Rotherham United 2 Wolves 2

Today was only ever about finding reasons to feel optimistic.

Dadi

And by full time I left the New York Stadium feeling sufficiently nourished by what I’d witnessed.

Most of that owes to Jón Daði Böðvarsson.

The big Icelandic striker was supreme. Colossal. Even in a first half where attacking play from Wolves was minimal, his every involvement seemed to please.

For starters, he’s a big unit and won most of his headers. He also held the ball up superbly and showed intelligence with neat lay offs.

But most satisfyingly of all, he was happy to spin off, turn and run towards goal. Rotherham had no answer.

He only had one clear sight all game but stuck that in the top bin to cap a fine performance and encourage the inevitable slow clap celebration from the away end.

That equaliser was fully merited by the way, as Wolves bossed the entire second half despite being relieved of Dominic Iorfa’s services.

If anything, the sending off galvanised our plodding midfield into action, as Walter Zenga persevered with three at the back and simply asked everyone to work harder.

It worked a treat too, particularly after the introduction of Joao Teixeira who linked the play brilliantly and setup Böðvarsson’s goal with a perfectly weighted pass.

What pleased me most about him though was his attitude, as he continually offered himself up for a pass, pointed where he wanted the ball and demanded more from his team mates.

That’s an encouraging sign for the future, suggesting he won’t be a fair weather performer.

Prior to all this, Rotherham had taken a firm grip on proceedings with two disappointing goals from our perspective.

A glancing header from a corner (with nobody on the post) and a swerving, dipping 30 yarder seemed to have taken the game away.

They came out with greater enthusiasm and moved the ball well, but it was soon evident, particularly after Wolves pulled a goal back, they didn’t have another gear.

New York Stadium

There was an element of fortune to George Saville’s goal, as he ran onto what looked like a loose pass, but the finish in rounding the keeper and squeezing the ball in from the angle was excellent.

I wasn’t overly impressed by his performance – similar can be said of Wallace and Mason – but that was possibly the defining moment in the game.

With a mandate to hunt the equaliser in the second half, Wolves were a different beast and the intensity was finally there.

There is much to improve and it’s safe to say we’ll face much, much sterner tests, but this felt like a good start.

With more signings almost certain to follow and a strong early display of team spirit, there are unquestionably reasons to feel optimistic.

Long may that continue.

Save

Save

Rotherham United Vs Wolves Preview

The summer of 2016 will live long in the memory. Parts of it anyway.

Alan Stubbs

Sleep inducing monotony for nigh on two months and then machine gun activity ever since.

New owners, new manager, (some) new players and a brave new world where anything and everything could happen.

And whatever your persuasion it certainly won’t be boring, which is merciful relief after the dullest end to a season I can recall.

I was a fan of Kenny Jackett, if not the regime he was working under, but if he had to be collateral damage for the bigger picture to improve then so be it.

I’m not convinced by Walter Zenga, but I hope he’s given fair opportunity and resources to be successful.

Rotherham

Rotherham_United_FCAfter looking League One bound for most of last season, it took an unbelievable run of results under Neil Warnock to keep the Millers up.

They’ll be disappointed he didn’t stay, as it seemed an excellent fit. But Alan Stubbs is an interesting choice and will have plenty of enthusiasm to make his mark as a coach at this level.

They’ve brought in players regularly over the last week, which may work to our advantage as it will be impossible for the head coach to know his best team. Similar to us I suppose.

To give you the insider perspective, I got this from Rotherham fan Dean (follow him on Twitter here):

It’s been a turgid summer in South Yorkshire, with Millers fans venting their frustration over a lack of recruitment. With a new managerial appointment comes inevitable expectation of improvement on last years survival miracle worked by Neil Warnock, but finding the right players has been tough.

The stamp seems to be value for money, rather than the scattergun approach of last summer that saw a host of average signings by Steve Evans, and a season consisting of three managers.

This time around will be another hard 9 months of graft, but with players slowly arriving through the door until the end of the transfer window and an ethos of trying to play more exciting football, we’re hoping for better – and to find  the right blend of being entertaining whilst picking up points to enable a comfortable campaign.

Wolves will also be hoping for a much better season, but with the sacking of Kenny Jackett, I guess Saturday’s game between the clubs will be met with a dose of mystery. I’ll stay well clear of predictions, other than I think the game has potential for a few goals. With the tough start we have with both Villa (is that word allowed?) and Brighton away to come, I’d be content with a point to get things off and running.

Wolves

Even though I’ve been less than impressed by our recruitment to date, there is a logic that the combination of our existing work horses and what are hopefully better technicians could work nicely. Here’s my fancy new predicted lineup graphic:

Team for Rotherham

Tomorrow I’d imagine Zenga will pick largely from the battle hardened group of Championship performers who’ve gone through a vigorous pre-season.

