Archives for October 2011

Man City 3 Wolves 1

Well the positives were that we played a lot better, we won a penalty and we even went and scored it.

The one big negative – apart from the result – was that we have wasted way too many games to stumble upon such encouragement when most fans were screaming for this formation for weeks.

Three for City, one for Mancini no doubt

With last season’s painful 4-4-2 home experiences to Liverpool, Everton, Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn still fresh in the memory, many have been screaming for us to pack up the midfield since 2.30pm on Saturday September 17.

Forty-two days later and Mick thinks likewise after being so bafflingly frivolous in lost games we can’t retrieve.

This was Mick’s seventh consecutive change to the league starting XI, in a curious statistic that demands closer scrutiny.

Why, for example, did Nenad Milijas play in (what I regard as) the biggest fixture of the season away at West Bromwich Albion, if he is not going to even make the final 16 man squad at Manchester City?

Which game was our manager less bothered about?

What did he see in Michael Kightly at Compton to play him against QPR and Spurs that he then felt compelled to loan out to Championship strugglers Watford?

And what did David Edwards do to warrant selection at Anfield on September 24 after nine months out injured, only to be shunned from our entire squad (Newcastle aside) for 35 days until his Eastlands recall.

Forgive me for sounding like a mindless idiot, but such selection indiscrepancies are driving me barmy in the absence of any meaningful justification.

All I’ve been after for 42 days is a 4-5-1 system that is difficult to play against and preferably features Guedioura in the middle.*

I got my wish yesterday and for the first time in six games, Charlie Nicholas and co said we were difficult to play against.

Maybe if the otherwise faultless Hennessey hadn’t have dithered in the second half, we could have been celebrating an unlikely point.

And what bile would the manager have in store for the mindless idiots if we had of, despite most of them calling for this very formation?

It’s no wonder Mick used his programme notes from Wednesday night to justify his credentials to us all.

He said: “I’ve got all the coaching qualifications I can own, I’ve won the championship with two different teams and I took the Republic of Ireland to the last 16 of the World Cup finals.”

As we all tremble for the gargantuan-sized fixture with Wigan on Sunday, let us all hope we see those virtues for ourselves.

And that we don’t play 4-4-2.

*He did use this formation at WBA for 45 mins with Milijas, only to scrap it at half time with the score at 0-1.

Man City Vs Wolves Preview

On the surface, a 20-1 bet on a 16th placed Premier League team in a two horse race should represent fantastic value for money.

However, anyone who has seen the two teams play of late will tell Victor Chandler and co that they are probably being a bit generous with their odds, not least when City’s reserves have just spanked us 5-2.

The two sides played out a 7 goal thriller last season

And if Mick obdurately sticks with his preferred 4-4-2 system that guarantees a two goal deficit at half time, the bookies may as well stick a nought on our end.

Even a mindless idiot can see that.

The Team

Our battle hardened manager will surely go 4-5-1 for a game that nobody has us down to get anything from, and a game where many pundits believe the pressure is off completely.

Whether the expected system change has more to do with the class of opposition rather than lessons learnt is up for conjecture, however.

The big question is, who will play in midfield for this one, as it is unlikely Mick will drop the leaden footed Berra or Johnson, despite leaking goals like a sieve during this painful winless run.

If he opts for David Edwards, many fans will be annoyed, bearing in mind Guedioura and Milijas have offered far, far more on Carling Cup showings alone.

That doesn’t make them numpties mind. They probably just remember Anfield like me.

If he does pick one of Guedioura or Milijas to go alongside O’Hara and Henry, most supporters will be supportive, no matter the result. It’s what many have been demanding all season. I go for Guedioura, as he has the better engine and we’ll be doing a hell of a lot of chasing.

As for the wingers, you’ve got to presume that Jarvis will play, being as he is the only player in the entire squad with any pace to trouble any team, despite his poor delivery of late.

