Archives for December 2012

Crystal Palace Vs Wolves Preview

Wolves were ticking along nicely until Crystal Palace arrived at Molineux back in October.

Palace

We even went a goal up in that game, but two magic moments from Wilfried Zaha and a nasty injury to S?awomir Peszko derailed our progress.

We’ve only won 4 of 16 games since, while Palace, despite changing managers, continued on a run that would see them reach the summit of the Championship table.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they’ve stuttered in December and fallen back into the play-off places. Without a win in their last 5 matches, they need to pickup again sooner rather than later if they’re serious about challenging the top two.

A home game against Wolves is an excellent chance to do just that. Their home remains strong as you’d expect for a team occupying 4th place – 7 wins, 4 draws and just the one defeat thus far.

While Zaha might be the threat that most supporters fear, it’s Glenn Murray stealing all the headlines. He’s the Championship’s leading scorer with a phenomenal return of 22 league goals already. To put that into perspective, the entire Wolves squad have only managed 31.

Wolves

As they were the last time they suffered back-to-back home defeats against Forest and Millwall, Wolves are a mess.

After those catastrophic performances, we buried a poor Bristol City side to herald the mother of false dawns. But what now? I can’t imagine for a moment that Palace will be anywhere near as generous.

The best we can realistically hope for is a shrewder tactical approach, a better defensive display and a result of some description. This would be the team I’d send out:

Wolves team to face Palace

So, drop one of the forwards (probably SEB) in favour of bringing in an additional midfielder. Solbakken has been reluctant to stray from his preferred 442, but surely now is the time?

Admittedly, I was advocating similar change prior to the game at Ashton Gate and he made a mockery of that idea, but Selhurst Park represents a much tougher challenge.

I’d love to be proved wrong again, but I truly believe if we don’t get a foot on the ball and control the play, we’ll be taken apart.

The defence has taken a pounding (and rightly so), but our crippling inadequacy going forward is really putting us on the back foot. Teams know they can just sit back and wait to pounce. Until we get some creativity into the side, this will continue to be the case, particularly at home.

Predictions

In stark contrast to the Peterborough game, the majority thought we’d get turned over by Mick.

26 people correctly thought we’d lose and of those, 8 got the correct scoreline too.

Well done to Alf White, Slider, Rob in London, Twixfix, johnok, Tettenhall Wolf, Bagsy and Wolfman Steve for doubling up. A single point for everyone else.

It’s difficult not to arrive at the logical conclusion of another defeat, even taking into account Palace’s recent struggles.

That said, we haven’t drawn away from Molineux yet, so hopefully we can stink the place out with an attritional, stubborn show of defiance.

1-1.

Up The Wolves.

And of course…

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAY 2013 BRING YOU ALL GOOD THINGS (STARTING WITH A BETTER FOOTBALL TEAM HOPEFULLY)

Wolves 0 Ipswich Town 2

Old red eyes was back.

Mick and Stale

Those eyes that could never be blue, rolling like a wheel of fate as Stephen Ward misplaced another pass after a genuine left back broke the deadlock.

Watching the inevitable build-up to the opener was a twist of fate that Adlene Guedioura, Mark Davies and Andy Keogh combined couldn’t get close to.

An athletic, mobile number three scoring to the fist pumping delight of Mick McCarthy. To the rapture of old red.

The very same Mick McCarthy who persisted with a one-paced £100,000 Eircom League striker for years like a stubborn alcoholic in the wrong bar, having walked into a door.

For Stephen Ward read Aaron Cresswell.

For Roger Johnson read Luke Chambers, who Michael Kightly ridiculed to substitution back in 2008.

And for Kevin Foley see Carlos Edwards, who filled a temporary gap on loan during the same season, when we all knew he wasn’t the answer back then.

Just like every game involving a Molineux prodigal son, the fabric of our old gold shirt was used as a rag to wipe their gleeful slobber, rather than the sweat from our own players’ brows.

For the uplifting ovation that Mick McCarthy received before kick-off, the pattern of play reminded many why it was time to ship the Yorkshireman out in the first place – albeit six months too late.

A dour, attritional team featuring Daryl bleeding Murphy in a 4-4-2 system, versus a side who really couldn’t give a shit.

The fact we pine after Mick like some unrequited love story says more about the tawdry actions taken after his departure than it does a 2-0 defeat on a Saturday afternoon.

Ipswich wanted to win more than us, pressed higher up the pitch than us and completely took the game to us while we watched on with the same passive expression that Solbakken emits from the touchline.

Save for a red carpet and a pair of slippers, McCarthy’s homecoming couldn’t have been cosier.

