Archives for September 2009

Big Chance for Big Chris

After a torrid six months out with injury, Big Chris Iwelumo is ready to make his first-team comeback and I for one am delighted to see the giant Scot returning to action.

Having already carved his name into Molineux folklore with a huge contribution to Wolves Championship winning success, our number one target man will finally get the chance to show what he can do at the highest level.

Big Chris - Deserves his chance

Big Chris - Deserves his chance

Of course, there are plenty of people that believe he doesn’t have what it takes to play in the Premiership. These are the same people that wrote him off before even seeing him play, when McCarthy first brought him to the club from Charlton a year ago. They were wrong then and I’m confident they’ll also be wrong this time around.

Looking at our strikers, it’s clear to see that Big Chris gives us an option we don’t already have i.e. a physical presence that can unsettle defences. Doyle, Keogh and SEB all possess great qualities, but none of them are able to impose themselves in the way the former Colchester forward can. The jury’s still out on The Hoff of course, but early indications suggest he isn’t the aerial threat we’d all hoped.

We already know Big Chris brings out the best in SEB, which could prove crucial if we’re to get enough goals to keep us afloat in the Premiership. I’m also licking my lips at the thought of seeing him make a nuisance of himself from the Halford long-throws. Come on, aren’t you?

Now I’m not suggesting for a second that Iwelumo should waltz back into the starting XI. He faces stern competition to even earn a place on the bench. But I’d be surprised if Mick doesn’t give him a fair crack of the whip, after seeing him rip defences apart last season with powerful performances and clinical finishing.

If he does manage to make an impact on Wolves’ season, it would surely mark the pinnacle of the giant forward’s career, having spent much of his time plying his trade in the lower leagues. And to be honest, I can’t think of a player that deserves it more.

Wolves Vs Portsmouth Preview With a Pompey Fan

There’s no doubt about it, this weekend’s match against Portsmouth is the first real six-pointer of the season for Wolves. Win it and we’ll be a massive ten points clear of the Premiership’s bottom club. Lose and it’s down to four points and back to looking anxiously over our shoulders.

So, just to ratchet up the excitement, build-up starts early this week with a guest post from Pompey fan Richard. He’s a friend of Ben’s and a top bloke. Here’s what he has to say:

First of all, a message from this Pompey fan to all Wolves supporters: You’re Welcome.

What for you ask? I’ll tell you. For doing everything we can to help ensure your return to the top flight is not a fleeting one. Our unbelievable and frankly ludicrous implosion both on and off the pitch in recent months means one of the relegations spots Wolves are desperately trying to avoid is all but taken. So as I said, you’re welcome.

European nights against AC Milan already seem a distant memory for the Premiership's bottom club

European nights already seem a distant memory for the Premiership's bottom club

It’s difficult to know where to start when examining the mess we’re in. Just 18 months ago I saw my team, packed full of top class players, lift the FA Cup at Wembley. Less than a year ago I watched us outplay AC Milan in a competitive game at Fratton Park and left disappointed because we only managed a draw.

They were amazing times, but I’m not stupid. I knew we were punching above our weight and living beyond our means. I expected Satchel Face (Harry Redknapp to you) to walk out when a better offer came along. I expected great players like Diarra and Johnson to be sold, and I expected us to become an average at best team again.

What I didn’t expect was such a horrendous car crash of a summer. Our colossal and swift fall from grace has left us with the only penniless Arabian ‘billionaire’, a manager who failed at Rushden & Diamonds, Nottingham Forest and Barnsley, and a player as utterly appalling as Aaron Mokoena wearing the captains armband.

But where there’s life there’s hope and our trip to Molineux represents, in my opinion, a trip to last chance saloon in terms of turning around this living nightmare of a season. We’ve enjoyed draws in our last couple of visits to Wolves but all three points are required this weekend if we have any hope of staying up. But, despite our unenviable P7 W0 D0 L7 start to the season, we’re not without a few decent players. Jamie O’Hara and Aruna Dindane will cause problems for Wolves, and Michael Brown will break the legs of at least one of your players – so don’t think a home win is a foregone conclusion.

If we are to triumph, we’ll need something we haven’t had so far this year, and that’s a bit of luck. We should have drawn if not won against Everton last week, and have suffered defeats thanks to a deflection off Bobby Zamora’s arse and a dodgy 92nd minute penalty at St Andrews.

I’m hoping the fact that it’s my birthday this week means the gods will smile on Pompey and give me something to celebrate. But the way things are going, I wouldn’t bet against Ebanks-Blake finding his shooting boots, David James having one of his calamity afternoons and Wolves deciding not to serve beer in the away end.

