Archives for September 2012

Wolves 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0

What impressed me at Peterborough last week was the same thing that impressed me today – control.

Second time lucky

Yes, it was only one goal and in truth not much else created aside.

But when you use the ball so intelligently and control the rhythm and tempo of the game for such long periods, one goal is often all it takes.

For all the champagne football we saw under McCarthy in the Championship winning campaign, I don’t remember many comfortable 1-0’s.

But as narrow victories go, Wolves made this look pretty straightforward.

The second half became a procession as we strangled the life out of the opposition, reducing them to a handful of breakaways and long balls into the box.

However, the first 45 was anything but a stroll. As they have been too often, Wolves were slow out of the blocks and very nearly punished. Wednesday created openings and had a decent shout for a penalty. On another day we would have been chasing the game.

But the longer it went on, the more authority Wolves exerted and after taking the lead, they rarely looked troubled.

It was another fierce strike and telling contribution from the languid Sako who can seemingly go from ‘unbothered’ to ‘unplayable’ in seconds. I’m enjoying his performances.

Doumbia and Henry can consider this another midfield battle won. Their dominance was probably the main factor that swung it our way.

A third consecutive clean sheet in the league and a first of the season at home was pleasing. Ikeme didn’t have a save to make all game.

Berra and Johnson weren’t asked many questions either, whilst Foley and Ward were untroubled after that lacklustre start.

Foley in particular impressed, using all his composure and intelligence. Perhaps more than anyone else, the full back is benefiting from Solbakken’s preference for neat possession football.

Doyle too continued his resurgence, albeit still without a goal. Equally, Ebanks-Blake didn’t get a sniff throughout to add to his 3 league goals. He’ll enjoy better days.

Peszko impressed me today after coming on early for the unfortunate Boukari. The Pole was heavily involved throughout and always causing the opposition headaches.

He occupied those pockets of space behind the forwards well and made intelligent runs. After a few anonymous outings, it was pleasing to see him have an influence.

But as this new Wolves team continues to strengthen and rack up the points in the process, it’s clear that the biggest influence of all is coming from one place only.

The dugout.

Wolves Vs Sheffield Wednesday Preview

When Mick McCarthy fielded a weakened team at Old Trafford in 2009, he would reportedly have been sacked had he not delivered victory against Burnley the following weekend.

Sheffield Wednesday

Edged out by Bolton

Ståle Solbakken certainly shouldn’t fear such severe repercussions tomorrow, but I’m sure he’ll be relieved all the same should we collect maximum points.

A 6-0 defeat is always a tough pill to swallow, regardless of the circumstances. But like many others have said already, a decent return from the next two home games and the massacre of Stamford Bridge will be a distant memory.

Wednesday are equally in need of the points after a run of 5 successive defeats if you include their midweek League Cup loss to Southampton.

Their problem is obvious given the fact they’ve conceded at least 2 goals in all 7 of their Championship fixtures to date.

Jay Bothroyd is a player we know well and will certainly be a threat if he starts. They also have young Everton prodigy Ross Barkley on loan, as well as striker Rodri from Barcelona B.

Wolves

The team should really pick itself for this game after last week’s comfortable win at Peterborough. I’m not sure anyone really showered themselves in glory in midweek to put themselves into contention.

The only two players from that eleven who might not make it are probably Foley and Peszko wih Stearman and Boukari the likely replacements. But I’d like to see if last weekend’s team could repeat the performance against better opposition.

What’s obvious is that we need to get at Wednesday as there are goals to be had. That said, I’m confident our forwards will do the business at the minute so it will probably come down to keeping the back door shut. Three consecutive clean sheets in the league? It’s been a while. I can’t even say how long. Anyone?

Opposition view

Thanks to Richard Fidler, Sports writer at The Star in Sheffield, for his take on the game:

Important for Wednesday to stop the rot and show they can keep a clean sheet. Not yet crisis time for the club but it’s a very bad run of results.

Jones has had to bring in new faces but they’re taking their time to gel. Some fans thought the good times would carry on after last season so they’re getting a bit of an awakening of how tough the Championship is. Not losing at Wolves would be an excellent outcome at the moment.

Wolves will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. Still have good quality in their squad. I see a 1-1 draw.

Predictions

48 people said we’d get the win at London Road and a stonking 12 of those also got the 2-0 scoreline.

Well done to wolves4ever, johnok, robc306, slider, steppenwolfe, these are the days, vladamir, wight wolf, hamlet, rob in london, mark and woody wolf. They all take the maximum 2 points on offer.

Logically we should win tomorrow, but I’ve yet to be convinced about us at home, which is strange given that we’re undefeated. Perhaps that’s a positive thing?

Despite a nagging doubt telling me to go for a draw, I’ll back us to come through comfortably.

3-1.

Up The Wolves.

Ben’s ticket up for grabs

Forget all this ‘South Bank (North Bank)’ posturing and the vocal banter that accompanies it.