And while this fact will hurt every Wolves fan with enough pride to kiss the badge, it won’t even resonate with our owner and CEO, who didn’t even suffer Old Red’s medicine like we thought they should.

But when did they listen to a word that 28,000 ever said?

Wolves Vs Ipswich Town Preview

Ipswich have been on a steep upward trajectory since Mick McCarthy arrived in Suffolk.

Mick McCarthy

But that’s hardly surprising is it?

While it’s simple to question his ability as a Premier League manager, in the second tier he’s a proven heavyweight.

Having led three different clubs to the play-offs and lifted two Championship titles, his record stacks up against anyone.

At the time of his appointment at Portman Road, both Ben and I felt it was a clever move for all parties concerned.

Vacancies at Bolton and Blackburn might have seemed more enticing based on league position and immediate prospects, but Ipswich was definitely the smarter choice.

For a start, he couldn’t do any worse than Paul Jewell, so any success would be an improvement.

Looking at the squad too, it was clear to see they’d underperformed. Chopra, DJ Campbell, Murphy, Edwards – these aren’t superstars but they’re all players that know this division like the back of their hand.

So if Mick could get the best out of them, things would almost certainly pick up, and so it’s proved.

On recent form (the last 8 games) they’d be sixth in the table. Wolves would be 19th.

Wolves

This fixture was always going to be a big game, but the apocalypse against Peterborough has ramped it up to epic proportions. I’m just not sure Ståle Solbakken can survive another beating like that, in front of his own fans, against the man he replaced.

So what does he do?

Well, in the post-match interview on Boxing Day it was suggested that he may sacrifice some attacking flair for more defensive stability. But what that means in terms of personnel is anyone’s guess. Maybe something like this?

Wolves team for Ipswich

Stearman for Foley and Davis for Doumbia would probably make us tighter at the back. But does it make us better overall? I’m not sure.

I think we must find a place in the team for Sigurdarson. He looked sharp in his 45 minute cameo on Wednesday and brings an injection of pace to the attack.

Probably too soon for O’Hara to start, but I think he’ll definitely bring something to the team when fully fit.

Whatever the team, we need to move the ball quicker and get at this Ipswich defence. They’ve shipped 27 goals away from home, more than any club in the league. But as we’ve learned from recent experience, statistics like that count for little of course.

Prediction League

Only 3 people correctly thought we’d lose on Boxing Day and even the most pessimistic couldn’t foresee us getting stuffed 3-0.

So it’s just a point each for Old Goldy, timberwolf and martin.

You normally get a response after such an horrific defeat, so I expect a better performance this time out.

Every fiber of my being is telling me to say defeat, but I’ll plump for a draw.

2-2.

Up The Wolves.

* Just a couple of requests about the Prediction League please guys. Firstly, please don’t make more than one prediction. A few people have predicted one score and then later decided to change their mind to something else. Up to this point I’ve been lenient, but multiple entries from here on out will result in all predictions being void. Also, you sometimes need to give me a few days to update the table. I’ve had quite a lot of people emailing to say I’ve missed their latest points. Please give it at least a week before emailing after a match. Thanks 🙂

Wolves 0 Peterborough United 3

Being violently ill yesterday evening was an appropriate end to a miserable Boxing Day.

Wolves Peterborough

Doctors would diagnose the Norovirus but I have my own suggestion – The Wolves Vomiting Bug.

Symptoms include (but certainly not limited to) a complete bodily rejection of sluggish, insipid football against supposedly the worst side in the division.

Yet even hugging the bog for the best part of four hours was preferential to the fresh dollop of misery served up by the old gold.

It was just so sickeningly easy for Posh as they soaked up Wolves one-dimensional, one-paced, attacking play before picking them off at will.

Aside from two well-struck Sako efforts, their goalkeeper might as well have stayed at home with a turkey sandwich.

Wolves just didn’t get the ball forward quickly enough. Trying to play out from the back and through the midfield, where they were outnumbered and out battled was a pointless exercise.

Peterborough just waited for the mistake and devoured us on the break. And every time they came forward, we looked fragile.

Pennant bore the brunt of the home crowd’s frustration; booed off as punishment for his half-tackle in the build up to their second goal and another powder-puff performance.

But I don’t think he should be scapegoated for the loss. This was a collective team collapse with a number of other culprits.

Doyle for one did nothing. I can barely recall him touching the ball, which perhaps says as much about the team performance as his own, but his anonymity remains a disappointment.

Sako was more miss than hit too, preferring to continually tie himself up in knots rather than being the direct threat we know he can be. It’s harsh to single him out when he’s patently our best player, but if he doesn’t perform, the team invariably struggles.

