Archives for November 2009

Pathetic: Wolves 0 Birmingham City 1

Pathetic Wolves. Absolutely pathetic.

I’m so completely and utterly incensed by such a weak, spineless, uninspired, disgusting performance, that I don’t particularly want to talk about it.

McCarthy has big questions to answer

McCarthy has big questions to answer

Losing this match would always be gut-wrenchingly painful to take, but going down without a fight is just unacceptable.

I’m afraid the blame has to lie at the feet of the manager today. The team selection was wrong, the shape of the side gave us nothing going forward or defensively and any tactics we might or might not have had didn’t work. Nobody had a clue.

Mick McCarthy has absolutely no idea what his best team is at the moment, which quite frankly, 14 games in, is terrifying. I mean, even I went to the game today knowing exactly what the Birmingham side would be, which I think speaks volumes about where the two sides are. While Blues looked a compact unit, all comfortable in the positions they’re playing and working coherently together, Wolves were the complete opposite. How can that be?

I’ll tell you how. The shape and balance of this side has been completely torn out. Gone are the attacking full-backs who offered us an extra dimension going forward. Gone is the target man who fed our talented striker and allowed him to run riot. Gone is the skillful passer in the middle of the park, who would sit nicely alongside Henry and find people’s feet with clever touches. Gone. Gone. Gone.

You see, for all the defensive shortcomings of last season’s side, they bloody well knew how to play football and score goals. This side still has all of those defensive frailties, but no longer has the bite to even compete at the other end of the pitch.

Now, injuries prevented the likes of Foley, Jones, Iwelumo, etc to figure today, I can see that. But we need like-for-like players that can come in and fill those gaps. And we don’t got ’em.

But the real kick in the teeth today was that Wolves didn’t even compete. If we lose, but leave everything on the pitch, I can accept that and move on. But to limp off, having practically surrendered in a local derby, is disgraceful.

The fans deserve better. Much better.

Wolves Vs Birmingham City Preview

Birmingham visit Molineux on Sunday with Wolves very much needing a win to kick-start their faltering season.

Defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea were expected and have left us languishing in the bottom three, with very little to be positive about. But we all know the real damage was done weeks ago, after only mustering a point from three winnable home games against West Ham, Hull and Pompey. We’ve got three more coming up now and a similar meager return will see Wolves teetering right on the edge of a swift return to the Championship.

Failing to beat sides like Hull at Molineux has cost Wolves so far

Failing to beat sides like Hull at Molineux has cost Wolves so far

Blues have had a pretty decent start to the campaign, picking up good home wins against Pompey, Sunderland and Fulham, while also taking the maximum away from their visit to Hull. Credit to for good performances at Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool, which have shown they’re not going to roll over anywhere without a scrap.

However, there seem to be an awful lot of people writing Wolves off at the moment, while suggesting everything’s rosy down at St. Andrews. Let’s remember there’s only five points between the two sides and two thirds of the season still to play.

Make no bones about it though, Wolves are desperate for the win on Sunday, while Blues would probably be content with a point. So the emphasis is very much on us to take the game to our neighbours.

Mick has already publicly stated that we’ll be back to 4-4-2 for this crunch match, which I’m delighted to hear. I just hope the good news continues with his team selection. I have absolutely no clue about the side he’s going to pick,  but I’ll take a stab at it anyway:

Hennessy

Halford
Berra
Craddock
Ward

Edwards
Henry
Milijas
Jarvis

Doyle
SEB

I think Zubar’s out of the match on Sunday and it’s probably too soon for Foley, so I’m guessing Halford might get the nod at right back. I think he might gamble on Ward though. Henry and Jarvis should definitely play in midfield, but I’m not sure about the others. I’d like to see Milijas come in and give us an extra creative dimension. Could be Castillo instead though. Your guess is as good as mine really.

We know Blues are tight defensively and in Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, they’ve got two center-halves with growing reputations. That being said, I’ve personally watched SEB give both of them the runaround before (can you ever remember SEB not scoring against Cardiff?), so I’m confident we can cause them problems going forward. Hart is a good keeper as well, but hasn’t look particularly convincing from set-pieces, so that’s another reason I hope Milijas finds his way into the side.

