Archives for March 2010

Loan Rangers

The players Wolves have brought in on loan this season have certainly enjoyed mixed fortunes. I thought it would be worth taking a look at them individually and assessing the chances of their respective deals becoming permanent. Here goes…

Adlene Guedioura

If there’s one player I’d put my house (well, apartment) on Wolves signing permanently in the summer it would have to be the powerful midfielder. He’s done fantastically since arriving in January; forcing his way into the team and showing he has all the attributes to shine in the Premiership. I think I’m correct in saying a deal has already been thrashed with Charleroi and I’ll be amazed if Wolves don’t take up that option, regardless of which division we’re in.

In or Out: In

Mancienne: Should he stay or should he go?

Geoffrey Mujangi Bia

I think it’s fair to say our other January signing from Belgium hasn’t done quite so well. Bia featured in both cup games against Palace and struggled to make any sort of impact. He did come off the bench away at Hull and nearly scored the winner; stinging the palms of Boaz Myhill with a powerful drive. Since then though, he hasn’t even made the squad, so it’s difficult to see how he’s possibly going to do enough to earn a permanent transfer.

In or Out: Out

Segundo Castillo

When the Ecuadorian midfielder rocked up in the dying seconds of the summer transfer window, it looked like he might have a major role to play. He slotted in well alongside Henry and was particularly impressive against Fulham in a rare home win. After that, he played a handful of games, did OK but then inexplicably vanished into thin air. Strange. Mick obviously thinks he has better options and it’s difficult to argue, looking at the players ahead of Castillo in the pecking order. So unless there’s a significant development, he’ll probably be on the first plane back to Belgrade.

In or Out: Out

Michael Mancienne

This is the most interesting one for me. The young Chelsea defender has featured in nearly every game this season and his versatility has made him an important player within the squad. Mick would love to sign him up, I have no doubt about that, but the decision is likely to be out of his hands.

First off and perhaps most crucially, is the lad interested in staying? I believe the answer to that is ‘no’, given what I’ve read in various interviews throughout the season. He seems keen to head back to Stamford Bridge and have another crack at getting in the mix there. However, if Chelsea made it clear he was surplus to requirements, he might well have a change of heart. He seems to enjoy his football at Molineux so perhaps if he feels he has to move somewhere, it might as well be to somewhere he’s already settled.

My instinct tells me there’s a deal to be done at the end of the season, but the fee would have to be right for Wolves. If Chelsea want silly money – I’m talking five or six million plus – I think we should take our business elsewhere. In my opinion, there’s better players available for that kind of money, who can have a bigger impact on the team. However, if a fee somewhere in the region of three to four million could be thrashed out, it might be worth taking a punt.

It goes without saying that if we’re relegated, any potential deal would immediately be down the toilet.

In or Out: ?

Anyway, that’s my assessment of the Loan Rangers. What’s yours?

You can’t beat…

…a bit of Bully on a Monday afternoon.

I actually came across this video from the Daily Mirror a few months back and meant to link to it, but totally forgot.

Here, Bully discusses his England debut against Scotland, his discussion prior to the game with the late, great Sir Bobby Robson and other funny stories surrounding that famous day at Hampden Park.

I really enjoyed this video, particularly when Bully talks about some of the other players attitudes towards him. Sounds like he had to put up with a lot of crap from so-called bigger names, which makes this success story all the more impressive.

Anyway, enjoy!

***Disclaimer*** If you’re not from the Black Country, I probably wouldn’t even bother trying to decipher what is being said in this video.

Thanks to the Wolverhampton Wanderers section of the Daily Mirror for allowing me to use this video.

Ticking Over: Wolves 0 Everton 0

Well, another match unbeaten, another useful point gained and a tiny step closer to Premiership safety. Not too shabby.

Although we didn’t win the game, the roar that greeted the full time whistle demonstrated perfectly, just how important this result was to our survival cause. We’ve now gone unbeaten this season against Everton, Spurs and Villa, which is a superb achievement, given the quality of those sides.