I am hoping to see big Jón Daði Böðvarsson start up front though, as I’m not convinced about Joe Mason’s ability to lead the line. Niall Ennis is another option but he’d probably be more effective from the bench.

It’s all complete guesswork at this stage of course, until we get a flavour for how Zenga likes to setup, his preferred personnel and the readiness of our new players to step in.

The manager

Predictions

The Prediction League is back for the 2016/17 season so I hope you’ll all join in with the fun.

If you’re new to the game, the rules are simple:

  1. In every match preview (such as this one), enter your score prediction in the boxes provided in the comment section below.
  2. Please ensure that you comment using the same email address every time you make a prediction. Your email address is what connects you to your overall score. If you use multiple email addresses, your scores will be split and you’ll appear lower down the overall table.
  3. The overall table can be accessed on the Prediction League page here. I can sometimes be a bit lax in updating it, but you’ll always see a note above the table as to when it was last updated.

As for tomorrow, I’m going for a score draw. Much like Dean the Rotherham fan, I can see there being goals at both ends and I also suspect they’re a better team than most pundits – who have them down for relegation – are giving them credit for.

2-2.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Wolves 0 Rotherham United 0

I think it was about 1994 when someone discovered the goal in front of the North Bank was too big and the crossbar had to be lowered by several inches.

Mason

But not before Neil Emblen and Robbie Dennison had both delivered postage stamps to secure some ill-gotten points.

Maybe Kenny and co should consider redeploying this tactic against Sheffield Wednesday in a fortnight?

Or just play Kevin McDonald.

Either would be acceptable to an increasingly apathetic home crowd who’ve taken to cheering every shot on target as the drought continues unabated.

Four consecutive nil nils is a phenomenon. Has it ever happened before (anywhere)? Will it ever happen again?

Today’s history makers were guiltier of wasting chances than failing to create them as Joe Mason twice, Dave Edwards and George Saville all fluffed their lines.

And Carl Ikeme was enough to prevent Rotherham ending the goalless sequence as the minutes slipped away on our Redrow wrist-strap scoreboard.

Kenny Jackett said afterwards he’d exhausted all available options, which seems questionable considering he only deployed one substitute and again overlooked Kevin McDonald – who hasn’t played a single minute in any of the four stalemates.

Whatever your persuasion when it comes to our head coach, it’s impossible not to share the frustration of the masses at his current tactical oversights.

One switch that did work was moving Dominic Iorfa into the middle alongside Danny Batth. His attributes are more suited to a central role and he was comfortable in there today.

Bright Enobokhare and Sylvan Deslandes showed great potential and also their inexperience and lack of physical strength in up and down performances. Both should come back better next season.

Collectively, there was some better approach play but that too often broke down in the final third where quality and a killer instinct were both absent.

Joe Mason isn’t the man to put your house on, proven by his failure to convert any of the three one-on-one situations he’s faced this week.

There’s no lack of movement or enthusiasm, but I don’t see him ever finishing on a consistent enough basis or making goals for himself in the way Nouha Dicko so often has.

Drawing another blank today in a fixture that has seen 15 goals shared out in the two previous seasons is a fitting indicator of how significantly the landscape has shifted on and off the pitch.

Molineux is barren and patience is in equally short supply.

Wolves Vs Rotherham United Preview

Like most of you, I don’t agree with some of the choices Kenny Jackett is making.

Edwards Rotherham

Kevin McDonald’s continued omission being chief among them (although I think there’s something else going on there).

But I do think because the football is ugly, people take for granted the things he has done right.

Before the Derby game, I felt there was a real threat we could get dragged right down if things continued to deteriorate.

We were paper thin and blown away at Brentford, offering little as an attacking force too. So to me what he did next made total sense i.e. shutting up shop.

The points we accumulated got us over the line, so I don’t think anyone can categorically say this was the wrong move. And actually, with the players he had, I thought this was smart.

More over I think he would play attacking football if he had the players to do it. In fact we know this because he did it for the two years the preceded this one.

Rotherham

Rotherham_United_FCNo questions are being asked of Neil Warnock, that’s for sure. What a fantastic job he’s done in a short period of time.

They’re undefeated in their last 10 matches, which includes six wins. That sequence has transported them from dead and buried to comfortably safe. Only Brighton have done better in the same period.

As Kenny is always saying, they’ve built a platform by only conceding 0s and 1s, but unlike Wolves, they’ve managed to get ahead in games and score goals.

Fortunately we were able to visit the New York Stadium earlier in the season before they’d got their act together and before Jordan Graham’s injury curtailed our aspirations.

I believe Warnock’s contract is up at the end the season so surely they’ll be begging him to carry on next season? If they don’t, they’re mad.

Wolves

Sounded pretty dire against Leeds, but we could have taken a point if Joe Mason had been more clinical in front of goal.

Team for Rotherham

George Saville did score and a tidy finish it was. I think there’s still mixed opinion on the former Chelsea man, but he’s had a good run of games now and certainly scored some important goals.

