Swansea City 4 Wolves 4

Although this screwball game of Premier League football once again highlighted the crippling deficiencies of Wolverhampton Wanderers, it also served to show what might have been.

Defensively, we left our calling card.

Too much space, no closing down, non-existent marking.

Down but not out

Stand off. Stand off. Stand off.

It’s amusing to think that last season we were accused of being ‘overly physical’. Without doubt, a major problem with this current Wolves team is their aversion to ruffling feathers.

There’s just no menace, no desire and no hunger to win the ball back. The opposition do what they want.

When that’s the case, good players and good teams punish you. And for 15 traumatic minutes, Swansea did just that.

A fourth goal just before the interval after Steven Fletcher’s fantastic looping header dragged us back into the contest seemed to be the definitive nail in our coffin.

But as bad as the first half was defensively, Wolves trumped that in the second with a fantastic display of attacking football.

All of the goals were well constructed, the pick of the bunch being Dave Edwards cool run and finish after a sumptuous reverse pass from Michael Kightly.

Two other well made and well taken Matt Jarvis goals are proof positive that our offensive players can do enough damage.

The likes of Jarvis, Kightly and Fletcher are good enough for this level.

Our problem is that we’ve just never given them the platform to shine because both individually and as a team, we’re desperately weak in defence.

It’s often said that Wolves lack quality on the ball, but I believe our biggest problem is that we don’t possess enough physically strong players to upset the opposition, thus allowing our better players to show how good they can truly be.

We needed warriors over the summer, players that could add presence and put themselves about.

Presumably, this is what Mick McCarthy hoped Roger Johnson would bring to the fold back in August and what Emmanuel Frimpong would deliver when he arrived in January.

Failure and misfortune are words that immediately come to mind when you evaluate these signings.

They wrap up our season quite nicely too.

Swansea City Vs Wolves Preview

Along with many others, I was wrong about Swansea.

I thought they’d follow the much-traveled path of newly promoted sides who try to play football in the Premier League; the road that ultimately saw the likes of Burnley and Blackpool relegated.

Off the hook in the home fixture

But hats off to Brendan Rodgers and his team, they’ve been smarter, cuter and ultimately better than those sides over the course of a season. They deservedly sit comfortably in mid-table, just 3 points behind Liverpool in 8th.

What they’ve achieved in a single top-flight season is something Wolves have failed to do in 3 – find a system of play that works and stick with it.

Regardless of results, injuries and suspensions, they’ve never once flinched from their preferred method and have been handsomely rewarded. Wolves have continued to change shape on an almost weekly basis, too often resembling a group who’ve never played a single game together.

We desperately need a manager who has a clear idea about how he wants the team to play and knows the type of players he needs to achieve it. That, and only that, can bring about a sustained period of success.

Norwich, Newcastle, Stoke, Swansea and even Wigan to an extent are all clear proof of this.

Tomorrow’s game ultimately serves no purpose to either side. A dead-rubber if ever there was one in Premier League terms. Still, the home side will be clear favourites, not least because they’ve only lost 4 times on their own turf all season, plundering 7 wins and 6 draws.

The Team

I’d be keeping a 5-man midfield for this one. Otherwise I just think we’ll be pulled around the pitch as we were for large periods of the reverse fixture. Quite how we salvaged a draw out of that game, I’ll never know. This is my team:

De Vries, Foley, Stearman, Bassong, Ward, Henry, Davis, Milijas, Jarvis, Kightly, Doyle

Poor old Dorus is likely to come in for a bit of stick tomorrow, having left Swansea on a free in the summer. But footballers make these decisions and have to live with the consequences. Hopefully the 10 in front of him can help him out by delivering a result to ease the pain.

I’ve been screaming for Milijas to get a start for weeks, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. What have we got to lose now? Might as well give the bloke a few games to see if he can make an impact.

Doyle for Fletcher up front is just a personal choice. I thought he was superb against Arsenal and subsequently very unlucky to be left out against Sunderland and Man City.

Prediction League

No real surprise that an avalanche of people correctly predicted we’d lost to Man City last weekend. 32 in total.

Only two of those pundits correctly bagged the scoreline though. Or should I say one? sleachy took the cunning step of copying Kowloon Wolf (who leads the overall table) and reaped the benefits for doing so. Both get a 3-point boost.

Well done lads.

I reckon we might get a result in this one. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the old ‘nothing to play for, pressure off’ scenario?

I’ll plump for the same score as the reverse fixture – 2-2.

If you’re heading to Wales tomorrow, have a great time and get behind the lads as you did superbly last weekend as the ship finally sunk.

Up The Wolves.

Wolves 2 Swansea 2

If there is a crumb of comfort to be taken from this latest Molineux meltdown, it’s the result.

And ultimately, results are all that matter.

Just as well really.

The team selection was wrong (again), the performance was appalling (again), yet somehow, when all seemed lost, Wolves staged the most remarkable, bizarre, downright ridiculous comeback you’re ever likely to see.

Finally something to cheer

Quite how they did it, I’m still unsure.

Mick McCarthy is keen to claim credit for the turnaround though, after controversially ringing the changes midway through the second half.

He’s welcome to it.

After all, he’s the only man inside Molineux who thought withdrawing our wingers and shoehorning in another two central midfielders was a good idea.

By the end, this decision was justified and for that he deserves recognition.

