Slack: Portsmouth 3 Wolves 1

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have looked forward to Match of the Day?

With the Blossom Hill chilling, the Chinese sizzling and the wife out of the way for the evening, everything was in place for a good old Saturday night in front of the box.

But because lowly, crisis-ridden Portsmouth ended up doing the double over us earlier in the day, I ended up watching the snooker instead.

View from the away end (click to expand)

Watching Graeme Dott and Mark Selby did at least remind me of the Wolves this season, as the prospect of seeing us on BBC1 proved too much to take.

The glib pair of non-entities were again doing what they do best…Sucking the life out of snooker with their no-personality, no-risk, no-break strategies.

But fair play to them. They use every last drop of talent they have and work their backsides off for 8 hours to make up for their shortcomings.

A bit like Mick’s men this season. We’ve been dour, difficult and one-dimensional of late, but we’re safe, and our loss on the south coast matters little.

The irony was that we created more chances in the 90 minutes than we have in the last six games put together.

And were it not for an inspired performance by David James, we could have won the game 7-3.

As it was, we were on the wrong end of a beating ourselves, through a handful of self-inflicted mistakes that we’ve not been used to seeing.

Some dodgy Elokobi defending accounted for Dindane’s opener, and we were criminally bad again moments after equalising through Doyle.

Utaka enjoyed too much time from a simple throw to make it 2-1, beating Hahnemann at his near post, before Michael Brown added some gloss to the scoreline to with a second half strike on the break.

In between which, SEB missed an absolute gilt edged sitter, while Foley shot straight at James when it looked easier to score.

SEB then fluffed his lines again after Brown had bagged, as we created more chances than most of April’s games put together.

But who cares?

I’d wager that we all do a little bit, purely because any defeat hurts in any context, and ruins our best laid plans for a Saturday night!

But most of us are still freezing page 324 on Ceefax and rejoicing at our Premier League preservation, so one ruined Saturday night matters little when there’s so many more to look forward to.

Maybe with Dindane, Yebda and Boeteng in Wolves shirts next season, the days of Dott and Selby will become a distant memory. Here’s bloody hoping!

Portsmouth Vs Wolves Preview

After the 1-0 home defeat to Pompey back in October, I don’t think many Wolves supporters envisaged us being safe and sound by the time this return fixture came along.

But as we head down to Fratton Park on Saturday, that’s exactly what we are – safe.

So despite the importance of finishing 14th being talked up by the powers that be, I hope Wolves will play with a bit more freedom and maybe even give a few fringe players a chance.

Pompey got their first win of the season at Molineux

First and foremost, I’d like to see SEB given a start, preferably alongside Doyle in a two man attack. Having finally registered a Premiership goal from open play, I think these last two games represent a good opportunity for our number nine to build up some momentum, which he can hopefully carry into next season.

I’d also like to take a look at Zubar at center half, so why not shift him across instead of Berra or Craddock and allow Foley to enjoy a couple of games in the position where he’s truly comfortable? That probably won’t happen.

Milijas and Guedioura should both be given starts, particularly the latter who only has two games to earn a permanent deal. On a side note, I’ll be gutted if we don’t sign him up as he’s already shown he’s got what it takes and has the potential to be a real force.

Of course Henry is back from his ban too and I’d expect Mick to immediately restore his skipper to the starting XI. As we know, Ward’s season has been ended by injury and Matt Jarvis probably won’t be fit in time to play.

So my guess at what the team WILL be is:

Hahnemann

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Elokobi

Foley
Henry
Jones
Edwards

SEB
Doyle

And this is the team I’d LIKE to see:

Hahnemann

Foley
Zubar
Craddock
Elokobi

Edwards
Henry
Guedioura
Milijas

Doyle
SEB

I know my eleven is lacking any sort of width, but let’s face it, if Jarvis isn’t going to make it, we’re pretty screwed anyway. Unless of course, Kightly has made a miraculous recovery. Speaking of which, where the hell is he? I haven’t heard an update on his injury for a good while now.

It’s almost impossible to predict a result, given that you never know what team Portsmouth will put out. I just hope it’s a decent game with a few goals, for the sake of everyone making the long trek down there.

I’ll go 3-1 to Wolves.

If you are heading down to the seaside, have a great time, enjoy the day and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.

Must Do Better: Wolves 0 Portsmouth 1

I don’t know what was more dissapointing about today, the pathetically weak performance or the frustrating feeling of inevitability.

Five minutes into the game, I turned to my old man and said, ‘we’re gonna get turned over here’. You see, everything about Wovles was wrong; the team selection, the shape and balance of the side and the distinct lack of any real spark or creativity.

But perhaps most disappointingly of all, Pompey wanted it and Wolves didn’t. How we weren’t fired up for a game of such magnitude is beyond me and the visitors were able to cash in on our slow start, with what proved to be the only goal. From that point on, I never really believed we were going to get back in.

So the inquisition begins.

McCarthy has questions to answer over his team selection

McCarthy has questions to answer over his team selection

In my opinion, the first finger of blame should be firmly pointed at the manager, for glaring errors with his team selection. Mistake one: bringing Foley in from the cold, when Halford was doing a perfectly good job at right-back. Mistake two: not playing Kightly from the start. Mistake three: thinking Edwards and Henry can play together in a two man midfield.

And that’s just for a kick-off.

From a tactical point of view, we were a mess. There were gaping holes in the middle of the park and acres of space for Pompey’s attackers to move the ball around. Edwards spent far too much time galloping forward like a headless chicken and although Henry did a decent job of plugging the gaps, we were still far too open.

