Archives for March 2012

Wolves Vs Bolton Wanderers Preview

After the previous meeting between these two sides ended in a draw back in December, I was convinced Wolves would finish outside the bottom three.

We played appallingly for much of the game at the Reebok, yet by the end we probably should have won after drawing level and dominating the closing stages.

Bolton looked very much like a team on their knees. Blackburn were also toiling and Wigan’s destiny seemed all but a foregone conclusion.

Spoils shared at the Reebok

How wrong could I have been?

All of those sides now look distinctly better equipped to survive than our lot as we head into the business end of the season.

Still, for all the problems of late, both on and off the field, winning this vital fixture would immediately change the complexion of things.

And Wolves must win.

Must win.

Anything but 3 points is a disaster for TC and the boys, given the remaining fixtures they’re faced with, especially at Molineux. After Bolton depart tomorrow, we can look forward to welcoming Arsenal, Man City and Everton – none of whom look ripe for the picking.

Despite winning 4 away games this season, Bolton have lost the other 10. Only QPR have been beaten as many times on their travels.

Owen Coyle’s side do however come into this match after back-to-back Premier League wins against QPR and Blackburn. They’ll fancy making it a hat-trick too against a Wolves side who’ve lost more home games than any other side in the league (10).

The Team

I think when you’re on such an appalling run, it becomes difficult to know what options to try next. TC must surely be scratching his head wondering what combination to field in what must be his last realistic chance to salvage the season. Assuming fitness of certain players, this would be my XI:

Hennessey, Zubar, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Edward, Milijas, Henry, Jarvis, Fletcher, Doyle

If Henry is fit, he must play. We’ve missed him, particularly in the Blackburn and Norwich games where there was the realistic possibility of getting a result had we been able to plug the holes in midfield.

I’d also bring Milijas back into the center of midfield in the hope that he can give our starved forwards something else to feed on. I don’t think the Serbian is the type of player who can make an impact from the bench. He either needs to play from the start or not at all for me.

Prediction League

3 people got the scoreline spot-on against Norwich last weekend. Well done to Ade in China, Rich and Haywood Wolf who all pick up 3 points.

17 others take a single point for getting the outcome correct without the score.

I wish I could be positive heading into this game, but I’ve seen nothing of late to suggest we have enough belief to beat anybody.

I think it will probably be a draw, which is no good to Wolves at this stage of the season.

1-1

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

Up The Wolves.

Five solutions

“Don’t go giving me problems, just find me some solutions,” screamed the boss on a particularly testing afternoon in the office.

Bellow it in uncouth Scouse accent with a smattering of expletives and it could have been the same rant in the home dressing room after Liverpool.

It is this very sentiment that underpins everything to have gone wrong in this sorry season, from the players and the manager(s), right up to the boneheads with the ‘business brains.’

There have been precisely no resolutions to a whole heap of headaches this season – many of them inflicted upon ourselves, to make matters worse.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. It needn't be for the two Ms!

So with my love levels for Wolves sinking to a near lifeless state of indifference, I have created five solutions to reunite me with the club I can barely relate to anymore.

1. Keep the early-bird prices open until the day of our first championship game:

With unemployment levels at around 10 per cent in Wolverhampton and Early Bird sales down 18 per cent, it would surely work on financial grounds, if not sympathetic ones. Not that Jez uses either.

2. Put on some free travel for fans going to the remaining away games:

Norwich and West Brom are but two clubs to reward their fans’ fanaticism with free travel this season, acknowledging the great lengths they go to.

Difference is, they have won twice and three times the away games as our poor lot have.

And they are run by Delia Smith and Jeremy Peace.

3. Get rid of Terry Connor as soon as the final whistle blows against Wigan:

No farting about and waiting for people to come back from their holidays. No loitering with zero intent until mid-July when we’re lined up to play Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough.

Get shot forthwith and sweep with a new broom, not the plastic dustpan and brush we’ve used since Mick went.

We need a new pair of eyes and in visionary terms, Connor has a cataract in his left and glaucoma in his right.

4. Do not sell Adlene Guedioura or Adam Hammill:

Bring them back, along with Batth, Cassidy, Griffiths, Reckord, Winnall and any other poor marginalised sod stuck out in the great footballing ether. Let the new manager judge each one, free of blinkered, pig headed dogmatism. Rate them on their merits and not the amount of excrement on their noses. Then decide.

5. Say sorry:

I’m sure Elton John coined a phrase about sorry being the hardest word.  In this unmitigated season of sin, a modicum of humility could have narrowed the ever increasing chasm between board and fans. (We can sing it to Elton at Vicarage Road!)

That Roger Johnson, Mick McCarthy and Jez Moxey have embarked on a crass PR ploy to blame the fans to cover their own arses during the season has been a pill too bitter for many to swallow.

