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.

Win two tickets for the Newcastle match

Thanks to our good friends over at Sportingbet, we’ve got another pair of tickets to giveaway for Saturday’s match against Newcastle.

I have a suspicion this could be a great game. Newcastle have yet to lose and Wolves are desperate for a win to halt their slide down the table. It’s nicely poised.

We’ve had a fair few competitions recently, so I’ll try something different this time.

First person to leave a comment, wins!

Go!!

For more chances to get close to Wolves and win great prizes, from behind the scenes access to signed shirts, visit the Sportingbet Wolves Zone at www.wolveszone.com – where Wolves fans get closer to the club they love.

Sportingbet Terms & Conditions:

– All entrants must be 18 years or over

– All prizes are non transferable

– There are no cash alternatives

– Sportingbet reserve the right to alter or amend the prize if necessary

– Travel expenses are not included

Liverpool 2 Wolves 1

If there’s one sure-fire way to wind up Mick McCarthy in an instant, simply tell him his team are a bunch of ‘heroic failures.’

He hates it apparently.

Not half as much as Wolves fans hate him picking the wrong team once again by ignoring Adlene Guedioura for yet another week.

So we’re all pretty hacked off that we were heroic failures in a narrow defeat at Anfield then?

We wish it was Fletch, but great finish all the same!

One hundred million pounds worth of Dalglish signings should consign the very notion of ‘regret’ to the dustbin, particularly when playing on their own patch in front of 40,000 supporters.

But that’s the overriding emotion that every right minded fan who saw us thump Millwall 5-0 must be feeling, when they’ve seen a meagre 10 minutes from the Algerian and none whatsoever from Adam Hammill.

Mick even admitted Dave Edwards wasn’t fit afterwards, saying: “Maybe he needed a bit more because he’s terrific in that position when he’s fully fit.’

So why play him when every single one of us inside Molineux on Tuesday night wouldn’t have?

When supporting a club that smugly pats itself on the back for a lack of summer investment, the prospect of defeat is regularly acknowledged beforehand, such are the levels of on-field aspiration.

Such is life in the Premier League.

So when the manager proceeds to pick a team that immediately stood less chance of winning than picking other options available to him, the increasing monotony of failure sticks in the craw – no matter how bloody heroic it is.

The levels of despondency really should not escalate too much after this loss but for some perverse reason mine are sky high, even as I recall our magical Fulham showing only a few weeks ago.

The reason? That a bottom six finish is most probably the best we should realistically expect, just like we’ve been told to expect for the previous two years.

Defeat hurts, no matter who it is against. It has ruined another weekend, has consigned MOTD to the dustbin and will now act as a precursor for seven days of meaningless E & S platitudes ahead of the next match, as we are all told about ‘improvement’, ‘hard luck’ and ‘togetherness.’

And all the while, us obsessive, congenital fanatics will hang on every word, before Jez Moxey slags us off for watching it in the local bowling club instead of forking out £42 for the privilege.

That’s showbiz folks.

As for our latest defeat…

…It was a game of two halves! Showed nothing in the first 45 minutes, although extremely unlucky to concede the opener when Johnson was clearly fouled by Carroll in the build-up to Adam’s shot that went in off Johnson.

Before that we had started brightly enough, although ref Kevin Friend was hellbent on booking any Wolves player who dared breath in the vicinity of a red shirt.

The outstanding Suarez –who I was relieved to come off – bagged a beauty of a second, even if Hennessey shouldn’t have made a near post effort find the back of the net so easily.

The second half was miles better following the introduction of Fletcher and he gave us all hope with a rasping finish that looks increasingly beyond Doyle.

Doyle then chose the wrong option when a simple cut back would have surely provided Fletcher with his second shortly afterwards as we enjoyed 15 minutes of dominance.

But even during that period, Carroll hit the post and Downing was put clean through only for Wayne to rescue us.

They had other chances too, although Doherty looked really encouraging off the bench as a replacement for Stearman.

Would we have lost if Mick had have chosen differently?

Possibly not.

Is defeat genuinely driving him, Moxey and Jez Morgan to searing levels of distraction and irritation like it is me right now?

I bloody well hope so.

Liverpool Vs Wolves Preview

If there was a team who suffered a more painful defeat than Wolves last weekend, it was probably Liverpool.

Kenny Dalglish’s side went down 4-0 at Spurs after seeing two players – Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel – dismissed for a couple of reckless tackles apiece.

Last Christmas. Stephen Ward my Lord.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, both of them are back tomorrow having served their one game suspensions in the midweek Carling Cup win at Brighton.

Steven Gerrard also made his long-awaited return to action, so it’s conceivable he could have a role to play in this one too.

Thus far at Anfield, Liverpool have drawn with Sunderland and annihilated Bolton in what was an encouraging start before back-to-back defeats against Stoke and Tottenham derailed their progress.

They’ll be desperate for the win in this one and I’m expecting them to come out of the traps flying. Hopefully Wolves are equally prepared for this.

Over the last few years, we’ve generally done a decent job of setting our stall out against the top teams away from home and at least giving ourselves a chance of getting a result. That’s the minimum requirement for me.

The Team

It said on the official site yesterday that Fletcher is back in training, which presents Mick with an interesting conundrum. Does he throw the Scot back in at the deep end and maintain a 442 or keep him on the bench and play 451? I think he’ll go for that latter, so this is my predicted lineup.

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

So that’s Ward reverting to left-back, Guedioura and Hunt brought into the team to make a 451, leaving Doyle to play up front on his own. Johnson will hopefully have recovered adequately to take his place in defence.

Hammill and Milijas are two other players who must be pushing hard for a start, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them given a game. However, both of them seem to have been largely overlooked by Mick, which is a shame because I think they’re worthy of a sustained run in the side.

Prediction League

Only two people predicted we’d lose to QPR last weekend, but not even they believed we’d get stuffed 3-0. Still, a point apiece goes to Ben and Kowloon Wolf. Well done lads.

Thanks to everyone for making the job of updating the table an easy one this week. 🙂

I think we’ll lose this one.

Back-to-back wins at Anfield is surely the stuff of dreams isn’t it?

Liverpool have a lot of creativity in that side now and I’m expecting the likes of Suarez, Downing and Adam will cause us grief.

3-1 to the scousers.

I do think we’re capable of going there and getting a result, providing Mick gets it right with the tactics and the lads play to their potential. They’re still vulnerable at the back in my eyes, so hopefully we can stay in the game long enough to ask a few questions of our own.

If you’re going to Anfield tomorrow, have a great day out and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.