Wolves 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

From ‘The Wonder of You’ as we arrived to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ as we left…

Wolves celebrate blackburn

…Feel-good anthems are in plentiful supply at Molineux right now and after another hugely encouraging Championship performance, they’d rarely sounded so good.

Those miserable days, when we’d shuffle off home to that morbid Groundhog instrumental are but a distant memory, with every passing performance like this doing so much to change the record.

Progressive, passing football for those stymied stodge-fests of yesteryear and if music be the food of love, then let us jolly well eat.

A 3-1 triumph over a hugely impressive Blackburn Rovers possibly represents our best win of the season, as the men from Ewood Park looked easily the best team to play at Molineux this season.

Without testing Ikeme in the first half too often, there only looked to be one winner at 2-1 in the second, at the time Jordan Rhodes reduced arrears from a dubious looking penalty.

With the impressive Ben Marshall and the imperious Craig Conway weaving patterns around our penalty area, we were chasing shadows right up until the moment Bakary Sako converted Dicko’s cross to restore our two goal advantage.

From then on in, the Wolves side we’ve all taken to our hearts – that wonderful Wolves side – began to keep the ball in the same virtuous way we’ve been seeing since a January 3 away trip to Gillingham.

Batth and Stearman were typically assured against Blackburn’s blatant goal threat Rhodes and with Doherty and Golbourne alongside, we surely boast two of the most mobile full-backs in the division.

Behind Dave Edward’s lungbusting display of distinction, Lee Evans was only a tad less impressive than his Cardiff masterclass, with McDonald finishing the game like the Rolls Royce we’ve somehow purchased for the price of a Ford Focus.

Bakary Sako was undoubtedly man-of-the-match for his sumptuous first half free-kick, assist for Dicko’s opener and all-important killer goal in the second half.

Nouha Dicko meanwhile gave Grant Hanley and Jason Lowe more work than they probably thought possible from a lone man.

Finally, James Henry eased into his right midfield berth when replacing the booked van La Parra at half time, reminding us all what a safe pair of feet he represents.

And two new faces in Saville and Rowe suggests that this squad isn’t as light as we sometimes think.

With Blackburn nominally 14th in this embryonic league, it’s easy to see why it’s so bloody tough.

So with that in mind, we really shouldn’t expect Elvis on the tannoy every single week, however joyously indefinite it currently sounds.

But because I can’t help falling in love with what Kenny Jackett has created, expect me to sing along regardless.

Highlights

Wolves 1 Cardiff City 0

You don’t always get what you deserve.

Wolves Cardiff

Just ask Mark Hudson.

The big centre half manfully repelled everything a dominant Wolves side had to offer in the regulation ninety.

But a tired injury time slip and slice later, he’d denied his side what would have been a hard earned point.

It was cruel on the Cardiff skipper yet there can be no doubt Wolves merited the fortune.

For 45 glorious Molineux minutes, the home side subjected the Bluebirds to wave after wave of unrewarded bombardment.

Sako hit the inside of the post from the corner flag, van La Parra headed wide and Doherty could only graze the side netting but the crowd purred at the prowess of Wolves’ zip-zapping possession football.

And whilst yes, conversion rate remains a significant concern, nobody can deny this is a wonderful team playing some of the best football we’ve seen in decades.

Team is the crucial word. This isn’t about a few talented individuals carrying the weak links. This is one to eleven operating as a fluid and cohesive unit. It’s fantastic to watch.

Kenny’s boys didn’t have it all their own way of course and when Cardiff got their act together after the break, it could be argued they carried the greater threat.

They definitely created the clearest chance of the game with Kenywe Jones only able to fire straight at Carl Ikeme from point blank distance. The keeper did well to stand up strong.

Wolves were huffing and puffing by that stage but dutifully stuck to their passing principles and forced the all important mistake.

The finish might have owed much to lady luck, but they again shuffled the ball smartly to McDonald in the crossing position and the law of averages did the rest.

With a whopping 67% share of possession yesterday (incidentally Chelsea only managed 63% against Leicester) it’s clear Wolves always had an element of control.

And any team will do well to get anything at Molineux this season if the home side can replicate that type of ball retention on a consistent basis.

Consistency will perhaps be the greatest challenge of all over a grueling 46 game season.

But nothing we’ve seen so far suggests Wolves won’t continue to get what their performances deserve.

