Archives for April 2012

Swansea City 4 Wolves 4

Although this screwball game of Premier League football once again highlighted the crippling deficiencies of Wolverhampton Wanderers, it also served to show what might have been.

Defensively, we left our calling card.

Too much space, no closing down, non-existent marking.

Down but not out

Stand off. Stand off. Stand off.

It’s amusing to think that last season we were accused of being ‘overly physical’. Without doubt, a major problem with this current Wolves team is their aversion to ruffling feathers.

There’s just no menace, no desire and no hunger to win the ball back. The opposition do what they want.

When that’s the case, good players and good teams punish you. And for 15 traumatic minutes, Swansea did just that.

A fourth goal just before the interval after Steven Fletcher’s fantastic looping header dragged us back into the contest seemed to be the definitive nail in our coffin.

But as bad as the first half was defensively, Wolves trumped that in the second with a fantastic display of attacking football.

All of the goals were well constructed, the pick of the bunch being Dave Edwards cool run and finish after a sumptuous reverse pass from Michael Kightly.

Two other well made and well taken Matt Jarvis goals are proof positive that our offensive players can do enough damage.

The likes of Jarvis, Kightly and Fletcher are good enough for this level.

Our problem is that we’ve just never given them the platform to shine because both individually and as a team, we’re desperately weak in defence.

It’s often said that Wolves lack quality on the ball, but I believe our biggest problem is that we don’t possess enough physically strong players to upset the opposition, thus allowing our better players to show how good they can truly be.

We needed warriors over the summer, players that could add presence and put themselves about.

Presumably, this is what Mick McCarthy hoped Roger Johnson would bring to the fold back in August and what Emmanuel Frimpong would deliver when he arrived in January.

Failure and misfortune are words that immediately come to mind when you evaluate these signings.

They wrap up our season quite nicely too.

Swansea City Vs Wolves Preview

Along with many others, I was wrong about Swansea.

I thought they’d follow the much-traveled path of newly promoted sides who try to play football in the Premier League; the road that ultimately saw the likes of Burnley and Blackpool relegated.

Off the hook in the home fixture

But hats off to Brendan Rodgers and his team, they’ve been smarter, cuter and ultimately better than those sides over the course of a season. They deservedly sit comfortably in mid-table, just 3 points behind Liverpool in 8th.

What they’ve achieved in a single top-flight season is something Wolves have failed to do in 3 – find a system of play that works and stick with it.

Regardless of results, injuries and suspensions, they’ve never once flinched from their preferred method and have been handsomely rewarded. Wolves have continued to change shape on an almost weekly basis, too often resembling a group who’ve never played a single game together.

We desperately need a manager who has a clear idea about how he wants the team to play and knows the type of players he needs to achieve it. That, and only that, can bring about a sustained period of success.

Norwich, Newcastle, Stoke, Swansea and even Wigan to an extent are all clear proof of this.

Tomorrow’s game ultimately serves no purpose to either side. A dead-rubber if ever there was one in Premier League terms. Still, the home side will be clear favourites, not least because they’ve only lost 4 times on their own turf all season, plundering 7 wins and 6 draws.

The Team

I’d be keeping a 5-man midfield for this one. Otherwise I just think we’ll be pulled around the pitch as we were for large periods of the reverse fixture. Quite how we salvaged a draw out of that game, I’ll never know. This is my team:

De Vries, Foley, Stearman, Bassong, Ward, Henry, Davis, Milijas, Jarvis, Kightly, Doyle

Poor old Dorus is likely to come in for a bit of stick tomorrow, having left Swansea on a free in the summer. But footballers make these decisions and have to live with the consequences. Hopefully the 10 in front of him can help him out by delivering a result to ease the pain.

I’ve been screaming for Milijas to get a start for weeks, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. What have we got to lose now? Might as well give the bloke a few games to see if he can make an impact.