Wolves had to defend well to earn the point

I thought it might be our day, particularly when the news filtered through that Mikel Arteta wasn’t playing. Everton have some outstanding players, but the Spanish midfielder is just that little bit classier and has the ability to unlock a defence in the blink of an eye. In fact, had he played, I’m almost certain the final scoreline would have been different.

Still, Wolves were made to work hard for this point and front to back, everyone put in a shift, to use a McCarthyism.

The back four were very good.

Jody Craddock won practically everything. Berra was shaky to begin with, but grew in confidence as the game progressed. Big George Elokobi gave his all and even delivered a couple of teasing balls into the Everton box on the rare occasion he ventured forward. I think he’s successfully wrestled that left-back slot away from Stephen Ward, at least in the short term.

Zubar was probably the best of the lot though, using his power and pace to defend flawlessly and bomb forward when the opportunity presented himself. Our two brightest moments in the game came when the Frenchman exchanged clever passes and surged into the Everton box, only to come up agonisingly short with his final ball. His improvement has been a big factor in our recent upturn in form.

In midfield, Henry and Mancienne were neat and tidy, constantly grappling for the ball and winning enough mini-battles to ensure Everton couldn’t break us down. Jones wasn’t as effective as he has been in recent matches, but still got into some good positions. His second half booking for taking a quick free kick was ridiculous, particularly when identical situations involving players in blue shirts went unpunished.

Doyle was good, but not quite up to the usual high standards he sets. He looked a little jaded to me, so it’s just as well he’s got a full week until we next play. The rest will probably do him good.

All in all though, pretty good stuff from the boys in old gold. We’ve definitely built up some momentum, so you could look at it as a shame that we have to visit the Emirates next Saturday, where defeat is a very strong possibility. However, as we are in such good shape and as Arsenal have the small matter of a Champions League tie against Barcelona in the back of their minds, what better chance will we have to cause a massive upset and in doing so, enjoy our greatest day yet?

You never know.

What the Papers Say

Mick McCarthy is ever the realist. He has seen his Wolves team – for so long struggling in intensive care – emerge with a run of eight points from four matches. But he knows they are still a long way from Premier League safety.

What Wolves lacked in attack, they made up for in defence to gain another crucial point towards safety.

According to the thoughts of Mick McCarthy, every point is a prisoner at this level and his Wolverhampton Wanderers team managed to intern another one at Molineux yesterday in their efforts to avoid relegation. Quite how they captured this particular one, their eighth in four games, may remain a mystery to Everton.

The Telegraph

Wolves Vs Everton Preview

31 points, 7 above the dropzone and 15th in the table.

Absolutely brilliant Wolves.

That electrifying performance at Upton Park was undoubtedly the pinnacle of the season to date, as we picked West Ham apart and ruthlessly dispatched another of our relegation rivals.

Kevin Doyle gave Wolves the lead at Goodison Park

My old man even cracked a smile, pumped his fist jubilantly and proclaimed a word I never thought I would hear him say in connection with Wolverhampton Wanderers – Europe.

That was of course in jest, but it demonstrates perfectly the energising effect the last three games have had on the old goal faithful.

And so our heroes return to a buoyant Molineux, with a united crowd hoping to witness another courageous performance from our rapidly improving side. Confidence should be sky high in the home dressing room, but across the hall, the opposition are in pretty good shape too.

Having seen off Man City last night to continue their excellent from and cement their place just below the clutch of teams challenging for the Champions League, Everton are rampant at present.

The return from injury of key players such as Phil Jagielka and the classy Mikel Arteta has taken them to a new level and they now look capable of handing out a beating to anyone. It is not a good time to be playing them.

However, seven defeats on the road for the Toffees should encourage Wolves and a decent home win is certainly long overdue.

There’s a few selection dilemmas for Mick McCarthy with Guedioura and Mancienne both pressing for a place in our three man midfield and Big George looking determined to hang onto his slot at left-back ahead of Stephen Ward.

