Archives for May 2012

High hopes for Henry!

Vinny Jones, Kevin Ball, Gary Holt (who?), Scottish bloke at West Bromwich too, I forget his name.

They all played virtually every game for Leeds, Sunderland, Norwich and the A****n (Derek McInnes) when their respective clubs got promoted from the hellish league we must now call home.

Check me out - in the Championship hopefully!

Then there was Jamie Pollock (Middlesbrough), Per Frantsen (Bolton). Gary Flitcroft (Blackburn), Steve Sidwell (Reading), not to mention Carlton Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday) and even Stuart McCall at Bradford in 1999.

While Aristotle inspired reasonings on the intricacies of a Christmas tree will forever elude a footballing brain like mine, I do have one specialised subject that could probably win me a place on Mastermind alone, thanks to 20 years of painful experience.

How to get out of the championship!

As many will be more than aware, I love Karl Henry from the bottom of my pencil case and need to state right now that in order for us to become only the 16th team in about 60 to bounce back up straight away, he needs to stay at Wolves and play.

As every successful team would ride roughshod into Molineux as we’d labour in the malaise of mid-table, a selfless central midfielder, usually wearing 8, would go about his business with an infuriating level of effectiveness.

I can still picture Frantsen’s flaxen hair, or Lee Clarke’s complete lack of it when Sunderland and Fulham would come to town.

And then there was Neil Redfearn’s no-nonsense style at Barnsley, not to mention Mark Kinsella’s ball retention at Charlton.

They all offered an unerring level of consistency in the centre of the pitch, and they all made me realise how damned important that position is for any team harbouring genuine hopes of promotion.

Never a 10/10, always a 7, and nothing like the Olofinjanas and Osbornes of yesteryear, who could delight one week, only to desert the next.

So more than Matt Jarvis, more than Wayne Hennessey and even more than Steven Fletcher’s presence next season, Karl Henry’s must assume the most indispensable of the lot.

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Morgan in the driving seat

It took a while to get here, but almost five years to the day that Steve Morgan offered a tenner and a handshake for Sir Jack’s labour of love, he might have finally taken ownership of it.

Whichever calamitous straw it was that broke the camel’s back matters little right now, nor the 1800 odd days it took to break it.

The most significant point from last season’s car crash of a campaign is that the repair work has begun and the owner has finally started owning.

Stick 'em up punk!

No more rubbernecking at the carnage, no more blaming the conditions and no more half-arsed repair jobs with the apprentice technician.

On March 28 Wolves Blog offered five solutions to help us get back on the road to recovery, barely believing that Mr Morgan would be streetwise enough to think along the same lines.

Maybe we underestimated him, because apart from the free-travel we were advocating for our hard suffering away fans, he has already acted on four of them.

  1. Terry Connor was effectively gone before the Wigan game had started, with a new pair of Nordic eyes already in place, seemingly with the minimum of fuss.
  2. The club confirmed that Guedioura would have a part to play next season and would not be sold forthwith (along with other top performing loanees including Batth and Cassidy)
  3. The club said sorry like we demanded they should, on numerous occasions in fact, with some degree of sincerity
  4. They kept the early bird prices open over the summer in a goodwill gesture that speaks far more eloquently than Jez Moxey ever could.

Fair’s fair.

To coin a Big Ron phrase from yesteryear, if they (the club) haven’t done enough, then I’ll whip ‘em  (and have done so in more blogs than I care to remember)

But I ‘aint whipping them for that.

At some point, a line needs to be drawn under the farce that was last season. Moving it to the hard shoulder, towing it away and writing it off as a thoroughly bad job was imperative.

That Steve Morgan has done this, while assuming the role of police officer and emergency service worker all in one must surely be a good thing for the longer journeys that await – no matter how long it took to get there.

Report card

As we’ve done it for the last two seasons, I thought I’d keep up the tradition of posting end-of-season marks for each individual player.

Please note that ratings are based on the contribution that each specific player could reasonably be expected to make in the appearances they made.

Hennessey

Left exposed

Wayne Hennessey – Made more saves than any other keeper in the Premiership – not that he had much choice. Personally, I thought he had a strong season that was slightly tarnished by a few soft goals and gaffes. 8/10

Dorus De Vries – Didn’t get a kick in the league until the dying embers. Acquitted himself reasonably, but couldn’t halt the avalanche of goals conceded. 7/10

Carl Ikeme – Got the second half against Wigan, but nothing else. Can’t really judge. 7/10

Kevin Foley – Injuries prevented him having anywhere near the same impact as previous seasons. But even when he did play, he rarely reached the standards he’s capable of. 5/10

Ronald Zubar – Another one plagued by injury for large chunks of the season. Same old Zubar when he was out on the pitch – flitting between sublime and ridiculous.  5.5/10