Doyle for Fletcher up front is just a personal choice. I thought he was superb against Arsenal and subsequently very unlucky to be left out against Sunderland and Man City.

Prediction League

No real surprise that an avalanche of people correctly predicted we’d lost to Man City last weekend. 32 in total.

Only two of those pundits correctly bagged the scoreline though. Or should I say one? sleachy took the cunning step of copying Kowloon Wolf (who leads the overall table) and reaped the benefits for doing so. Both get a 3-point boost.

Well done lads.

I reckon we might get a result in this one. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the old ‘nothing to play for, pressure off’ scenario?

I’ll plump for the same score as the reverse fixture – 2-2.

If you’re heading to Wales tomorrow, have a great time and get behind the lads as you did superbly last weekend as the ship finally sunk.

Up The Wolves.

Who goes?

After relegation was finally confirmed on Sunday, Jez Moxey was quick to point out that the club is ‘financially robust’ and players don’t need to be sold in order to balance the books.

Busy summer sales ahead?

However, he did correctly acknowledge that the reality of football is that players will come and go at Molineux over the summer as they look to rebuild for life in the Championship.

Transfers are a complicated business though.

Whilst it may appear that certain players will definitely leave, they’re still tied to the club and valuations based on their age, ability and length of contract have to be met in order for a sale to take place.

With this in mind, I’ve done some digging and compiled a list of each and every player in our squad to see if we can systematically deduce who might be heading for the exit this summer. Estimated valuations are purely my own guesswork and are only applied to players I believe will leave.

Wayne Hennessey
In a nutshell: Despite a few gaffes, has enjoyed a strong season. May attract bids, despite his injury. Under contract until 2015 though, so will take a decent bid to lure him away.
Estimated valuation: £3 million – £5 million
Verdict: Leaving

Dorus De Vries
In a nutshell: Hardly played all season but will probably start next term as first choice. Surely a keeper (no pun intended)?
Verdict: Staying

Carl Ikeme
In a nutshell: Hasn’t had a sniff of the first team for a long while and his contract is up in the summer I believe. He’ll surely look for permanent first team football?
Verdict: Leaving

Kevin Foley
In a nutshell: Nowhere near as influential as previous seasons at the club, but exactly the type of proven performer we need in the Championship. Contracted until 2015 and will almost certainly stay.
Verdict: Staying

Desperate to leave?

Ronald Zubar
In a nutshell: The Frenchman has a year to run on his current deal, so would likely be available if someone was interested. I’d like to see him stay as I believe he’d be a real asset given the physical demands of the second tier, but suspect he might leave.
Estimated valuation: £1 million – £2 million
Verdict: Leaving

Jody Craddock
In a nutshell: Jody hardly featured this season, largely because of injuries. His contract is once again up and this is surely the point where the club draw a line under his 9-year stay?
Verdict: Leaving

Roger Johnson
In a nutshell: He’ll almost certainly want a move, but are the club prepared to take a hit on the fee? I can’t really see anyone shelling out the £4.5 million we did last summer. Still has 3 years left on his contract so shouldn’t leave for peanuts though.
Estimated valuation: £1.5 million – £3 million
Verdict: Leaving

Richard Stearman
In a nutshell: With two years to run on his contract, hopefully Stears will stay because he’s another that should be able to cope well in the Championship. Could attract interest though, as he does have talent and still only 25.
Verdict: Staying

Christophe Berra
In a nutshell: There was talk of him being offered a new deal back in January, but I don’t think it materialised. He’s got one year left on his current contract. He’s another who could handle the Championship and I still believe he brings consistency to the back four.
Verdict: Staying

Stephen Ward
In a nutshell: Started the season phenomenally well, but as Wolves wilted so did his improvement. Contracted to the summer of 2015, he may attract bids. For all his critics, he’s still a full international and a capable attacking full-back.
Verdict: Staying

George Elokobi
In a nutshell: Farmed out to Forrest a few months back, you would think George is heading for a permanent exit. However, he still has a year to run on his contract and a new manager might well want him to stay. I have a suspicion he will.
Verdict: Staying

