If Kenny Jackett hadn’t made any New Year’s Resolutions before our 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers, then I’m sure he’d have one or two in mind come 5pm.
In a missed opportunity to kick 2014 off in style, he must surely be telling himself to get tougher with a team that was beyond awful in the first 45 minutes, following on from a pretty listless second half against Leyton Orient the game before.
In the second half at Prenton Park however – in monsoon like conditions – we were quite excellent, defying the weather to ping the ball around with accuracy, skill and speed, in much the same way as the opening 45 minutes on Sunday.
Jackett’s second resolution might be to discover some sort of ‘Plan B’ whenever an opposing team closes down space, gets in our faces and generally attempts to knock us out of our stride.
Ronnie Moore’s tactics were primitively simple, but like an increasing number of teams who visit Molineux these days, the ‘muck and nettles’ side of opponents’ games is one we don’t seem to like the look of.
Credit to the team for rolling up their sleeves in the second half and showing the character – and ability – that was previously nowhere to be seen.
You just wonder if we’d have faced adversity in the same way if Tranmere’s James Wallace wasn’t red carded for what looked like a sickening tackle on Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who is probably crocked for the foreseeable as a result.
The tackle – which sounded as ghastly as it looked – levelled the numbers out after Richard Stearman did what only Richard Stearman could do after 20 odd minutes to get himself sent-off.
Of all the centre-backs in all the world, only Stearman could have tried a pirouette style turn on the halfway line as the last man, with oceans of space to the left and right and only one onrushing player to worry about.
After stumbling over his feet like Bambi on a bobsleigh, he then scurried back to make amends but contrived to haul back Ryan Lowe, which could only end in disaster if the referee saw it as a foul.
But even with 10 men there were no excuses for a complete and utter no-show which blended all the sterility of Solbakken with the tomfoolery of Saunders, typified by Carl Ikeme who could have trotted out and sat on the ball before Ryan Lowe got anywhere near it to break the deadlock.
Fair play to the players though…
We were transformed in the second half and produced a sterling performance which should have returned more goals than David Edwards’ fabulous strike from Michael Jacob’s nimble work out wide.
Jacobs was head-and-shoulders above anyone else on the pitch and was hugely impressive, while McDonald grew into the game to eventually run it, in another stand-out performance.
Scott Golbourne was an impressive substitute down the left and up front, Leigh Griffiths worked his socks off for little reward in a performance that was anything but ‘lazy’, next to the impotent Jake Cassidy who made way for a more lively Doyle.
But for a better final ball – as typified by the infuriating Sako – or a better decision in the final third, we would surely have won this game in 45 minutes of real promise.
That we didn’t leads me on to Kenny Jackett’s third and final New Year’s Resolution:
To drive Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey to compete and utter distraction in his demands for a new centre forward, as a matter of urgency.