Archives for January 2012

Wolves 0 Liverpool 3

As time waited for no man in the countdown to the transfer deadline, all clocks stopped at Molineux.

Like a bored, bemused child in the backseat of the family estate, a fan cried out for help: “Is it nearly full time yet?”

Another asked if there was still time left in the window to sign Mark Fotheringham, while the rest pursued a conversation away from the scene – a sea of faded orange seats telling its own story.

And amid it all, that gargantuan North Bank monstrosity yawned over the remaining few, in Steve Morgan’s tribute to Dr Frankenstein.

At least the spin might just subside for a day or two after this latest Molineux horror show.

Who would have possibly predicted a goal for this lump?

No more spiel about Frimpong the saviour, with Mick McCarthy putting pay to our one final flickering hope of the season by playing him deeper than a sweeper and nullifying youthful exuberance.

The 18 year-old’s verve and attacking vigour dispensed with, as our boss ordered him to stay away from Liverpool’s half at all costs. ‘Defensive midfield signing’ Eggert Jonsson was instead employed further up the pitch, but lacked an ounce of attacking ability to make a difference anyway.

Michael Kightly, our other last lingering hope, was nowhere near his Villa vintage, and so Mick McCarthy’s best laid plan was out the window.

In the absence of 2008 Championship winning influence, we hoofed the ball long, and gave the ball away.

With tactics like that, it made no difference that we’d had 12 days off and Liverpool barely any, as we were more jaded, lethargic and listless having chased the ball in a style that’s known as ‘commitment.’

Aside from a great early Edwards opening that he really should have done better with, Pepe Reina may as well pictured Sky Sports News on one of our seamless video walls. Not that they work either.

The entire course of the game would be decided on whether Liverpool were good enough in the final third.

In the first half they weren’t. In the second half, they were.

Gal shy Andy Carroll scored the most inevitable goal ever, thanks to a great assist from our ball boy who threw Craig Bellamy the ball like a love sick puppy.

With everyone still up the other end of the pitch seconds after our corner, the ball boy should now be loaned out to Nottingham Forest forthwith as punishment, for not leaving it where it was.

Hennessey, having repelled every other effort on goal before all this, then morphed into Wolfie the Wolf, doing what our furry friend did for 10 minutes at half time when faced with a clutch of six year-olds…Dive over the ball in slow motion.

Not that Wayne could be blamed. He was the only player on the pitch who could hold his head up, having made numerous saves.

Roger Johnson then got a bit angry with those hardcore, vigilante thugs in the Billy Wright family enclosure, pointing and glaring at all those ‘mindless idiots’ who were clearly to blame for the entire fiasco.

Kuyt then scored a third to give the scoreline the reflection it deserved, before Sylvan smashed the post from 30 yards to prompt the first genuine cheer of the night.

And that was that.

Wolves Vs Liverpool Preview

Mick McCarthy has made his feelings perfectly clear about ‘heroic failures’, which is just as well because I think we’ve all had our fill.

Just win.

However you need to do it, whatever it takes – just win.

Not this time mate

I don’t care that we were thwarted by decisions against Stoke and Chelsea. I don’t care that we probably deserved more against Villa.

Whatever the excuse is, there seems to be just one consistency – Wolves losing.

And if we’re not losing, we certainly aren’t winning. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for grinding out valuable points, but we need to register a maximum sooner rather than later or we’ll be deep, deep in the brown stuff.

I don’t think you could ever describe a Liverpool visit to Molineux as a home-banker, but we’ve certainly been given every advantage possible to get the job done tomorrow night.

Best player ruled out – check.

Three games in a week – check.

Lost as many games as they’ve won away from Anfield – check.

The Team

If Mick McCarthy doesn’t go 4-5-1 in this game and we lose it, I think his head should be firmly on the chopping block.

We employed the shape perfectly against Villa and but for sloppy mistakes, wonder goals and silly behaviour, we probably would have taken a point at the very least.

Yes, Henry is suspended, but it should just be Milijas or Jonnson in and as you were.

So, that’s a team of:

Hennessey, Foley, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Milijas, Frimpong, Edwards, Kightly, Jarvis, Fletcher

If we go 442 and start slinging balls forward for strikers to chase, I might just lose the will to live.