But the majority of the blame should rest on the manager.

Giving the players Christmas Day off probably wasn’t a clever move as they looked jaded and a yard off the pace throughout.

The tactics too were baffling, not only as we imploded in the first half but as we chased the game in the second.

The approach was far too gung-ho, when at just 2-0 with still 45 minutes to play it’s possible to claw your way back without taking such a big gamble.

What yesterday was evidence of is that medium and long-term big changes are needed.

But in the short term Ståle needs to find an antidote, as having our pants pulled down by Mick on Saturday might be one indignity his boss isn’t prepared to suffer.

Wolves Vs Peterborough United Preview

Both Ben and I went to London Road back in sunny September, as Wolves eased to a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Peterborough

I left the ground that day thinking the Posh were already goners; zero points from their first eight matches giving them little reason for hope.

Immediately after though, they went on to win their next two matches and have since done a pretty good job of repairing the damage.

They arrive at Molineux on Boxing Day still bottom of the league but only 2 points adrift of safety and boosted by back-to-back victories over Cardiff and Bolton.

Scoring goals seems to be the key ingredient to their resurgence, as they’re still letting them in by the bucket load.

They’ve conceded 44 goals already this season. Only Bristol City (46) have been more generous. Wolves by comparison have only shipped 30.

Young striker Dwight Gayle, signed only last month from non-league Dagenham is a player to watch out for. He’s been in great scoring form with 5 goals in 6 matches.

Wolves

Three wins from the last four matches has given Wolves a great opportunity to cement a position in the top-half of the table before the New Year.

Say what you like about banana-skins and the return of familiar faces, but two home fixtures against Peterborough and Ipswich should be a six point return.

It will probably be the same team we saw against Blackpool:

Wolves team for Peterborough

But David Davis and perhaps even Bjorn Sigurdarson could be pushing for a start. Other players will likely come into the equation too with a handful of fixtures pushed together over the next ten days.

Doumbia looked jaded again at Blackpool. I remember fondly how strong he was against Posh in the return fixture. He dominated that game and was unplayable throughout. A return to that sort of form is long overdue.

Predictions

It’s raining points in the PL after the Blackpool game. 22 people got the correct outcome, but a stonking 12 of those doubled up to make it a very Merry Christmas.

Well done to theDOOGooder, Phil, Brizzie, goldcoastkiddywolf, johnok, NY Wolf, Cwmbranwolf, robertsbridgewolf, Banbury Wolf, Rob in London, Robc306 and Wolfman Steve.

Has to be a win for me. I think there will be a few goals too.

3-2.

I’m currently trying to get a Christmas quiz live that Ben’s been manfully chipping away at, but in case I’m not successful, from both of us, have an amazing Christmas.

Up The Wolves.

Merry Christmas

Blackpool 1 Wolves 2

As mysteries go, working out how Santa navigates Rudolph before squeezing down the chimney has nothing on how Wolves won at Blackpool last night.

Blackpool Wolves

There would have been plenty of pondering amongst us as we stumbled up the stairs but a warm, fuzzy glow of delight this morning suggests we’ve had the best present we could have hoped for.

If it wasn’t for a weekend of last minute shopping, we could kick back, put our feet up and watch the other results come in with a glow of self-satisfaction.

In many ways, the context of this latest win is the most preferable one of all in the modern day fixture calendar.

The performance however, left a lot to be desired and showed a national audience just how far away we are from being a promotion challenging side.

Aside from the first 15 minutes, we were absolutely hopeless and could have had no complaints if we’d lost by five.

We were outnumbered in midfield, outplayed in the wide positions and isolated for long periods up front.

Positionally, Ward was found wanting and while he won’t be the last full back Tom Ince will terrorise, he will have been one of the first to offer such space to the Guv’nor’s son.

Bloomfield Road

Aside from an impressive first five minutes, Doumbia was awful once again and Doyle regressed back to his anonymous worst.

On the positive side, David Davis was hugely impressive when coming off the bench and played a big part in our second goal, steadying the ship before opening up the play for Sako to attack. He also threaded a beautiful through ball to Ebanks Blake before a bobble deprived him a hat-trick.

Sylvan worked harder than we’ve seen for some time, taking his first goal well and in Ikeme we had a man mountain who made sublime save after save.

And for the first time I can remember this season, we got a decision from a referee that can be classified as debateable. Good.

In summing up, it is probably easier to analyse Blackpool skipper Ian Evatt’s response to a question about our promotion credentials in the Sky studio.

For a brief moment as he furrowed his brow, it looked like he’d been asked to explain how reindeers fly.