Wolves 0 Nottingham Forest 2

Perspective is often the hardest thing to keep in football, particularly after you’ve enduring an afternoon as galling as this.

But it’s the one thing we should all be keeping a firm handle on in the wake of Wolves’ first league defeat since October.

Poor performances can never be entirely excused but after providing us with six months of some of the best football seen in old gold, this team deserve to be cut some slack.

Credit ought to go to Forest for the shut-out too, Aitor Karanka has got them well drilled at the back.

That being said, it’s important we don’t mask our disappointment completely.

This was the poorest Wolves have been all season, and raises some urgent questions at the mid-way point of the January transfer window.

Do we need another striker?

Can our wing-backs make it through the second half of the season?

Are we creative enough in midfield?

All relevant queries that Nuno will no doubt be mulling behind the scenes.

The first conundrum will of course hinder on the impact Rafa Mir makes when brought up to speed, but it’s fair to say that Leo Bonatini isn’t having the best of times at present.

After a prolific start to his Wolves career the Brazilian is cutting a forlorn figure that offers little to the team, so much so that it’s certainly worth questioning whether he’s worth shelling out a transfer fee for.

Whether the solution already lies within our ranks or must be recruited is a nut the management team need to crack sooner rather than later, as we scarcely landed a punch on Forest despite our dominance in possession.

The stark decline of Helder Costa is a concern that only exacerbates this conundrum, with his dire cameo no doubt leaving everyone wondering where the thrilling player of last season has gone.

Matt Doherty and Barry Douglas’ burdensome afternoons are perhaps not so much of a worry, given their general excellence throughout the campaign thus far.

But it’s hard to dispel the fear that Doherty is at risk of being burned out, especially with there being no obvious cover for him within the senior ranks.

Likewise, the travails of Rueben Neves and Romain Saiss ought to be looked upon as something of a minor blip.

Neither were especially poor yesterday, and Alfred N’Diaye and Morgan Gibbs-White are no slouches. Indeed, a case can be made for the latter being our best performer in this game.

Nonetheless, our passing has been worryingly predictable as of late and this will no doubt be addressed on the training field over the next week.

Like the majority of Wolves fans, I have complete faith in Nuno’s ability to tackle these issues and trust the team to adapt to the solutions he provides.

One quick glance at the league table will show that this is no time for sirens, but rather calm contemplation. As the gaffer has no doubt already said, we go again at Ipswich.

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Wolves Vs Nottingham Forest

Teams never play consistently well for an entire season.

But this campaign (to date) has been as close as you’ll get.

That’s why I give little credence to comments like ‘we’ve been figured out’ or ‘we’re not playing as well as we were’.

It’s been ebb and flow all season, save for one or two purple patches when the opposition have been stretched.

We failed to score at Barnsley and suddenly we’re crying out for a striker again, despite sticking three past a strong Brentford side in the previous game.

All season the team has succeeded through a strong defensive shape, discipline in possession and fast counter attacks. For me, nothing has changed.

We’ll drop plenty of points before May, maybe even tomorrow, but I still don’t think this group of players have done anything to make us believe they’re about to fold.

Notts Forest

It was great to see Forest put Arsenal out of the cup. I thought the team Wenger fielded was a bit disrespectful and they were rightly put to the sword.

Forest are one of those famous old clubs who are long overdue some success. They’ve mucked around with managers for years but I suspect Karanka might get them going. Then again, I thought that about Warburton.

Karanka is from the Mourinho school of coaching and over the course of a few seasons built a pretty impregnable defence at Middlesbrough.

If he can do the same at Forest, they’ve got some good footballers who can make things happen further up the pitch.

As it is, with 43 goals conceded it’s tough for them to make top half progress. They’ve only drawn twice all season, so it’s very much been all or nothing.

Wolves

I hope Cavaleiro is back in the starting lineup tomorrow, along with all the other familiar faces.

Costa is showing a few flashes but isn’t delivering the goods in terms of goals and assists. Mir didn’t do enough to press his claim at Swansea so Bonatini should continue.

Both Saiss and Neves are one booking away from a two game ban and with the deadline not up until March, that seems an inevitability.

Alfred N’Diaye should get some game time, but I’m concerned that we’re a bit light in that area now Price has been discarded. Gibbs-White isn’t quite there for me.