I’m all for positivity, but after the signs of progress in that first half against Villa, I’d hate to see that immediately undone simply because Karl Henry got himself sent off.

Prediction League

8 people correctly predicted doom against our claret and blue neighbours last weekend, but none got the scoreline.

So it’s a single point each for josh, Jed, Haywood Wolf, robin, Clive from Houston, The Wanderer, garby and Stourbridge Wolf.

I think we’ll take 4 points from the next three matches against Liverpool, QPR and WBA.

So lets go for a defeat in this one, leaving me a draw and a win to play with in the other two.

2-1 Liverpool.

If you’re at Molineux tomorrow, get right behind the lads as you always do. It’s a special atmosphere under the floodlights so hopefully the team will respond.

Up The Wolves.

* An apology to Martin who also correctly predicted the outcome of the Villa match and was rudely overlooked as I totted up the scores. If you spot an error or see that I haven’t awarded you the points you deserve in the Prediction League, please do get in touch.

Transfer deadline derangement

As the cold winds chasten a lifeless Molineux, the smoking transfer deadline day should be every Wolves fan’s rescue remedy.

But in keeping with every other facet of this miserable season, our club is at its comatose worst, flipping over the ‘closed’ sign, switching off the lights and imploring those clocks to strike 12.

Wolves' transfer strategy in two words: Mark Fotheringham

Such a strategy underpins a stadium ‘redevelopment’ and an inexorable plummet to the Premier League basement, so is anyone remotely surprised that we’re not even shopping in it?

Some might call it spin, but after delving a little deeper, the spin appears to have eat itself entirely when dissecting our pitiful transfer policy, which ranks as one of the most insular in living memory.

According to Mick McCarthy himself, players will not be approached or even considered if:

1. They are on more money than current squad members. Source: E & S; 27.01.12: ‘McCarthy believes Wolves are unlikely to have a situation where a new signing is on far more money than the rest of the dressing room.’

2. They are foreign. Source: Mick McCarthy direct quote; 25.01.12: “If you take anyone from abroad, you really are taking a chance on them because they don’t settle in straightaway.”

3. They are early to mid 30 year-olds. Source: E & S; 26.01.12: ‘But at 34, his (Kevin Davies) age and his £35,000-a-week wages count heavily against him fitting into Wolves’ long-established ‘young and hungry’ policy.’

4. Mick can’t get rid of current deadwood in his squad. Source: E & S; 27.01.12: ‘McCarthy can’t guarantee him (Mame Diouf) regular football with three senior strikers and Sam Vokes on the books.’

With all of these quite preposterous reasons for not entertaining the notion of purchasing any player with a modicum of Premier League skill, I trawled the official Fantasy Football League to dream an impossible dream.

It was there that I saw the endless list of player names, in much the same way I see a Thomas Cook holiday brochure or the latest issue of Autosport.

Around 95 per cent of players literally unattainable for those four points above, which are absurdly inapplicable to Pardew, Rogers, Lambert, Hodgson, Pulis, Hughes, Coyle, O’Neill, Jol and co and solely plausible to Mick McCarthy.

Hypothetically, had our scouts actually identified Vorm, Krul, Assou-Ekotto, Kompany, Skrtel, Vermaelen, Cabaye, Tiote, Silva, Djeko, Nani, Sessegnon, Odemwingie (etc, etc, etc, etc) at their native clubs before moving to England, we would consider NONE of them for the idiocy already outlined.

The only players we could be linked with, taking those four points into consideration, might be Steve Morison, Danny Graham and one or two others.

But they would never consider leaving Millwall and Watford for us these days, when the far more progressive cities of Norwich and Swansea lie in wait.

To hamstring our survival chances yet further – in another self imposed brainwave – no youth players from our own academy will be considered either (see Elliot Bennett and Mark Davies, not to mention Danny Batth, Scott Malone and David Davis.)

With strategic thinking like this, is it any wonder the Sky Sports presenters are boycotting the WV1 region on transfer deadline day?

And is it any wonder we are taking SPL and Cypriot league journeyman Mark Fotheringham on trial and an alleged interest in some Fleetwood Town striker that nobody else has heard of?

With the senseless, skewed spin that is reserved solely for our club, I’d literally expect nothing less.

