Archives for February 2011

Remembering Deano

Saturday’s vital win over Blackpool was accomplished against a backdrop of great sadness following the death of our former defender Dean Richards.

It goes without saying that any loss of life is a tragedy but as Mark Lawrenson pointed out on Match of the Day, ’36 is no age’.

Dean Richards - 1974-2011

Anyone who followed Wolves in the mid 90s will remember Deano fondly and the great excitement that greeted his arrival from Bradford City, on loan initially, at the end of the 94-95 season. Rumours that Graham Taylor had seen off interest from Manchester United to secure his signature only served to ratchet up expectation levels further.

We weren’t disappointed.

Not only could this tall, rangy young lad dominate in the air, but he had the pace and footballing brain to effortlessly steal possession and glide forward from defence. His ability was staggering, particularly when compared to the more ‘agricultural’ personnel he had playing alongside him at the time.

I still have the glossy poster, given away free with the matchday edition of the Express & Star, emblazoned with the simple headline of ‘DEANO’ and commemorating his debut in a 1-0 away win at Southend.

Sadly, despite his imperious presence in our back four, that season ended in disappointment with defeat against Bolton in the semi-final of the play-offs. And despite a £1.8 million permanent deal being agreed in the summer that followed, his involvement in a serious car accident restricted his appearances in a gold shirt over the next two years.

However, just prior to those lengthy injury problems, Deano produced the performance that I will always remember him for.

The match was Birmingham City at home and Wolves were 2-1 down heading into the final five minutes. Cue a trademark Deano surge into the box and an obvious trip. No penalty said the ref. Ridiculous. But wait. Still lying on the floor, Deano flicks the ball up and with the most audacious of overhead kicks, cannons the ball against the arm of the bemused defender. Penalty! Genius. Deano you beauty.

Thommo did the rest.

And we know what happened next.

A pinpoint Osborn ball over the top. Bully racing through. He can’t score from there. He has scored from there. Elation. A glorious derby win.

But prior to Bully’s magic, prior to Osborn’s sublime pass, who was it that rose highest to keep Wolves on the front foot? Deano of course.

See for yourselves:

We all know about the injury problems, the famous comeback, the goal against the Albion, the torrid afternoon against Dele Adebola, the bosman transfer and the big money move to Spurs, but more than all of those things, whenever I think of Dean Richards, I’ll remember that wonderful day.

Thank you Deano. Thank you for the memory.

Rest in peace.

* I just stumbled across this tribute video and had to tag it to the bottom. There’s some excellent footage of Deano in action for Wolves, scoring some memorable goals against Derby, Barnsley and of course the Albion.

Wolves 4 Blackpool 0

If this was the high pressure, high stakes, must-win game that Mick McCarthy suggested during the week, his team certainly had no intention of shying away from the big occasion.

From the moment Dave Edwards nipped in to win possession and set in motion the free flowing move that led to Matt Jarvis coolly slotting home the opener, Wolves remained very much in the ascendancy.

About time Jarvo


Edwards was one of two changes to the side that started at the Hawthorns and his limitless energy was infectious, particularly during the frantic early exchanges. The welsh international has been a tremendous asset this season and no more so than today.

Adam Hammill also returned to the starting eleven and it was a great shame to see his afternoon cut short with injury after a string of incisive runs down the flank. Hopefully he’ll be back for next weekend’s game against Spurs.

One player who won’t be taking to the field for that match is of course Jamie O’Hara. The on-loan Tottenham man is ineligible against his parent club and will be sorely missed on the evidence of today’s man of the match showcase.

He went searching for the ball at the beginning of the second half, getting Wolves going when it looked like the tempo had dropped. The packed Molineux crowd certainly appreciated that.

It was he who fittingly put this game to bed, intercepting a stray pass before driving forward and finding the corner of the net with a precise finish from the edge of the box. What a tremendous player this guy is. If we can stay up, he’s exactly the kind of talent we need to elevate us to the next level.