The gaffer

Fulham 0 Wolves 1

While it’s probably advisable to ignore the league table for the first six games of the season, we can bask in trumping two recent Premier League names in the meantime.

Wolves Fulham

Beating Fulham, in addition to the opening day Norwich City scalp, is probably the most succinct commentary on where our team is currently at on the pitch, amid much gnashing and wailing of teeth off it.

This 1-0 win was as straightforward as any could dare hope for from a notoriously difficult Craven Cottage ground, where we last got pumped 5-0 (after a miserable 2-1 loss the year before).

Resolute at the back and dangerous on the counter, Kenny Jackett’s recipe looks as tasty as ever – but for that missing ingredient that so many are crying out for.

Danny Batth’s missed header in the first half – followed by Matt Doherty’s even easier opportunity in the second – sounded as ominous as those squandered at Rotherham.

Thankfully they weren’t, with Sako’s injury time penalty miss proving mildly irritating at the very worst.

So from New York to London and back to Wolverhampton with three points, which represents a better return than the two draws I’d have personally taken beforehand.

View from the away end

View from the away end

Raj van La Parra sounded sublime once again, and might have hogged the back pages but for an iffy final ball or two.

Equally encouragingly, Lee Evans enjoyed his best game of the season in a deeper lying role, allowing McDonald to influence the game to our advantage.

Then there’s our mercurial matchwinner Sako, opening his account with a well worked corner routine (when have we said that before?!), only to miss the chance to grab a second from the penalty spot to add an appropriate coating of gloss.

If those ‘big decisions’ Kenny referred to after Rotherham can be made off the pitch, then the smiles engendered tonight will last a little longer.

Add some better judgement in front of goal and they’ll still be etched to our faces when we’re finally allowed to look at that table!

The gaffer

Sunderland Vs Wolves Preview

As satisfying as it was to comprehensively beat the Baggies at Molineux last Sunday, we all know it could prove to be nothing more than the mother of all false dawns.

With two games still to play, victory in the Black Country Derby will count for sweet diddlysquat if we fail to get the results we need against Sunderland and Blackburn.

I personally believe 4 points will definitely get the job done and 3 might just get us over the line. Anything less and I think we’re toast.

As it stands

Despite our destiny now being firmly in our own hands, we’ll also be looking at results from elsewhere.

 

Should Blackpool fail to beat Bolton at home this weekend, it’s a big ask for them to go and get a result at Old Trafford on the last day, even if United are winding down by then. It’s do or die for the Seasiders on Saturday, but I suspect they’ll get something. Anything other than a Blackpool win would be huge for Wolves.

West Ham and Wigan have the mother of all six pointers to contest on Sunday. The Hammers need a win to have any chance at all of surviving, where as a win for Wigan would put them in a strong position heading into their final game at Stoke. By the time this one kicks off, we’ll know exactly what constitutes a good result for Wolves. Should we win at Sunderland, West Ham won’t be able to catch us and victory for them at the DW would also put us out of Wigan’s reach. However, should we lose at the Stadium of Light, a draw would probably be the most favourable outcome, relegating West Ham and leaving us ahead of Roberto Martinez’s side.

Blackburn and Birmingham can’t be discounted just yet either. Rovers host Man Utd, where anything other than defeat would be a bonus ahead of their trip to Molineux. Blues are at home to Fulham and they’ll want to win that one to guarantee safety. Otherwise, they’ll likely be heading to White Hart Lane on the final day needing a result, which is far from ideal.

Wolves battled to a 3-2 home win over Sunderland

Of course, Wolves can make all of the above academic by winning their final two games and that has to be the aim.

Sunderland, as we know, are ravaged by injuries, particularly up front. Having sold Darren Bent to Villa in January, they’ve subsequently seen Fraizer Campbell, Danny Wellbeck and Asamoah Gyan all sidelined indefinitely.

Added to that key players such as Gordon, Turner, Cattermole and Bramble are also sitting out the season, which has left Steve Bruce seriously short of options as the campaign draws to a close.

Credit to them though, they’ve pulled together and achieved some wonderful results in recent weeks to ensure their own Premier League safety. Last weekend’s victory at the Reebok Stadium was a stark reminder to Wolves, as if they needed it, that they’re in for a tough game, regardless of Sunderland’s injury meltdown.

