Archives for February 2013

Wolves Vs Watford Preview

Steve Morgan’s passionate display at last night’s Fans Parliament meeting has won him more friends than enemies.

Wolves Watford

While most issues certainly weren’t explored in enough detail, our chairman’s candor was refreshing.

Tomorrow it’s the turn of the players to front up.

Watford are strutting into town on the back of 7 wins from their last 10 games, making them the form team in the Championship. They’ve also won more away games (10) than any other side.

Some have complained about their revolutionary link-up with Udinese, which has seen an influx of loan players arrive from the Serie A club, but I applaud their innovation. If they can do it and it’s not breaking the rules, hats off to them I say.

They beat us at Vicarage Road back in November after Christophe Berra was controversially dismissed. At that stage, I didn’t think they’d be anywhere near the play-offs, but three months later they now look a good bet for a top two finish.

Of their many temporary signings, striker Matej Vydra and Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah are those grabbing the headlines. The latter is hotly tipped to become a regular at his parent club in the coming seasons.

Wolves

I applaud Dean Saunders for trying something different against Cardiff last weekend. But it didn’t work and should have been changed sooner than it was. After Cardiff went a goal up, the pack should have been immediately reshuffled.

We were more effective in the second half and had it not been for Doyle and SEB’s profligacy we could easily have taken a point. Both are guilty of missing big chances of late, which we simply can’t afford to do.

I’d play 442 from the start tomorrow with a team along the lines of:

Wolves Watford XI

But we’ve lost so many games now with so many different teams, picking a strongest XI is almost farcical. I look at the whole squad and only Sako is an automatic starter. That says a lot about where we are.

Predictions

42 people correctly predicted doom against Cardiff.

Most thought we’d lose by more goals than we did though (at least that’s something) with only 8 people getting the 2-1 scoreline correct.

Well done SOIAW, Steppenwolfe, Raydewolf, martin, westozwolf, Telford Wolf, Geordie Wolf and Wolves4ever for claiming the maximum. It’s a single for everyone else.

I shall continue to predict with head and not heart (and hope I’m wrong).

2-1 Watford.

Up The Wolves.

In defence of Steve Morgan

Thomas: At the end of last week Craig asked if he could send me a guest post in defence of Steve Morgan. Suffice to say I was curious. Having read it myself and offered Craig my feedback (which I’ll paste below in a comment), I deemed it only fair to share his alternative opinion. Over to Craig…

Steve Morgan

I’m going to initially touch on the manager appointments and dismissals over the last 18 or so months.

The dismissal of Mick

There’s been a lot of talk that Morgan fired the bullet too late, however, if you look at the facts there is a very valid reason why he kept him after the Blackburn game and also why we only made the signings of Roger Johnson and Jamie O’Hara.

Jamie O’Hara was signed on loan on the 30th January 2011, from that point until the end of the season we played 15 games and in that period we amassed 19 points, which was the 12 th best in the league for the same period. In that 15 game period the only teams to concede more goals than Wolves were West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham, the three teams that got relegated from the Premier League.

So, we move on to the summer, we have a team that theoretically can accumulate 48 points over the season, however, we add to this team a player that was widely recognised as a very good defender and was previously tipped to earn an England cap, which should mean that the 4th worst defence in the league should now become a lot stronger.

If you had that information sitting in front of you would you have got rid of Mick after the Blackburn game? And would you have brought in anymore players?

Now we get to the point when he was finally dismissed, maybe in hindsight (or not), it was too late and the time that he should have been dismissed was after the Swansea game, however, at this point we were still sitting outside of the relegation zone with a manager that over the past two seasons had managed to turn our fortunes around, so you can understand why Morgan kept faith in him.

At the point of the West Brom game a lot of people have said it was too late to get rid of him, which I agree, however, on that disastrous day I was in the sponsors lounge where the seats are situated next to the directors box and although Steve Morgan wasn’t present on that day, the vile that was aimed directly at Jez, whilst present with his daughter and wife, a change needed to be made for the good of the club.