When it comes to the number one vantage point to watch us play Sheffield Wednesday, there really is only one place to sit……Ben’s seat in the Billy Quiet upper.

Unfortunately, Benny boy is cursing his sister for arranging her wedding on the very day we play the Owls so he’s had to give up his ticket.

Such are his levels of chivalry that he’s offering it to one of you lucky blogger friends.

If you want it, just leave a comment below laying claim. The first person to ask for it gets it.

Thomas will meet to deliver, under the Billy Wright statue at 2.30pm tomorrow.

Chelsea 6 Wolves 0

Is this going to psychologically damage us? Have we got any regrets? Will those involved be scarred for life?

With questions like these, it’s a wonder we’re not talking about an impromptu French holiday with our favourite maths teacher instead of a 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea.

At least Zele Ismail made an appearance near the end and Stale Solbakken has more evidence that our fringe players should not be trusted with first team shirts.

Maybe the Norwegian got it wrong by naming his squad so soon before this clash, giving Di Matteo too much food for thought beforehand.

But against a Chelsea team laden with quality and panache, the cold fact is that we would have, in all probability, lost this game whoever we fielded.

Nobody came out of this game with any credit, not least Peszko who missed two sitters when it sounded easier to score.

Obvious questions to present themselves from this complete spanking are:

  1. What is the point in Frank Nouble?
  2. How undercooked is George Margrietter?
  3. Is Stephen Hunt a complete spent force?
  4. Are we going to get a left back in with Elokobi rumoured to be off on loan to Bristol City?

And finally…

…Should Stale Solbakken be roundly criticised for selecting the team we saw this evening?

The good old days of Needham and Shilton getting muddled up are sadly long gone.

So too Kenny Hibbitt shinned shots and Gary Pierce heroics.

It’s doubtful Stale ever saw DVDs of those past glories.

In a sad commentary on Capital One, its historic three-handled cup and the ever consuming power of the ‘leccy league’, nobody will care if we win on Saturday. Or will they?

Chelsea Vs Wolves Preview

Visits to Stamford Bridge seldom end happily for Wolves, hence why I’m weighing up whether the timing of this fixture will benefit Ståle Solbakken.

Scraped by at the weekend

In our three previous visits, all in the Premier League, we’ve been on the end of 4-0, 2-0 and 3-0 losses.

Our manager has already shown his hand by naming a squad that excludes many of the players that started on Saturday.

We’ll go there, play a second-string (as our opponents will) and not fret too much about the result. That’s a sensible approach.

While in many respects it would have been interesting to see what questions our best eleven could ask of Chelsea reserves, getting a pasting could drastically effect the confidence of a team beginning to find it’s feet.

As it is, whatever the result tonight we can restore the first team against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and pick up where we left off at Peterborough.

I don’t need to tell you anything about Chelsea. European Champions, top of the Premier League, lots of talented players. Their ‘reserves’ will include the likes of Victor Moses, Ryan Bertrand and maybe even one or both of Frank Lampard and John Terry, who were left out against Stoke at the weekend.

Wolves

So we know the Wolves team will consist of: De Vries, Ikeme, Stearman, Zubar, Foley, Margreitter, Batth, Davis, Edwards, Jonsson, Price, Forde, Peszko, Ismail, Hunt, Boukari, Nouble, Sigurdarson.

This would be the team I’d pick from that lot:

I think like most supporters I’d love to see a glimpse of Ismail, but I doubt he’ll actually start at Stamford Bridge. More likely to come off the bench.

Somebody told me Saturday that Hunt is prepared to play at left-back so will be interesting to see if he’s selected there tonight.

Predictions

When we played Northampton in the cup a few weeks back I was inundated with emails from people asking why their Prediction League points hadn’t been added.

To be clear: There are no Prediction League points on the line for cup games.

So, just for fun, I’ll go for a narrow loss – 2-0.

It’s a shame that our chances of progressing in this competition seem to be constantly hampered by difficult fixtures at early stages. To get Man Utd twice, Man City and now Chelsea in the last four years is desperately unlucky.

But if we can stay organised and get a bit of luck, who knows?

Up The Wolves.

Peterborough United 0 Wolves 2

Five minutes in the welcoming bosom of a cathedral city was all it took to restore the faith.

Shoes off, if you love the Wolves

The senses awoken, another game unbeaten and a Roger Johnson redemption in the heartiest hymn of all.

Stood shoulder–to-shoulder with 3,000 fellow worshipers, our 2-0 procession was virtually secondary to the ethereal experience off it.

From a gloriously humble old terrace, our gold and black choir was in such uplifting voice that last season’s trespasses were completely forgotten, never mind forgiven.

In the best away day experience in many a long year, the only regret was that 20 odd thousand other fans weren’t able to be with us to experience it.

Both on and off the pitch, it genuinely felt like – to quote the old Sherpa Van vinyl record – we’re back!

Unlike our Portman Road success three days before, this triumph was so utterly comprehensive you’d think we were the under-16s to Peterborough’s under-12s.