I’d like to see a few changes in the midfield though to try different combinations. Coady and Wallace for Saville and Helan is one idea. Obviously I’d love to see McDonald involved but that looks increasingly like wishful thinking.

Le Fondre played against his former club in the earlier fixture and KJ said he was influenced by that, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him involved from the start tomorrow.

The gaffer

Predictions

Rotherham are looking formidable of late and you wouldn’t back us to be the first team to beat them in a while on current form.

But I think we’re overdue a good home performance and I’ve just got a feeling we might get something out of our senior players tomorrow.

Given that we don’t score at home these days and Rotherham hardly concede, I’ll go for the only winning margin that makes sense.

1-0

Up The Wolves!

Rotherham United 1 Wolves 2

When the club slipped from the Championship in the Solbakken/Saunders era, the panic started to set in around this time of the year.

Batth celebrates

Stuffed by Ipswich and Peterbrough who were both in and around the bottom three yet seemingly streets ahead of our sorry lot, it was a precursor of what was to come.

Any such fears of repeat misery have hopefully been banished by four points against two of this season’s strugglers.

It was a bit of a snore against MK Dons but anyone at that game could patently see we were by far and away the better side and simply didn’t put the ball in the net.

For that reason, I wasn’t surprised to see Benik Afobe banished to the sidelines for this one given that he’s squandered most of our best chances lately.

One thing I’ve always admired about Kenny Jackett is he isn’t afraid of the big decisions and more often than not, he’s vindicated for the changes.

So it proved again on Saturday as Wolves tasted victory for the first time in over a month to distance themselves from the bottom three.

OK, Le Fondre didn’t pull up any trees but the point is we won and in the current climate, that’s all anyone really cares about.

Jordan Graham was again the star performer, as he has been in each of the matches he’s featured so far.

It’s fruitless to dwell on why the former Villa man wasn’t in and around the team sooner, so lets just be thankful he’s taking his chance now.

We’ve lacked adventure and creativity in the final third all season, both of which Graham is now supplying in spades.

Two more assists on Saturday, with James Henry and Danny Batth both profiting from teasing deliveries into good areas.

Henry has had his share of critics lately, but two crucial goals against Ipswich and now Rotherham have surely increased his stock?

And that’s two goals in three visits to the New York Stadium for Danny Batth, a defender, like Jody Craddock, with a pleasing knack for getting on the end of crosses.

I still don’t think we’ll be anything other than midtable for the duration, but with two winnable home games to come and the gap to sixth narrowing, maybe we can at least dream of better?

And the dream is what makes a boring, midtable season bearable.

Rotherham United Vs Wolves Preview

It’s three weeks until Christmas but there’s nowt to feel merry about around Molineux these days.

Rotherham

We haven’t won a game since October, the manager is under scrutiny, our settled back four has once again been disrupted and Jez Moxey won’t rule out offloading our star striker in the new year.

If ever there was a time we needed the players to pull out a couple of performances to banish the winter blues, it’s now.

They should have beaten MK Dons last weekend. They were easily the better team but just couldn’t break the lock.

This one looks a tougher game, away from home against a resurgent Rotherham side looking for a third straight victory.

Rotherham

Rotherham_United_FCNeil Redfearn was an interesting appointment after Steve Evans’ departure from the club he’d guided through the divisions.

He started with some tough fixtures and heavy defeats, but has won the games they’ve needed to in recent weeks against fellow strugglers.

They’ll feel this game is winnable too given our indifferent form and the fact they beat us in the corresponding fixture last season.

Goals conceded has been the major problem. The 33 they’ve shipped overall and the 18 they’ve let in at home both represent the league’s worst record.

Back-to-back cleansheets in their two most recent victories suggest Redfearn is doing something to remedy the problem though.

Wolves

With Mike Williamson back at Newcastle, it seems likely Ethan Ebanks-Landell will return to the back four.

Wolves team for Rotherham

It’s a crying shame to lose Williamson, particularly as nobody in the north east seemed that bothered to be letting him go and he’d slotted in nicely alongside Danny Batth.

Ebanks-Landell is just too cumbersome and error prone to be a viable replacement. He has the raw attributes but I’m not sure he has anywhere near the same potential as Iorfa or Hause.

Given that we never seemed to have more than one person in the box against MK Dons, Kenny might be tempted into playing a second striker at the New York Stadium.

Would it be worth trying Grant Holt alongside Benik Afobe to see if he could take some of the pressure off our talisman in terms of holding the ball up and linking the play?

Predictions

Don’t feel as confident about this one as I did at home to MK Dons.

They’ve got their tails up whereas Wolves seem to be feeling a bit sorry for themselves lately.

That said, if we can remain solid at the back and not give anything away, I’d back us to score.

Based on the fact I don’t think we’ll be solid defensively, I’ll opt for a score draw.

1-1

Up The Wolves!