Staying (hopefully)

Michael Kightly
In a nutshell: Finally managed a run of games in a Wolves shirt and looks an infinitely better player for it. Contracted until 2014, he may attract interest but I sincerely hope he stays. A devastating performer in the Championship.
Verdict: Staying

Adam Hammill
In a nutshell: Dismissed to Boro when he almost certainly should have stayed, it’s hard to know what the future holds for Hammill. Again, what will the new manager want to do? I’d be disappointed to see him leave and I reckon he might now hang around.
Verdict: Staying

Karl Henry
In a nutshell: Has two years left on his contract and will be 30 this year. That said, someone in the top flight may be interested given the admirable battling qualities he brings to a team. I think clubs will be interested, but I’d hope he’ll stay.
Verdict: Staying

Nenad Milijas
In a nutshell: Signed a four year deal when he joined from Belgrade, which I believe means he has one more year to run. It’s an interesting one to monitor because he’s never shown a great desire to leave despite failure to hold down a place.
Verdict: Staying

Dave Edwards
In a nutshell: Has a year to run on his contract with the option of a second in the club’s favour. Did well for us last time in the Championship and could be a useful player to have around.
Verdict: Staying

Jamie O’Hara
In a nutshell: My gut instinct is that he’ll want to leave, but he won’t. Penned a 5-year contract last summer meaning he’s still got 4 more years to serve at Molineux. We paid good money and is someone else willing to match the valuation? I don’t think so.
Verdict: Staying

Adlene Guedioura
In a nutshell: Has lit up the Championship by all accounts since moving on loan to Forrest back in January. We should definitely get him back and use him next season, but I suspect he’ll be sold. Has one season left on his contract, so wouldn’t command a hefty fee either.
Estimated valuation: £500K – £1.5 million
Verdict: Leaving

Any takers for Eggert?

Eggert Jonnson
In a nutshell: Eggert will certainly stay, given that he’s only just arrived and hasn’t really done much to attract interest. Hopefully it will become apparent at some point why we signed him int he first place.
Verdict: Staying

Matt Jarvis
In a nutshell: Probably the jewel in our crown. The only England international we’ve had in the last 20 years. We will receive bids for him but surely the valuation has to be right? Still has 3 years left on his contract so we can hold out if needs be.
Estimated valuation: £7 million – £10 million
Verdict: Leaving

Stephen Hunt
In a nutshell: Has a year to run on his contract and if a bid comes in, I think the club would be willing to sell. I suspect he’ll stay though.
Verdict: Staying

Kevin Doyle
In a nutshell: Signed a new deal last summer, which means he’s stuck here until 2015 unless someone is willing to pay decent cash. I still think he’d be a great acquisition for a club willing to play to his strengths. I think he’ll go.
Estimated valuation: £4 million – £5 million
Verdict: Leaving

Fletch staying in the top flight?

Steven Fletcher
In a nutshell: The goals have dried up of late, but already has a return of 10, which is pretty good when you consider the team he’s been playing in. Again, we’ll get bids but what is a fair price? Has two years left on his contract with the option of a third in Wolves favour, so should command decent money.
Estimated valuation: £7 million – £10 million
Verdict: Leaving

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
In a nutshell: Only has a year to run on his contract but will surely stay, particularly if the above two players leave? With the right service, I’m confident he’ll again score goals for fun in the Championship.
Verdict: Staying

Sam Vokes
In a nutshell: Has a year left on his current deal and could have a role next season, depending on who leaves and who arrives. I think he’ll fancy his chances of playing though, so he’ll likely stay.
Verdict: Staying

The Kids

Danny Batth – Staying
David Davis – Staying
Leigh Griffiths – Leaving
Matt Doherty – Staying
Anthony Forde – Staying
Jamie Reckford – Staying
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – Leaving
Jake Cassidy – Staying