Archives for September 2011

Wolves Vs Newcastle United Preview

As encouraging as seven points from the first three games was, zero points from the last three was galling.

OK, so two defeats you might have expected sandwiched that miserable trouncing from QPR, but regardless, the feel-good factor around an increasingly vacant Molineux has well and truly gone down the toilet.

Last season was fairly incident free

That glorious sunny afternoon we dismantled Fulham already seems a lifetime ago.

But nothing lifts the doom and gloom like a solid home win and it’s about time Newcastle tasted defeat.

In case you don’t know, Alan Pardew’s side have yet to lose this season, winning three and drawing three of their six Premier League games thus far.

That run includes two draws on the road against QPR and Villa, as well as a narrow one-nil victory over Sunderland.

Summer signings like Obertan, Ba and Cabaye seem to have bedded in quickly, replacing the likes of Enrique, Nolan and our old friend Joey Barton with the minimum of fuss.

They’ve got other highly rated players too, such as the tough-tackling Tiote and the returning Ben Arfa, who is a definite match winner on his day.

The Team

For Wolves, Mick has to go back to the drawing board after a trio of defeats.

The obvious solution is to revert back to the same starting eleven that began the campaign so impressively and that’s fully what I expect him to do.

Richard Stearman is the only injury doubt that could scupper that plan, but I reckon he’ll probably play.

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

Should Stears not play, it seems young Matt Doherty could be line for a start. If that happens, I’ll be interested to see how he gets on after an impressive 45 minute cameo at Anfield last weekend. Good luck to him.

Guedioura, Hammill, Milijas and Edwards are all decent options from the bench, but with SEB still out and no news on the McFadden deal, we remain short of cover up front. Lets hope we don’t need it.

Prediction League

A giant 29 people got the end result correct last weekend, but only 3 got the scoreline spot-on too.

Well done Chippy Wolf, John I and Exeter Wolf.

I fancy it this weekend.

Newcastle have to lose sometime and I reckon we might do it.

They destroyed us at St. James’s park last season with a physical, direct approach, so we need a big performance from the skipper, which I think we’ll get.

3-1 Wolves.

If you’re going to Molineux on Saturday (or watching it over a pint – wink, wink) have a great time and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.

Superman signs

It’s a lovely surprise to hear that Kevin Doyle has signed a new deal with Wolves, which now ties the striker to the club until 2015.

Speculation mounted over the summer about a possible switch to more prestigious surroundings and I was one of those who vehemently believed he would move on.

Staying put

Even after the transfer window closed my thought-process immediately switched to ‘well, he’ll be gone next summer’.

But with this new contract in place, it appears almost certain that Doyler will play out the best years of his career in a Wolves shirt.

And that is music to my ears.

Ever since his first Premier League appearance for the club – as a half time substitute in a 1-0 defeat at Man City – you knew we’d made a fantastic signing.

His deft touch, close control and ability to hold onto the ball in tight areas was truly remarkable.

This unshakable finesse, combined with relentless work-rate immediately endeared him to the fans and it’s to Mick McCarthy’s credit that he was able to harness all of these qualities to the maximum, utilising Doyle as a lone front man, as we battled our way to Premier League survival.

Put simply, without Doyle, we would have been relegated.

It’s no great criticism to suggest that his contribution last season wasn’t quite as vital with the likes of Fletcher and SEB helping to shoulder the responsibility.

Still, the big performances kept coming, not least in the 2-1 home win against Manchester United, where the striker put in a super-human showing, helping us to a famous victory over the then ‘invincible’ Red Devils.

Goals have never come in great supply – which is certainly more understandable in a 451 than it is in 442 – but to dismiss a player of Doyle’s quality for not finding the back of the net on a more frequent basis is just plain wrong.

He brings so much more to the team than that and, whilst I acknowledge that it is frustrating not to see him in the box more often, the moment we start taking his ability for granted is the moment that Molineux has officially gone mad.

Doyle is, and always will be, Superman.

Mavericks

Guedioura. Milijas. Hammill.

Three talented players, yet none have been given a sniff in the league thus far.

The 'Subs Bench' saloon

The question is simple – why?

A long held suspicion of mine is that Mick McCarthy thinks of this trio as a group of wildcards, loose cannons and mavericks; all capable of brilliance but too untrustworthy to feature on a regular basis.

Understandable in some respects.

Yes, Milijas can be lazy. Yes, Guedioura can overplay. Yes, Hammill is still relatively inexperienced.

All valid arguments.

But, you can’t win the lottery if don’t buy a ticket and I think it’s high time Mick gambled with a few of his random numbers.

The current Wolves team is, in my view, talented but desperately predictable, particularly as an attacking force.

I feel they have to work far too hard to cut teams open and craft clear chances.

The cause of this is midfielders and forwards consistently choosing the safe ball, seemingly petrified to try something a little different.

There’s just too many players happy to turn in that 7/10 performance, doing their job, but nothing more.

It’s percentage football and while it does work at times, when it doesn’t, it’s bloody frustrating.

Even more so, when you look on the bench and see players capable of remedying the situation.

Guedioura

In a 451 he should be a definite starter.

And whilst this is probably controversial, I think he should also be pushing O’Hara for a place in the center of midfield when we play 442.

He doesn’t have the discipline to play the holding position, but is definitely capable of a box-to-box role.

I’m sick of seeing him used a substitute and then crow-barred in on the right side of midfield. Yes, he can play there but that’s not his position.

Two of the best performances I’ve ever seen from a Wolves central midfielder came from the Algerian in home matches against Spurs and Man Utd two years back. We’ve hardly seen him play there since.

Why?

Milijas

I’m baffled as to why this bloke doesn’t play more games.

Whenever he has a spell in the team, it coincides with a decent run of form and it’s happened too often to be a coincidence.

He scores goals, he creates goals and he’s widely acknowledged as our most skilful player.

For my money, you could swap him for Henry and he could sit in-front of a back four, spraying passes around all day. This would immediately change the dynamic of the side.

I don’t underestimate the contribution Karl Henry makes to the side, but his place shouldn’t be exempt from scrutiny. There are definitely alternatives, particularly when we’re chasing a game.

Hammill

With Jarvis and Hunt ahead of him, you could argue Hammill has very little to get snippy about.

But given that he came in and did ever so well last season, before being left out completely towards the end, he’s entitled to wonder what he’s done wrong.

Very little in my book and surely worth more game time than he’s currently getting?

Jarvis was achingly poor against QPR and although he was one of many to put on an improved showing at Anfield, maybe Hammill deserves a chance against Newcastle?

The chances of that happening though are incredibly slim.

In fact, the chances of any of the above three starting on Saturday are pretty remote, with Mick almost certain to revert to the same starting eleven that took 7 points from 9 in our first three fixtures.

And while I’m not complaining about that, I hope, if things don’t work out, he’ll give the mavericks a go.

It’s long overdue.