Archives for July 2009

Would One Big Signing Change the Mood?

Perusing some of the various Wolves message boards, it seems like doom, gloom and negativity has become universal. The news that Michael Kightly will almost certainly miss the opening games of the season (at the very least), seems to have been the final straw for many. Understandable really.

With our flying winger still fighting his way back and £6.5 million of Kevin Doyle sitting on the sidelines, it’s a bit of a hammer blow (no pun intended) to our visions of what we expected for the West Ham match and beyond.

My question is, would one signing change the mood?

Mancienne - The answer to our problems?

Mancienne - The answer to our problems?

Many still seem to be clinging by their finger nails to the hope that Mancienne will check in before the season commences. Could he be the man to reinvigorate the Molineux faithful? I’ve been one of the people who has poured cold water on this move all summer, questioning whether he’s got the strength and experience to really make a difference.

But the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of his pace and calming assuredness being part of our back four. He doesn’t make many mistakes and we need error-free performances regularly from our defenders, as we can’t afford to be handing our presents. Out of all the players we can realistically expect to get, he would probably represent the biggest coup, at least in terms of quality.

Another centre-half we’ve been linked too (although still unconfirmed) is Richard Dunne. I know a lot of us in Old Gold are keen to see the Irishman arrive and believe his experience as an established Premiership performer would make him a key signing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the defensive signings that City make, wondering if he’ll become available. It’s been widely speculated that he will move on, but nothing seems to have materialised just yet. Out of interest, would you rather have Dunne or Mancienne? It’s a tricky one for me. I’d probably go with Dunne, just for the experience. Many will disagree.

Or perhaps it’s an attacking player that will provide the tonic to our fading optimism? But who though? There’s every chance that if we become desperate as the season approaches, Mick will draft in some Jonny Foreigner we know pretty much nothing about. We’ve been linked with a few, so it will be interesting to see if any of them actually come to fruition.

Again, from a personal point-of-view I’d like to see us get someone who has plied their trade in the Premiership, but I can’t really think of any names we might have a chance of getting. Dean Ashton was mentioned by one ambitious supporter, but even if he was available, he’s incredibly injury-prone so would we really want to take the gamble and splash out big bucks on someone who might only make a handful of appearances?

I think when you look at what’s available at the moment, you begin to realise why the recruitment drive has slowed somewhat. However, I’d be surprised and slightly disappointed if it turns out that we’ve done all the business we’re going to do in this window.

I also fear that if no more signings arrive and results don’t go our way quickly, the board will once again be accused of trying to ‘do it on the cheap’, something that would be difficult to argue with.

R.I.P Sir Bobby Robson

There’s not many times I’ll stray away from topics purely relating to Wolves, but I had to post a little something in honour of Sir Bobby Robson, who has passed away at the age of 76.

What a legend and a true gentleman of the sport.

R.I.P Sir Bobby.

We All Dream of a Team of Gary Breens

Being as I am a miserable so and so, I thought I’d stay true to form by picking my worst ever Wolves XI for a bit of a laugh.

One way of looking at this exercise is that I am a) cleansing my mind and general outlook and b) Displaying that however we do this season, it could be a whole lot worse.

So consider this as a colonic irrigation for my stodgy, poopy, smelly pessimism. (this is from the period 1988 – 2009)

Please bear in mind that my choices are purely on the games I have seen these players play in. IE, I will not opt for Jesus Sanjuan, Jens Dowe, etc, purely as I never saw them, or couldn’t remember seeing them.

weetabixSo in goal, number one, Tony Lange. Ex-WBA which doesn’t help and utter tripe. I recall a ‘Weetabix dive’ at home to Brighton when we lost 4-2 in 89/90. Shipped goals like a bear ships shit in the woods.

rankineNumber 2: Mark Rankine. ‘Shabba’ came as a midfielder from some racked off team, and immediately revealed he had an eye for goal. I believe his one and only goal was a diving header at home to Cambridge (in his first game?) but that was a false dawn and a half. His flat feet and Big Mamma backside made him look like a penguin with a darts board up his arse. Turner moved him to right back, and he stank there too. Plus, I can’t put him centre mid as I have an embarrassment of riches for that position.

oleg_luzhnyNumber 3: Oleg Luzhny. Oh dear. I was mildly excited about us signing the ex-Ukraine captain, but in a meagre 16 appearances for us, I can’t honestly remember a decent performance. Perhaps the expectation was on his shoulders as he was the only Premier League transfer that anyone had heard of. Plus, I always consoled myself with the thought that Arsene Wenger knew his eggs when it came to players. Either Luzhny started smoking crack when he joined us, or he was just gut-wrenchingly shit.

cave-MANNumber 4: Paul Stancliffe. The former Sheffield United centre back forged the slowest defensive partnership in football history with the late, not very great, Rob Hindmarch (RIP). They were so slow, so hairy and so primitive I actually once thought I witnessed evolution going back two stages in one game. He also scored the most hilarious own goal of all time, when he larruped an innocuous, slow pass / cross into his own net from 6 yards, despite no opposition player being in our half (seriously). We lost 5-0 v Barnsley in that game. Great time

BJORKLUND_J_2003_GH_RNumber 5: Joachim Bjorkland. He may have been decent once, but he wasn’t when he played for us. In fact, did he ever play for us? It always incensed me how he signed on a 1 year deal as a 33 year old, yet Jez Moxey would not sign Paul Butler on a 2 year deal as a 32 year old, as he was too old?

