Archives for April 2011

Birmingham City Vs Wolves Preview

I’m still having flashbacks to the atrocities of Tuesday night, which I had the misfortune of witnessing first hand, so you’ll forgive me if I sound slightly more downtrodden than usual.

Wolves are aiming for a league double over Blues

It’s sad to contemplate but despite there being four games to go and all very much still to play for mathematically, the meek surrender under the Britannia floodlights just felt like the end of the road for Wolves in the Premier League.

As horrific as the negative team selection and lack of tactics were, the most disappointing aspect of the performance, for me at least, was the absence of any fight or pride in the shirt. Stoke wanted it from the get-go, Wolves didn’t and given our plight, that’s entirely unacceptable.

So we now kick-off back-to-back derbies on the verge of total collapse, with both Blues and Albion licking their lips at the prospect of administering the knockout blow. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

To talk about form, statistics and tactical insights seems trivial. I have little to no idea what side Mick McCarthy will field at St. Andrew’s, but whoever starts, we need to find a massive performance from somewhere.

Here is the team I would pick.

Hennessy

Foley
Stearman
Craddock
Mancienne

Hammill
Henry
O’Hara
Milijas
Jarvis

Fletcher

If Fletch isn’t fit enough to start, hopefully SEB will return, as I’m not overly enamoured by the thought of Ward or Vokes leading the line.

Hunt and Guedioura might also come into the reckoning as they at least showed some pluck in their short cameos at Stoke.

Prediction League

Myself, Jed, Bagsy, Rob in Dubai and Stourbridge Wolf all correctly predicted defeat at Stoke but only Bazza got the correct score too. We all pick up a single point and he collects the full three. Well done Bazza.

I’m saying a draw for this one. Tuesday was so bad that I’ve got to believe we’ll see an improvement.

Blues home form is respectable and they’ll be tough to breakdown but I think we’re due some luck on their ground.

1-1.

If you’re making the short trip down the M6 on Sunday have a great time and get behind the lads. The support at Stoke, despite the catastrophe on the pitch, was exceptional.

Up The Wolves.

Stoke 3 Wolves 0

Less than 24 hours after one of the most shambolic, depressing performances in Premier League history and it is still impossible to decide which sight was worse.

The clueless shambles on the pitch – as Stoke City fans rejoiced in our pathetic surrender – was torture enough, before a near lifeless Wolves fan piped up with: ‘Play for the goal difference Mick’.

He wasn’t even being sarcastic. Just pragmatic.

Can I play you every week?

And that’s how life is as a Wolves fan under the dystopian, totalitarian world in which we live.

We’re off to Wem-ber-ley, you’re off to NPower League sang the Stoke City fans, who packed into a ground which looked far, far too big for them only four years ago.

Yet we’re the ones who are expected to be grateful, as our manager chooses to pack his team full of the same players who most of the home ‘supporters’ wouldn’t have seen a few years ago.

When I was last at this unimaginably noisier stadium back in 2007/08, so too were Stephen Ward, Michael Kightly, Karl Henry, Kevin Foley, Wayne Hennessey not to mention Jody Craddock, who didn’t play in a 0-0 draw in front of a measly 15,000 fans, in a season when we finished 7th.

Of Tony Pulis’ team, only Manchester United graduate Ryan Shawcross and Rory Delap remain.

In 2007, we gleefully sang about empty seats being here, there and every f**king where, as a scattering of weathered Clayheads turned the other cheek.

In 2011, there were more wanky Wanderers chants as there were Stoke City attacks (of which there were many) as football in Staffordshire finally eat itself.

One team is in need of a new stadium to keep the jubilant throngs of fans in place, while the other is knocking their stadium down in readiness for Championship football.

And during this painful, gut wrenching, irreversible cycle, one set of fans are told to think of the bigger picture or forever be a nugget, while the other lot prepare for a 2nd day at Wembley and told to have a bloody good time.

A trophy that our current Hall of Fame is built around, while we build our team around Stephen Ward instead, who was pitifully exposed by Jermaine Pennant down the left hand side in a sight all too familiar.

The very same Stephen Ward was then moved up front to try and prize the ball from the big bad Stoke defenders, who brushed him off like a bug on their trouser leg.

Sam Vokes then came on to join in the game, as Huth and Shawcross stifled a yawn.

Meanwhile, our tried and trusted failures in defence cut a similar pose, as Kenwyne Jones bullied them all over the pitch, just like he did when playing for Sunderland last season when we shipped 5 goals.

You’d have thought Mick would have learned his lesson wouldn’t you? Progression? Pah! Time to swat up on that ‘3 M’ manifesto again methinks.

‘This was Stoke City away. We were never going to get anything from this one. They’re a big strong side.’

In a day or two, we’ll get the: ‘Now has never been a better time to be in the bottom three in the history of the Premier League, because we are so close to getting out of it.’

On Friday it will be: ‘We are more battle hardened in a relegation fight because we’ve been in the bottom 3 all season.’

At the final whistle last night, Mick said it was all too unfathomable to explain.

Steve and Jez…care to give it a go?

Stoke Vs Wolves Preview

There’s little to no time for dwelling on the disappointing performance against Fulham, with a crucial game at the Britannia to negotiate tomorrow evening.

This is our game in hand, our ace in the hole, our chance to leapfrog a few of those sides hovering just above us and move north of the dreaded dotted line.

With no other teams playing, a draw will suffice to see us escape the bottom three but as we all know, you never get an easy game against Tony Pulis’ side.

Wolves are unbeaten in 3 Premier League games against Stoke

Stoke themselves aren’t completely out of the mire just yet and will probably need another win to be sure of retaining their Premier League status. They’ll be looking at this fixture as the ideal opportunity to get the job done sooner rather than later.

Their home record is ominously good, with 8 wins on their own ground against four draws and just four defeats. So suffice to say, if they hadn’t been defeated a whopping 12 times on the road, they’d be significantly higher up the table.

You know what you’ll get from the Potters, but sadly that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. They’ll compete for everything, throw a lot of high balls in the box and constantly ask questions of your defence and goalkeeper. The question is, can Wolves cope?

If we assume that Richard Stearman will remain at right-back alongside Christophe Berra and Jody Craddock in the center of defence, we should have enough aerial strength to stand strong against the bombardment. Wayne Hennessy will need to be at his very best, as any flapping could prove costly. He spilled a few crosses against Fulham and I’m not sure we can afford more of the same in this one.

I believe we’ll see the same starting XI that took to the field against Fulham, which means a team of:

Hennessy

Stearman
Craddock
Berra
Ward

Guedioura
Henry
Milijas
O’Hara
Jarvis

Fletcher

Prediction League

Well done to aikiwolf, Rob and Bagsy who all correctly predicted that Saturday’s game would end in a one all draw. Each of you shrewd pundits get the maximum 3 points on offer.

I feel nervous about tomorrow night’s fixture and not at all confident.

I foresee us being under siege for much of the game and suspect we might end up getting worn down by Stoke’s effective brand of direct football.

Whenever we’ve come up against sides away from home who adopt a physical approach i.e. Blackburn and Newcastle, we’ve been swept aside and I fear the same might happen again.

I’ll plump for 3-1 Stoke and hope I’m cursing myself at 10pm tomorrow evening for such reckless negativity.

If you’re going to the match, have a great time and get right behind the lads. It’s always a great atmosphere at the Britannia and the lads will need all the support they can get.

Up The Wolves.