I hope Hunt plays on the other flank, even if I am one of Hammill’s biggest advocates. My reasoning for this? That we are going to have to work damn hard on Saturday and a feral-type performance from the Irishman will have the potential to break up the Poznan.

Doyle will plough a lone furrow in a formation where he has always played his best football for Wolves.

The only other change might just be Zubar for Stearman, if the Frenchman is fit. If he is, I’d play him.

The team I expect Mick to play:

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

Prediction League

A handful of people predicted a draw against Swansea last time out but only Baltimore Wolves got the scoreline spot on.

Congratulations on a well-earned 3 points.

In all my years of supporting Wolves, this past week has been the most divisive, upsetting and downright painful that I can ever remember.

Feeling marginalised is one thing. Feeling like a lost child stuck between warring parents is quite another.

With that in mind I will utter the words I hope to never utter again.

Forget the result and let us all hope for a performance to take genuine heart from.

The daft thing is that we’ll probably get one, and Mick will then stick with the team that most mindless idiots have been crying out for for weeks.

The even dafter thing is that we might just pull out a freakish result. It has been known.

Come on you Wolves!

Double trouble?

I don’t know about you, but I’m ecstatic there’s a match tonight.

Even if it is the League Cup. Even if it is against a side that disposed of Man Utd 6-1.

Bring it on.

I can jabber on about even the most mundane Wolves-related issue with the best of them, but there comes a time – usually when the football itself is no longer the focus – that you have to ask yourself ‘what’s the point?’.

I think we’re at that stage now.

Happy memories from the last home match against City

The fans, as is their right, will continue to probe and debate, but I don’t see what good the players and particularly the manager speaking out can do.

Just get on with it.

Never has the phrase ‘let the football do the talking’ seemed so pertinent.

Of course that’s no easy task with back-to-back matches against the best team in the league. Yikes.

But despite many saying the fixtures couldn’t have worked out worse, I’d argue they couldn’t have been better.

For starters, Molineux will hardly be a cauldron of bitter disgust tonight. Less than 8,000 turned up for the Millwall game in the previous round and that wasn’t even on the box.

So with Jez hiking the prices and the Sky cameras rolling, I’ll be staggered if the ground is anywhere near half-full, despite the illustrious opposition.

What’s more nobody expects us to overcome Man City’s second string and only a scant few are bothered about a place in the quarter-final of the cup with our league form in such alarming disarray.

In fact, I’d wager every single Wolves fan would swap a loss tonight for a win on Saturday (most would probably make the same exchange for a draw).

By my reckoning that means Mick and the players have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I hope they make the most of this.

The same logic applies to Saturday.

Sure we’re desperate for Premier League points but the pressure is well and truly off, particularly with the match taking place in Manchester.

Anything gained, other than a good hiding, will be a welcome bonus and provide a timely boost ahead of a gargantuan fixture at home to Wigan the following week.

Personally, I wouldn’t want another match against a side around us immediately after the debacle of Swansea.

I’m positive Mick feels the same.

Here’s hoping for better times and better football.

Up The Wolves.

Marginalised

Articulating how it feels to be a Wolves fan right now was supposed to be the hardest blog to write of all, until a political editor of a Sunday broadsheet unwittingly did it for me.

Her article about ‘How Cameron is out of touch with struggling middle classes’ wasn’t meant to talk directly to a Wolves fan, but more an ‘empty aspirational generation.’

She wrote: “Middle class families are not rich enough to be the Government’s friends, nor poor enough to merit their pity.”

Me as a mascot. With a captain who actually scored from 2 yards at the Hawthorns. Who never called me fickle.

I make no apologies for hijacking this sentence and applying it 100 per cent to how I currently feel as a desperately sad Wolves fan.

I don’t spit out my pie at Mick from the South Bank, nor do I shake a prawn sandwich from an executive box.

I sit next to Dad, alongside Tel, and behind the old boys in row P and we shake hands before each game and pipe up for an unashamedly tuneless version of silver lining.