One thing’s for sure, and that’s despite our pending relegation, I wouldn’t change the last 6/7 years as a Pompey fan for anything. If we’re paying now for our cup win and six hugely enjoyable years in the top flight, then so be it. I know Wolves fans would jump at the chance to experience half the success we’ve had since both teams were promoted at the end of the 2002/03 season.

But a word of advice, if you do stay up and progress in the league as Pompey did, try not to cock it up like we have.

Play Up Pompey.

Hard Luck: Sunderland 5 Wolves 2

Well, I don’t really know where to start.

First off, let’s point out the blindingly obvious, Wolves shouldn’t have lost this match by three goals. To say the final scoreline was harsh is a whopping great understatement, after a performance full of energy and endeavour.

Kevin Doyle - Best game in a Wolves shirt?

Kevin Doyle - Best game in a Wolves shirt?

We were certainly on the wrong end of some bad decisions in the first half. The early penalty that gave Sunderland the lead was contentious, but I can see why the ref gave it. How he failed to spot Dawson’s shove on Doyle is beyond me though, for what should have been the easiest spot-kick award he’s ever given.

The second half also opened with a penalty for the home side, this time far more obvious as Berra clumsily hung out a leg, after Bent had given him the slip. 

Two nil and it looked like game over. Well, at least to me.

How wrong could I have been? Excellent play by Berra forced the own goal and if we got a little bit lucky to make it two all, then we certainly deserved it having enjoyed far more of the play. Here’s a question: Should Gordon have been sent off for clawing the ball out from the passback? He deliberately prevented a goal by cheating and surely should have walked. Or am I missing something?

Anyway, from there on out a combination of good finishing, slack marking and bad luck distorted the score badly. The horrendous deflection off Mancienne for their fifth, put an appropriate exclamation point on a match that Wolves just always seemed destined to lose, however well they were playing.

But we must at least pick the many positives out of the performance and take them into next week.

Keogh and Doyle were both exceptional, particularly Doyle. Their interchange and movement was very impressive. OK, you could still argue there’s a lack of cutting edge, but in terms of overall performance, they were both outstanding. Doyle ran Dawson ragged at times and for me, was the quality player on the pitch.

I thought Henry was back to his best as well, winning the midfield battle and using the ball far better than he has in recent matches. Halford was another player I’d pick out who competed well and was desperately unlucky to see his header cleared off the line. If only we put defenders on the posts hey?

Can you say a goalkeeper had a great game if he shipped five goals? If so, I’d be happy to give Hennessy a pat on the back. I’m looking at all of the goals and thinking he wasn’t given much chance. But his handling and kicking was again very tidy and he looked pretty assured throughout.

So let’s be positive. Lets take our medicine, however bitter it is to swallow, and move on to a big, big game next week against Pompey. 

The more ‘glass half empty’ amongst us might be smelling a massive banana skin against a Portsmouth side yet to register a single point, but I have confidence that if Wolves meet the standards they’ve set today, they’ll get the result we all want.

Keep the faith.

Up The Wolves.

Sunderland Vs Wolves Preview

It’s two Sunday kick-offs in a row for Wolves as they head north to the Stadium of Light, looking to continue where they left off after victory over Fulham.

Despite Wednesday’s League Cup result, I think we can be fairly optimistic about our chances against Sunderland and genuinely believe we have an opportunity to pick up at least a point.

Darren Bent has been in great form for Sunderland

Darren Bent has been in great form for Sunderland

Looking at the table it’s been a mixed start to the season for Steve Bruce’s side, with three wins and three defeats from six games. Of course last time out at home, they dismantled Hull to claim a fairly comprehensive 4-1 victory. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

They’ve recruited heavily in the summer, most impressively bringing Darren Bent to Wearside who has hit the ground running and looks full of goals. I think Wolves will have a job on their hands to keep him contained for 90 minutes.

We’ve already come up against Michael Dawson this season, the former Hull defender denying us three points against his old club with a goal-line block from Kevin Doyle’s shot. He’s an impressive centre-half and a fantastic addition to Sunderland’s squad.

A player that looks to have come good this season is Andy Reid. He’s shed a lot of weight over the summer and suddenly looks to have the fitness to go with his undoubted ability on the ball. I think he could be a real danger on Sunday, so we’ll need to ensure we stop him playing.