Salone wolf

Picture the scene if you can – sat in my local football cinema shack in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I watch Junior Hoilett dance around Jody Craddock and smash the ball past Hennessey. It’s 3-0 at half time and we’re doomed.

The 50 or so Sierra Leoneans sitting around me knew full well I was a Wolves fan. The title race was all over, and thus the hordes of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans were more than happy to watch and listen to me melting into a one man relegation quagmire.

Spot the wolf

We all know what happened next. After initially poking fun, my neighbours were firmly on my side as Hunt scored almost at the same time Pavlyuchenko smashed one past Ben Foster at the Lane. Cue pandemonium and tears of joy for the only Wolf in town.

Living and working in West Africa has its challenges. Amongst other more obvious ones – shortages of water, outages of power, ridiculous humidity – I can’t go to Molineux.

You can watch a whole lot of Wolves games on television, however, as the Premier League is more than happy to pimp out almost every game across the world’s television stations.

This is a treasure trove of opportunity for someone who has never had Sky, and whose main memories of Wolves on live telly are still dominated by Bully dedicating the match ball to his newborn son (“ere yo am Jack”) after smashing a hat-trick at the Baseball Ground.

The aforementioned football cinemas are an amazing enterprise. There are usually three bulky televisions set up at the front, often with a different game on each and one commentary blaring out (Wolves games are often on mute, sadly). Watching a game costs you 1,000 Leones – or 13p – which is well worth it.

My personal highlight has to be watching the United game last year – despite arriving after all the goals had been scored – and managing to stay calm and collected until right at the end when all the Arsenal and Chelsea fans in the place started shouting “we are all Wolf…go Wolf” to goad their United supporting peers. Magic.

Sierra Leone tackling Egypt

When I’m not watching, I’m getting regular text updates from my friends back home. It was almost like I was there during the win over the Albion last year, with over 25 messages back and forth. See here for a transcript: http://tinyurl.com/84afq4h

Aside from my own, I’ve yet to see a Wolves shirt here in Sierra Leone. When running along the main city beach, resplendent in old gold and black, almost every person says “Wolf” but often they might say “Kevin Doyle” just to show off their football knowledge.

As it goes, Sierra Leoneans have football knowledge in abundance. You can often hear football matters discussed on the street at a level you would often struggle to get at Molineux, and with relative stability after the civil war they are an emerging football power – I watched the Leone Stars beat Egypt at the National Stadium in August. Of their players, Celtic signed striker Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura during the summer and midfielder Rodney Strasser plays for AC Milan.

Despite the name of this blog, it seems that I’m not quite the lone Wolf that I thought I was. A friend of mine forwarded me this recently – http://tinyurl.com/7cbsamq – so I can confirm that there is a Wolves presence in West Africa.

I plan to investigate further…and report back to Wolves Blog.

Thomas: Many, many thanks to David for taking the time to contribute this post. Please do make sure you check out his excellent online journal Salonian Rhythms by clicking here.

I think I speak for both Ben and myself when I say it’s truly humbling to think that so many people spread across the globe take something away from our efforts. We’re always delighted to hear from you!

Welcome back

Digest the following: if it weren’t for Michael Kightly, this very blog wouldn’t exist.

Summer 2009, in the halcyon aftermath of our triumphant promotion to the Premier League I happened upon this picture:

A picture that's worth 275,000 words (approx) and counting

So taken was I with this photograph centering on our flying winger that I immediately set about searching for an online Wolves publication, so that I could contact them to suggest they use the image in some capacity.

Upon finding that no such website existed, I decided to build one myself, more to test my burgeoning web design skills than create any sort of old gold magnum opus.

Still, pleased with my efforts, I posted a handful of articles, convinced a young scallywag by the name of Ben to join the force (he had his own site at the time) and the rest, as they say, is Wolves Blog history.

540 posts, 20,000 comments and 3 years later, I think it’s fair to say things have gone rather well.

How intolerably cruel then that the very man who set the blog wheels in motion has spent the duration of it’s lifetime clambering for escape from injury hell.

Indeed there were times when it appeared that the real Michael Kightly would never truly re-emerge.

End product, how we've missed you

Sure, he sporadically pulled on the shirt in between lengthy stints on the treatment table but never once did you get the impression he was operating anywhere near his best.