However, you can’t help but think that this is a wonderful opportunity to bag a monumentally important away win, especially off the back of last Sunday’s heroics. I can’t see Mick picking anything other than the same eleven, which is:

Hennessy

Foley
Craddock
Mancienne
Elokobi

Guedioura
Henry
O’Hara
Hunt

Ward
Fletcher

I can’t possibly question that selection either. The bench should be strong too, with the likes of Jarvis, Milijas, SEB and maybe even Kevin Doyle all available to throw on.

Prediction League

Despite being called “deluded” and “s*** for brains” by Albion fans in last week’s preview, I correctly predicted a 3-1 win for Wolves….so there. Exeter Wolf and Jon Sidwell (who also said Fletcher would score twice – bravo) got it bang on the money too. Each of us pick up 3 points.

A whole raft of people plumped for a Wolves win and because after all it was a Black Country Derby, I’ll name you all. Take a bow Jed, Wolverine, Mark Davies, New York Wolf, These Are The Days, Super Kev Doyle, Stourbridge Wolf, Clive from Houston, Clemens, Philly Pete, Johnok, Yoda, Cheerio Mick, Rob in Dubai, Tipsy McStagger, tOM, Bazza and last but not least, Lawro.

Phew!

I reckon it’ll be a draw this weekend. Given the season we’ve had, I just can’t envisage going into the final game knowing we’re all but safe. It’s seems like destiny for it to go right to the wire, although I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

2-2.

If you’re making the long trip up north, have a great time, get right behind the lads and give them the support they deserve after last Sunday.

Up The Wolves.

* Just a quick note to say thank you for all the kind emails I had last week in support of both the blog and me personally. I took a bit of a pounding from Albion fans in the preview and removed a stack of comments. I don’t like doing that, but they were snide, pointless remarks that added nothing to the conversation. I made this blog so Wolves supporters would have a place to chat without the constant backdrop of annoying wind-up merchants and I fully intend to keep it that way.

Wolves 3 West Bromwich Albion 1

“Bloody Ward.”

An all too familiar cry of anguish went up as I spat out the team news at precisely 11.32am, crammed inside a Costa Coffee surrounded by stressed-out gold shirts (because all the pubs in town were astonishingly slammed shut).

By the time I arrived at the ground, I couldn’t determine whether I was shaking because of the caffeine rapidly flooding into my bloodstream or because Matt Jarvis had been dropped. I eventually reasoned it was the latter, but also had something to do with the fact that Milijas was once again on the sidelines and Hammill wasn’t even in the squad.

It just seemed mental.

Need a hero? Take your pick.

But as some scientist-bloke shrewdly pointed out, there’s a thin line between insanity and genius; a point which has been repeatedly accentuated this season by ‘Mad Mick’ and his tactical epiphanies.

There’s a similar divide between love and hate too, which I myself have flittered between in recent weeks, pondering the plight of our manager. But today, however begrudgingly you want to admit it, he got it bang on the money.

For starters, he brought Stephen Hunt back into the side, a player built-to-measure for a Black Country Derby. When I said in the preview I expected Wolves to explode out of the blocks like a pack of rabid animals, I didn’t think Hunt would take it quite so literally.

But he did you know; buzzing around the pitch like a man possessed, snapping at ankles and rascally getting into as much trouble as he possibly could.

He was also the chief architect of Albion’s downfall, delivering both crosses that led to Wolves establishing a decisive foothold midway through the first half.

The Baggies marking was non-existent, but that should take nothing away from Steven Fletcher and Adlene Guedioura for twice putting themselves in there to benefit from the others vital knockdowns.

It was the least Wolves deserved having muscled into the ascendancy early on and generally shown a greater appetite for the scrap.

For the visitors, it was the kind of performance they would have secretly feared as their side struggled to get started.

Sure they threatened at times, Jerome Thomas constantly asked questions from the left and Peter Odemwingie posed a threat whenever he was given ample time and space to run at our back four.

But it was Wolves who came closest to scoring again just prior to the interval, when Fletcher somehow contrived to head wide from another incisive set piece. It was an astonishing miss really, but the Scot soon made up for it minutes after the restart.

You always got the impression Meite was capable of a big mistake and so it proved when he clumsily let the ball slip under his foot, allowing Fletch to sprint in and coolly slot home Wolves’ third.