As we assumed control of the terrace chanting, Solbakken’s Wolves took charge of the game in one of the most dominant 45 minutes I can ever remember.

Suffocating space off the ball, creating vast swathes on it, we looked like virtually every Premier League team to visit Molineux last season when we were the ones marooned at the foot.

We kept it, switched it and operated, almost exclusively, in meaningful areas of the field.

And when presented with a tight, awkward moment in our own third, we played our way out of it with superior speed of thought.

So dominant were we that we dusted out an old song barely sung once in the past four years.

‘Score in a minute, we’re ‘gonna score in a minute.’

And we did! Ebanks Blake, forging an ever threatening partnership with the quite brilliant Doyle, got tripped for a penalty which he duly dispatched.

Terrace panorama

The man-of-the-match Irishman was back to his sumptuous best and also set-up Sigurdarson for his deft winner in the second half, too.

Henry and Doumbia were too quick, strong and skilful for Peterborough’s central pairing, with the latter running Doyle close for the man-of-the-match award.

Sako was a constant menace while Peszko was arguably more direct up until his substitution, albeit in more modest manner.

Kevin Foley looked like his 2008 vintage in a surprise return to the starting eleven, while Ward exuded all the confidence of a man who’s changed more opinions than the Bishop of Peterborough Cathedral.

Ikeme, too, was impenetrable, suggesting that Hennessey will have to wait a little longer than he thought.

Berra and Johnson were assured and polished, even in a couple of late blocks when the home side occasionally pressed.

When we defended we broke with pace to attack and when the full time whistle sounded we sung like we’d just won the league.

It’s unlikely that we will get anywhere near that summit but for now, that can wait.

Far better to quote our Nordic leader: “For now, we can have a happy bus trip home.”

Peterborough United Vs Wolves Preview

I think the last time we went hunting for a third consecutive league win was at Villa Park, over 12 months back. We drew nil nil that day, which was pretty much as good as it got for the remainder of the season.

Falling short again in midweek

Ståle Solbakken will be hoping this week’s morale boosting back-to-back victories don’t prove to be a similar false dawn.

To say that Peterborough have had a difficult start would be a gross understatement. Their league record currently reads, played 6, lost 6, scored 5, conceded 14.

Although I stated in the Ipswich preview that the table counts for little at this early stage, 6 defeats on the bounce suggests problems.

I admit to knowing little about the Posh squad. George Boyd I do know has been their talisman for a good few years, attracting lots of interest from elsewhere. Defender Mark Little and winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing are two other familiar faces having come through the ranks at Wolves.

Wolves

One soundbite we’ve been continually peppered with since the start of the season is the need for Wolves to ‘restore confidence’ after relegation. Well, I think it’s about time we preyed on another team low on morale by taking control of this game and adding to their woes.

I have no idea what team Ståle will field tomorrow given that he’s talked about the importance of rotation. The Doyle/Sigurdarson partnership was given a start in midweek, so perhaps it would be interesting to see what the Icelander and Ebanks-Blake can do together?

Like everyone else, I feel more confident with Doumbia in the midfield, so after being rested in midweek it would be nice to see him in from the start. It was another assist for Sako in midweek, but can he start 3 games in such a short period of time? Peszko would be the likely replacement.

I don’t think we can really change the back four given that they managed our first clean sheet of the season. It would be lovely to make it two in two.

Opposition view

Saw these comments by Peterborough manager and former Wolves midfielder Darren Ferguson and thought they were as good as anything to use:

“They (Wolves) are a great example of a Championship side. They are very big, very strong, very physical and very well organised. They are also like a lot of clubs in this division as they are prepared to sit tight and wait for the opposition to make a mistake before pouncing.

“That’s what they did at Ipswich and once they hit the front it was game over. The first goal decides a lot of games at this level.

“It’s another big test for us, but we definitely have a chance. Of course we’ve suffered a dreadful start, but it’s not as though we are getting hammered every week. The Burnley scoreline was distorted by late goals.

“We lost 15 games by one goal last season and I bet we were not the only team to be able to say that because this is the most comptitive division in the Football League.

“No-one is going to run away with the division this season, but what we must do is make sure we are on the right end of some of these close results.

“Wolves will be challenging for promotion. They are a great club with superb support and they’ll travel in numbers to try and make this like a home game for their team.

“I didn’t have the best of times there as a player, but I still see them as a top club. I was too inconsistent, but we had five or six managers in my time there which didn’t help.”

Predictions

Just the 43 people correctly predicted we’d win at Portman Road on Wednesday. Seriously, when did you all become so cheerful?

6 of the 43 also got the 2-0 scoreline, so well done to Danny Velinski, Lee De Wolf, Vladamir, daveh, theDOOGooder and These are the days. You all double up.

I’m torn this weekend because I want to be optimistic, I really do. But given Peterborough’s record, it’s surely banana-skin city isn’t it?

As Ben and I are making the trip though, I’ll be brave and say 3-1 to the old gold.

Up The Wolves.