Archives for June 2009

Record Signing Confirmed

It seems that Wolves have completed the signing of Kevin Doyle, which represents a massive coup for the club as they had to beat off competition from at least 3 established Premiership teams.

Kevin Doyle - Record £6 Million Signing

Kevin Doyle - Record £6 Million Signing

Anyone who read my last post on the matter will know that I predicted he would go to Fulham, so before the season has even started, I’ve got egg on my face.

What we have to think about now is how the Wolves attack will take shape in terms of the starting 11. I’d like to believe at home he’ll go with Doyle and SEB up top and Kites and Jarvis on the wings to really have a go at teams. I really thought Mick would go with a five man midfield with just SEB up top on his own. With Doyle on board though, I can’t imagine this will be the case.

Nice to have the option though! 🙂

However successful a signing Doyle turns out to be, I think it’s an important deal as it shows the fans that the club do have the ambition that they’ve spoken about since they secured promotion. £6 million is a huge outlay for Wolves, even at this moment in time and I’d really like to believe that this signals the start of a very serious assault on the Premiership.

What do you think about the signing? Have we paid over the odds or got a bargain? Will he even get in the team?

Here are the reports about the Doyle signing:

BBC Sport

Wolves Official

Express & Star

Importing Success

Wolves have been linked with a lot foreign players over the summer, which is somewhat strange given our supposed transfer policy. Mick McCarthy has always stated he prefers buying British and the message from the club since promotion has always been that we wanted experienced, Premiership players.

Henri Camara - Successful Import

Henri Camara - Successful Import

However, supposing we do end up with 5 or 6 unfamiliar names come the start of the season, I wouldn’t say we’re doomed before a ball has even been kicked. In my opinion, buying abroad represents a gamble. You can unearth some real gems for very low amounts of money, but you can also end up spending a couple of million on a player who immediately looks out of their depth (take Silas for example).

Looking back to our last unsuccessful Premiership campaign, we invested heavily in foreign players and for the most part, you’d have to say it didn’t work out. The likes of Rae, Cameron, Ince and Miller turned out to be our most consistent performers, whilst the likes of Luzhny and Okoronkwo failed to impress. But like it or not, one foreign player did come close to saving our bacon that year – Henri Camara.

Even saying his name around Wolves fans is enough to incite vociferous anger and the manner in which he engineered his exit from the club is enough to understand why. However, towards the end of the 2003/04 season, the partnership between Carl Cort and Camara came close to firing us to safety. And many believe that if Camara had found his feet just a few months prior, we’d have done the impossible and maintained our top flight status.

So it’s worth remembering that, even though we’d all prefer proven British talent, buying in from abroad can pay off if you pick and choose carefully. I think Wolves scouting system has done a pretty good job over the last few seasons, so whoever comes in I’ll be reserving judgment until I’ve seen them play myself.

Kevin Doyle – 4 Club Shootout

If you believe what you read in the papers, Kevin Doyle will make a straight choice next week between Wolves, Sunderland, Bolton and Fulham. Assuming this is true, who would your money be on?

Kevin Doyle - Molineux Move?

Kevin Doyle - Molineux Move?

Sunderland certainly have the financial clout and can probably offer him better wages than the other clubs involved. I just wonder whether he’d be a regular starter for the Black Cats, given their new found wealth and that might be something which could make him think twice about the move.

Bolton might present an interesting option for Doyle. If he finds his form he could become a first-team regular there, but the Trotters already have Kevin Davies and that Swedish bloke (great journalism there), plus I don’t think Doyle fits into their style of play, as they get a lot of joy from going direct, rather than getting it down and playing.

Fulham is geographically closest to Reading, so the transition might not be as difficult, which is something I’m sure players take into account. Something else that is going for the London side is European football and none of the other sides in the mix can offer that. On balance, this would probably represent the best move for Doyle, so I’m going to stick my neck out and wager this is where he’ll end up.

Then of course, there’s Wolves. We can probably offer the best chance of regular first team football, but that’s by no means a certainty with SEB at our disposal. We also have a nucleus of young, Irish players which is something he might find attractive. And if, as reported, he’s been to look around our Compton training ground, that must have counted in our favour, as it’s a fantastic facility. I can’t get this niggling feeling out of my mind though, that the last thing he’ll want is to move to a side he thinks might go down next season, leaving him in the same boat again. Out of the four, he’ll probably feel we’re the most likely for the drop, which could be fatal to any possible deal.

So I’m going for Fulham, but hoping he might surprise me and turn out in Old Gold next season.

One in, Chris out

Amongst all the rumours about Kevin Doyle signing a few days ago, there was a story emerging that Chris Iwelumo was in talks with Crystal Palace over a proposed move to Selhurst Park.

Big Chris - On his way out?

Big Chris - On his way out?

I have to say I’d be gutted to see the big man leave.

He was immense for us last season and deserves his chance to at least play a part in Wolves first season back in the big time. Whether he’s a starter or an impact player from the bench, I think he can help our cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see us draft in a quality striker and if that happens, somebody will inevitably fall down the pecking order. But it’s worth remembering that you can have 7 subs in the Premiership so there’s more places up for grabs in the squad. You’ll probably see 4 strikers in each 18 man line-up and in my opinion, he’s still our number 2 forward.