Dreamland.

Sadly though, it didn’t last.

A sluggish outstretched leg from Guedioura saw Albion correctly awarded a spot-kick and Odemwingie did the rest, firing confidently passed the outstretched arm of Hennessy.

View from my seat (pre-match)

Suddenly it was game on, panic stations and the distinct possibility of the worst kind of misery.

Thomas ran clear and crashed a shot off the bar, Hennessy smartly clawed out Cox’s flick and Tchoyi nodded a fabulous opening over the bar when left inexplicably all alone in the box.

Phew.

But as the seconds ticked agonisingly by and the Albion blitz eventually subsided and the sun started to shine again, suddenly everything in the world seemed good.

And then through the steamy haze, a mirage. A vision. It must surely have been a dream?

Stephen Ward plucks the ball out of the vivid blue sky, audaciously lifting it over the defender in one beautiful, seamless movement before shrugging off the attentions of another stripey shirt and taking aim at the hopelessly exposed Albion goal. It couldn’t be, could it?

Then, reality, as he slammed his fierce shot narrowly wide having done all the hard work in crafting the space.

What a shame. That was his moment and he deserved that goal.

But still, he should hold his head up high for a performance that took all the bile, disgust and criticism (some deserved, some not quite so) he’s received all season and became a hero, at least for this one glorious day. Why wouldn’t you smile for him?

And why wouldn’t you smile for Mick McCarthy?

If you’re prepared to rip him to shreds, as I myself have in recent weeks for a string of logic-defying brainwaves, you have to be willing to tip your cap to him on a day like today.

Sure, we might ultimately come up short in our quest for survival, but today was a stark reminder that you write off this team and this manager at your peril.

Oh, and my man of the match?

Bloody Ward of course.

Wolves Vs West Bromwich Albion Preview

Anyone else sick of moaning? I know I am.

Things are bad, that’s for sure and I’ve been carping on as much as anyone after the last two depressing outings, but it’s time to dust ourselves down and go again.

Another one Sunday will do nicely Jamie

The season isn’t over. Far from it in fact.

Whatever your thoughts are on the campaign to date, there can still be a satisfactory ending and if we’re occupying 17th place or higher at 6pm on the 22nd of May, I know I’ll be wearing a broad grin.

We’re a single point from safety and there are three winnable games left to play, starting with a Molineux dust-up against our bitterest rivals.

Sure, I admit this fixture isn’t particularly enticing if you’re wearing old gold. After all, Albion have nothing to lose and we’ve pretty much arrived at the door of the last chance saloon.

But what better way to drag us all out of this wretched lull than with an emphatic win over Sandwell’s finest?

Surrender is not an option in this one, the players know that, and whatever eleven Mick puts out, I’m fully expecting them to explode out of the blocks like a pack of ravenous animals.

This is the team that I would send into battle:

Hennessy

Foley
Stearman
Craddock
Elokobi

Hammill
Henry
Milijas
O’Hara
Jarvis

Fletcher

Sadly, I’m fairly certain this will not be the eleven that kick-off. I reckon we’ll probably see the same side that started against Blues, which means 442 with Ward alongside Fletch up front.

If that prediction proves accurate, I’ll be gutted to see the likes of Milijas and Hammill watching on from the side, as I truly believe they have the ability to save our season in a heartbeat.

You might have observed that I’ve said nothing of the opposition in this preview. The reason is simple, I just don’t care.

I don’t care that they’re already safe, or that their away form is respectable or that they’re missing a few players for this one.

The fact of the matter is, it’s up to Wolves to go out there and win this match. They owe it to the fans for the garbage we’ve had to muster of late.

Prediction League

Myself, along with Mark Davies, Bazza and Philly Pete all got 3 points last time out for correctly predicting a one all draw at Blues. Dobson12 and Martin also get a point for guessing the right outcome but not the score.

This week, I’m backing the lads to get the result.

We won’t be mathematically relegated if we lose, but it’s a kick in the man area we’d do well to recover from.

I think everyone, including Mick and the players know that. We’re overdue some joy against these clowns and I reckon we might finally get some this Sunday.

3-1 Wolves.

If you’re at Molineux for this one, lets make the place the bounce. The s*** are coming down for a party, so let’s give them a rude awakening.

Up The Wolves.