Is a cleansheet out of the question? Evidence suggests yes, but if we’re going to keep any team out, you’d think it would be Blues, given that they’re a tighter, more defensive outfit. Hennessy will rightly keep his place (in my opinion) and we need him at his best. Whatever back four takes to the field, we’re desperate for a good performance and no sloppy mistakes. Giving away goals (as we did against both Arsenal and Chelsea) would be criminal in a match of such importance.

Despite all the negativity of late, I do think Wolves will win this match. Call it blind faith if you like, but we’re long overdue a home win, a derby win and something to generally be positive about. We need that first goal and I’m backing our number 9 to get it in a 2-1 win.

If you’re going to the match, have a great time and roar the lads on to victory.

Up The Wolves.

Q&A With a Blues Fan

I got an email yesterday from a Blues fan called Kev, asking if I’d write a few words for his blog, Joys And Sorrows.

Naturally, I was only too happy to oblige, but not before asking him a few questions of my own for Wolves Blog.

If you want to read the answers I gave for Joys And Sorrows, click here.

Kev’s a top bloke, even if he is a bluenose, and I think he gives some very interesting answers. Here’s the interview:

1. What is your view of how things are going on the pitch at the Wolves?

I thought last year, Wolves looked full of pace going forward and seemed to create lots of chances – but always looked a bit vulnerable at the back. From what I have seen of you this year, the latter is still the case but you seem to have lost the former. I know you have had lots of injuries, and that can’t have helped. You need to get your creative midfield going again – but Mick HAS to sort your defence.

2. Where do you think we need to strengthen?

As mentioned above, definitely your defence. It has been a problem for 2 seasons now really, and although you can get away with it more in the Championship – I don’t think you can in the Premier League. I’m not sure of your financial situation, but a couple of defenders have to be on your Christmas list!

Doyle - Caused Blues problems last season

Doyle - Caused Blues problems last season

3. Do you think we will survive the drop?

I genuinely hope you do, but it will be tough. (For both of our sides in truth!) Pompey, Hull, West Ham, Wigan, Bolton etc have all survived before – and I think knowing they can actually helps. If I’m right, I don’t think Wolves have maintained their top flight status in recent times, so that must play on minds. At the moment it doesn’t look too good – but a couple of wins can make a difference, (starting NEXT week of course!)

4. Which player(s) do you think are our danger man/men in regard of Sunday’s game?

This is a struggle for me because I haven’t seen much of your games this year. The names that you listed in your response to my questions would have to be there I guess – Kightly and Ebanks-Blake. (Is Iwelumo still injured?) Doyle is a decent player and I’m surprised he hasn’t made more of an impact. He destroyed us early last season!

5. Blues fans must be quite pleased with the start to the season so far – what are you doing right?

The defence looks well organised. Johnson is an absolutely superb signing. He and Dann look really solid in the middle of defence. Carr also looks like a player re-born. Hart is also looking a lot more confident and in charge after a couple of iffy performances. We’ve only conceded 4 goals at home and 10 away – much better than most of the sides down at the bottom. That HAS to be good.

6. Do you think Mcleish is the right man for the job, reason why yes or no.

There are STILL a few critics, but I think he is. The side he inherited from Bruce wasn’t fantastic IMO. He has built his own squad, and when we want to – we play much better football than we did under Brucie. I just wished we’d do that more often! I’ve already mentioned Johnson and Dann, I think the players he has bought in have been fine. Yeah, I’m hopeful he can take us on.

7. Do you think the side is stronger than the last time you were in the Prem?

McLeish took over mid season, and I felt that the side we had then was no where near as strong as the previous time we went down – so for me, we are quite a way ahead this season with our existing squad. It is difficult to measure this though I guess, (says he who set the question to you originally!), each year teams change – so you can have a good squad and go down because everyone else is strong – or stay up in a weak league. I think this year the league is more the latter than the former.