The search for a new manager and the appointment of Terry Connor

Within a few days we all knew that there were three candidates for the vacant manager’s job at the club, Alan Curbishley, Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock. The decision had been made that the job was going to be offered to Curbishley, which was also the favourite choice of the majority of Wolves fans. Morgan then made an offer to Curbishley, who shook hands on the deal and went away with contract in hand. After having a night to browse over the offer, he decided the job wasn’t for him, so turned the job down.

The only person then that was left on the shortlist was Steve Bruce, as Warnock had already accepted the manager’s job at Leeds United. So, Wolves invited Bruce to have a further interview, however, the message boards and social media sites exploded, Bruce wasn’t the man that Wolves fans wanted to see as manager of the club, and the management took note and decided it wouldn’t be in the best interests of the club to appoint Bruce as the manager

With the shortlist now exhausted, the list of managers that would be available being very poor and the chances of us going down to the Championship being almost close to certainty, the decision was made to put TC in charge for the rest of the season and begin the search again when the season has come to an end, and in my opinion, the only answer that was left to them.

Ståle Solbakken

For most of the time that Wolves had applied their trade in the top flight of the English leagues most of the talk by the fans was about them wanting to see attractive football, the days had now passed when all the fans wanted to see was players that ‘put a shift in’. So, the board took the brave decision to appoint a guy from the continent, who was highly recommended by Roy Hodgson, can you have a higher endorsement than from a man who ahs the top job in English football?

This was an appointment that got the majority of Wolves fans very excited – the lift that a relegated team needed.

So, with a team that had just been applying their trade in the top flight, minus Jarvis, Fletcher and Kightly, and with 6 additions totaling more in fees than any other Championship club had spent on players, why would a chairman think it would fail?

The dismissal of Ståle and the appointment of Dean Saunders

Following the cup exit to the hands of Luton Town, a non league side, the board made the decision to relieve Ståle of his employment, which in my opinion, was too early, however with all that went on before it you can understand why the board already had a replacement lined up and acted quickly. Did they want the fans complaining that we had held on to our manager too long again? Did they want the fans and the press going on about another new appointment shambles?

I’m certainly a long way from thinking that Dean Saunders is the right man for the job, but I can certainly understand why the club took the decision to have someone appointed virtually before we had removed the old guard.

So, why wasn’t the new man backed in January? History tells us that January is always a poor time to purchase new players. The player that are available are no longer wanted by clubs because, generally, they are not good enough, or you have to pay an over inflated price to be able to pries them away from their current club.

When I’ve mentioned this to people previously they’ve come back with “What about Ebanks-Blake?” Well, Ebanks- Blake was a different ball game because he had a release clause in his contract, which meant that Plymouth had no choice but to sell him.

The other point to note is that we are now in the Championship and we have a loan window open until March that will allow us to bring in far better players than we would have had the chance to purchase in January.

So, what has Steve brought to the club?

Firstly – The Academy – if we forget what we want today and look to 5 -10 years in the future, we should, by rights, be seeing a future generation of Wolves players starting to appear in the first team, theses won’t just be players that are in a 60 mile catchment area, but players from all around the world. I know that people have moaned about the Academy being done, but don’t just think of today think of 5 years time.

Secondly – The North Bank – Forget where we are right now and think of when we get promoted back up to the PL, we will be in a position to fill the 30k plus ground on a weekly basis, which will allow us to bring in better players due to the extra income that is coming into the club.

Thirdly – Hierarchy – There has been a lot of people moaning over the years about Jez being clueless about football, which is understandable, but one thing no-one can argue with is Jez is a good finance man. This appears to be something that Steve has also noticed as he has now brought in a man to plug the footballing gap in Kevin Thelwall, whether he is the right man is another question, but only time will tell us that.

Taking everything above into account I struggle to understand why so many of our fans are against Steve Morgan, I personally think most of what he has done to date is for the best of the club and not just to fill his own pockets, however, I do expect us to spend big in the summer to get rid of Mick’s old and trusted players and bring in a new looking team to start next season.

