Archives for July 2011

Walsall and Notts County wrap-up

A big thank you goes to Mark Davies, who kindly took on the role of our roving reporter, making the journeys to Walsall last Wednesday and Notts County over the weekend. Here’s what he made of the action.

Walsall

Desperately needing a football fix, and wanting to add the Bescot Stadium to the list of football grounds I’ve visited. I slopped off early from work in Chesterfield, had a cup of tea with my 86 year old mum in Walsall, then went to the match.

I am always surprised by the enthusiasm of Wolves fans who turned up in numbers far too many for the incompetent stewards at the Bescott. It’s a joke really that they had to put back the kick off by ten minutes to get all the Wolves fans in.

Kightly scored the opener at the Bescot

It was wonderful to see the gold shirts, hear the chanting and the crack from the fans. There was nothing really in the first half to get excited about but I’d make the following points:

Danny Batth looks good enough for the first team, give him a go.

Why did we spend 45 minutes hoofing long balls for SEB, and the even smaller Griffiths? They never won a header and against big defenders they never would. Seems bonkers to me. There was no height in the side.

Poor in midfield with Foley out paced, out muscled and unable to control the game in any shape or form. Surprised by his new contract extension, surely he was one who could have gone?

Big George surged past his marker and crossed from the goalline for a tap in goal, why doesn’t he do this more often? With his pace and physicality it’s a threat not utilised often enough.

Mackens’s goal would have graced any game. I missed Walsall’s second goal but the service for my coffee and kitkat was better than the service on the pitch to our front men.

Griffiths has pace but is lightweight, whether he will ever play first team is debatable.

The second half was far more entertaining and we looked far more threatening. The best comment from a chap behind me was that saying a player was the best left back in football, was like having a lesser type of sexually transmitted disease. However I’d make the following points.

Unbelievable Ward came on to play left wing before Jarvis or Hammill, before going to left back. George looked ok though.

David Davis looks a player, mobile, pacy and tenacious, he could replace certainly Foley or be back up for Henry in midfield.

It was only when Hammill, Jarvis and Doyle came on and added their pace and movement to the game that we looked a class above the opposition.

We still lack pace in central defence although the right back who came on looks very tasty.

Milijas can still spot and make passes no-one else at the club can.

It was only a pre season friendly being used for fitness purposes. Enjoyed my football fix, don’t think we learnt anything new as many of our big name players were not involved. Winning was a bonus, although I left 15 minutes early as I had over an hours drive home.

Notts County

On a beautiful sunny afternoon with perfect conditions for a football match, MM picked what may well be his first pick eleven for the coming season.

For 45 minutes the Wolves fans present were treated to a super show of football which should have provided more goals. Playing 442 with Doyle and Fletcher combining very well, chances came thick and fast.

The defence was very assured and in midfield with Henry winning his tackles, we had plenty of the ball to play with. O’Hara was excellent but for me the standout performer was Hammill whose one touch play, movement and ability to see a pass was of the highest order.

O'Hara was back in action at Notts County

Zubar physical presence and pace always makes a difference, and our defence overall coped very efficiently with everything the opposition tried. If it had been a boxing match the referee may have stopped the game.

The second half rang the changes and we had the passing but only Kightly was providing any movement, and unfortunately neither Keogh or SEB could hold onto the ball to help build attacking play.

David Davis was probably the standout performer in the second half but apart from big George no-one else looked anywhere near the starting eleven.

In conclusion probably the best pre season first half performance I can recall for a while, a big step forward from the Walsall game. The one touch passing and movement of O’Hara and Hammill was a revelation, the link with Doyle and Fletcher looks very promising and lets hope its agood omen for the first game at Blackburn.

Mick McCarthy – 5 year review

It’s been widely documented that today marks Mick McCarthy’s five-year anniversary as manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers football club.

And what a five years it’s been, for the club, for the supporters and for the man himself.

It was low-key arrival for Mick

Here’s a brief summary of my opinions on each of Mick’s seasons at the helm.