Newsflash: We are not fickle. We just want to be reunited with our club – whether  at Bramall Lane or White Hart Lane.

Feed today, gone tomorrow

I suspect relegation from the Premier League will hinder Wolves Blog almost as much as it will the club we commentate on.

Three seasons of top flight football have ensured Ben and I can more or less take in every single game courtesy of season tickets, a sprinkling of away ground visits and a substantial amount of web-watching.

Even on Saturday, after new regulations came into place limiting the coverage of 3pm kick-offs from European feeds, I was still able to find a web site kind enough to show the Norwich game, allowing me to formulate an opinion on the full 90 minutes as apposed to just 5 minutes of highlights.

Are web streams really damaging the English game?

Championship football is not nearly as well catered for and try as we might, 23 away ground visits is going to be a stretch given our respective personal commitments and the fact we don’t get paid for doing this.

Suffice to say then, as our position amongst the elite has become more perilous with each passing week, this issue of how football matches are broadcast on television and the internet has become central to my thoughts.

What is the best and fairest way forward for all parties concerned?

Speaking selfishly as both a blogger and a football supporter, I think people should be able to view every single game regardless of whether they can be at the ground or not. There are cameras there, we have the technology, so why not make it available?

Money, that’s why.

Both Sky and the Premier League simply don’t want to relinquish any power and why would they? They’re onto too good a thing, with a vice-like grip on the English game, ultimately controlling the purse strings of every single club in the football league.

As a consequence, the people who run football clubs (such as our very own Jez Moxey), dance to the beat of the above two giants, hiding behind the veil of ‘illegal streams are damaging attendances and ruining the sport’.

But believe me when I say that no chairman or CEO is truly worried about empty stadiums, they’re only worried about empty tills.

And speaking from a Wolves perspective, a drop in gate receipts over the last 12 months has more to do with what we’ve seen out on the pitch than what we have the option of seeing down the local pub.

I believe it’s sustainable for every game to be broadcast, without crowds dropping and the English game suffering. It’s just that the current arrangement is far too cosy for the powers that be to lobby for change.

But in the age of the internet, change is precisely what’s required.

In the meantime, I’m already plotting my trip to Peterborough.

Norwich City 2 Wolves 1

Crushing defeats don’t have to be five goal routs.

Watching this entirely winnable game crumble into dust and slip through our fingers was no less soul destroying than anything else we’ve experienced of late.

Blocked out again

It started so promisingly. Moving ahead midway through the first half was just the boon everyone had desperately hoped for. Finally something to cling onto.

So to see that good work tossed away only a matter of seconds later with a simple ball over the top was a monumental body blow and yet another tell-tale sign of impending doom.

Speaking of signs, luck is another commodity that tends to go AWOL at times of struggle.

Indeed Wolves and Eggert Jonnson were unfortunate to see the referee pointing to the spot after a goal-bound shot cannoned off the Icelandic midfielder’s hand just prior to half time, gifting Norwich the lead.

You can’t deny the contact but it’s one we could so easily have got away with. The fact we didn’t says a lot about our fortunes at present.

Back in the familiar position of chasing the game, it was once again the balancing act of trying to force an equaliser without allowing the opposition to pick us off on the break.

And whilst we kept the back door shut for a change, our one dimensional attacking again meant we failed to test their goalkeeper, which is unforgivable in the situation we find ourselves in.

Jarvis was our only realistic hope and easily the best player on the pitch. Had we taken anything from the game, it would have been because the diminutive winger dragged the other 10 over the line. Nothing else.

A midfield of Dave Edwards and Egert Jonnson was about as creative as you’d imagine it was. Neither did much wrong but service to our forwards was in painfully limited supply.

And when you can’t create chances and you can’t hold onto a lead even when you do score, it’s a tried and tested recipe for relegation soup.

In a week when the four sides above us all secured crucial victories, it seems inevitable we’re all going to be sipping it sooner rather than later.

Call me pessimistic but it’s surely a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ now.

Norwich City Vs Wolves Preview

Carrow Road has provided the scene for many a famous Wolves moment throughout the last 20 years.

From Bully’s audacious lob over Brian Gunn, to Robbie Keane’s sensational league debut, with a sickening play-off defeat thrown in for good measure.

End to end at the Molineux earlier in the season

So what does Norwich City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers have in store for us in 2012?

Paul Lambert’s side are already safe for another top flight season, barring the biggest meltdown in Premier League history, but they’d probably like one more win to make their survival certain.

They’ll be banking on getting it this weekend against a Wolves side that have shipped 19 goals in their last 5 matches and deservedly slumped to the bottom of the table.