8. What should I have asked and what is your answer?

Ha ha, well obviously, (as you did), what was your favourite game v Wolves.If I can have two! The 2-2 game at St Andrews, 2001/2 after we were 2-0 down, because that was the catalyst that took us into a solid play off place and final glory! (I was there for that one). I did enjoy the 3-2 win at your place 2006/7 with the penalty save in the last minute, because that also gave us a boost towards promotion that season. I had to watch that on TV, but my son and I were leaping around after the penalty save!

9. What do you think the result will be on Sunday?

Difficult. Wolves really HAVE to win this, where as we would take a draw. I think a draw is the most likely. 1-1.

10. Tell me a little bit about yourself Kev, what do you do and how long have you been running your blog?

I am 47 and a Training and Development consultant, mainly working with first line management. I have followed the Blues since the Freddie Goodwin promotion season. As I live in the South West, I don’t get to as many games as I’d like. I took over running Joys and Sorrows in January from my mate who emigrated. I am supported by a colleague who is also an exile.

Bragging Rights

You can’t help but be disappointed by Wolves recent record in local derbies.

Aside from last season’s FA Cup victory over Blues and the Jay Bothroyd inspired 1-0 win over Albion, we’ve fared poorly against our bitter rivals.

The last meeting with Blues was memorable for a terrible Wolves performance and that horror challenge on Iwelumo

The last meeting with Blues was memorable for a terrible Wolves performance and that horror challenge on Chris Iwelumo

In fact, Wolves supporters have had to sit through some pretty sickening defeats in the last five or so years, particularly at Molineux.

The infamous ‘Pie and a Pint’ debacle will long be remembered with anger, especially after Albion walloped us 3-0 and laughed at us all from the comfort of the South Bank. Later in the season, they also turned us over in the home-leg of the playoffs. In some ways, that was even harder to take as we played well in that game and didn’t deserve to come out on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline.

Blues also gave us the treatment that very same year, winning 3-2 at Molineux in a match that swung from end to end in the second half. That was particularly difficult to swallow after fans favourite Michael McIndoe missed a last-gasp penalty to bag us, what would have been, a deserved point (he was also on a hat-trick if memory serves).

If you go back as far as our last Premiership campaign, we couldn’t beat Blues then either. A 1-1 draw at Molineux was followed by a 2-2 at St. Andrews later in the season.

So as we approach Sunday’s crunch game against the Brummies, a home win seems long overdue.

I’ve still got the bitter taste of last season’s 2-0 defeat at St. Andrews in the back of my throat and the fact they seem to be coping better with the demands of the Premiership only increases my already burning desire to see Wolves turn them over.

The added carrot to winning is that we can drag them back into the relegation quagmire. They’re sitting pretty close to mid-table at the moment, but defeat at Molineux would put a dent in their growing confidence and give us a much-needed boost.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t even entertain the idea of the result going the other way. After all, it’s about time we had the bragging rights.

Embarrassed: Chelsea 4 Wolves 0

Not good enough Wolves.

There shouldn’t be any shame in going down by four goals to a top side, but 25 minutes in yesterday, I felt humiliated. Say what you like about the brilliance of Chelsea (they were very good), but Wolves made it far, far too easy for them.

View from the away end (click to expand)

View from the away end (click to expand)

Mick has to take a large chunk of the blame. The odd 3-5-2 system he tried play, left us chasing shadows for the first half hour, with players not able to adapt to the unorthodox shape. We were carved open time and time again down the flanks, with Anelka and Kalou drifting out wide and enjoying acres of space.

When the starting XI came through, I was actually pleased because I made the assumption he’d opted for the 4-5-1 I’d long been calling for. Silly me. When we eventually switched to this shape, the carnage lessened somewhat, but the game was long over.

Blame doesn’t lie completely at the feet of the manager though.

When you visit Stamford Bridge, you simply can’t afford for your keeper to have a bad game and it’s safe to say, Hennessy had a shocker. He could nothing about Malouda’s thunderous opener or Essien’s close-range, unmarked, header, but the two shots that squirmed under his body should have been bread and butter saves.

