was better and Wolves deserve credit for getting back into it, even if it only lasted for 10 minutes.

It was nice build up play too with a handful of neat passes leading up to a wonderful Jarvis cross and a trademark Fletcher header.

That good work was wiped out with Nani and Rooney grabbing another goal apiece to leave us wondering how many more it would be.

Thankfully, Wolves managed to get a foot on the ball for the last half an hour and enjoy more of the possession. United still should have had a couple more goals, but Wolves were unquestionably worth at least another one themselves; something Sir Alex himself pointed out in his post-match interview.

The biggest positive today was without doubt the performance of Matt Jarvis. He twisted, turned and terrorised Chris Smalling all afternoon, putting over a handful of excellent crosses to match his incisive running.

Mick McCarthy said prior to this match that he’d accepted Jarvis needs to play down the left and I think that’s crucial because he’s considerably more effective when he’s in that comfort zone, facing the play with the ball on his right foot.

Ward and Zubar were both pluses for me too. Yes, they struggled against the pace and trickery of Nani, Valencia and co, but they stuck to their tasks and got forward effectively when they could, particularly Ward whose interchange with Jarvis down the left is our most potent attacking weapon.

There wasn’t much to separate the performances of the two forwards, but the crucial difference is that Fletcher is the only one who looks a threat in front of goal. Doyle again didn’t get on the end of anything in the box, which is disappointing even against such lofty opposition.

Milijas was neat and tidy but again a lack of mobility in a 442 is a huge issue with the Serb. It seems increasingly likely that Mick will be in the market for an energetic midfielder come January. Edwards can of course occupy this role but quality in the ball remains a problem for him.

Overall, we can only accept that we were overwhelmed by a better side with better players. There were mistakes but 3 of the 4 goals were excellent finishes, however the chances came about.

Stoke will represent an altogether different obstacle next week, which should be one this Wolves side are more capable of overcoming.

If they have a go like they did today, they shouldn’t go too far wrong.

Man Utd Vs Wolves Preview

With Man Utd crashing out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, I’d say it’s about the worst time to be heading to Old Trafford.

Good players and good teams respond and Sir Alex will demand nothing less than comprehensive victory.

Park's late winner denied us a point last season

With that in mind, I wouldn’t bank on him fielding a weakened team, as he did in this very fixture last season.

We should have got something out of that game, squandering a glorious chance to take the lead at 1-1, before conceding a soft injury time goal.

If we come anywhere near that close to getting something out of this match, we’ll have played very well.

United were of course thumped 6-1 on their ground by City not so long ago, but to put that defeat into context, it was their only loss in 14 Premiership fixtures.  They’ve won 10 of the other 13.

The Team

I feel a bit for Mick McCarthy this weekend. Whatever team he puts out, we’re highly likely to lose and his tactics torn to pieces as a consequence.

If we play 442 and get tonked, he’ll be accused of being too open. If we go 451 and lose narrowly, people will say he rolled over.

Tricky.

The two big decisions are the shape of the side and whether or not to put Karl Henry straight back in?

This is the eleven I think we’ll see:

Hennessey, Zubar, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Henry, O'Hara, Edwards, Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher

So that’s Hunt dropping out, Edwards moving over to the right and Henry back in alongside O’Hara.

I’d be very surprised if Henry was left out, so I think it will most likely be 442 as above or 451, with Doyle dropping out.

Prediction League

Well done to the 24 pundits who correctly guessed we’d beat Sunderland.

10 of those 24 also got the 2-1 scoreline so it’s 3 points all round for those clever chaps.

So congratulations to Morph, Hamstall Ridware Wolf, Stourbridge Wolf, johnok, Michigan Wolf, Ade in China, Exeter Wolf, Vladimir, Clemens and of course, me.

Special mentions for Stourbridge who aside from getting the score right also said Fletch would get both our goals and for Exeter Wolf, who moves up to top spot in the overall league.

This weekend, I must predict defeat. 4-1 United.

I’m hoping we’ll put on a decent performance and offer some resistance. A capitulation like we saw at Stamford Bridge would not be welcome.

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

Up The Wolves.

* Apologies for the lack of posts this week. Busy, busy. More to come next week to make up for it. Can I also repeat my encouragement for people to visit http://en.gravatar.com/ to get a personalised picture to sit alongside their comments. Thanks!

Wolves 2 Man Utd 1

If you believe in omens or things that are ‘just meant to be’ you perhaps wouldn’t have been surprised to see the enigma that is Wolverhampton Wanderers conjure up another barnstorming victory under the Molineux floodlights.

For the rest of us mere mortals though, living in a world of £50 million transfers, unbeaten records and defensive howlers, it was a win for the old gold that frankly seemed impossible.

But on the day the Premiership officially went bananas, it appeared fitting that Man United’s reign as ‘invincibles’ should hit the skids against the league’s bottom club.

Who scored? Who cares?!

Five minutes in, that scenario looked ominously out of reach. By this time, Nani had already skipped inside to lash home the opener and Fergie’s boys were asserting their authority with consummate ease. A sense of normality had taken hold. Order had been restored.

Or so it seemed.

Cue neat interplay, quick-thinking, a short-corner, a pin-point cross and the most accurate of headers from George Elokobi. Suddenly Molineux’s rocking.

Enter Ronald Zubar. The mercurial-villain of Wednesday night.

Not content with wrestling the ball back on the edge of the Wolves’ box, he sets off on an exhilarating 80 yard dash, leaving Wayne Rooney in his wake and culminating with some neat trickery to draw the foul from Nemanja Vidic.