Matt Doherty – Came on at Anfield and impressed. Not seen much of him since. Obviously has ability but faces stiff competition, particularly if Zubar hangs around next season. 7/10

Roger Johnson

From bad to worse Roger

Roger Johnson – Looked the business for a handful of games at the start, but soon went bankrupt. Had a mini revival around Christmas, notably away at Arsenal and Spurs before things turned really sour. Hasn’t helped himself with comments on and off the field. 4.5/10

Richard Stearman – Somehow started the season as first choice right-back, but thankfully ended up playing more games in the middle where he belongs. For the most part, he did alright. 5.5/10

Christophe Berra – Impressed me with his consistency throughout the first half of the season. Got on with his job and didn’t make any mistakes. Went downhill badly from December onwards though. 5.5/10

Jody Craddock – Injuries destroyed his season. Only got on the pitch once – at home to Sunderland – but limped off before the end. 7/10

Stephen Ward – Played every minute of the Premier League season. Immense for the first 10 games, but couldn’t maintain the standard and put in some woeful performances when we desperately needed better. Probably the pick of our defenders though, which says it all.  7/10

George Elokobi – With Wardy dominating the left-back slot, poor George didn’t really get a sniff. Looked very poor on the odd occasion he emerged from the bench. Could he do better in the middle? 4/10

Kightly Vs Villa

Welcome back Kites

Michael Kightly – A small glimmer of hope in an otherwise miserable season? Finally fit again and discovering the form we know he’s capable of. Superb goals that should have proven vital against Aston Villa and Bolton were turned to dust by his team mates inability to defend. 7/10

Stephen Hunt – I remember being very impressed with Hunt in the opening 3 games, but his form went down the toilet with the team. Injuries didn’t help, but are we wrong to expect better? 4.5/10

Adam Hammill – Sure he’s raw, but on the rare occasion he made it onto the pitch, his raw talent was plain to see. I just don’t think Mick had the patience to iron out the kinks. Maybe Ståle does? 5/10

Karl Henry – You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. In the games he was injured or suspended – which were numerous – the midfield was completely lost. Coupled with Frimpong’s injury, his absence was a significant nail in our coffin. I could have strangled him for his petulance in the Villa game. 7/10

Dench today, gone tomorrow

Emmanuel Frimpong – Thought he was our saviour after impressive outings against Chelsea and Spurs, capped by a scintillating 45 minutes at home to Villa. Gone for good a week later at QPR. What might have been hey? 8/10

Nenad Milijas – Nenad must have been on the fags more than usual this season, as he barely got a kick. Why TC never gave him a go as the season quietly slipped away I’ll never know. That said, he was average at best when he did get on. 5/10

Dave Edwards – I love and hate him in almost equal measures. Not the sort of player who can win you a game single-handedly, but always puts in a shift for the team. To his credit, I would say he’s one of only a few players whose standards didn’t drop. 6.5/10

Adlene Guedioura – See ‘Adam Hammill’. 5/10

Eggert Jonnson – It’s not his fault is it? Looked a yard off the pace to me whenever he played though. 4/10

David Davis – Finally made the breakthrough and impressed in the handful of games he played. More to come hopefully. 6.5/10

Jamie O’Hara – The club have openly admitted they put huge faith in the impact he’d have over the course of a full season. He most definitely didn’t live up to the billing. Score some important goals against Wigan and Swansea, but never really got going. Injuries seemed to be a problem throughout. 5/10

Doyle

That's how we felt Doyler

Matt Jarvis – My personal choice for player of the season. Not always on top form, but the only player capable of dragging us forward and asking a question of the opposition. Starting to score goals now too. A shame he’ll probably leave. 8.5/10

Anthony Forde – Another youngster to make the breakthrough and looked capable enough. Thrown in at the deep end against Arsenal at the Emirates and came through impressively. 7/10

Johnny Gorman – Handed a cameo at Carrow Road as Wolves chased the game, but didn’t really make an impact. Looked ok though. Will he get more action next season? 7/10

Kevin Doyle – Poor. Terrible in fact, by his standard. And it pains me to say that. I don’t know what’s happened to him this season. Goals have always been an issue, but his performance levels have been well below par. Still does his best work alone up front. 3.5/10

SEB – 1 solitary league goal for a player whose all about goals is not a good return. Granted, he only made 22 appearances int total and just 7 starts, but he should have contributed more. 3/10

Steven Fletcher – 12 Premier League goals is an excellent return for Fletch, given the team he was playing in. I would have liked to have seen more from him in terms of overall play, but that’s only because he sets a certain standard. 8/10

Well, those are my marks.

What do you reckon?