In defence, Elokobi had one of the worst games I’ve ever seen from a Wolves full-back. To say he looked sluggish would be a great understatement. As well as picking out a succession of woeful passes, he appeared to be running through treacle at times, getting left for dead on numerous occassions.

Going forward, we were laughable. I mean, what was the plan? All we seemed capable of doing was lumping the ball forward, hoping for Doyle and Keogh to feed off the scraps. On occassion when we worked the ball out to Jarvis, we looked OK, but that was soon figured out and he became more and more ineffective as the game went on.

One thing I will credit Mick with is that he had the good sense to change things at the half-time. The introductions of Kightly and SEB had me thinking we could turn things around, but it wasn’t to be and both were starved of possession in decent areas.

Of course we had our moments and also our share of bad luck. How we weren’t given a penalty for one of the most obvious handballs of all time I’ll never know. The ref might not have seen the incident but the linesman was looking straight at it.

But our real moment of opportunity came and went when Halford’s fierce volley was palmed out by James straight into the path of SEB. I would have put my house on our number 9 to find the net, so was obviously distraught to see him blaze over when it seemed easier to score.

Had we got the equaliser, I’m not even sure it would have been deserved. We were just poor today, front to back.

So who do I blame for defeat?

McCarthy, for putting the wrong players on the pitch?

The officials for missing crucial decisions?

SEB, for wasting our one golden chance?

All of the above and many more.

I don’t begrduge Portsmouth the win. They executed their game plan very well and looked a good side in spells. So for Pompey fan Rich, who wrote the preview for us, well done and enjoy your weekend. After the misery you’ve had to suffer thus far, you deserve your moment in the sun.

For Wolves, there’s a dark cloud hanging over head with only 7 points on the board and a succession of difficult fixtures to come.

I just hope we can lick our wounds, come back stronger and conjure up a big result to get us back on track.

We shouldn’t be losing the faith just yet, but Wolves quite simply must do better.

Wolves Vs Portsmouth Predictions

OK, I’ll keep it short. What are your predictions for tomorrow?

Here are mine:

Can Doyle make it 3 in 3?

Can Doyle make it 3 in 3?

Predicted Starting XI

Hennessy

Halford
Berra
Mancienne
Elokobi

Kightly
Henry
Edwards
Jarvis

Doyle
Keogh

Predicted Score

Call me optimistic – 2-0 Wolves

Predicted First Scorer

Kevin Doyle

Those are my predictions. What are yours?

Wolves Vs Portsmouth Preview With a Pompey Fan

There’s no doubt about it, this weekend’s match against Portsmouth is the first real six-pointer of the season for Wolves. Win it and we’ll be a massive ten points clear of the Premiership’s bottom club. Lose and it’s down to four points and back to looking anxiously over our shoulders.

So, just to ratchet up the excitement, build-up starts early this week with a guest post from Pompey fan Richard. He’s a friend of Ben’s and a top bloke. Here’s what he has to say:

First of all, a message from this Pompey fan to all Wolves supporters: You’re Welcome.

What for you ask? I’ll tell you. For doing everything we can to help ensure your return to the top flight is not a fleeting one. Our unbelievable and frankly ludicrous implosion both on and off the pitch in recent months means one of the relegations spots Wolves are desperately trying to avoid is all but taken. So as I said, you’re welcome.

European nights against AC Milan already seem a distant memory for the Premiership's bottom club

European nights already seem a distant memory for the Premiership's bottom club

It’s difficult to know where to start when examining the mess we’re in. Just 18 months ago I saw my team, packed full of top class players, lift the FA Cup at Wembley. Less than a year ago I watched us outplay AC Milan in a competitive game at Fratton Park and left disappointed because we only managed a draw.

They were amazing times, but I’m not stupid. I knew we were punching above our weight and living beyond our means. I expected Satchel Face (Harry Redknapp to you) to walk out when a better offer came along. I expected great players like Diarra and Johnson to be sold, and I expected us to become an average at best team again.

What I didn’t expect was such a horrendous car crash of a summer. Our colossal and swift fall from grace has left us with the only penniless Arabian ‘billionaire’, a manager who failed at Rushden & Diamonds, Nottingham Forest and Barnsley, and a player as utterly appalling as Aaron Mokoena wearing the captains armband.

But where there’s life there’s hope and our trip to Molineux represents, in my opinion, a trip to last chance saloon in terms of turning around this living nightmare of a season. We’ve enjoyed draws in our last couple of visits to Wolves but all three points are required this weekend if we have any hope of staying up. But, despite our unenviable P7 W0 D0 L7 start to the season, we’re not without a few decent players. Jamie O’Hara and Aruna Dindane will cause problems for Wolves, and Michael Brown will break the legs of at least one of your players – so don’t think a home win is a foregone conclusion.

If we are to triumph, we’ll need something we haven’t had so far this year, and that’s a bit of luck. We should have drawn if not won against Everton last week, and have suffered defeats thanks to a deflection off Bobby Zamora’s arse and a dodgy 92nd minute penalty at St Andrews.

I’m hoping the fact that it’s my birthday this week means the gods will smile on Pompey and give me something to celebrate. But the way things are going, I wouldn’t bet against Ebanks-Blake finding his shooting boots, David James having one of his calamity afternoons and Wolves deciding not to serve beer in the away end.

One thing’s for sure, and that’s despite our pending relegation, I wouldn’t change the last 6/7 years as a Pompey fan for anything. If we’re paying now for our cup win and six hugely enjoyable years in the top flight, then so be it. I know Wolves fans would jump at the chance to experience half the success we’ve had since both teams were promoted at the end of the 2002/03 season.

But a word of advice, if you do stay up and progress in the league as Pompey did, try not to cock it up like we have.

Play Up Pompey.