For Wolves, I expect the same team from the Fulham match to start, barring injuries or people turning up late for team meetings. So that should mean a line-up of:

Hennessy

Halford
Mancienne
Berra
Elokobi

Edwards
Henry
Castillo
Jarvis

Keogh
Doyle

Equally important though, is the options we should have on our bench, which could be crucial. I’m pretty confident I can predict our seven subs:

Hahnemann
Foley
Craddock
Milijas
Kightly
Ebanks-Blake
The Hoff

It’s quite simple for Wolves. If they can replicate the performance against Fulham, they’ve got a great chance of getting a point at the very least. We need the defence to hold firm and Hennessy to command his box as he did last week. I’m not expecting us to play glittering football, but we should be solid with that XI and cause one or two problems going forward. The Halford throw could again prove crucial.

My prediction is a draw for this one, most likely 1-1. I’ll go for Doyle to make it two goals in two league appearances for the opener. What’s everyone else think?

If you’re making the long journey on Sunday, I applaud you. Have a great time and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves

Missed Opportunity: Man Utd 1 Wolves 0

I don’t know about you, but I just found this performance (particularly the second half) immensely frustrating.

You’ll never be given a better opportunity to go to Old Trafford and register a win, so Wolves must be kicking themselves this morning that they didn’t make their advantage pay.

Michael Kightly - Looked sharp

Michael Kightly - Back in action

Of course you could argue that the sending off was the worst thing that could of happened to us. Before Michael Kightly was cynically hauled to the ground, we’d actually looked bright on the counter attack and capable of causing damage. When United went down to 10 men, suddenly the impetus was with us to take the game to them and we simply didn’t have enough in the final third to get the job done.

There were a few Wolves players that disappointed me; Milijas offered very little in his second half cameo and I was perplexed by how deep he was playing, particularly when we were chasing the game. The Hoff put the effort in, but there was very little quality.

Hahnemann was also very poor and lucky not to cost us goals when nearly robbed of possession twice. Anyone thinking he’s a challenger for Hennessy’s shirt should think again, on this performance at least.

The reason we lost though was a poor collective team performance that lacked any real spark or imagination. I was just waiting for someone in a gold shirt to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it our way. But it just never happened.

There was the odd positive. Kightly looked sharp, particularly in the first half and he must have played himself into contention for Sunday. Doyle did very well when he came on and looks every bit a £6.5 million player at the moment.

The return of Foley and Craddock is also good news. They both performed well and offer much needed defensive options to the squad. It will again be interesting to see if either of these players get the nod for Sunday. I personally expect the same back four that started the Fulham match.

But none of these little pluses disguise what ended up being a disappointing night for Wolves.

It’s funny really because had we gone there and been soundly beaten, we all would have dismissed the match as a training exercise. But because we were presented with this marvelous opportunity to throw the holders out in their own back yard, we’re left frustrated thinking what might of been.

Who’d be a Wolves fan hey?

Man Utd Vs Wolves Preview

Whatever your thoughts might be about the League Cup, a visit to Old Trafford for a match against the champions is always going to get you interested.

Of course, the United side that will take to the field tonight will be much different to the one that pulled off that dramatic victory over their city rivals at the weekend. But however many changes Ferguson makes, don’t expect an easy ride.

Michael Owen - Back in business for United

Michael Owen - Back in business for United

Michael Owen will almost certainly start the match, as will players like Nani and Valencia, who have been in and out of the Red Devil’s side so far. With that kind of quality on the pitch, I expect Wolves to be under the cosh for much of the game.

There will undoubtedly be one or two stars sitting on the bench as well, ready to come on and change the game should Wolves have the audacity to make it a close contest or dare to cause an upset.

But enough about United, what can we expect from the boys in old gold?

Well, it’s already been confirmed this morning that Kightly, SEB and The Hoff will all start tonight giving us some good attacking options, even if two of those players are lacking sharpness. Alongside them, you’ll probably see players that didn’t figure against Fulham or those that haven’t really been given a chance in the league.

Here’s my predicted lineup:

Hahnemann

Foley
Zubar
Berra
Hill

Milijas
Jones
Kightly
Edwards

SEB
Hoff

Of course I’m not sure on a few of these players, but I think Mick will have to start one or two that figured on Sunday due to injuries. It’s a shame as I would have liked to have seen Surman play. But it’s a great chance for the likes of Milijas and Zubar to show what they can do and maybe force their way into contention.

The outcome of the game will probably come down to how strong a team Sir Alex fields. If it’s a particularly inexperienced side, I expect we’ll give them a good game and could possibly sneak the result. However, the addition of one or two more established names will make it a much different proposition.

With Mick stating openly that we’re going there to attack, I think this has the potential to be an entertaining contest.

Based on the fact I think we’ll face a much changed United team, I’m going for a 3-2 win with SEB to score the opener.

If you’re one of the people rich enough to afford the ludicrous £41 ticket price for tonight’s game, have a great time and roar the lads on.

Up The Wolves.