Wolves 2 Villa 3

In the end, it was a picture that only the three M’s could have imagined, let alone painted.

Beneath the glare of the biggest of white elephants the team in white won, inspired by a home grown hero whose local rivals now call their own.

One team playing in the Premier League while the other plays in a parallel world altogether, losing for the umpteenth time on the pitch as the most feckless building project of all is shelved in favour of 50 odd houses off it.

Only Wolves could cobble together such a script, featuring a fabricated line about Compton progression, when our very own manager steadfastly objects to the very notion in the first place.

Not Mark Davies for example, who was leap-frogging Bolton above us with a man-of-the-match display at the Reebok, instead of maintaining our momentum once Frimpong departed.

If it wasn’t so chronically sad we’d all laugh.

Darren Bent tells us how many stands will be built at Molineux

But when a current board member boasts about signing off the North Bank redevelopment three days before the last day of last season, we really shouldn’t be surprised.

A monstrosity of a stand which Jez Moxey said would look ‘ridiculous’ to begin with and a team which Steve Morgan, ‘with a crystal ball, might have strengthened.’

Talk about planning.

The biggest irony of all was that for a 30 minute spell, we looked as good as we have all season, on the day we plunged to 19th position.

Michael Kightly proved why the club has stayed patient over his injury lay-off for so long, terrorising Villa and scoring a wonderful goal to partly erase the memory of Berra’s early indecision for the penalty.

The wonderfully mobile Frimpong exuded confidence and talent, controlling the midfield with Henry with right back Kevin Foley reminding us why he won a player of the year award as a right back. Funny that.

We thoroughly deserved a 2-1 lead at the break through Edwards’ flick from Johnson’s header and if anything, will regret profligacy for not being at least 4-1 ahead instead.

Both Fletcher and Edwards shot tamely at Given beforehand, when a yard either side would have yielded more joy.

But in a game of two halves, Wolves failed to reappear after the break and either looked slow out of the blocks, or just bereft of experience in actually defending a lead.

Keane’s equaliser underlined two things:

  1. Our chronic inability to keep the ball, this time underlined by Matt Jarvis
  2. Wayne Hennessey’s not-so-happy knack at conceding long range goals, later admitting he was to blame for this one

From then on the wheels came off and a game that we previously looked in control of took a turn for the worse when Frimpong was stretchered off.

With Stephen Warnock already brought on for Agbonlahor to specifically shackle Kightly, we suddenly looked laboured.

And when referee Michaal Oliver gleefully sent off Henry after first impeding a quick free kick and then ignoring a 5 second Albrighton offence, you sensed the game was heading one way.

That our very own Robbie Keane confirmed such a thought was either cruel beyond compare, or just rewards for a club with warped priorities.

With Blues beating us in the cup, our stadium redevelopment shelved and a housing development taking preference, Mick McCarthy could have been talking about the last seven days as a Wolves fan instead of these painful 90 minutes.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

Wolves Vs Aston Villa Preview

There’s been very little to separate Wolves and Villa in recent times.

In the last five meetings, both sides have managed a win by the odd goal and the other three matches have been hard fought draws.

Heskey does his Shearer impression to win last season's fixture

I don’t envisage this game bucking the trend either.

Villa have played 10 away matches to date and drawn 6 of them, whereas Wolves have also shared the points in 4 of their last 5 Premier League fixtures.

Another draw wouldn’t be a disaster for Wolves, but without question we need to pick up a win sooner rather than later.

It’s a mighty shame our meek cup exit put a dampner on a fantastic result at White Hart Lane.

Still, with 10 fresh faces to come back in, we can hope for considerably better than the dross of Wednesday night and hopefully a big response.

The Team

Assuming everyone is sit, the team picks itself for tomorrow:

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

I hope Mick can field that side tomorrow, as I think there’s a real balance to it and should give us every chance of getting a win.

Dave Edwards seems to be the biggest injury concern and if he doesn’t make it perhaps Milijas or Guedioura will profit? I certainly hope Hunt isn’t shifted in to plug the gap though, based on his poor showing on Wednesday.

Prediction League

Most people thought we’d get tonked by Spurs last time out, which I suppose isn’t unsurprising. The end result though is that only 6 people picked up any points.

4 of those 6 got the 1-1 scoreline and get the maximum 3 points. Well done to gebb, Super Kev Doyle, Mark G Davies and kinhaven.

Crazy Pete and Charlieee get a single point.

I’ll go for it this weekend a predict a narrow home win.

2-1.

If you’re at Molineux tomorrow, have a great time and get right behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.

Wolves 0 Birmingham 1

You could probably just about tolerate 180 minutes of turgid, one-paced cup football if your team at least emerged victorious from the tie.

With that in mind, Blues fans will probably feel satisfied with their night’s work. Good luck to them I say. I don’t begrudge them the win.

