Wolves 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0

If the 45th game of the season taught us anything, it’s how much Wolves achieved in the previous 44.

This epic competition is a full on slog and it’s a slog because any team on any day can defy any sense of logic.

Take Sunderland. Despite shipping 80 goals to everyone else in the league, they could not be broken by the division’s most potent attack at Molineux back in December. Similarly, Nottingham Forest, who’ve barely been a blip on anyone’s radar, sauntered over and recorded the most routine away win of their campaign.

QPR, Norwich, Hull and now Sheffield Wednesday have repeatedly underlined the fact that the also-rans of the Championship are taken lightly at your peril.

With nothing but reputation to play for you might have forgiven the Owls for rolling over on coronation day.

No such luck.

Once the back slapping and the guard of honour were wrapped up, they set about producing a highly accomplished performance to deny the champions a record equalling 31st win of the campaign.

Annoyingly well organised, frustratingly clever in possession and surprisingly dogged in their efforts to spoil the party, Jos Luhukay was right to laud his side afterwards.

Even so, Wolves should have got the win.

John Ruddy was a virtual spectator while numerous chances came and went at the opposite end.

Afobe, Saiss and Enobakhare all squandered clear sighters and Jota spent the afternoon failing to convert driving runs forward into meaningful efforts on goal.

With grey skies overhead, a slowing tempo and a capacity home crowd anxious to get on with the party, maybe it was no surprise the referee decided to forgo injury time altogether?

Cue champagne, pyrotechnics and the slowest assembly of a six part stage you’re ever likely to see as the Molineux playlist was forced into repeats.

Richly deserved celebrations for a team who’ve surpassed any and all expectations, regardless of perceived advantages.

What a season it has been.

With a century of points still up for grabs and the opportunity to achieve a clean sweep of victories over every team in the Championship, there’s something to play for at Sunderland next weekend.

It’s top versus bottom but logic in this league, as we already know, has long since left town.

Wolves Vs Sheffield Wednesday Preview

I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I think Wolves are the best Championship team in history.

The 2006 Reading side will have something to say about that as their 106 point haul will remain a record even if Wolves win their final two matches.

However, Nuno’s side can surpass their 31 victories if they beat Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland, which would certainly beef up their claim.

The other team I would throw in is the Leicester side of 2014 that managed 102 points, 31 wins and went on to win the Premier League with many of the same players. Tough to argue with that.

What I would say is I don’t think any side have won the Championship playing the style of football Wolves have consistently demonstrated, which may over time single them out as the best.

As the trophy is hoisted high tomorrow though, I doubt anyone inside Molineux will care.

Sheff Weds

It’s been a disappointing season for the Owls. They’ve been close to the Premier League themselves in recent years so to be finishing closer to the bottom three than the top six must be considered failure.

Carlos Carvalhal has shown at Swansea that he’s a talented coach, but I don’t think that necessarily means it was a mistake to move him on. Sometimes a club just needs to freshen things up and it did seem like it had stalled for him at Hillsborough after twice coming close to promotion.

I believe they’ve had big injury problems too, which can derail any season. Perhaps next year Jos Luhukay can coax better form out of the group with a clean bill of health?

Fernando Forestieri has been one of the big losses but he’s back now and scored twice in their routine home win over Reading last time out.

They’re certainly not lacking Championship know-how with the likes of Rhodes, Boyd, Reach and Bannan all well established at this level.

Wolves

Diogo Jota could still win the golden boot. He’s on 17 and needs at least three goals to level with Matej Vydra with just two games left. A tall order but not beyond his capabilities.

I imagine Danny Batth will see out the season now, but he was clearly targeted by Bolton last weekend.  He’s shown excellent character when in and out of the side, but I think he might be one moving on over the summer.

With nothing to play for outside of reaching a century of points perhaps the likes of Vinagre, Mir or even Ofosu-Ayeh should get a run out?

Predictions

I think Wednesday have the players to hurt us and the reverse fixture was one of the tougher games, but if Wolves play well, they’ll come out on top.

Victory would guarantee Wolves finish with the best home record in the league. They’re currently on 52 points from 22 games, but Cardiff are just a point back. It doesn’t matter of course, but we’re clutching at straws for something to play for here.

Anyway – 2-0.

Up The Wolves!

* Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone from the blog who sent me good wishes and/or sponsored me for the London Marathon. You amazing people raised over £550 (of the £2.3k total) for WhizzKidz, which is unbelievable. I’ve posted a thank you on my fundraising page. I’m blown away by your support.

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Wolves 1

If the footballing purists weren’t purring over our latest victory in front of the Sky cameras, the ‘stattos’ certainly were.

Our fourth consecutive away win without conceding a goal for the first time ever, keeper Ruddy’s 12th clean sheet to put him above any other, the first team to amass 50pts across all four leagues and the highest points haul at this stage of a Championship season since Mick’s 2008/09 vintage.

It’s inevitable then, that our minds cast back to the days of Big Chris, Kites and co, when they’re the only team on a stats sheet to come close to Nuno’s heroes of today.

We think of that 5-1 drubbing of Forest – which history decrees as the pinnacle – some swaggering down at The Valley and some sauntering up at Deepdale. We came, we saw and we bloody well conquered didn’t we? Usually in style.

But the memory airbrushes the more mundane of matches, including one particularly drab 1-0 win up at Hillsborough (ironically enough), which was worth as much as the 3-1 win at Bramall Lane ever was. Likewise a Collins header at Doncaster which barely registers when thinking of Big Chris and Sylvan away at Cardiff.

Of the 16 wins racked up so far this campaign, this one probably won’t be purred over with quite the same relish as so many others. It might even be forgotten completely. Nuno might view it differently though, knowing that successful campaigns are built on foundations such as these.

The fact is we’ve been spoilt rotten to date, gorging on a brand of attacking football not known in these parts since…well…2008? But with teams clogging Jota to within an inch of injury, Bonatini looking knackered and Cavaleiro mercurially frustrating, there has to be more than one way to skin a cat.

So if our previous thrashings of Bolton and Leeds induced giddy comparisons with Pep, then these three points were spirited from an early George Graham, chiselled from an impenetrable back line who dealt with the dirty side of the game without ever looking flustered. John Ruddy never tested.

In most triumphant seasons, particularly those in the Championship, top drawer performances can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The largest proportion comes from disciplined 7/10s and the rest come from a moment of magic or misfortune.

This win at Sheffield Wednesday probably sits somewhere between the last two categories, with Ruben Neves’ strike the one bit of discernible quality on show all night. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.

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Legendary golfer Ben Hogan once admitted that he’d only hit three pure strikes in any given round. With a record breaking front-nine already carded, we should bear this in mind as we prepare to tee off again.

In a career that spanned nine majors, that raking one iron at Merion will be remembered by everyone, if not the umpteen clutch putts to save his bacon elsewhere.

This was a tricky six-footer we sunk in Sheffield. It was worth its weight in gold.