We take it in turns to get the half time coffees in. We encourage, we cajole and we berate every referee as if they actually have an agenda against our beloved side. We quietly mutter exasperation at one or two players too, if truth be told.

To quote Kirsty Buchanan’s piece in the Sunday Express: “We are not hustlers, nimbies or home hoarders, just law abiding hard workers looking for a level playing field.”

The first game my Dad took me to was at home to Simod Cup holders Reading on September 3rd 1988.

My last one, on Saturday, reduced my little boy to tears as he hated Daddy’s ‘wuulfs’ losing 2-0.

Yet the club holds me in contempt and I’m treated like a pariah.

Our manager tells me to f**k off, our captain calls me fickle and our chief executive tells me to cough up or forget a stadium rebuild.

West Brom fans just prefer to call me a loser. Again.

There is no middle ground supporting Wolves right now, only a stigma that I’m responsible for that fabled ‘Molineux Factor’ for daring to question what the hell is going on.

Despite ploughing thousands of money I’ve never had into the club I’m hopelessly in love with and only ever been guilty of encouraging the lads, I have never been more despised.

If I passed Mick in the street wearing my signed Bully Nutmeg shirt, Mick would cross the road.

If I met Jez Moxey in Penn Bowling Club, he’d tell me to get the hell out and support the team properly.

And if I got a tweet from Roger Johnson or Jamie O’Hara, it would feature a boo-boy hashtag.

Maybe I should just embrace the brush I’m being tarred with.

Or maybe the club should read Kirsty Buchanan’s article and take a bloody long look in the mirror instead of telling me to.

After all, ‘creating a fairer society is not just about pursuing the feckless. It is also about supporting the army of the ordinary.’

Whether you want to back or bet against Wolves, you can do so with these free bets and risk the bookmaker’s money rather than your own!

Wolves 2 Swansea 2

If there is a crumb of comfort to be taken from this latest Molineux meltdown, it’s the result.

And ultimately, results are all that matter.

Just as well really.

The team selection was wrong (again), the performance was appalling (again), yet somehow, when all seemed lost, Wolves staged the most remarkable, bizarre, downright ridiculous comeback you’re ever likely to see.

Finally something to cheer

Quite how they did it, I’m still unsure.

Mick McCarthy is keen to claim credit for the turnaround though, after controversially ringing the changes midway through the second half.

He’s welcome to it.

After all, he’s the only man inside Molineux who thought withdrawing our wingers and shoehorning in another two central midfielders was a good idea.

By the end, this decision was justified and for that he deserves recognition.

But before our manager rides off into the sunset on his moral high-horse, I think he should consider the following:

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, we wouldn’t have been 2-0 down at half-time for the third consecutive home match.

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, he wouldn’t have needed to roll the dice in such a bold, divisive manner.

If he’d got the tactics right to begin with, we wouldn’t have been humiliated on our own ground for 84 minutes by a side who were playing Championship football just a few months ago.

And maybe, just maybe, if he’d got the tactics right to begin with, the home crowd wouldn’t have been so utterly frustrated, they felt the need to voice their displeasure.

Just my opinion, but in salvaging an unlikely point, all Mick did was right his own wrong, which isn’t something he should be crowing about.

And it’s certainly not something he should be using as ammunition to take a swipe at his own supporters in a post-match interview.

Why do it? What good does that possibly do?

I’ve always backed our manager, but that kind of response is unacceptable.

He’s a professional who is paid to deal with the criticism that comes with the job.

The same applies to the players.

Roger Johnson is another man whose been incredibly vocal in recent weeks. Just a shame his strong words haven’t been backed up with strong performances. He had another shocker yesterday and was arguably at fault for both of the goals conceded.

The rest of the back four weren’t much better either and simply couldn’t cope with the pace and movement of the Swansea attack.

Funnily enough, it took a Welshman to stop the visitors running away with it.

Thank goodness for Wayne Hennessy. He made two world class saves in the second half as Wolves clung on for dear life. Man of the Match again yesterday and by some distance too.

