Portsmouth Vs Wolves Preview

After the 1-0 home defeat to Pompey back in October, I don’t think many Wolves supporters envisaged us being safe and sound by the time this return fixture came along.

But as we head down to Fratton Park on Saturday, that’s exactly what we are – safe.

So despite the importance of finishing 14th being talked up by the powers that be, I hope Wolves will play with a bit more freedom and maybe even give a few fringe players a chance.

Pompey got their first win of the season at Molineux

First and foremost, I’d like to see SEB given a start, preferably alongside Doyle in a two man attack. Having finally registered a Premiership goal from open play, I think these last two games represent a good opportunity for our number nine to build up some momentum, which he can hopefully carry into next season.

I’d also like to take a look at Zubar at center half, so why not shift him across instead of Berra or Craddock and allow Foley to enjoy a couple of games in the position where he’s truly comfortable? That probably won’t happen.

Milijas and Guedioura should both be given starts, particularly the latter who only has two games to earn a permanent deal. On a side note, I’ll be gutted if we don’t sign him up as he’s already shown he’s got what it takes and has the potential to be a real force.

Of course Henry is back from his ban too and I’d expect Mick to immediately restore his skipper to the starting XI. As we know, Ward’s season has been ended by injury and Matt Jarvis probably won’t be fit in time to play.

So my guess at what the team WILL be is:

Hahnemann

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Elokobi

Foley
Henry
Jones
Edwards

SEB
Doyle

And this is the team I’d LIKE to see:

Hahnemann

Foley
Zubar
Craddock
Elokobi

Edwards
Henry
Guedioura
Milijas

Doyle
SEB

I know my eleven is lacking any sort of width, but let’s face it, if Jarvis isn’t going to make it, we’re pretty screwed anyway. Unless of course, Kightly has made a miraculous recovery. Speaking of which, where the hell is he? I haven’t heard an update on his injury for a good while now.

It’s almost impossible to predict a result, given that you never know what team Portsmouth will put out. I just hope it’s a decent game with a few goals, for the sake of everyone making the long trek down there.

I’ll go 3-1 to Wolves.

If you are heading down to the seaside, have a great time, enjoy the day and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.

Boyhood Dreams

My sister came up with these two letters which I wrote to her when she was in hospital in 19??

Aged 8, its easy to see my priorities were already clearly defined. Never mind the context of my sisters worrying illness; the Wolves had won – twice!

Click to expand

1-0 to the Wolves

50 years on, the boyhood dreams live on. Nothing changes for us fans because supporting Wolves is written in our DNA. We can’t change it (wouldn’t want to) and will take it to our graves.

And what a roller-coaster ride its been! Too few highs, too many lows and too many tears but now as then the highs are so intoxicating. I’m sure my first, pre-pubescent, orgasm was when we won the Cup in 1960! And unlike some later adult experiences, I really could honestly say ‘I love you’ afterwards!

So its sad that increasingly I’ve felt reluctant to talk about the past. The world turns and people want to live in the present. But we are shaped by our past and I want all Wolves fans to be proud of the clubs heritage, to walk tall knowing that legends walk beside them.

Perhaps its a good time to take stock now that our Premiership survival has been ensured.

We should celebrate and commend Mick and the boys on a job well done but there’s nothing to be OTT about.

The little boy writing to his sister grew up in a golden Wolves era. Its no wonder my expectations are high and despite all the disappointments, they still are. Wolverhampton Wanderers is not just any old football club. We are Wolves! Nobody should feel grateful we are back in the top flight. On the contrary, the top flight was diminished by our absence!

Managers, players and Moxeys come and go. Some are worthy of their positions, some are not – ’twas ever so. They are merely temporary custodians of the legacy. We are the organic essence of the club and this blog is proof positive of its vitality.

Strong Decisions

According to a sports journalist far worthier than most, good football managers solve problems.

Bad ones create them, apparently.

So as our historic season in the Premier League approaches the finishing line, we can give Big Mick a big pat on the back for finding a number of dilemma defying solutions.

McCarthy has divided opinion throughout the season

Mick has divided opinion all season

Tightening up the team; pushing Ronnie to right back; giving Mancienne a midfield mindset; even reducing a Stephen Hunt shaped hole in the unlikely shape of Foley have, to a lesser or greater extent, solved some head-throbbing conundrums which could have turned into a migraine.

Such decisions, not to mention an admirable belief in Elokobi and the ruthless dropping of Wayne Hennessey, have portrayed our manager at his very best.