And speaking of the next level, that’s something Sylvan Ebanks-Blake seems to have discovered, finding the net twice in a deserved 30 minute cameo. The first was a trademark poachers finish, arriving perfectly to tap in Kevin Doyle’s pinpoint cross. The second was something special, controlling Stephen Ward’s pass instantly, running clear of the Blackpool defence and planting a superb left foot finish in the corner of the net.

The perfect end to a pleasing afternoon.

Of course it’s fair to suggest that Wolves were substantially aided by DJ Campbell’s petulant sending off just prior to half time, but it’s equally acceptable to point out that we’d been in control long before that unnecessary flash point.

Blackpool had threatened in spells, mainly when benefitting from our defence’s uncertainty in dealing with high hanging balls from deep, but for the most part Wayne Hennessy remained untroubled. He’ll have been delighted to have scooped his fourth clean sheet of the season.

The back four, although stretched at times in the first half, did the simple things well and kept their concentration when it would have been easy to switch off in a relatively straightforward second period.

Karl Henry should also take a slice of the credit for the shutout. He was rightly criticised last week for being sloppy in possession, but was far more assured today and even pulled off two or three fabulous raking passes out wide. We need our captain to be at his best for this vital run in and this was a timely return to form.

17th place is the minimum requirement come May 22nd and as of 5pm on the 26th of February, that’s where Wolves find themselves in the Premier League table.

And whose to say we should settle for the minimum?

Wolves Vs Blackpool Preview

This weekend’s match against Blackpool is a must win. Plain and simple.

After the disappointment of last Sunday’s late collapse at the Hawthorns, Wolves desperately need the points. And with the three sides sitting directly above us facing difficult fixtures, escape from the drop zone is entirely plausible, but only with victory.

Blackpool battled to a 2-1 win back in December

Ian Holloway’s team have struggled of late and were sliding ominously towards the bottom themselves until a fantastic home win over Spurs on Tuesday. That will no doubt have lifted their spirits and filled them with confidence ahead of this fixture against statistically the worst side in the league.

Unfortunately for the Seasiders, they’ll have to make do without their captain this weekend, as Charlie Adam starts a two match suspension. That’s a bonus for Wolves because he’s unquestionably been a star performer in a fantastic season for his unfancied side.

Worryingly, Blackpool’s away form is impressive. They’ve already wracked up 5 wins and 2 draws, plundering 20 goals in the process (that’s double what Wolves have managed). Sure, they’ve also lost 7 matches too, but their ‘have a go’ attitude has unsettled opposition all season. Credit to them for that.

I suppose the quandary for Mick McCarthy is whether or not to bring in a second striker and revert to a more attacking 442 formation. I suspect he won’t, with the logic that if he can keep things tight and stop Blackpool pouring forward, Wolves can create enough chances to score against the second worst defence in the league. Therefore, I think we’ll see the same eleven as last weekend:

Hennessy

Zubar
Stearman
Berra
Elokobi

Foley
Henry
Milijas
O’Hara
Jarvis

Doyle

It’s difficult to know what the right answer is tactically against a side like Blackpool. Do you play them at their own game and attack? Or is that playing into their hands? Do you try to keep things ship-shape defensively and pick them off? Or is that paying them too much respect?

Either way, it will be interesting to see what Mick does.

I would probably start 451 too, but bring Hammill in for Foley and really push the two wingers forward, so it becomes more of a 433. That way, you’re having more of a go but not leaving yourself too open.

Prediction League

Well done to Bagsy for being the only person to pick up the maximum by predicting 1-1 at the Hawthorns. 7 others went for the draw but none got the score.

I’ll back Wolves this weekend I think.

We’re long overdue a decent win and when I say a ‘decent win’, I mean a game where we’re not clinging on by our finger nails in the 94th minute.

We’re strong at home (albeit not against the sides around us) and with Charlie Adam being out, I think we’ll do it.

3-1 Wolves.

If you’re going, get behind the lads. I think it’s a sell out at Molineux on Saturday, so it should be a great atmosphere.

Up The Wolves.

* Just a quick mention for my friend’s excellent online gift shop that’s selling Mothers Day gifts, so make sure you’re ready for April 3rd!