Archives for August 2011

Ticking over

The message coming from Molineux ahead of tomorrow’s transfer deadline is loud and clear – don’t expect much.

Jez Moxey has issued a statement explaining that Wolves won’t be making any significant moves, although he did hint that a loan signing could still happen.

Logic dictates that this one potential addition to the squad will be a striker, with cover up front in short supply, particularly with SEB limping out for a few months.

Macheda - young, talented and available?

Who this mystery forward might be is intriguing.

The immediate assumption is that it would be a young player from one of the top clubs. Macheda from Man Utd maybe? Gaƫl Kakuta from Chelsea?

I’d be very happy with either of those.

Alternatively, the three M’s could be looking further afield and it certainly wouldn’t be a great surprise to see Mick take a punt on an unknown, unproven foreign player.

He’s certainly done it before, albeit with mixed success.

Whichever avenue they’re exploring, I hope a striker with pace is the deal they’re chasing.

If only one player is (maybe) coming in, you’d assume that means nobody is heading out.

Nenad Milijas appears to be the only name linked with a move away before tomorrow’s deadline, but selling the skillful Serb at this late stage would be a terrible mistake in my eyes.

For all the paper talk, Wolves haven’t (publicly at least) received any offers for Matt Jarvis or Kevin Doyle.

Given the way the club does business, it’s difficult to see a rush-deal being pushed through for one of our best players, even if one of the big clubs does come calling.

All the same, it will be a relief to see the window close with both of the above players still sporting the old gold and the best squad we’ve had in over 30 years still intact.

You see, for all the huff, puff and bluster from fans (including this one) demanding further reinforcements, the reality is that we have an excellent group of players already.

So if tomorrow comes and goes with no new faces forthcoming, perhaps we should give Mick and the boys the benefit of the doubt.

7 points from 9 suggests they deserve it.

Aston Villa 0 Wolves 0

That’ll do Wolves.

7 points from 3 games. 2 cleansheets. Top of the league (as of 1.58pm).

And although this Villa Park stalemate might have felt like your average bore draw to the neutral, Mick McCarthy will rightly see it as a sign of forward progress.

Put bluntly, we probably would have lost this game last season.

No way through

With the home side finally showing signs of life in the second half and putting the Wolves defence under a sustained spell of pressure, instead of buckling or giving away a silly goal, the back four held firm and weathered the storm.

And when Mick rung the changes with 20 minutes to go, the team rediscovered their composure, dominated possession and comfortably saw out the game.

I’m not going to say it felt like a win, but it was highly satisfying nonetheless.

Equally satisfying was the performance of Wayne Hennessy, who kicked and handled impeccably throughout, palming countless balls away that flashed dangerously across his penalty area.

In front of the big goalkeeper, the back four kept things tight for the most part, only really troubled when Agbonlahor was able to find space to dash into.

And whilst Stearman, Johnson and Berra were all solid, it was Ward who once again impressed me. Not only did he shackle the dangerous N’Zogbia throughout, he also scampered forward himself to occupy some of Wolves best attacking positions.

None of the above take home the ‘Man of the Match’ champagne though. That, for me, belongs to Karl Henry.

I lost count of the number of times the former skipper tracked back to cover team mates who’d carelessly turned over possession.

And when we needed to calm things down towards the end, it was always Henry offering for the ball and keeping things simple with intelligent passes.

Although he might frustrate at times, his contribution should never, ever be taken for granted.

If there was a negative to take from the game, it was the lack of opportunities we calved out ourselves.

Apart from Hunt’s far-post header, we never troubled Villa at the back. Dunne and Collins swept up everything, with Doyle and Fletcher isolated by a lack of service.

I wasn’t surprised to see the two wide players withdrawn. Neither had much impact, particularly when Villa took control early in the second half.

That said, I cursed Mick’s name for bringing on Foley and Elokobi. It seemed like such a negative move and I truly thought it would leave us toothless going forward.

Quite the opposite, the boys suddenly remembered how to pass the ball, with Foley instrumental. What an important player he could be this season, even if his role is restricted to ‘utility substitute’.

This wasn’t a sensational performance by any means, but it turned out to be a pretty effective one.

And if you can’t win a game, don’t lose it.

That was something we forgot last season.

Aston Villa Vs Wolves Preview

With both Wolves and Villa currently vying for a Champions League place, this top of the table clash is the perennial six-pointer.

The winner will cement their place amongst the elite, the loser will likely slip down into the (urgh, yuk) Europa League.

Jarvis blasted in the winner last season

I jest of course, but why shouldn’t we savour the moment?

After all, on our last sojourn to Villa Park we were languishing inside the bottom three, frantically scrapping for our Premier League lives.

Things are somewhat different this time, with Wolves being the only side outside of Manchester to pick up two wins from two.

Confidence is high, tails are up and there’s a genuine belief we can hope for more than mere survival.

Interestingly, Villa have played the same two sides in their opening fixtures, plundering a 4-point return themselves in a solid start for Alex McLeish.

And despite Wolves lofty position, the home crowd will be expecting another win against a side they’ve failed to beat on their own ground on the last two occasions.

The Team

Assuming there are no injuries, I fully expect Mick to retain the same starting eleven that delivered back-to-back wins against Blackburn and Fulham.

Hennessey, Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Hunt, Henry, O'Hara, Jarvis, Fletcher, Doyle

Had we been playing Man Utd away, there might have been an argument to sacrifice one of the front two and bring in another midfielder, but with all due respect to Villa, they’re not Man Utd.

I think the above team is more than capable of getting a result in this match and they’ve earned the right to try and get it.

Prediction League

You know confidence is high when a 50 people (yes that’s five zero) correctly predicted Wolves would beat Fulham last Sunday.

Of that huge crowd, 13 people got the score spot-on to collect the maximum 3 points on offer.

So well done to The Wanderer, sleachy, Gold Wolf Sven, MrAussieWolf, Kwolf, Craig D, martin, gebb, Vladimir, Andrew N, CrazyPete, Irish Wolf and dboy.

Crazy Pete, Andrew N, dboy, sleachy and Irish Wolf, like Wolves, have six points from six. Good work boys.

Once again, thank you to everyone for taking part in the Prediction League. It’s becoming a somewhat arduous task updating the table, but it’s worth it to see so many people involved.

This weekend, my head is telling me that all good things have to come to an end.

However, since Wolves have given me absolutely no reason to doubt them of late, why should I?

2-1 to Wolves.

I think Villa have some strong attacking players, not least the likes of N’Zogbia and Bent, but they can certainly be got at defensively.

I’m expecting us to cause them problems and create chances so it will probably come down to how well we ourselves can defend.

If you’re going to Villa Park on Saturday have a great time and get right behind the lads. Things haven’t been as good as this for a long time.

Up The Wolves.