For Wolves and Mick McCarthy there’s no such consolation.

Terrible goal wins terrible match

We were awful, both individually and as a team.

But lets start with the former.

Elokobi was a liability throughout. Yes, he made a vital goal-saving lunge in the first half (which I thought was a foul by the way) but his total lack of awareness and incompetence on the ball make me shudder everytime he has possession.

Sadly though George, you narrowly miss out on the numpty of the match champagne.

No, that’s most definitely reserved for another deserving culprit.

Step forward Stephen Hunt.

We all know he’s been woefully anonymous in recent times, but his performance last night was taking the flippin’ Michael.

He sauntered around, half a yard off the pace and quite obviously just couldn’t be arsed.

You can normally tell within the first 10-15 minutes of any match whether he’s up for it or not. If he is, ala Blues at home last season, you’ve got a real player on your hands.

80% of the time though, he doesn’t show anywhere near those levels of interest and isn’t the type of player who can operate effectively in cruise control.

He was easily the worst of a very poor bunch.

Still, however bad individuals were, the manager must shoulder much of the blame for the team performance.

Anyone who comes out two days before the game has even kicked off and proclaims ‘It’ll be Doyler and Sylvan up top’ as if that’s some sort of declaration of attacking intent is living in cloud cuckoo land.

That says to me, that in his head it doesn’t matter who else he plays because two out of form forwards, both dining off past accomplishments as opposed to anything they’ve done recently, will get the job done.

That was never, ever going to be the case.

I said in my preview I’d play 451 because we needed to make better use of the ball in the middle of the pitch and not just hoof it long to the forwards.

Well low and behold what did we do?

The same thing we always do in a 442 of course, pass it around the back four, run out of ideas and shell it long.

Nice one Mick.

He got two bites of the cherry in this tie and patently didn’t learn his lesson from the first taster.

I despair.

You can only imagine what the millions who tuned into ITV made of it.

Like them, I’d rather have watched Coronation Street.

Wolves Vs Birmingham FA Cup Preview

So, 11 days after cancelling each other out at St. Andrew’s (you’ll yawn just thinking about it), Wolves and Birmingham lock horns once again – and on prime time television no less.

No way through

Perhaps ITV’s logic is that the first game was so painfully awful, the replay is destined to be a cracker.

Probably a shade optimistic but I certainly don’t think it could be any worse.

Blues have collected back-to-back wins since the first encounter, including a 6-0 bashing of Millwall to temporarily elevate them into the play-off places.

I think you’ve got to tip your hat to Chris Hughton – he’s done an excellent job there.

Even if his side don’t make it back to the Premiership this season, surely one of the top flight clubs will eventually take a punt on a manager who obviously knows what he’s doing?

The Team

Both managers will probably ring the changes once again, but as it’s a night game, on a decent pitch it should really be a better spectacle regardless.

This is the team I would field:

de Vries, Foley, Johnson, Stearman, Elokobi, Jonnson, Milijas, Guedioura, Hunt, Hammill, Doyle

So that’s wholesale changes to the team that started at Spurs, but the same shape.

I see Villa as a massive opportunity to get 3 points on Saturday, so don’t want to risk many of the definite starters for that one.

451 because I’d like to see us pass it around a bit more and with a 442, we tend to hoof. Milijas will give us the necessary craft and giving Guedioura (remember him?) a more advanced role behind the striker should suit his game.

In reality though, I think Mick will likely play 442 with both Doyle and SEB up front, as he did in the first game.

Prediction

Remember, no points on offer here for the league. Just for a larf.

I think we’ll just about scrape through this one, but I’m not expecting it to be easy, especially with the incentive of an away trip to Sheffiled United in the next round up for grabs (sarcasm).

Another tight game, but with a few goals shared – 2-1 Wolves.

If you’re making the trip to Molineux, have a great time and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves.

Spurs 1 Wolves 1

If you could bottle whatever it is that brings out the very best in Wolverhampton Wanderers at White Hart Lane, relegation predicaments would be nothing more than a distant memory.

Indeed, an unsettling whiff of deja vu must have swept like wildfire around the home crowd as the old gold once again supped their half-time cuppa a goal to the good.

Steven Fletcher’s ninth Premier League strike of the season (moving him level with Adebayor and two ahead of Defoe in the top scorer charts incidentally) gave Wolves the lead in this fixture for third consecutive season.

Me again - 3 in 4 against Spurs

One chance, one goal, ruthlessly gobbled up by our increasingly prolific talisman. Yes, it was a tap-in but no coincidence to see him once again emerge from the pack to poke home after Roger Johnson’s towering header was cleared off the line.

Speaking of Johnson, I thought this was one of his best games in a very long while, winning everything in the air and making timely interceptions to break up the free-flowing Spurs attack. That’s what we paid for.