After such a strong showing at West Ham, I would imagine the same eleven will take to the field on Saturday, so that’s:

Hahnemann

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Elokobi

Foley
Henry
Mancienne
Jones
Jarvis

Doyle

I wonder if Dave Edwards will make the bench? I’d love to see the Welsh international back in action, even if it’s only a small cameo. I suppose with the team doing so well, the temptation will be to hold him back.

I was pleased to see Halford on the bench on Tuesday. I know he’s not exactly a fans favourite but if you’re chasing a game or looking to see out a few minutes, it can’t do any harm to have a bloke who can throw the ball half the length of the pitch knocking about.

You might call me an optimistic fool for getting sucked in by our good form, but I’m going for a Wolves win – 2-1.

If we do get it, I believe we’ll be on the verge of crossing the line, which would be a fantastic achievement with six games still remaining after Saturday.

If you’re going to the match, give the lads the reception they deserve, get behind them and have a great time.

Up The Wolves

As a little bonus, Richard Knowles, lifelong Toffee, has taken the time to give us his thoughts ahead of the big game at the weekend. He spoke to us earlier in the season before the match at Goodison Park, so we’re delighted to welcome him back. Here’s what he had to say:

This weekend’s fixture between our clubs should be a classic, well judging by our respective midweek results. Typically it will probably end in similar fashion to your home game with our lovely neighbours – a 0-0 bore draw with possibly one shot on target.

Fair play to Wolves for the results in the last ten days, 7 points out of 9 from three tricky away games is something the players, fans and club should be rightly proud of.

I said in a rambling before the game at Goodison that I hoped and thought you would stay up this season; I see no reason to change my mind now.

The club needed to find a different way of playing to the previous season in the Championship. A solid, defensive set-up with the option of good counter attacking play. In Kevin Doyle you have a great head to the front line.

As for the game I hope to see Wolves being a little more attack-minded, especially given the recent results, although I expect our great win at City might make you think a point is a good result.

For Everton I expect a win, but know the game will be tough and, with the greatest of respect, think a point or less will be a bad haul for us.

The keeper Hahnemann is on good form and Doyle is leading the line well, but just like Everton, Wolves have found the team spirit that can get performances and points from teams who individually may have better players.

Would I want any Wolves players in Everton’s squad? Doyle is probably the only one, although the team spirit is something many teams would like; see West Ham!

I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw on Saturday, but if Pienaar, Arteta, Osman and Cahill put on a show, I think it’ll be three points for us.

Good luck for the last few games, after 5pm on Saturday of course, I reckon I’ll be back to Molineux to cheer on Everton in the Premiership next season.

Dreamland: West Ham 1 Wolves 3

Alf Garnett, Kriss Akabusi, Noel Edmunds, Billy Mitchell, Chesney Hawkes…Your boys took one hell of a beating!

To quote a former Wolves legend who knows a bit about football: “All over the pitch, Wolves have been quicker, sharper and hungrier than West Ham.”

Zubar superbly smashed home the second

Andy Gray was underplaying it with his summary, as we completely took the piss out of West Ham from the first minute to the last.

Nobody could have predicted a 3-1 win at Upton Park, and a performance that had more poetry about it than a bunch of daffodils and William Wordsworth.

Poetic that porn baron David Sullivan had to suffer in silence in his utterly preposterous winter jacket.

Poetic that he could probably do with Steve Bruce or Alex McCleish right now after treating them so shabbily at Blues, while his current manager ‘rested’ Parker, Cole and co on Saturday as he lined up a home banker against Wolves – without the Premier League batting an eye-lid.

But enough of them lot. Well done Mick, well done lads, you’ve done us proud. And not for the first time.

Kevin Doyle led from the front again and deserved yet another man-of-the-match award, but could probably split it 11 ways as every single player looked in a different league.

How good were we?! This felt like more than a result and more than 3 points. It was a marker to the whole of the footballing world that we do posses Premier League class and can fit into all of those annoying clichés that are usually reserved for others.