I find it difficult to critcise our midfield duo as they were once again overrun by opposition boasting an extra man in there. We needed to match them up in there from the start to stop them playing and paid the price for not doing so.

But credit to Henry and O’Hara, they kept at it and eventually got the rewards. O’Hara in particular impressed me. He didn’t always pick the right passes, but he kept offering up for the ball and trying to make something happen.

His goal was also well taken, timing his run perfectly to sweep home the equaliser.

Kevin Doyle was another player who kept going and got better as the game went on. After poking home the first, he turned architect for the second with a smart run and cross that opened the door for O’Hara.

In fact, it was about the only decent cross we managed all afternoon.

Our wingers were well below par.

Jarvis was ineffective again, as he has been in recent weeks. Hammill was marginally better, but too often flattered to deceive with runs that ultimately went nowhere.

SEB too was very poor. However, he’s never going to thrive when he’s asked to play with his back to goal for the entire match with only long balls for service.

And that’s exactly what he was given.

Sure, playing 442 and shelling 60-yard passes forward from deep did create the odd opening prior to Swansea taking control, but it made us look embarrassingly pedestrian and left us once again woefully exposed when the opposition had the ball.

I know we don’t have a squad of world-beaters, but the players simply aren’t as bad they were made to look by the tactics we employed yesterday.

And the responsibility for that rests with one man.

So, regardless of whether Mick McCarthy does or doesn’t know what he’s doing, the message is simple:

Do better.

Wolves Vs Swansea Preview

Over the last two and a bit Premier League seasons Wolves have definitely gone into games in worse positions, yet somehow I don’t think Mick McCarthy has ever needed a win more than he does on Saturday.

SEB scored twice in a 2-1 win in our last meeting

With the fans frustrated, the ability of every single player called into question and his own head firmly on the chopping block, nothing but three points will diminish the mounting pressure.

Should five defeats in a row become six ahead of a trip to Man City, both his and the team’s prospects would be decidedly bleak.

But if past experience is anything to go by we know that McCarthy and Wolves are often at their most dangerous when they’re firmly up against it.

And on paper at least, you couldn’t ask for better opponents than Swansea.

From four away fixtures thus far, they’ve registered four defeats. However, it should be noted they have already visited the Emirates, the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge, losing out most recently at Carrow Road last weekend.

We know they’re a pacy, we know they like to get it down and pass so there shouldn’t be any surprises in that respect. The challenge for Wolves is to effectively combat this style and enforce our game onto them.

The Team

With Swansea almost certain to lineup 451, I’ll be amazed if Mick doesn’t match them like for like, particularly with Steven Fletcher ruled out.

The back four, the front one and two of the midfielders are almost certain to remain the same. Filling in the rest of the gaps isn’t quite so easy. This is the team I reckon we might see:

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

So that’s one change with Hunt in for Hammill. I just feel Mick might go with the experience and tenacity of Hunt for this one. If the Irishman has one of his big games it just lifts the whole team and we desperately need a vintage Hunt performance in this one.

Guedioura and Edwards are probably both in with a shout too and the former is definitely overdue a start in the Premier League. SEB is also available if Mick decides 442 is the way to go, which I hope he doesn’t.

Prediction League

Six people said we’d lose to Albion last time out. Two got the score spot on.

So well done to Kowloon Wolf and martin for picking up the maximum three points on offer.

The rest get a single point.

robin changed his prediction from a 2-0 loss to a 2-0 win ten minutes before kick-off after hearing Milijas and Hammill were playing. Sorry matey, have to take your final answer.

This weekend, I’m going for a home win.

There’s no logic, I just can’t bear to face the prospect of another home defeat so I’m burying my head in the sand.

It’s imperative they’re out of the blocks quickly and on the front foot. We need to be the team building momentum and asking questions.

3-1 Wolves.

If you’re at Molineux for this one have a great time and lets all roar the lads on from the first kick.

Up The Wolves.