But I’m sure Nuno has something up his sleeve. For tomorrow, it should be business as usual.

Predictions

Unsurprisingly I’m predicting a win. I expect Forest to be more organised under Karanka but he hasn’t had long to get into those players and communicate his ideas.

Their away record is pretty terrible and we’ve managed a good level of consistency at Molineux, so the logical outcome is a home victory.

2-0.

Up The Wolves!

Nottingham Forest 1 Wolves 2

Nuno’s time under the tutelage of the current Manchester United manager may have been brief, but it could prove telling come the end of the season.

This game bore all the hallmarks of a Josè Mourinho side, with titillating football hard to come by for much of the game but no less crucial when it did occur.

Diogo Jota will deservedly get the plaudits for his match winning brace, but in truth it was a characterful team display that earned us the three points.

Wolves struggled to impose their usual style of play against a Forest side that more than played their part in this fixture, and yet found a way to claim the spoils come full time.

Early days it may be, but that is promotion winning form.

After the madcap outing against Bristol City, this game stood out as a real test of our credentials.

Forest have improved greatly under the shrewd management of Mark Warburton and were unsurprisngly in no mood to play for a point.

This culminated in a poor first half in which both sides were limited to half chances, with neither keeper overly exerted.

That soon changed after half time, with Jota converting a sumptuous cross from the otherwise ineffective Ivan Cavaleiro.

Much has been made of John Ruddy’s culpability for the Forest equaliser which followed, but I’m of the mind to excuse a player that has otherwise been in imperious form for us this campaign.

Not many keepers would expect Mustapha Carayol to hit it from where he did, let alone anticipate it being on target.

The home supporters stirred and as was the case on Tuesday, one couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the previous two seasons in which Wolves would so often crumble under such resistance.

But this team is a different beast altogether, and Leo Bonatini (who also endured a quiet game) took one hell of a bump to tee up the effervescent Jota for the winner.

On current form, the diminutive inside forward is set to write himself into club folklore. I certainly can’t recall seeing a player of his calibre don old gold in my decade of following the club, Helder Costa included.

Given the influx of wildly talented foreign imports, you can forgive opposition supporters for anointing us as the most reviled team in the league.

But in my eyes, and most likely those of the similarly delirious away support yesterday, that makes our success all the more fun.

Long may it continue.

Nottingham Forest Vs Wolves Preview

The Bristol City assistant manager had an interesting view on Tuesday’s game.

Jamie McAllister said they went like-for-like against our system during the first half and that helped them get a foothold in the match.

I thought most of the game, particularly the second half, was wave after wave of Wolves attack with the visitors lucky to remain in touching distance.

At 2-2 I said it was the most unjust scoreline I’d seen for a long time, so you can imagine how I was feeling at 3-2.

Then again, as they hadn’t won at Molineux for nearly a century I just assumed there was some divine intervention evening things out.

With fate seemingly conspiring against us, I was happy with the point.

Notts Forest

I suspected Forest would have an upturn in fortunes this season. I’m not Mark Warburton’s biggest fan but I think he’s a good manager.

He did well at Brentford and Rangers so it was a decent coup for them to get him to the City Ground given their recent track record.

Losing Britt Assombalonga was a blow, but they’ve recruited well. Daryl Murphy isn’t a glamour signing but he’ll get the goals and has four already.

Winger Barrie McKay has followed Warburton down from Rangers and by all accounts is one of the bargains of the summer at £500k.

I don’t think they’ll be top six come May, but I also can’t see them being anywhere close to the bottom either. This feels like a building season.

Wolves

I thought Nuno was vindicated with his midweek changes as both N’Diaye and Cavaleiro played very well.

Saiss is unlucky to miss out if the coach sticks with the same XI, but it’s good to have that high level of competition.

I thought it was interesting that the Moroccan came on and played in the back three, which underlines the tactical flexibility Nuno has with several of his players.

I’d still prefer to see Boly in that back three, but you can’t argue with Batth’s performances. Miranda continues to make the odd mistake in and out of possession so he could come under threat.

With Helder Costa seemingly well on the road to recovery we’re pretty much just waiting to see him named in a matchday squad. He won us this fixture last season and would be great to see him again tomorrow.

