Archives for September 2010

Wigan Vs Wolves preview

To describe Saturday’s game at the DW Stadium as our most important in the last 12 months might be stretching things a bit far.

With only six league games gone and so many points to play for, it simply can’t be measured as such.

Another win at the DW would be brilliant

But every so often, maybe three or four times a season, a fixture gathers so much momentum in the minds of us fans that it assumes the tag of ‘must win’ or at worst, ‘daren’t lose.’

Our game at Wigan feels like one of those occasions, where it will either end up being a cathartic experience for the good, or a miserable memory to shape a season.

There just seems to be a collective angst simmering beneath WV1 that could do with shifting before it turns to anger.

Some of the pressure goes with the territory of a poor run of form. It just feels that a larger part is the fact that this is one of those ‘must win games.’

Maybe it’s because some fans have played down our last three losses to a pair of Europa League sides and a Champions League outfit, that the expectation cranks up for this more ‘winnable’ one.

Add our 2009 victory at Wigan to the mix and the game assumes even more importance. A loss would be far more symbolic than the other ones put together.

Sprinkle in Albion’s fine run of form, starring players they bought in the summer and choose to play, and the recipe is potentially quite disastrous, should we lose.

Let’s hope not.

Whenever one of these games come up – where we worry beforehand that little bit more – Mick and his men deliver.

Just last season, we rose to the occasion in style at Upton Park, when defeat seemed unthinkable at the time, and the game assumed gargantuan proportions.

Our wins against Spurs were also massive in the context of our league position, not to mention horrid defeat to Blues so soon before.

Going back further, a few fixtures in the promotion winning season felt just like this one.

Most notably, the brilliant back to back wins at Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday when every ounce of my being dreaded the games after our sudden loss of form.

And who could forget Derby County away, when at 2-1 down, we could all be forgiven for a 2002 flashback.

For good measure, how about Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium? 1-0 down in a game we had to win to make the play-offs in 1997, against a side I’d never seen us beat in their home town ever.

Whenever a ‘must win’ arises (in our minds or otherwise), Mick finds the winning formula from somewhere, and makes you feel slightly dirty and unfaithful for every questioning him in the first place.

This is why I’m backing the boys to win on Saturday, by hook or by crook.

Prediction League

Thomas: Ben handled the preview as I’ve been away for a few days, so thought I’d tag the Prediction League update on the end.

Nobody correctly guessed a 2-1 to Villa last weekend, but Dazza in Brisbane, Ben, Yoda, Ezz and Hallam all correctly predicted we’d lose so well done to them for picking up a point each.

You’ll all be glad to know that I remain on top of the overall table.

As always, if you want to join in with the Prediction League, simply leave your prediction for each game in the comment section of the official preview (such as this one).

This weekend, I’m going for a 3-1 Wolves win. Call it blind faith if you will.

If you’re heading up to the DW, have a great time and roar the lads on.

Up The Wolves.

The ones that got away

It’s quite fitting that scientists have found a cure for migraines when we’re all suffering severe head pains.

The past three results – and sickening manner of them – are enough to bring on a bad headache for every gold and black fan, although there’s another contributing factor at Molineux that really has me screaming for mercy.

Losing always hurts. But when there’s a self inflicted edge to our misery, the suffering becomes all the more unbearable.

Thomas: You can't see me!

In previous seasons, the dull, throbbing ache would give rise to agony whenever I saw footage of Stan Collymore, Chris Marsden, Jason Roberts or even Dougie Freedman.

In recent times, the same symptoms would engulf my poor temples at the mere sight of Dan Fox or Scott Dann.

Scientists call it a migraine. Those without the medicinal know-how might describe it as ‘the one that got away.’

If ever there’s a club to lament a premature departure or extreme short sightedness in the transfer market,  then it’s surely us.

And now, as we all scurry and scamper to avoid any reference to the Premier League table, two more players’ faces are everywhere we turn. The fact they play for the Albion quadruples the pain.

  1. Jerome Thomas. A player with Sportingbet on his shirt and the bookmakers taking no more bets on him joining Wolves last summer for free.
  2. Nicky Shorey: The outstanding candidate to fill the aching left back chasm that has been ‘filled’ by Mulgrew, Neill Collins, Stephen Ward, Matt Hill and George Elokobi in recent years.