Big Mick. An indefatigable, assiduous, and downright stubborn bloke. A gritty, decisive leader, who is an inspiration to every one of our young and hungry players (well, maybe not Mairhoffer!).

At his best, he has solved more complications than Countdown. At his worst, he has created one or two for himself through a refusal to drop his ‘favourites’, and a propensity to play the odd round peg in a square hole.

When times were once hard, fans pointed to a Freddy Eastwood headache, a botheration of poor defensive purchases, and an ongoing quandary at left back.

It’s a fine line I guess.

But now, as we look forward to our penultimate game of the season, Mick’s stock has never been higher. He has never been more decisive, he’s never been more resolute. He’s never been better.

So as Merlin basks in the glow of the Golden Palace on Sunday May 9, he’ll know there is another teaser that he’ll have to get his thinking cap on for.

What to do with his squad in the summer.

When he first came to the club, his clarity and conclusiveness was a wonderful first impression.

Ince. Out. Kennedy. Out. Cameron. Out. No messing, no sentiment, and no time for passengers as the introduction to a new club chapter was written.

Now if Jez Moxey’s statement about winning a trophy is true, then surely Mick needs to find that axe from 2007 and get swinging once again.

He gives it ‘full frontal’ to Friend, Vokes, Ward, Keogh, Mairhoffer, Halford, Little, Bia, Hill, Castillo and thanks them for all their hard work.

Like Jemal Johnson, Darren Potter, Craig Davies and Michael McIndoe before them, they were of their time and served an important purpose. But would they have ever helped Mick get to where he wanted?

One thing’s for sure. Whether he does or he doesn’t show them the door, he’ll not get any questions from me.

Done it!

Well, that’s it.

Job done. Mission accomplished. Whichever way you want to put it, Wolves are safe.

Burnley’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool puts an emphatic end to any lingering doubts and we can all now look forward to a second consectutive season of top flight football.

Mick McCarthy deserves huge credit

I don’t know about you, but I’m delighted by that.

For all the defeats, the injuries, the weakened team selections, the lack of transfer activity, the lack of goals and supposedly, the lack of a Premiership quality manager, Wolves have done it and with two games to spare.

I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am for Mick McCarthy. This is a massive two fingers up to anyone that suggested he wasn’t good enough to keep us in this division. Once again, he’s answered his critics and proved he is without doubt the best manager we’ve had at this club for a long, long time.

Of course, there are those that will persist with the notion that we’ve stayed up simply because three teams have crumbled, on and off the pitch. It’s true that Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley have had to overcome different obstacles this season, but I think it’s incredibly harsh to take anything away from our young team’s achievements. And of course, there’s still a good chance we could finish as high as 14th, well clear of the dropzone and above one or two more ‘so-called’ established Premier League sides.

So what do we do now?

Well, we savour it.

At so many different intervals in this turbulent season it’s looked very much like we wouldn’t enjoy a happy ending. Portsmouth at home, Birmingham at home, Birmingham away, Wigan at home and Bolton away were all low points of particular note. Let’s not forget the 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace either, where we looked like a side that would struggle to stay in the Championship, let alone amongst the nation’s elite.

The next time you feel deflated by our style of play or lack of goals, think about how you felt at full time in those games.

Then think about what might lie ahead if our manager is given the transfer kitty he deserves and a wage budget to match.

Good times are coming.

I’m sure of that.

Up The Wolves.

On The Verge: Wolves 1 Blackburn 1

Well, you couldn’t have written it better.

One nil down, ten minutes on the clock and Wolves struggling to score for the fifth successive game.

If you’re like me, it won’t be the first time this season you’ve secretly said to yourself, ‘this will be it, this will be his day’ and finally, *finally*, it was.

Relief all round for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

The cross was excellent, the header angled perfectly and Molineux practically lifted-off as 28,000 fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Well done Sylvan.

But it wasn’t just because our hero had finally registered a goal from open play. It was because we’d snatched a point from a game we looked incapable of getting back into.

In fact, had Blackburn been more ruthless in the final third, the game would have been over long before SEB salvaged a draw.

Credit to Mick McCarthy for making changes early. The 4-5-1 simply wasn’t working and when we gave that soft goal away to Ryan Nelson, the whole game plan went down the toilet.

I felt sorry for Dave Edwards, as I thought he’d been one of the better players in a gold shirt, but the introduction of Chris Iwelumo certainly gave us a focal point to our attack. In the second half particularly, he made a real nuisance of himself and allowed Doyle more freedom to roam. His presence also got the best out of SEB, occupying two center-halves and allowing his partner in crime to sneak in and head home that crucial equaliser.