FergusonNumber 6: Darren Ferguson. Remember the chants: “Who needs Cantona when we’ve got Ferguson”? I forget how funny us fans can be!!! No offence Darren, but I did need Cantona quite badly, along with every other joker who sang that song. At the time, Graham Turner needed Cantona, Sir Jack’s gold Barclaycard and a genie in a bottle. Didn’t help Darren’s cause that we bought Chris Marsden at the same time for a fraction of the cost, who was a million times better.

olofinjanaNumber 7: Seyi Olofinjana. Sorry folks, you might not agree with this, but I just thought he was complete rot. The championship’s greatest midfielder, our very own Patrick Vieira. Maybe, once every 15 games. In between, you had an imposter who flinched and ducked like Mary Whitehouse at an Amsterdam ping pong show. I’m sure there are far worse centre midfielders to choose from, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

forrest_gump_1Number 8: Tim Steele. Our very own Forrest Gump. He ran in straight lines only, and had to be the most uncouth, unskilled winger since, well, there’s the problem. I had been reared exclusively on Robbie Dennison, so I immediately resented him. Another good reason is that I was promised his autograph as a little nipper, only for him to completely custard pie me and my Dad. You see Tim, revenge is a dish best served cold. Ha!

taylorNumber 9: Robert Taylor. Colin Lee went and bought this blob from rehab, I said NO, NO, NO! Not sure if he was in rehab or not, but he sure played like he did. Colin Lee’s entire tenure is now defined by this gargantuan mistake, such is the magnitude of it. I really loved what Colin Lee was trying to build at Molineux. Astute signings, along with some proven players such as Alan Nielsen and Keith Curle made me believe again, only for him to have a complete brainwave and buy this lump with the last remaining pennies in the bank. Colin, you’re fired.

frankowskiNumber 10: Tomasz Frankowski. Final piece in the jigsaw my rectum.

elliottNumber 11: Stephen Elliott. ‘Sleeves’ is playing right midfield in this formation, bearing in mind that Mick said he was the best player in that position in the whole league when Kightly was injured. Maybe this inclusion is more a symbolic one..Symbolic of all the players we’ve invested time and money in due to genuine track record, only for said player to spunk it back in our faces. His point blank miss at QPR made me cry. (Cue new terrace name of Missy Elliott). He then came back and made me cry for a second time when he scored twice for Preston against us. Nice one.

* Thomas: Where I’ve added comical images rather than pictures of the players themselves, it’s because I couldn’t find a picture of them on the whole of the internet. A true mark of shitness.

Last Minute Nerves

Much like the bride-to-be, who has second thoughts about committing the rest of her life to the scruffy rogue that once swept her off her feet, it seems many of us are getting last minute jitters.

Looking at the comments on yesterdays post it’s plain to see that the slowdown in transfer activity has left many in old gold biting their nails.

I’ve got a question for you: Why?

I’m going to float a few of my thoughts out there and see which one gets a bite. Here goes…

More good times to come...hopefully

More good times to come...hopefully

First off, where do we want to finish as a minimum requirement so we can call this season a success? The answer is surely 17th. Therefore we need to finish above three teams. In my opinion, the squad we have already is stronger than:

1. Burnley

2. Hull (No signings)

3. Blues

4. Portsmouth (Key players have left and not been replaced)

5. Wigan

Another point is about our injuries. Nobody has said Doyle or Kightly won’t be back in time for the West Ham match. But so what if they aren’t? We’re not going to be relegated after the first match. We’ve got the bloke whose going to get our goals (SEB) and we’ve got the players that will give him the ammunition (Jarvis, Milijas, Surman, etc). Attacking is not going to be an issue.

Where I’m prepared to concede a little ground is the issue of defence. We certainly haven’t recruited the personnel I’d hoped (yet) and as I’ve previously stated, I think we need to get at least one player in, who is better than what we’ve already got. That being said, whoever we bring in, I can’t see us ever being rock solid. That’s just the cold reality. We’re an attacking team, jam-packed with players who want to get forward, create chances and score goals. Personally, I’d rather be in our position, with good attackers and a dodgy defence than the other way around.

Another thought is about players like Ward, Keogh, etc i.e Mick’s supposed favourites. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they just expect these guys to be cover or fringe-players. Well, if that’s what you really think, then I feel you’re in for one hell of a shock this season. The two names I mentioned in particular will rack up a fair number of appearances between them, simply because they 1. Try hard. 2. Are versatile and 3. Mick does favour them for the two previously mentioned reasons. When they do get a game, we need to give them a fair crack of the whip. They know as much as anyone that they have to step up their game if they want to play at the highest level. Don’t be surprised if at least one of them does.