Can someone, somewhere, tell me why we didn’t pursue these two players with a modicum of effort and urgency?

Thomas, who masterminded Albion’s excruciating win at Arsenal, was at times unplayable and unanimous in the red tops’ team of the day picks. Never mind shoehorning in Dave Edwards and swapping over Jarvis, we’d have had two flying machines and moreover, a round peg for a round hole.

That we told him he needed to spend longer proving himself at Compton adds insult to injury.

Then there’s Nicky Shorey, who dovetails so well with the ex-Charlton man and is widely regarded as the Baggies’ unsung hero.

Meanwhile, we persist with the limited, if not stoic, Steven Ward until the point of a far fetched injury to get him off the pitch. (hmm, no mention of his symptoms on the club’s injury board BTW)

With every passing point our arch rivals accumulate, the pain gets worse as two players who could so easily have been ours mastermind a season of real promise.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, and there maybe be stories to tell that an ignorant, unwashed fan like I will never be entitled to hear.

One thing’s for sure, it is infuriating as hell to witness, just like the rumours of McGhee opting for Corica over Solskjaer.

The doctor has told me to drink plenty of water and take 2 paracetamol every four hours…

…A sight of Van Damme, Mouyokolo and Hunt might help first.

Wolves 1 Villa 2

Hands up who’s getting worried?

After another defeat, another team targeting our hapless left back (until he’s taken out of the line of fire with an ‘injury’) and another late goal, the autumn chill is starting to bite.

Villa can reflect on a job well done.

Hmm...I wonder where we should target?

Mick McCarthy can reflect on a shocking refereeing decision not send off the already booked Warnock, who then goes on to set-up the winner.

Meanwhile, most Wolves fans might reflect on another baffling team selection where World Cup player Guedioura again lost out to Championship bit part Edwards and Ward kept his place despite being so horribly out of his depth.

Gerard Houllier isn’t so well respected for nothing I guess. After being back in England for all of five minutes, he still spotted the Eircom striker masquerading as a defender beforehand and told Albrighton to attack him at every opportunity.

I lost count of the raids on Ward before the inevitable goal came. Maybe Mick didn’t, because a familiar ‘injury’ reared its head and the Irishman was back in the changing room. (Sheffield United anyone?)

In full credit to Big George, Albrighton was subbed off in the second half and never got a look in from the moment he came on, poor distribution aside.

That we completely ignored the possibility of purchasing Nicky Shorey from the Villa will continue to haunt me until the position is finally sorted.

Four years after the much maligned Lee Naylor left, it was ironic to see him back on the pitch at half time, as his departure still hasn’t been addressed with the seriousness it warranted.

The first half was forgettable as we launched too many long balls to Fletcher and Doyle, the latter looking as ineffective as I’ve seen in a Wolves shirt, and we went in a goal down.

Apart from a great double save from Freidel from the strike pair and a glaring chance for Edwards that was either missed or tackled, we offered little threat and none of the encouraging form of late last season.

The second half was a different story however, and with Jarvis coming more into the game in a change of shape (with Fletcher going wider too) we asserted some pressure.

When the goal came from Jarvis it was fully deserved. After the goal we didn’t have nearly enough quality to break Villa down.

The pivotal moment came when Mick made his final change.

Managers live and die by their decisions and maybe ours will regret subbing Foley for Stearman, who was swamped for Villa’s winner when Warnock romped towards the South Bank and crossed for Heskey to score.

To blame Stears would be unfair though. We did our usual trick of opting for the wrong choice around their box and it was Doyle who scuffed an ambitious shot from 25 yards with others far better placed.

Would SEB have been a better choice from the bench in a bolder attempt to win the game?

Guedioura certainly shouldn’t have been there in the first place, so to see Sidwell’s sickening challenge on him in after coming on makes me so angry on so many levels.

At least Mick won’t have to make excuses for not picking him now, as we contemplate a loss which already looks to be lengthy.

Make no mistake, this Villa team was there for the taking and was infinitely worse than its 2009 version, with no Dunne, Milner, Agbonlahor or Carew in the starting line-up.

The biggest worry is that we’re looking worse too – with or without a £20 million spending spree.