We missed Jarvis, there’s no hiding from that fact. His pace and trickery are vital assets to this Wolves side and without him, we were even more toothless than usual in the final third. That’s no disrespect to Ward, who put in a number of inviting crosses and definitely improved as the game went on, but he simply doesn’t offer the same threat as our flying winger.

Jones had a decent game, always using the ball cleverly and pulling the strings on the rare occasions he had anyone in a decent position to pass to. Mancienne did his job well and offered important cover against the power and pace of Jason Roberts.

Personally, I thought Kev Foley was poor. He’s not a winger, we know that, but his general play wasn’t anywhere near his usual high standards. And when you’re chasing a game, his attacking weaknesses are highly exposed. A natural right-sided midfielder must be high on the summer shopping list.

The back four were all pretty sound, but again, I’d give special praise to Elokobi. He comes in for a lot of stick and much of it’s justified, but I thought he was superb yesterday. Zubar too, continued to look a class act on the other flank and he’ll certainly be an important player for us again next season. I’d be very interested to see how he copes in the center of defence.

Hahnmeann wasn’t quite as commanding as he has been. I haven’t seen the Blackburn goal back on the TV, but I suspect he could be attributed with a portion of the blame and that wasn’t his only mistake.

His kicking was poor, of that there can be no argument. He also seemed to come for a few crosses and then change his mind, which I’ve never seen before from the stocky American. In saying that, he handled superbly throughout, clinging on to a few powerful drives that some keepers might well have spilled.

So overall, not a great day at the office for Wolves, but a happy ending and we’re now very much on the verge of securing our Premier League status. That’s all that matters right now.

I must say I was disappointed to see fans spill onto the pitch. I know most people fall into the category of ‘well, if they’re doing it’ but personally I didn’t see the point. We achieved nothing yesterday. I would much rather have had the opportunity to applaud our players off the pitch, particularly SEB who has had such a hard time of things lately. It annoyed me that I was denied that right. But like I say, that’s just my opinion. For the record.

Wolves Vs Blackburn Preview

I’ll be completely honest, I think Wolves are safe.

Even if the worst should happen and we lost the remaining three games, I don’t think Hull or Burnley have what it takes to overhaul us. Aston Villa’s comfortable midweek victory at the KC Stadium extinguished any doubt in my mind that we might not achieve what we set out to do at the start of the season – survive.

Wolves played poorly at Ewood Park in the 3-1 defeat

That being said, we shouldn’t take our foot off the gas and a home fixture against a Blackburn side who aren’t particularly good away from home, represents an excellent opportunity to secure the victory we need to make it a mathematical certainty.

To achieve that, Wolves will have to score at least one goal, which is something we can all agree is long overdue. I just hope we come out of the blocks quickly and get on the front foot, as we have done in the four home wins we’ve managed thus far.

Team selection will also play a part and I’d personally like to Milijas given a start alongside Jones and Mancienne in the center of the park. The Serbian just gives us that little bit of menace in the final third, as well as outstanding delivery from dead balls. He’s obviously in a three way tussle with Edwards and Guedioura to secure that slot, but I think this weekend he might just get the nod.

That would mean a team of:

Hahnemann

Zubar
Craddock
Berra
Elokobi

Foley
Mancienne
Jones
Milijas
Jarvis

Doyle

I know we’ve all been bored to tears with some of the performances of late, even though the results have been reasonable. An early Wolves goal in this one should see the game open up a bit, which would make it a more entertaining spectacle. Let’s hope we get it.

This won’t be the first time I’ve made my way to Molineux, half expecting Wolves to get the job done against a side most people feel we can beat on our own turf. However, victory is not a foregone conclusion and if we don’t play well, Blackburn certainly have enough to put us to the sword convincingly. We only have to look back at the battering they handed out to us at Ewood Park earlier in the season.

Still, I’m going for a home win, simply because we still need it and Blackburn don’t, so hopefully that little bit extra desire will see us through.

2-1 to Wolves.

As always, if you’re going to the game have a great time and get behind the lads. Don’t forget to put your vote in for the Player of the Season award either. According to the Wolves Blog poll, Kevin Doyle is likely to take home the trophy with just under half of the overall votes. Jody Craddock with 26% and Marcus Hahnemann 16% are closest behind. That seems about right to me. Will be interesting to see how our poll reflects the official count.

Up The Wolves.