Wolves 1 Cardiff City 2

As the team that the Manic Street Preachers support were strolling to victory, a familiar song lyric entered my head.

Wolves Cardiff

‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.’

For the sake of my little boy’s happiness I should keep him away from Molineux from now on, scratch his name off a Billy Wright brick and tell him to be more like his mates.

With his Design for Life flawed, Jez Moxey will offer advice on my DNA, while the pitchside adverts will offer an early bird reminder.

The motorcycle emptiness will remain.

As we slid to the most predictable of our 17 defeats to date, the on-field malaise took secondary importance to a question I’ve been suppressing for months.

Namely, what will I do next season?

The fact I’m genuinely unable to justify another season ticket – irrespective of division – on grounds other than hereditary says more about the Morgan era than a 1,000 word letter to his Red Row head office.

With no enjoyment, entertainment or empathy associated with home games anymore, the tough times appear to have prevailed over 25 years of toughness.

It’s not that Dean Saunders’ decisions have prompted the soul searching either. (Pezsko omission apart)

Each decision he made today arrived with enough supporting evidence to justify.

Kevin Foley was disgusting on Tuesday night so he dropped him for Doherty.

Dave Edwards was equally pathetic so he dropped him too.

Sako has looked isolated out wide so he played him centrally.

Roger Johnson has been a consistent performer this season, so he brought him back too.

On paper, the 3-5-2 that followed looked plausible but in reality, it contributed to one of the worst first halves in memory.

The 0-1 scoreline wasn’t the depressing bit either. The disparity in quality was the killer, as if we were back in the Premier League dealing with a Newcastle or Tottenham.

Saunders replaced the pitiful Doumbia and the unfortunate Batth with Doyle and Ebanks-Blake at half time.

The reasons Saunders dropped them in the first place were soon underlined.

Doyle’s eye of the tiger belied deplorable positional instincts to ignore a great cross from Sigurdarson before heading like he was apologising.

After Ikeme made a hash of a Bellamy cross to allow Campbell to bag his second, we found a way back into the game through a deflected Sako free kick.

Minutes later and our only outlet ran 90 yards down the wing and crossed for Ebanks-Blake to tap home.

For a micro-second time stood still, as an elongated FA Cup memory scrolled through my mind.

The pause button released as Don Goodman whipped the ball into the path of a marauding David Kelly…

…His joyous diving header faded as Sylvan Ebanks Blake came back into focus, just in time to scuff apologetically over the bar.

Cue customary ‘why always me’ pose from the hopeless number 9, as Sako cut him the exact same look that Sylvan himself used to reserve for Andy Keogh.

If only Saunders’ obsessive after-match defiance could be replaced with some realism, he’d be earning more sympathy.

To say we should have been 2-up at half-time was just plain wrong.

To say that ‘Everything Must Go’ would have been more appropriate, if not painfully obvious.

Wolves Vs Cardiff City Preview

It might as well be Cardiff heading to Molineux on Sunday, as Wolves simply can’t beat anyone.

Cardiff Wolves

Winless since before Christmas, we’ve been shot down by Peterborough, Ipswich and Barnsley, not to mention outplayed at Sheffield Wednesday.

If these are the strugglers, bring on the big guns.

Maybe (and I’m clutching some serious straw here) the presence of the runaway league leaders will finally breathe life into our flat-lining season?

Any takers? No?

Worryingly, the tell-tale signs of relegation were there to see at Oakwell on Tuesday.

When Wolves deservedly took the lead, they retreated and ultimately caved in. Then after the tide had turned in Barnsley’s favour, they didn’t have any answers.

But it’s OK because Dean Saunders reckons we could have won all the games he’s overseen thus far.

I’d suggest had it not been for a couple of towering last-minute headers from messrs Johnson and Batth, we’d have lost most of them.

Maybe eighth time really is the charm?

As you’d expect from a team at the Championship’s summit, Cardiff’s away record stacks up against the best with 8 wins and 3 draws. But 5 defeats shows they’re beatable.

In their last 10 games, they’ve won 7, drawn 2 and lost just once (on Tuesday night against Brighton).