We’ve seen the points Stoke picked up last season from cashing in on set-pieces and with Iwelumo at our disposal, even if it’s just from the bench, we’re surely giving ourselves a good option.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Like everyone, I’ll look on with interest to see who comes through the door but I’ll also be intrigued to see who is shipped out.

World Cup Wolves

Seeing Richard Stearman turn out for the England U21s in the European Championships got me thinking about next years World Cup. I couldn’t help but wonder if any Wolves players have even the slightest chance of making the 22 man England squad?

I’ve looked at our current playing-staff and as I see it there are probably only two players who could realistically force their way in and that’s Kites and SEB. But to make it a bit more fun, I’ve thrown Stearman into the mix and a couple of rank-outsiders, Matt Jarvis and Karl Henry.

Sylvain Ebanks-Blake

To my mind, SEB has the strongest chance of any Wolves player of getting into England’s World Cup squad. I think he’ll have to produce a very strong season and get somewhere around the 20 goal mark to stand a chance, but why not? I think he’s a natural finisher and given the right service, would have no problems finding the back of the net at the very highest level. And let’s face it, England don’t have a glut of top-class strikers at the moment so it’s an open race until somebody steps up. Could it be SEB?

Verdict: Good chance

Michael Kightly

We all know what Kites brings to the table; energy, pace, relentless dribbling and great creativity. Wolves certainly need a big season from him if we’re to have any chance of staying up, but if he does produce, can he make it to South Africa? My only concern would be that England already have a wealth of players in his position and I think he’ll find it incredibly difficult to dislodge the likes of Beckham, Walcott and Wright-Phillips.

Verdict: Very outside chance

Richard Stearman - Full caps in the future?

Richard Stearman - Full caps in the future?

Richard Stearman

He’s in the U21 squad, so that immediately stands him in good stead, but he’s not in the team as a regular and he’s not playing in his preferred position of centre-half. That means he’s not only got at least two centre backs from the U21s ahead of him, but all those involved with the full-squad. Added to that, he isn’t even a certain starter for Wolves come the start of the season, far from it. With all this to overcome, I don’t like his chances. I rate him very highly though, so just hope he can do the business for us.

Verdict: No chance

Matt Jarvis

Has never even been mentioned as a possible international of the future, which surprises me somewhat. He’s got everything you need from a wide man; electric pace, two good feet and offers a genuine goal-threat. If he starts the season and plays to his full potential, it won’t be too long until he gets identified as a very useful player. In terms of England, the fact he plays on the left, which is a notoriously weak position, certainly counts in his favour. I’d imagine Joe Cole will make this position his own but whose to say a good season from Matty won’t put him in with a chance. You never know who might get injured in the build-up to the tournament, which could just open the door.

Verdict: Sneaky outsider

Karl Henry

I’ll probably get stoned for even suggesting this, but I thought five players was a nice number to evaluate. Wolves’ captain still has to convince many of his own fans, let alone the nation. There’s no doubting he’s done an important job for Wolves over the last couple of years, breaking up play and feeding the more creative players. I don’t think he gets the recognition he deserves and alongside a quality partner in midfield, I think he could be the real-deal. This season will be massive for him and I fully expect him to start the majority of the games. Unfortunately though, I don’t think he’s got even the slightest chance of dislodging some of the powerhouses from the England midfield setup.

Verdict: No chance

A Case for the Defence

It’s no secret that the area most Wolves fans are keen to see bolstered over the summer is the back four.

It seems like we’ve all been saying the same thing for the last 3 years, about the need for a centre half with pace, and that still holds true today. But this isn’t an article about what we need to bring in, but more about what we have already.

In the full-back area I think we’ve already got the players that will start in those two positions. Kevin Foley is nailed on to be our first choice right-back for the entire campaign, barring injuries or a serious loss of form.

Big George - First Choice Left Back?

Big George - First Choice Left Back?

Over on the left, you’d imagine it would be a straight shootout between Big George Elokobi and Stephen ‘I always find a way to get into the team’ Ward. Please don’t take it from that unoriginal piece of comedy that I don’t rate Wardy. He was immense at full-back last season and one of the big reasons we were so successful. However, I think you’ve got to believe that a fully fit Elokobi is going to give our defence much more ‘presence’, shall we say. That being said, I wouldn’t like to put my money on which player Mick will choose come the West Ham match.

In the middle, we’ve got Jody (assuming he signs a new deal), Stearman and Berra. Out of the 3 players, my money would be on Berra to start alongside a new addition with Stearman and Craddock providing backup. Now, I wasn’t entirely convinced by Berra from what I saw at the end of last season. He has a lot of good qualities and seems to position himself well, but there’s that problem of a lack of pace and I don’t think he’s particularly comfortable on the ball. Maybe alongside someone with those qualities, we’d see the best of him so I’ll reserve judgment for now. Personally though, I was always impressed with Stearman whenever I watched him. He looked calm and assured on the ball, decent in the air and had enough pace to get by. Yes, he made mistakes at times but I still think he was desperately unlucky to find himself on the outside looking in at the end of last season.

So, to my mind, 4 of our back 5 (including the keeper) are already at the club:

1. Hennessy
2. Foley
3. Elokobi
4. Berra
5. ? (Mancienne – we can dream)