As a team, we defended woefully and didn’t show nearly enough fight to stop Chelsea ripping us apart. Whoever was supposed to be marking Essien for their second goal wants shooting. It was a great delivery but the powerful midfielder did nothing special to make the space. Not good enough.

The few times we ventured forward, we didn’t look half bad. Jarvis in particular was a thorn in their side and can count himself unlucky not to have set up a goal or bagged one himself. There was also the odd break, which we failed to capitalise on, mainly due to poor final balls. The closest we came was SEB’s far-post header, which Cech superbly turned round the post to maintain his long-running cleansheet record.

In truth though, had Wolves had the audacity to score, you just got the impression Chelsea could easily have gone up the other end and scored a couple more. They took their foot off the gas in the second half and at times it seemed like nothing more than an exercise in shooting practice, with Essien, Cole, Mikel and Alex all taking aim from range.

Undoubtedly, the biggest plus from yesterday’s match was the support. Even at 4-0, the loudest section of Stamford Bridge was the gold and black corner of the Shed End. Having paid the best part of fifty quid for a ticket and navigated the complicated journey through the capital, they deserved better.

We’ve got a week now to prepare for a giant game against Blues. From the terror of the Arsenal match and the chaos of Chelsea, we somehow have to find a winning formula to quickly turn things around.

Our season depends it.

Chelsea Vs Wolves Preview

After the humbling defeat to Arsenal, the last place Wolves probably want to go right now is Stamford Bridge. I think it’s safe to describe Chelsea’s home ground as ‘the mother’ of all fortresses. This season in particular they’ve been painfully ruthless, winning all 6 of their games, scoring 16 goals along the way and conceding just one (and that was way back on the opening day).

So, smell an upset?

Carlo Ancelotti - Perfect home record in the league so far

Carlo Ancelotti - Perfect home record in the league so far

You’d certainly be a brave man to expect Wolves to leave London on Saturday evening with anything other than a good hiding. But stranger things have happened and with a good performance (particularly in defence), maybe, just maybe, we can ruffle a few feathers and dare I even suggest it, get a result.

Team news from their camp perhaps offers small crumbs of comfort. Frank Lampard is definitely out, which is good to hear, for the obvious reason that he’s a top player, but also because he has an annoying tendency of scoring against Wolves. Ashley Cole and Bosingwa are both sidelined, with Didier Drogba another potential absentee. Of course the players likely to come in will still be a class above the names on our teamsheet, so like I say, small crumbs.

What’s more important to me is the side that Mick McCarthy picks and the performance that team produces. Our manager learned some harsh lessons against Arsenal, which he himself has since admitted. We don’t want to just sit back and let the top sides dominate us, which is admirable, but we have to be solider defensively against the big boys. And for me, that means sacrificing a striker for a midfielder.

I think Mick will do this on Saturday and opt for 4-5-1. The one glaring omission from this predicted lineup is Kevin Doyle. It won’t please the fans (including me) to see him left out, but I do believe he’ll be rested, given that he’s played two games in a week for Ireland. So my guess for the starting XI reads:

Hennessy

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Stearman

Kightly
Henry
Castillo
Edwards
Jarvis

SEB

Regardless of whether this turns out to be the starting lineup or not, what Wolves must not do on Saturday, is gift Chelsea goals. If we get undone by a moment (or two) of real quality, fair enough. But in games of this nature, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. We found that out the hard way against Arsenal.

Chelsea don’t have the same fluidity to their play as the Gunners, nobody does, but they do have an incredibly effective style and know exactly how to win games of football. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if Wolves find themselves behind at any point in this match, it’s an almost-certainty that we won’t find a way back.

A cleansheet seems incredibly unlikely, so we’ll probably need at least one goal to get anything from the game. That doesn’t seem too unrealistic and they’re long overdue to concede at home. Maybe 1-1 is the most likely positive result for Wolves.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the game panning out like that. They’re a strong side all over the pitch, particularly at Stamford Bridge and I think we’re in for a difficult afternoon. I’m going for 3-0 to Chelsea, but hoping for an unlikely upset.

If you’ve paid the excessive premium to go to the match (like me), have a great time and roar the lads on. The away support this season has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Up The Wolves.