Fellow Serb Nenad Milijas obliges with the most perfect of deliveries that a Doyle/Elokobi sandwich bundles passed a stranded Edwin Van Der Saar.

Dreamland.

Suddenly it’s the very best of Mick McCarthy’s Wolves.

Hennessy kicking and handling impeccably.

Christophe Berra throwing his body on the line to deflect Wayne Rooney’s goalbound effort over the bar.

What a night for the Scot. Much-maligned but a player I’ve grown to admire greatly for mammoth performances such as these. He was ably supported once more by the ever-improving Richard Stearman. Our two centre-backs were colossal and ensured United’s red-hot strikeforce were unable to fire.

Then there were the full-backs. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde. Night and day. Will you ever see two such contrasting performances inside the space of a week?

The crowd sang Zubar’s name from the start, cheered loudly when his name was announced and he rewarded that faith with a long-overdue return to form. The Frenchman was notably touched by the gesture and will no doubt look back on the night as one of the finest of his career.

Henry struggled to find his footing in the game but grew in stature and was a key-figure in the second half, tracking back and making more than one important interception. His distribution is often criticised (rightly in my opinion) but don’t ever underestimate his contribution to the cause.

Sorry Jonny. Too good for you I'm afraid.

With Milijas and O’Hara, the midfield suddenly looked exciting, mobile and capable. O’Hara on his home debut, showed glimpses of brilliance and fitted into the side superbly after a hit and miss opening twenty minutes. He rode his luck with a reckless challenge on Darren Fletcher having already been booked, but his energy and touch of quality have already established him as a fans favourite.

What about Adam Hammill too? This is a guy whose made the step up from the Championship and already looks at home amongst the elite. I think his pace and trickery add a dimension to the side that was lacking with Hunt on the opposite flank to Jarvis.

Speaking of Jarvis, he was another who improved immeasurably from Wednesday. He made up for that squandered chance at the Reebok with a perfect cross for Elokobi’s equaliser and certainly benefited from playing alongside another livewire in O’Hara.

Kevin Doyle was man of the match by some distance though. Alan Shearer was even purring over his performance on MOTD. The Irishman bounced into Vidic and Evans all night, holding the ball up superbly, twisting and turning into space and causing United headaches with his exquisite movement.

Whether or not he can rightly lay claim to the second goal is an irrelevance. Selfless performances like this, for the team, is the reason we hold him in such high regard. What a talented footballer he is.

How about a word or two for the manager? Criticised, battered and hung out to dry so often this season. Perhaps no more so than after the Bolton game seemed to suggest we’d fallen through the trapdoor.

But once again we’re back from the dead and that’s because Mick McCarthy got his tactics 100% spot on. Every single decision he made last night was correct and make no mistake about it, he outwitted perhaps the greatest manager of all time.

It was a stark reminder that we should all show a little bit more faith in our manager and our team.

They certainly deserve it.

Highlights

Wolves Vs Man Utd Preview

With the bitter taste of Wednesday’s last-gasp defeat at Bolton still lodged in the back of our throats, Wolves entertain a rampant Man United side in a classic top versus bottom scrap.

This will be the third time Wolves have faced Sir Alex Ferguson’s men this season following two narrow last-minute heartbreakers at Old Trafford.

At least Park won't be playing (hopefully)

The league defeat back in November was particularly galling when you consider Steven Fletcher squandered an unbelievable chance to put us ahead and then inexplicably gave the ball away in the 94th minute leading to Park’s dramatic late winner.

That game perfectly encapsulated exactly why we find ourselves propping up the table. Missed chances and silly mistakes. Inconsistency.

And you can be sure that if we don’t remain focused for the duration of tomorrow’s encounter, we’ll again end up with diddly squat (I’m looking at you Ronald Zubar).

It’s probably best to steer clear of assessing United’s form, given that they haven’t lost a single league game all season. And if anything, they’ve stepped up their performance levels in recent weeks, culminating in a convincing win over an improved Villa side on Wednesday.

However, they’ve won only 3 of their 11 away games and having seen the problems Blackpool caused them last week, they’re far from invincible on their travels. It will also be interesting to see how the likes of Nani, Rooney and Berbatov cope with our disintegrating pitch. Maybe that could count in our favour?

I wonder whether Mick will be thinking about going 4-4-2 and pressing United high up the pitch in much the same way we did against Chelsea? Probably not. I reckon we’ll go for strength in numbers again and pack out the midfield. My guess at the starting XI is:

Hennessy

Zubar
Berra
Stearman
Elokobi

Hammill
Henry
Milijas
O’Hara
Jarvis

Doyle

That’s the eleven I’d pick too.

I think 4-5-1 is the way forward, but we need to get the ball down and play a bit more, which means bringing in players who can pick out passes. Milijas should never have been dropped in the first place and O’Hara showed enough glimpses of promise against Bolton to warrant a longer run-out. I’d be disappointed if neither started tomorrow.

Prediction League

Well done to Kowloon Wolf for being the only armchair pundit who correctly predicted a 1-0 defeat. He picks up the maximum 3 points.

10 others said we’d lose but none said 1-0, so they all pick up a point each.

I’ve got to forecast defeat tomorrow. I think we’ll put in another good performance, but again I fancy we’ll come up short. 3-1 United.

However, all of United’s big names featured against Villa on Wednesday so I’d wager Sir Alex will rest some of them. The strength of the team he puts out will have a bearing on how the game pans out.

If we can play to our full potential (e.g. Chelsea at home) and get a bit of luck, we could turn the table on it’s head. Here’s hoping.

If you’re part of the sold-out crowd tomorrow evening, have a great time and roar the lads on.

Up The Wolves.