Goals of Premier League quality, a Premier League performance, and an ability to seize on errors as only Premier League sides can.

You can hear it now: ‘Don’t give Wolves space or they’ll punish you.’ Hooray!

Elokobi, in at left back, looked every inch a Premier League left back, while Henry and Jones looked like they’d been bossing the Boleyn Ground all their lives. I needn’t have worried about Mancienne replacing Adlene either.

And what about the others? Craddock and Zubar made Cole about as effective as he was at Molineux all those seasons ago, while Zubar has gone from a French speaking squad player to one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Watching him leather in the second was the most jaw dropping TV moment since Keith Chegwin got his dick out on Channel 5.

I promptly got mine out when I saw the net bulge, and had barely tucked it away before Jarvis, our most improved and most potent player, made it 3.

The goals were simplicity and beauty personified, and strikes to make Wayne Rooney an extra few grand, if it was him who had scored them.

Hahnemann, with shiny bald pate offering more reassurance than Michael Winner, continued to guide and prompt his troops on the few occasions he was troubled.

“Calm down dear, it’s a through-ball that I’m going to smother. Calm down dear, it’s a dangerous cross that I’m going to eat.”

This result, more than any other in 2 years of Premier League experience, was the most complete and most enjoyable, saying more about our immediate future than I could have ever dreamt possible.

The last word goes to Mick, who surmised: “My teams always work hard. If they don’t, then they don’t get a shirt.

“It was significant, of course it was. If any other team can put a run together like we just have, then good luck to them.”

West Ham Vs Wolves Preview: Squeeky Bum Time

You know it’s squeaky bum time when the daffodils are out and the crocuses are lighting up the ring road.

Spring has sprung, and so has my arsehole as the advent of this hope-laden period signals the real beginning of the football season.

Mick: Was under pressure last season

Most pundits say the league table doesn’t take shape until you’re 6 games in. Not according to my old man, who would give me a slap if he caught me playing with my Score League Ladders before March.

So now the lambs are skipping about, it’s safe to have a look. We’re 16th with 8 games left.

And with that in mind, it will be time for me to ramp up my perennial OCDs with immediate effect in an attempt to keep us in the league.

As our Championship winning campaign began to waver around February, my foibles became more prolific than SEB, as a load of inexplicable rituals came to the fore, two examples of many are below.

· As I shuffled along row Q to get to my seat against Watford, I accidentally kicked an empty balti pie dish with my left foot. Fearing that my bi-rhythms had been affected, I had to ferret on the floor for the piece of crumpled foil, just so I could kick it with the exact amount of force with my right foot, to even out any imbalance.

The impromptu pie dish hunt generated as much noise as I’ve ever heard in the Billy Wright Stand, as half of WV6 screamed ‘SIT DOWN YOU IDIOT.’ We won 3-1 so it was worth it.

· And then there was our 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday, when SEB scored after 5 minutes. For the remaining 85 minutes I sat crouched on my living room chair, clenching the radio aerial exactly as I first held it, for the remainder of the game.

One slip, one movement away from my near fetal position and we would have conceded. Fact. Despite my living room being 80 miles from Hillsbrough, and not entering the field of play at any point. Again, we won, so I felt I earned the beers that evening.

But just as I thought I could consign such stupidity to the dustbin this season, back came the behavior when we were hanging on for dear life at Turf Moor the other week.

As I paced the living room listening to WM (digital set, by now), Burnley’s attacks got more and more relentless. They’d have scored for sure if I had sat back down, or changed one single dynamic of my living room set-up.

It was at that point that my old University friend (who was visiting for the first time in years) decided to stand up alongside me in an attempt to share my burden.

The carpet barely found the balls of his feet before I threw him back onto the sofa with such force that his wife asked me what my problem was.

“I’ll tell you what my problem is. Robbie Blake hit the post at the precise moment that Chris stood up. He should know better.”

Don’t think we’ll be seeing them for a while. But as for my inexplicable OCDs…I think I’ll be seeing a lot more of them between now and May 9th. I apologise in advance!