It was painful to watch.

Understandably then, despite returning from a successful stint at Watford this month, many around Molineux still questioned whether he could do it at the top table.

However, the dour 0-0 at St. Andrew’s a few weeks back was notable in my eyes for a singular reason – Michael Kightly.

By no means did he light up that abhorrently dull contest, but there was most definitely a spark, a spring in his step that hadn’t truly been seen since late 2008.

Buoyed by this I immediately called for his inclusion at Spurs in my preview, which Mick duly obliged with.

Another encouraging, if not spectacular performance at White Hart Lane had me believing there was more to come last Saturday against Villa.

I was not disappointed.

For 25 glorious minutes leading up to half-time, things were as they always should have been.

Gone (hopefully never to be seen again) was the flinching imposter who’d tarnished the reputation of one of our finest players in recent history.

It was all there.

Darting into space, running his defender on the diagonal, sliding incisive passes between the lines and deservedly capping it all with a beautifully finished goal.

It was a powerful and immediate reminder of just how good a player he has the capacity to be and the one quality he brings to our side that we desperately lack – end product.

Of course on this occasion it all proved to be in vain as the ruthless nature of the Premier League bit back in the second half and Wolves collapsed in every way imaginable.

Yet on the day that we finally dropped into the bottom three for the first time this season, the one chink of light I cling onto is that we may have rediscovered a player who can ultimately dig us out again.

Welcome back Kites.

Three wise men?

Reading the blogs on here these days and the responses to Steve Morgan’s recent statements in the E&S, it’s clear that there are a lot of supporters who are extremely unhappy at the moment.

I don’t know how many exactly, whether it’s the majority or not, but it’s plenty.

Fed up with the quality of football and even more fed up with the results. Week after week, in fact year after year, of being outclassed and what most fans hate most of all, losing.

Are things 'too stable' at Molineux?

Three years ago I fully bought into the official line. Buying only young and hungry players, spending within our means and stability of management and ownership.

An excellent and sensible business plan. But any plan only has merit in that it achieves it’s aims. And the aims of any professional football team is to progress and become better and more successful.

This is patently not the case at Wolves. The team shows no sign of improvement half way into a third season of premiership football. In fact, I would say we are losing ground on many teams.

So we have a lot of very unhappy fans. The problem is the management are far from unhappy.

First you have a CEO whose aim is to run a premiership team as cheaply as possible. And bullseye! He’s the best there is and is often keen to proclaim it. Lowest wage bill, bargain basement buys, optimum ticket pricing. Stay in the league, anywhere out of the bottom three, and coin the money in.

Then you have a manager who loves managing in the premiership. And who wouldn’t? Wonderful ground, training facilities and money to spend. Fantastic support. Most managers would give their right arm to have the privilege of managing our great club.

And Mick can do it his way. He can generally steer clear of foreign players because they take longer to bed in and they’re not always right good lads like the British boys. He doesn’t have to move good players on to get better ones, he can stick with the lads he likes.

He doesn’t have to put up with criticism from the fans or media, he can call them numpties and tell them he’s ready for a fight if they want one. He can refer to our club as ‘my team’ and last, and best of all, he doesn’t have to win. His job is safe, apparently, even if we go down. Yes, a very happy manager.

And finally we have the owner.

A scouser and lifelong Liverpool fan who tried to buy his club but had to settle for Wolves. How much this adventure is about football and how much is about the various building projects which ownership has allowed I don’t know.

But it’s definitely both.

And the bottom line once again is stay in the league, anywhere above the bottom three, and all is well. Plenty of money coming in and his empire growing. Maybe one day, with the ground rebuilt, he’ll sell up and have just enough to get what he really wanted in the first place.

That is the conundrum facing Wolves fans at the moment. Our main priority, a winning team which is good to watch, is not necessarily the priority of the three men who decide our fate.

* Thanks to Martin for sending in this blog. It’s great to get contributions from far and wide so we can express a variety of different opinions. So please don’t hesitate if you fancy a bash at writing something for us. You can find details on the Contact page.

* If you have some spare pennies, please do consider donating to our March to Molineux walk. It’s a wonderful cause and I’d like to raise a couple of hundred quid minimum. As I write this, we’ve got £67, so there’s still a bit to go. You can donate by clicking here.