But before our manager rides off into the sunset on his moral high-horse, I think he should consider the following:

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, we wouldn’t have been 2-0 down at half-time for the third consecutive home match.

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, he wouldn’t have needed to roll the dice in such a bold, divisive manner.

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, we wouldn’t have been humiliated on our own ground for 84 minutes by a side who were playing Championship football just a few months ago.

And maybe, just maybe, if he’d got the tactics right to begin with, the home crowd wouldn’t have been so utterly frustrated, they felt the need to voice their displeasure.

Just my opinion, but in salvaging an unlikely point, all Mick did was right his own wrong, which isn’t something he should be crowing about.

And it’s certainly not something he should be using as ammunition to take a swipe at his own supporters in a post-match interview.

Why do it? What good does that possibly do?

I’ve always backed our manager, but that kind of response is unacceptable.

He’s a professional who is paid to deal with the criticism that comes with the job.

The same applies to the players.

Roger Johnson is another man whose been incredibly vocal in recent weeks. Just a shame his strong words haven’t been backed up with strong performances. He had another shocker yesterday and was arguably at fault for both of the goals conceded.

The rest of the back four weren’t much better either and simply couldn’t cope with the pace and movement of the Swansea attack.

Funnily enough, it took a Welshman to stop the visitors running away with it.

Thank goodness for Wayne Hennessy. He made two world class saves in the second half as Wolves clung on for dear life. Man of the Match again yesterday and by some distance too.

I find it difficult to critcise our midfield duo as they were once again overrun by opposition boasting an extra man in there. We needed to match them up in there from the start to stop them playing and paid the price for not doing so.

But credit to Henry and O’Hara, they kept at it and eventually got the rewards. O’Hara in particular impressed me. He didn’t always pick the right passes, but he kept offering up for the ball and trying to make something happen.

His goal was also well taken, timing his run perfectly to sweep home the equaliser.

Kevin Doyle was another player who kept going and got better as the game went on. After poking home the first, he turned architect for the second with a smart run and cross that opened the door for O’Hara.

In fact, it was about the only decent cross we managed all afternoon.

Our wingers were well below par.

Jarvis was ineffective again, as he has been in recent weeks. Hammill was marginally better, but too often flattered to deceive with runs that ultimately went nowhere.

SEB too was very poor. However, he’s never going to thrive when he’s asked to play with his back to goal for the entire match with only long balls for service.

And that’s exactly what he was given.

Sure, playing 442 and shelling 60-yard passes forward from deep did create the odd opening prior to Swansea taking control, but it made us look embarrassingly pedestrian and left us once again woefully exposed when the opposition had the ball.

I know we don’t have a squad of world-beaters, but the players simply aren’t as bad they were made to look by the tactics we employed yesterday.

And the responsibility for that rests with one man.

So, regardless of whether Mick McCarthy does or doesn’t know what he’s doing, the message is simple:

Do better.

Wolves Vs Swansea Preview

Over the last two and a bit Premier League seasons Wolves have definitely gone into games in worse positions, yet somehow I don’t think Mick McCarthy has ever needed a win more than he does on Saturday.

SEB scored twice in a 2-1 win in our last meeting

With the fans frustrated, the ability of every single player called into question and his own head firmly on the chopping block, nothing but three points will diminish the mounting pressure.

Should five defeats in a row become six ahead of a trip to Man City, both his and the team’s prospects would be decidedly bleak.

But if past experience is anything to go by we know that McCarthy and Wolves are often at their most dangerous when they’re firmly up against it.

And on paper at least, you couldn’t ask for better opponents than Swansea.

From four away fixtures thus far, they’ve registered four defeats. However, it should be noted they have already visited the Emirates, the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge, losing out most recently at Carrow Road last weekend.

We know they’re a pacy, we know they like to get it down and pass so there shouldn’t be any surprises in that respect. The challenge for Wolves is to effectively combat this style and enforce our game onto them.

The Team

With Swansea almost certain to lineup 451, I’ll be amazed if Mick doesn’t match them like for like, particularly with Steven Fletcher ruled out.

The back four, the front one and two of the midfielders are almost certain to remain the same. Filling in the rest of the gaps isn’t quite so easy. This is the team I reckon we might see:

Hennessey, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Henry, O'Hara, Milijas, Hunt, Jarvis, Doyle

So that’s one change with Hunt in for Hammill. I just feel Mick might go with the experience and tenacity of Hunt for this one. If the Irishman has one of his big games it just lifts the whole team and we desperately need a vintage Hunt performance in this one.

Guedioura and Edwards are probably both in with a shout too and the former is definitely overdue a start in the Premier League. SEB is also available if Mick decides 442 is the way to go, which I hope he doesn’t.

Prediction League

Six people said we’d lose to Albion last time out. Two got the score spot on.

So well done to Kowloon Wolf and martin for picking up the maximum three points on offer.

The rest get a single point.

robin changed his prediction from a 2-0 loss to a 2-0 win ten minutes before kick-off after hearing Milijas and Hammill were playing. Sorry matey, have to take your final answer.

This weekend, I’m going for a home win.

There’s no logic, I just can’t bear to face the prospect of another home defeat so I’m burying my head in the sand.

It’s imperative they’re out of the blocks quickly and on the front foot. We need to be the team building momentum and asking questions.

3-1 Wolves.

If you’re at Molineux for this one have a great time and lets all roar the lads on from the first kick.

Up The Wolves.