Year 1 – 2006/07

Greatest success – Picking up the tatters after Glenn Hoddle’s traumatic era, building a team with little to no resources and miraculously getting us into the play-offs. We lost 4 out of 5 encounters with Albion but the memory of Jay Bothroyd’s goal and Matt Murray’s heroics in the 1-0 home win will never be forgotten.

Greatest disappointment – Getting tonked at home to Albion in the FA Cup was probably the low point (not least because of the ‘Pie and a Pint’ debacle) but everyone appreciated the club was in transition and our rivals just simply had better players.

Overall – A strong first season at the helm for Mick. I think most fans knew that both manager and players had overachieved. Better times were ahead, particularly with Steve Morgan taking over the reigns from Sir Jack with the promise of investment.

Year 2 – 2007/08

Greatest success – Although this season would ultimately end in disappointment as we narrowly missed out on the play-offs, Mick made several important additions to the squad, bringing in the likes of Foley, Jarvis and SEB, who as we know would ultimately make big contributions to the success that followed. The best match was probably the 3-2 away win at Charlton featuring that goal from SEB and a dramatic late winner from Karl Henry.

Greatest disappointment – Not making the play-offs – simple as that. After doing so well in his first season and bringing in better players, fans expected to make the top six as a minimum. Sadly though, the likes of Kightly and Jarvis both missed huge chunks of the season and the whole Freddy Eastwood saga caused the first serious divide between manager and fans.

Overall – A real low point in McCarthy’s tenure. The fans felt the team was more than capable of making the play-offs but team selections, specifically the constant emission of Eastwood, were pinpointed as a major factor in our failure to do so. Many wanted the manager gone.

Year 3 – 2008/09

Greatest success – Winning the Championship. A whole generation of fans had never seen us lift a trophy but that all changed in 2009 thanks to Mick. Everything just seemed to fall into place. Kightly and Jarvis played were finally paired together and other key additions were made in the form of Sam Vokes, Dave Jones, Richard Stearman and the awesome Chris Iwelumo. These players were ultimately the difference between missing out on the play-offs and winning the league. Mick identified them and brought them in. Simple as.

Promoted against QPR

Greatest disappointment – Not much to quibble about this time around. Some of the performances after New Year were very poor but we got over the line, which was fully deserved having practically sat on top from start to finish. Mick squeezed every drop from the players and got big contributions from everyone.

Overall – Couldn’t have gone better and his stock was at an all time high. However many questioned whether he’d be able to keep Wolves in the Premier League having struggled to make an impact there when manager of Sunderland.

Year 4 – 2009/10

Greatest success – Keeping Wolves in the Premier League. Mission accomplished. A few of the players he brought in, combined with the majority of the Championship-winning side he also assembled got the job done. Convincing Kevin Doyle to sign from Reading was a real coup and the likes of Milijas, Zubar, Mancienne, Guedioura and Hahnemann all made vital contributions to the cause. Mick also made a strong decision in completely switching tactics half-way through, adopting a 451 formation that delivered us our best run of results all season.

Greatest disappointment – Not spending big on a defender. We were linked with everyone during the summer of 2009 but only the unknown quantity of Ronald Zubar and the returning Michael Mancienne were added. We cried out for Premiership experience but got diddly-squat. Money was wasted on the likes of Halford, Surman and The Hoff, who all promised much but delivered zip. Fielding a weakened XI at Old Trafford incurred the wrath of Britain as well as a large group of his own fans.

All smiles after Survival Sunday

Overall – Success. Keeping us up was the challenge and he did that – with games to spare too. You might argue that Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley were poor competition but we finished above two other sides as well. Mick proved he could manage in the top tier and I think more or less everyone was thrilled for him.

Year 5 – 2010/11

Greatest success – Again, keeping Wolves in the Premier League. Some fans wanted more, but I always felt the league was going to be a lot tougher and therefore the challenge was greater. The signings of Hunt and Fletcher looked questionable at the turn of the year, but proved vital come May. His tactics were questioned throughout but he pulled off masterstrokes in the wins over Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and of course, West Brom.