Finally, when the Premiership is mentioned, most fans immediately think about the top four and nothing else, making the whole league seem like an impossible challenge. In reality, a lot of these teams aren’t that good and if you close them down when they’re in possession and use the ball well, you can get at them. I’m more sure than I’ve ever been about anything that we’ll get some good results this season, particularly at home.

Anyway, if you take notice of anything I’ve said in this post, make it the following: Don’t be negative about our Premiership chances until the team has given us something to be negative about. The West Ham match will give us clues about how far away we actually are from being competitive. I think some of you will be pleasantly surprised.

Pre-Season Blues

Remember, you can still join the Wolves Blog Fantasy Football game. It’s free to enter and the winner gets a Wolves shirt. Full details can be found here.

I have every reason to be miserable right now. It’s Monday morning, the sun is not shining and Wolves were once again on the receiving end in their pre-season match against Bristol City over the weekend. But as I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, I prefer to look at things differently.

Hoddle - Wasn't the missing piece of the jigsaw

Hoddle - Loved jigsaws

First off, Mondays actually aren’t that bad for me. As I work from home, I can pretty much ease into the week (barring any disasters). I’m not that bothered about the sun, as I tend to fry like bacon the second UV Rays come into contact with my pale skin. And so what if Wolves went down 2-0 to a mediocre Championship side (bitter little dig there)? I can think of far more depressing situations to be in as a football fan. Did anyone see that The Toon got smacked for 6 against Leyton Orient on Saturday? And they had to cope with that humiliation dressed up as giant bananas.

No, I’ve definitely felt a whole lot worse than this in pre-season as a Wolves fan. Which campaign were you most pessimistic about before it even started?

Mine would have to be the 02/03 season, in which we actually got promoted. It was the aftermath of our collapse which allowed Sandwell to pip us to second place under Dave Jones. At that time, just the thought of pre-season ahead of another year in the second-tier physically turned my stomach. I imagine it’s how I’d feel now had we not made it across the line last season.

Then of course there was the situation we found ourselves in about 3 years ago. Hoddle (who I always disliked) walked out when it emerged there was no more money to waste on Polish jigsaw pieces and the squad was pretty much stripped down to it’s bare bones. With no money to rebuild it, I feared we might struggle to even stay in the Fizzy. For me, that puts into perspective just how much we should all be counting our lucky stars at the situation we’re now in.

There were once again big positives to be taken out of Saturdays defeat. More game time for Kightly, another impressive performance from Milijas and even Balde looks to be a decent acquisition should a deal be completed. I do expect a couple of new faces to arrive, whether that’s before the West Ham match or a few weeks later, so I’m still incredibly optimistic about the season ahead. We all should be I think.

Captain Distraction

Like most right minded people I hate my job.

I particularly hate my job in the summer when I can’t rely on football chat to help fill those awkward moments around the coffee machine. Instead each morning is a slow death as I dredge my subconscious in a desperate effort to plug that deafening silence coming up with such pearls as “Weather’s shit again”, “What a lovely sunny morning” and the dreaded “So, busy then?”. The latter invariably meets with the response “Yeah, flat out” even though you know full well that they are sitting at their desk surreptitiously eating Jaffa Cakes and cruising the internet for cheap sci-fi DVDs.

It also seems in vogue at the moment for people at work and the halfwits on Sky Sports News to bemoan how short the summer break from football is. I for one couldn’t disagree more and would happily see footballers flogged all year round like the bloody rest of us. But that’s by the by and I fear I’m in the minority on this (or more likely the silent majority). As the close season drags on endlessly (and in between devising my next conversational masterpiece to dazzle my work colleagues) my mind wanders to next season.

Berra - Captain Fantastic?

Berra - Captain Fantastic?

This week I have been mainly wondering who’d be El Capitano if (heaven forbid!) Craddock and Henry were both struck down or indeed dropped. These seem the best candidates:

Christophe Berra: Yogi was made captain at the Jambos when just 22. By all accounts he found it particularly stressful dealing with all the off field antics the Romanov circus brought to the Edinburgh club and isn‘t keen to take up the mantle again. Probably needs to concentrate on defending for the time being anyway;

Chris Iwelumo: If my memory serves me correctly (which it probably doesn’t) Big Chris was stand in captain at times last season. What with the broken foot and Doyle’s arrival Big Chris is going to have a fight to get back into the first team so captaincy seems unlikely;

Nenad Milijas: Former captain of Red Star Belgrade so he’s no shrinking violet. Whether someone with a drink driving conviction is a suitable captain is another question altogether.

Kevin Foley: Foles doesn’t appear the most vocal of players but many a great captain has lead by example. My personal choice at least until we sign Stevie G.

Let me know if I have missed someone obvious. Also I‘ve just been watching Psychoville on BBC2 and pontificating on potential dwarf on dwarf action. Would their child automatically be a dwarf or could he/she be a regularly sized human?