The skipper no doubt benefits more than anyone when the gaffer deploys a 5 man midfield, closing the spaces and making his chronic lack of pace much less of an issue.

And Mick picked a good 5 yesterday I thought.

With Henry and Frimpong offering much needed protection, Edwards, Jarvis and Kightly were all able to get forward to decent effect when the opportunity presented itself.

Finally, some balance.

That theme also applies to the Foley and Kightly (as opposed to Stearman and Hunt) partnership down the right. For the first time in what seems a very long time indeed, we weren’t solely reliant on Jarvis as an outlet ball. I’m praying that continues.

Kightly continued his promising comeback with another hard working display including more sporadic moments of quality. It was lovely to see him cut inside his man in the first half and get a shot away, even if it was scuffed over the bar. The point is, he’s asking questions of the opposition again and trying to make something happen; things Hunt hasn’t been able to do of late.

As a side note, it was curious that Hammill didn’t even make the bench.

I thought Frimpong was immense yesterday, bombing into tackles, using the ball well and even bursting forward to support Fletcher.

That said, Mick was wise to withdraw him when he did as the home crowd definitely smelt blood with the Arsenal loanee on a booking. I would hate to have seen him sent off given that he already looks a vital cog in the midfield engine.

A mention too for Berra, who very rarely gets a nod. In his 100th league appearance for Wolves he did what he so often does these days, heading and kicking everything that came near him and making zero errors. It’s a mantra that has served Jody Craddock well in recent years and encouragingly it seems to have rubbed off on the Scot.

Ultimately though, aside from individual positives it was a disciplined, well-drilled team effort that won us this point. Tottenham poured forward time and time again but Wolves always did enough to slowdown their attacks restricting them to shots from distance for the most part.

Hennessey will probably feel he could and perhaps should have kept Modric’s fierce drive out, but given the quality of the strike and the fact it flew through legs, I think we can let our keeper off the hook. He was otherwise assured once again.

It was probably a measure of Spurs frustration that they felt the need to contest a ridiculous drop ball inside our penalty area late one, despite the fact Wolves clearly had possession of the ball prior to the stop in play.

You can blame the ref all you want, but it was despicably unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Tottenham players in my book.

Thankfully it came to nothing.

And yes, it probably should be noted we got the benefit of a few questionable decisions yesterday, for a change, but after recent events you’ll forgive me if I don’t cry a tear for the opposition.

I doubt they would for us.

Spurs Vs Wolves Preview

When Spurs sauntered into Molineux back in September, they were struggling at the bottom after a tricky start and Wolves were riding high after snaring 7 points from 9.

However, the 2-0 victory Harry’s boys inflicted on us that sunny afternoon proved the catalyst they needed to go on a sensational winning streak, elevating them all the way up to third place in the table.

Losing at the Lane last season

We did actually play well in that match and were more than a little unlucky to lose. However, things deteriorated from that game onwards so it would certainly be fitting if we were to kick-start our faltering season with a big result at White Hart Lane.

And although that seems highly unlikely, recent history at least suggests we shouldn’t give up all hope.

Two years ago we did the double over Spurs, tasting victory on their patch thanks to an early Kevin Doyle goal and the mother of all defensive performances.

We almost repeated the trick last year too, leading 1-0 with 20 minutes to go only to eventually lose out 3-1.

As I write this preview (ahead of their game against Everton this evening) they’ve currently played 9 games at home, won 7, drawn 1 and lost just the once.

Dauntingly, the only points they’ve dropped were against Man City and Chelsea. Gulp.

The Team

I’ve decided to abandon predicting Mick’s team selections from now on, in favour of listing the side I would personally pick.

I would also encourage you to do the same, just so it gives us all something else to kick around in the preview.

So, this is my XI:

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

I just think we need to retain possession better than we have been and with only Fletch really doing the business, 451 is the obvious choice for me.

Foley must play at right-back. He’s infinitely better on the ball than Stearman and brings balance to the side.

With Frimpong and Henry anchoring the midfield, I think giving Milijas freedom to wander around and find passes would be a wise move.

The most controversial inclusion is Kightly over Hammill and Hunt.

There’s certainly an element of favouritism in that choice, but neither Hunt or Hammill have done enough for me to suggest giving Kightly a start would be a mistake.

Prediction League

The home defeat to Chelsea seems a lifetime ago now.

Still, 19 people correctly predicted the loss and 6 of those got the scoreline spot-on.

Well done to Hamlet, Ade in China, gebb, Michigan Wolf, Ventura Highway and kinhaven for collecting the maximum 3 points on offer.

Call it foolish optimism if you will, but I just have a suspicion we’ll get something this weekend. We’ve been a bit of a bogey side for Spurs in recent years and I can see that continuing.

I’ll go the whole hog too – 2-1 Wolves.

If you’re heading to the Lane on Saturday, have a great time and get behind the lads as you always do.

Up The Wolves.

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