Predictions

I’m going for another victory. We’re playing well and I think if we get near our maximum we’ll have more than enough to get it done against Forest.

Having seen us perform so consistently home and away so far, there’s no reason we should expect a dip in levels.

We’ve kept four cleansheets in seven matches and hoping for another tomorrow.

1-0.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 1 Nottingham Forest 0

With four wins in succession, a dizzying Helder Costa goal still fresh in the memory and an eminently winnable fixture against Nottingham Forest ahead, the walk along Waterloo Road had never felt so breezy.

But alas, no Costa.

And while we were all thrilled to notch up a fifth win come the final whistle, it was an insight into how bereft we are without him.

For his spellbinding goal of the weekend against Cardiff, see compatriot Cavaleiro doing his best impression, sending the corner flag one way, then the other – after kicking the base of it when taking a short corner and getting it stuck between his legs.

It was a moment to define this particular spectacle but not the performance entirely, as we worked ferociously hard for the duration, to such an extent that you felt tired out just watching them.

Batth and Hause combined teak-toughness with intelligence, surely benefiting from the Evans / Edwards protection ahead of them.

Whether the team as a whole then benefits from the required amount of creativity thereafter is debateable but again, the Welshmen worked their backsides off admirably, hassling and harrying their opponents.

This was no small feature of the game, with Forest enjoying the lions’ share of possession and were surely frustrated as a result of our endeavours off the ball.

Marshall, while mildly more subdued that recent performances, again suggested he has the ability to be a mainstay of a promotion pushing side next season, while Andi Weimann’s contributions just get more and more noteworthy.

His outrageous work-rate off the ball was infectious and his assist for Dicko’s goal intelligent, representing one of very few moments where the right decision was made at the right time.

A potential man-of-the-match winner, possibly shading Conor Coady at right back, whose heroic intervention on the goal line not only acted as an unlikely assist for the winner 15 seconds later, but typified his recent performances in an alien position, which I would have scarcely thought believable weeks ago.

On the other flank, one of Matt Doherty’s customary forays upfield ended in a lovely pass to Weimann, who did the rest for Dicko to sweep home.

It was a beautifully worked moment from a pretty ugly affair, which resembled a practice match at times, and an unwitting homage to Helder Costa at others.

Quite where we’d be without him is anyone’s guess. Thankfully after this hard fought league win, it won’t be League One.

Wolves Vs Nottingham Forest Preview

Different teams present different challenges in this league, which is why you can never be sure about the result from one game to the next.

In Fulham and Cardiff, you couldn’t play two more contrasting sides so it’s pleasing that Wolves found a way to come out on top against both.

You look at the league table, our recent form and generally what’s been going on at the City Ground this season and you’d fancy us to make it five wins in five.

But the Championship rarely pans out like that and I expect Forest to provide a similarly stern test.

Forest

Admittedly, I know little about this current Forest outfit but they’ve got some useful individuals and a manager who seems to know what he’s doing.

That usually gets you most of the way there in this league, which is why I expect them to (just about) avoid relegation and come back stronger next time.

But Mark Warburton need only look at the table to know there isn’t much margin for error with just seven games to go.

They’re just two places and two points above the bottom three and have only managed two wins in their last ten matches.

Gutsy draws against Derby and Preston will have helped instill belief but their run-in isn’t too favourable so pressure is building.

Wolves

If he can name the same team again I think Paul Lambert should do just that. Why mess with the winning formula?

I’d put Ikeme back in if he’s fit and ready, but it’s as you were with the outfield personnel.

My gut instinct is he won’t be able to resist giving the likes of Bodvarsson, Dicko and Saville a run out, but he leaves himself open for criticism if the result then doesn’t go our way.

One more win should see us safe (looking at the remaining fixtures for everyone else) and this is as good a chance as any to get it, so we shouldn’t be saving legs just yet.

Andy Lonergan

Predictions

Got to be confident after four straight wins. Forest have the second worst away record in the league too. Only Rotherham have amassed less points.

Most bookies have us at a comfortable 5/6 for the win compared to Forest’s 10/3. If you’re confident and fancy a punt you may want to check out sites like Bonus Codes to browse the major free bet offers beforehand.

I think there’s lots of goals and creativity in this Wolves squad so even allowing for a new manager bounce, I expect us to do enough to keep this run going.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!