Greatest disappointment – Poor defensive signings for the second consecutive season. Van Damme, dubbed the saviour to our left-back quandary was almost immediately re-branded a midfielder and promptly left on the first ferry home, Mouyokolo barely played but looked a yard off the pace when he did and Mancienne suffered the worst of his three seasons on loan. Again, we begged for proven Premiership class but none was forthcoming. His tactics, whilst sometimes brilliant, were more often strange and seemingly illogical.

Overall – For me – success. Yes, it took basically the last kick of the season to keep us up, but it was a ruddy hard Premier League and to get more points than we did the season prior was a noteworthy achievement. It could have been better, but it could so easily have been worse.

Securing a third consecutive season of top-flight football, when you consider what he inherited is some achievement.

Yes, he’s spent some money, yes, he’s made some mistakes, yes, he’s the most stubborn, belligerent son of a gun you’re ever likely to encounter, but he’s unquestionably the best manager we’ve had for over 30 years.

Fact.

Wolves ay we – the definitive list of yam yams on Twitter

Twitter has become a prominent force in football, with players, journalists and fans all making the most of the social network to communicate.

I myself use it regularly as there are lots of Wolves personnel on there, who are worth keeping up to date with. But having looked around, I don’t think anyone has ever put a list of them all in one place, so I thought I’d have a go.

Here’s a list of current players, former players and other figures from the media worth following if you’re not already. And please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if there’s anyone you think I’ve missed.

First Team Players

@MrJodyCraddock – Jody Craddock

@MrJamieOHara – Jamie O’Hara

@DaveEdwards4 – Dave Edwards

@GeorgeElokobi – George Elokobi

@StevenFletch10 – Steven Fletcher

@AdleneGuedioura – Adlene Guedioura

@RogerJohnson83 – Roger Johnson

@6ft75 – The Hoff

Youth Team Players

@Danny_Batth – Danny Batth

@Winnall19 – Sam Winnall

@AHemmings40 – Ashley Hemmings

@DavidDavis91 – David Davis

@Mendezlaing – Nathaniel Mendez-Laing

@JakeCassidy – Jake Cassidy

@RobbieJay_ – Robbie Jay Parry

@jordankeane – Jordan Keane

@jon1flatt – Jon Flatt

@GaryONeill_8 – Gary O’Neill

@Jakempton – Jake Kempton

@Jamesspray1 – James Spray

@mccareyA1 – Aaron McCarey

@Benditscotty – Scott Malone

@JohnnyGorman92 – Johnny Gorman

Former Players

@MattMurray20 – Matt Murray

@MStowelly1 – Mike Stowell

@SteveFroggy – Steve Froggatt

@GeoffThomasGTF – Geoff Thomas

@IwanRoberts – Iwan Roberts

@RohanRicketts – Rohan Ricketts

Staff

@Kev_Enright – Kevin Enright (Wolves fitness coach)

@Dreamdrawer – Chris Lane (Wolves groundsman)

@Wolfiewwfc – Wolfie

Media & Bloggers

@OfficialWolves – The Club

@TimNash1 – Tim Nash (Wolves Correspondent for the Express & Star)

@JacquiOatley – Jacqui Oatley (BBC football commentator & Wolves fan)

@GhostGoal – Adam Bate (Sports writer, blogger & Wolves fan)

@WWFCfancast – WWFC Fancast (A weekly podcast made by and for Wolves fans)

@BloggerWolf – Louie (Our very own)

And then there’s these undesirable characters…

@BrimfieldBen – Ben

@ThomasBaugh – Thomas

And of course the most important name on the list…

@WolvesBlog

To the best of my knowledge each of these accounts are authentic, but if you learn that any, particularly those of the players, aren’t, then please ping me a message so I can remove them ASAP.