Bloggers on Tour – Sunderland 2018

Another weekend – another Bloggers’ Ballbash.

First in Wolverhampton with all the prematch celebrations prior to the Sheffield Wednesday game and finally in bloody Sunderland of all places.

A fair few hardened bloggers managed the trip and there were a fair few more Wolves fans staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. The bar was a sea of Old Gold and black – with the occasional skin tight white catsuit. (Blogging censorship prevents me from including a picture of it here).

And the Italian Kitchen where we dined on Saturday evening also had a good number of like minded individuals determined to enjoy their stay ‘oop north.

In time honoured tradition, I, theDOOGooder (the Steven Spielberg of Wiltshire) and my entire film production company were present and have created another masterpiece which is almost certainly going to be nominated for several prestigious awards.

I will not attempt to name all the usual suspects who attended. You know who you are and can probably, almost, remember that you were there.

I’ll keep this short but I just want to put on record what a pleasure it has been to spend quality time chatting on the blog and in the flesh with all of you lot over a few seasons now.

It seems strange to think that not many years ago I had never heard of The Wolves Blog and certainly didn’t know any of the people who contributed to it.

And even stranger to think that I might well have been standing next to some of you when we were watching The Doog, Waggy, Mike Bailey, Frank Munro, King John Richards, Bully and all the other great names, plying their trade on the mud bath that was the pitch at the old Molineux.

And now, thanks to Thomas, Ben and all the other people who keep this great forum going, I am proud to count many of you as friends.

Now we stand on the threshold of a new era for our great club. Not many people, especially me, thought that we would see this sort of football in our lifetime.

To all of you Wolves fans out there, in the UK and around the globe…

This is our time.

We’ve just boarded the Premier ride in the fairground.

Hold tight and enjoy the trip.

Sunderland 3 Wolves 0

I probably wasn’t the only one thinking about Sir Alex Ferguson over the weekend following news of his ill health.

Safe to say the greatest manager in British history wouldn’t have tolerated this lethargic, baggy, can’t be bothered sign-off from the league winners.

Harsh words in the context of a wonderful season but like it not, this was the performance of a team who’ve won a title and not one befitting of champions.

Sure, we can shrug it off, file it away and look back with a smile when it’s invariably trotted out at a pub quiz in the years to come, but what a truly abysmal effort against the worst side in the division.

The fans that made that long slog to Wearside deserved much, much better.

Nuno rang the changes and it would be easy to lay the blame at the feet of the reserves, but it’s really the established stars who should carry the can.

There was simply no appetite to compete, to establish a rhythm or even just exit first gear. Doherty, Douglas and Neves were three operating in cruise control and the game completely passed them by.

With broken cogs in the mechanism it was fanciful to think the likes of Miranda or Gibbs-White were going to ride to the rescue. They did not.

Poor old Will Norris certainly had an afternoon forget as his goal was repeatedly peppered and two farcical errors were extracted to gift Sunderland the win.

Nothing stuck at the other end either with our Portuguese contingent ironically wilting in the sun after tolerating the coldest winter in 50 years. You couldn’t make it up.

No, this was a complete write-off and the worst possible way to sign off the best possible season.

And with thoughts invariably drifting towards a manager who built a dynasty on playing to the end, I’m loathe to forgive an early check out.

Sunderland Vs Wolves Preview

I remember walking to Molineux for the final game of last season and hoping we wouldn’t be contesting another dead rubber in a year’s time.

Well, I didn’t quite get my wish but mustn’t grumble.

Seriously though, you almost had to remind yourself there was still a game left to play with all the talk of bus parades and players we might be signing for next season.

There’s still the matter of getting 100 points and equalling the record for most wins in a Championship campaign, so hopefully the lads can rouse themselves one final time.

Sunderland

The Black Cats just want the season to be over. Two consecutive relegations (we know how that tastes), another manager sacked and big question marks over when the slide will be halted.

Wolves did a good job of getting their act together when they dropped into League One and Sunderland will be following that blueprint to the letter if common sense prevails.

Get rid of the expensive senior players, unless they’re fired up and committed to the cause. Give talented youngsters (of which Sunderland have a few) the platform to shine and use your clout as a big fish in a small pond to cherry pick some of the best players in the league.

And above all of that – get a good manager who knows what’s required. Chris Wilder would be a massive coup if they could lure him away from Sheffield United, while a return for Mick McCarthy wouldn’t be a bad option either in my view.

I’ll be watching with interest to see how their summer unfolds.

Wolves

While we’re all salivating over the possibility of mega bucks signings, I’m intrigued to see what the verdict is on several fringe players who may or may not be involved in August.

Bright Enobakhare is one. Even in his short cameo last weekend, it was clear he’s a colossal talent, but one who continues to frustrate by faltering in front of goal. If Nuno could somehow encourage that final few per cent out of him, we would have some player on our hands. Alternatively, this might be the moment to see how he fares playing regularly somewhere on loan.

I’m convinced Leo Bonatini will leave, but as my old man commented last week, there’s still a sense Nuno prefers the Brazilian to Afobe, backed up by the fact he played him through the middle in all the big games against Fulham, Villa and Cardiff. So maybe that’s not so straightforward?

Alfred N’Diaye would be a player I’d definitely sign. We will need reinforcements in midfield regardless of whether the big Senegalise international stays or goes but I think his physicality is an option worth retaining.

Danny Batth, Roderick Miranda, Kortney Hause, Phil Ofosu-Ayah and Rafa Mir are others who must be points of discussion when the head coach, Kevin Thelwell and the rest of the team sit down to outline the makeup of next season’s squad.

As for this game, no idea who’ll make it onto the pitch, but there’s been little sign of rotation from Nuno thus far, so every chance of our first choice eleven.

Predictions

If Wolves win this game, they’ll not only get a century of points and complete a clean-sweep of victories over every team in the Championship, but they’ll also have exactly three times as many points as Sunderland.

I’m not trying to stick the boot in there, I’m just making the point that this is very much a top versus bottom clash and if the Champions player to their maximum it should be comfortable.

They somehow managed a cleansheet at Molineux in December, but I can’t seem them shutting us out again.

A more robust performance at Fulham last time out still failed to yield any points and that’s just how it tends to go for teams at the bottom.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!