Archives for January 2011

Wolves 0 Stoke City 1

Well, that was horrid.

On another sub-zero weekend, on the decaying Molineux pitch, Stoke came out on top with their trademark brand of agricultural non-football.

20 smackers well spent? Probably not.

Free header anyone?

Wolves for their part were easier on the eye, but only a little, attempting to pass the ball throughout on the uneven surface but rarely penetrating the typically well-organised opposition.

Mick deployed a strong side, resisting the urge to field the fringe and keeping faith with 9 of the players that started against Liverpool. And in many ways, the performance was very similar to last Saturday’s.

Once again, for all the huff and puff, nobody in a gold shirt seemed capable of sticking in the knife.

The only difference being that the strikers can’t blame the service this time.

Ward sent over a delicious ball just prior to the interval that Fletcher could only head against the post.

Sam Vokes was also profligate, guiding a superb inswinging cross from Jarvis straight at Thomas Sorensen, when a bulging net seemed inevitable.

Then finally, in the dying seconds, Milijas wasted the greatest opportunity of all, sending a meek spot-kick towards goal that the Stoke keeper once again repelled with ease.

That would have secured Wolves a deserved replay, but instead the FA Cup journey is over for another season.

Still, we can have few complaints about losing after Robert Huth was inexplicably left all alone in the six-yard box to power home the only goal of the game. It was a moment of slackness in an otherwise solid defensive outing, but again, it’s costly.

It was a dull game truth be told, that only really sprung to life in the final 15 minutes, but it demonstrated the crucial difference between two sides. Stoke, for all their shortcomings, kept things tight and made us pay for a moment of slackness. Wolves switched off at a crucial moment, then failed to capitalise when handed a reprieve.

Frustration was the overriding feeling, summed up perfectly by Mick McCarthy’s touchline rage following the Milijas penalty failure.

It’s quickly onto Bolton now, where we can’t afford wasted chances and hard-luck stories, particularly with a Man United/Arsenal double-header to follow.

We need points. Not excuses.

Wolves complete O’Hara signing

One piece of good news today is the loan signing of Jamie O’Hara from Spurs. Read the full story on the club site here:

http://www.wolves.co.uk/page/News/0,,10307~2279998,00.html

He’s unquestionably an excellent addition to the squad, but hasn’t played a competetive game all season following a back injury. Fingers crossed he can hit the ground running because he’s definitely got the ability.

With the transfer window only open for another 24 hours, is there still time for any further additions? We’ve used up our last loan on O’Hara, so any additional business will have to be permanent.

Wolves Vs Stoke Preview

Stoke visit Molineux for the second time this season on Sunday with a place in the 5th round of the FA Cup up for grabs.

Wolves were victorious against the Potters on the opening day and good value for the win, so a repeat performance from the boys in gold would do just nicely.

Remember when everything seemed perfect?

The two teams have enjoyed contrasting fortunes since that early-season encounter, with Stoke eventually finding some consistency after a terrible start to see themselves safely ensconced in midtable.

Wolves, as we know, have struggled at the bottom and would almost certainly swallow a defeat in this game if it meant victory against Bolton and three precious Premier League points next Wednesday.

Despite this thinking, I believe Mick will field a strong side for, whilst also giving a few players the chance to force their way back into the first team. Depending on injuries, I expect a lineup something like this:

Hahnemann

Doherty
Craddock
Mouyokolo
Elokobi

Edwards
Jones
Henry
Jarvis

Doyle
Fletcher

It’s a shame Hammill is cup tied as I think we’d all like to have seen him given a chance in this one but the likes of Craddock, Henry, Mouyokolo and Edwards would  all benefit from the game time as they work back up to full fitness.

In terms of a prediction, it’s a difficult one to call, as nobody can know for sure (as I write this) how strong either team will be.

But based on the fact that Tony Pulis has been moaning (with justification in my opinion) about the fixture being moved to a Sunday ahead of a Premier League fixture in midweek, I think he’ll make a number of changes. Their away record isn’t that great either, with 7 defeats from 11 league matches. However, this is a cup tie so all that goes out the window.

Neither team will want a replay though and something tells me we won’t need one.

3-2 Wolves.

If you’re going to Molineux on Sunday, have a great time and get behind the lads.

* As always, cup games don’t count towards the Prediction League.

Take a boo son

So, Andy Gray has been sacked by Sky Sports following further revelations of inappropriate conduct.

And what a silly, silly boy he’s been.

Just in case you’ve had your head buried under a rock, both Gray and Richard Keys were recorded making sexist comments about assistant referee Sian Massey prior to Wolves game against Liverpool on Saturday.

Gray - sacked

This footage was then leaked to the media and predictably all hell broke loose.

I won’t rake over exactly what was said, but the long and short of it was that they implied female officials were useless and didn’t even know the offside rule.

If you actually listen to the audio (which I’ve added below), it’s hard to determine whether they’re joking or being serious. It sounds like dark humour to begin with, but a spiteful undertone certainly becomes evident as the clip progresses.

And it’s for that reason that I find myself divided on what I make of the whole mess.

You could dismiss it as ‘banter’ or even point out that they’re entitled to their opinion. Freedom of speech and all that (I’m a blogger. I have to wear the badge).

And it’s not like they said it live on air either. They were caught with their trousers down when they thought nobody was listening. And who hasn’t said something outrageous to their mates in such situations?

Oh and make no mistake about it, Sky punished them for getting caught, not for making the comments. This is a point only further reinforced by today’s developments.

It seems the final nail in Gray’s coffin was a suggestive remark he made back in December towards colleague Charlotte Jackson, which has miraculously ‘just come to light’.

Sky obviously did nothing about this incident at the time, because nobody reported it, because nobody really cared. But fast-forward a month and it’s suddenly red-hot footage because of the media feeding-frenzy.

And for that reason, I have some sympathy for Gray, as I feel this second incident is really a bit of nothing, shown out of context to maximise effect.

However, I don’t agree or condone his comments prior to the Wolves Liverpool game, particularly if he intended them to be taken seriously.

And I’m not surprised Sky have taken a hard line either. They have to look after themselves, protect their image and be seen to be doing what’s morally right.

Gray should have known better. It’s not the first time the sports channel has sacked a pundit for making a close to the knuckle comment.

I’ll never forget sitting in my parent’s front room and watching good ol’ Rodney Marsh making a tasteless joke about the Tsunami in early 2005. My dad turned to me at the time and said ‘He’ll be sacked for that’; a prophecy that was fulfilled the very next day. You plonker Rodney.

Then of course, there’s the infamous ITV ‘N’ word incident, which saw Big Ron given his marching orders for making a racist comment about French centre-half Marcel Desailly. (As a side note, nobody ever mentions that he also called Francesco Totti ‘a little twat’)

The stupidity of all these guys is actually astounding, but I can’t shake the feeling that the lesson to be learned from this hat-trick of broadcasting gaffes isn’t to avoid making contentious comments, but to make sure you’re not being recorded saying them.

Say what you like. Just don’t get caught.

* By the way, I recognise that this article isn’t specifically about Wolves so forgive my artistic license. There are a few tenuous links but mainly, it’s just to mix up the conversation for a day.