For us, midweek wins for QPR and Blackburn have only served to heap on the misery in a season that shows no signs of picking up.

Being realistic, TC needs to deliver a minimum 4 points from the next two matches, probably 6 to give us even a fighting chance of staying up.

Norwich and Bolton aren’t unbeatable by any means, even for our struggling group of players, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest they have the desire and belief to go and get the big results.

The Team

If there’s one thing that compounds the misery of our results, it’s the depleted numbers TC has to choose from. Guedioura, Hammill and Elokobi should all be here for selection but they’re not. Coupled with injuries to Henry, Davies and O’Hara as well as Ronald’s suspension, we’ve barely got eleven to choose from. It really is a shambles.

From what we have, this is the team I would send out:

Hennessey, Ward, Bassong, Johnson, Stearman, Edwards, Foley, Milijas, Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher

We need to go back to basics i.e. working hard, cutting out the mistakes and using our one and only attacking outlet, funneling the ball to Jarvis in decent areas.

Johnson must start. We need someone with presence to get the team going. There has been no leadership since Henry limped off against Fulham and I think we paid for this big time against Blackburn and Man Utd.

I don’t like Stearman at right-back but hopefully he can make us a bit more solid. First and foremost we need to plug the holes at the back. If we’re going to concede three, four or five every game, we won’t take another point all season.

Milijas and Foley have done a job for us before, most notably in the 1-0 win at Anfield last season. They can both both find feet with passes and we’re desperately overdue a big performance from Nenad right now.

Please TC, stop farting around with Doyle out on the wing. Lets just play him up front with Fletch and hope that one or both of them can make something happen.

Prediction League

30 pundits predicted defeat against United last weekend, but only alf white, d3anb, Hudds Wolf & t’OM said 5-0. They take 3 points and the other 26 take a single.

I have absolutely no idea what result to go for this weekend.

Norwich have won 5, drawn 5 and lost 4 of their home games to date. It would be nice to even that up, but I think it might be a stretch too far.

I’ll go for 2-2.

If you’re making the long trip to East Anglia this weekend, have a great time and get right behind the lads. They certainly need it.

Up The Wolves.

Time to get drunk?

I’m not sure what sound would have sickened me more this month…

…The smash of Roger Johnson’s empty whiskey bottle on the floor, or Jez Moxey’s subsequent interview on talkSPORT, where supporters were treated like the alcoholics for daring to aspire for better.

With this season’s prospects already entering the last chance saloon, we could have done without our skipper swigging back the booze with more gusto than a man marking exercise.

But what really rubbed my face in the slop bucket was our chief executive’s marginally less uncouth attempt to marginalise the stone cold sober Wolves fans still clinging on to the notion of ‘aspiration.’

While taking great glee in using Porstmouth and Rangers as a yardstick upon how football clubs should not be run, Jez was quicker than Junior Hoillet in dispatching a chance to tell us to like our lot, or lump it.

The man who plans for every eventuality

To presume we are all intoxicated enough to advocate going bankrupt for some light relief is insulting enough.

But not nearly as insulting as slapping his own back by saying he ‘plans for every eventuality at the club’, only to admit this week that he’s still learning his lessons.

The snake oil salesman would like to think that he has got more things right than wrong in his time at the club, apparently.

Presumably his £3.5 million Premier League war chest to David Jones in 2003 was one of them, at the same time he himself was awarded a £2.1 million bonus?

Perhaps I should sit starry eyed at the great man’s superior business acumen like Alan Brazil and Ronnie Irani did on talkSPORT the other week, and thank my lucky stars his name is not Peter Ridsdale.

I possibly could, if he hadn’t said in 2009: “If you look at West Brom, maybe they’re not paying enough to their players or getting the right quality in.

“Having been there and spoken to people in the Premier League, it’s fair to say money is the be-all and end-all. So you’ve got to be competitive.”

Hard to forget quotes like that when our same CEO told Craig Gardner, Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye’s agents to find their clients other clubs instead of ours this season – for demanding wages we wouldn’t match.

The same man who gloated that ‘league placings correlate to wage bills.’

The same superior businessman who confirmed that Jack Hayward wrote off £40 million debt as a goodwill gesture when leaving the club – much of which accrued under his watch.

Throw in a farcical managerial search that would not result in a novice, an abortion of a stadium redevelopment – the first stand signed off three days before last season’s Survival Sunday – and an asset stripping of our threadbare squad (anyone see Guedioura last night?) and I’d argue that Jez Moxey barely gets a single thing right, let alone wrong.

Maybe I should just meekly surrender to the great man’s contempt and wait for the next spoonful of spin when his next programme notes hit the shelves.

Or maybe I should just order what Roger Johnson’s been on and become the pisshead that our CEO obviously thinks I am.