Despite their strong form, the Bluebirds(wearing red) will be nervously looking over their shoulder come Sunday, if the chasing pack have closed ground by the time this one kicks off.

When a club has been knocking on the door of the Premiership for as long as they have, getting over the line is very rarely simple.

Wolves

There were a couple of pluses to come out of Tuesday night. Young Jack Robinson did exceptionally well (particularly first half) at left-back. I’m looking forward to seeing him play again.

Sako, Sigurdarson and SEB are three others who should also retain their place after decent effort at Oakwell. This would be my team:

Wolves team for Cardiff

Siggy needs to play through the middle from the start and for the duration. He can stretch defences with his pace and offers a more direct threat than anyone else.

I’d be inclined to play 442 and bring Peszko in from the start. At least everyone is then playing in their natural position.

I’d like to drop both Foley and Henry after Tuesday, but remain unconvinced about the players who would likely come into their positions (Doherty, Davis). Many will disagree.

Predictions

Well done to Steppenwolfe, Alf White, Clemens, Wolves4ever, Pferdepferde, TelfordWolf and Trenchman Mick, who all got the maximum two points on offer last time out for correctly predicting a 2-1 defeat at Barnsley.

Another 11 people got the right outcome without the score and take a single.

My predictions have been optimistic of late and have therefore yielded a Dean Saunders-sized points return.

So I’m thinking with my head and not my heart this time.

3-1 Cardiff.

Up The Wolves.

Barnsley 2 Wolves 1

At 9.30pm, the perfect storm had gathered.

Barnsley Wolves

A blackening performance, a damning consequence and a walk of shame towards 1,000 enraged away fans.

‘Typical of Barnsley to put the tunnel there,’ you could imagine Karl Henry saying.

A relentless hail of verbal missiles pierced the chill air, fired with more venom than a frontline soldier.

The imposters kept their heads down, perfecting the art of ignorance as if it were a Compton training ground drill.

Just like their roles on the pitch, none of them – bar Danny Batth – were prepared to front up and take it.

Their passive acceptance was as telling as the faces of Doyle, Johnson and Ward, who swaggered in their bubbles of immunity.

Tellingly, those three faces were the only ones smiling during our pitiful surrender, sniggering in their tracksuits when they were supposed to be getting loose.

Jason Scotland, meanwhile, warmed up properly.

Oakwell view

In a six pointer that assumed seminal proportions, young Jack Robinson made his debut.

Three minutes before kick-off, Johnson was sauntering around an empty pitch (with Davis) instead of being where he should have been…

…Next to the youngster in the changing room offering words of encouragement.

It’s bad enough having players that aren’t good enough. It’s something else entirely when they believe they’re actually too good in the first place.

More worrying than an endless losing habit is that after 33 games, 16 defeats and a bottom three position, some of these players still genuinely think they’re above all this frivolous nonsense.

Dave Edwards was one, shirking his responsibilities like a failed Sunday League bully, blaming Batth for the first goal because he’s a new kid on the block.

Karl Henry was another, backing up none of his pre-match words with a sterile performance that stank of complacency.

And in Kevin Foley, we saw a player who refused to sprint to take a throw-in when the fourth official was loitering.

End of game Barnsley

The most galling thing of all was the feckless surrendering of a great advantage we’d seized.

We flew out the blocks for the first 10 minutes and scored a belting goal through Sigurdarson, who looked unplayable both as a target man and a ‘striker on the shoulder.’

Yet as soon as he broke the deadlock via the menacing Sako, Dean Saunders pushed him into midfield to isolate the previously lively Ebanks Blake.

It was a decision to typify this entire season. Weak, subservient and completely unfathomable to the naked eye.

With the initiative lost, the game would go the same way. David Edwards didn’t challenge for the first and Kevin Foley went AWOL for the second.

When Dean Saunders was appointed on January 7, Steve Morgan enthused that he had more energy than the National Grid.

Forty days later and with the nuclear fall-out flying, he couldn’t even lift his head.

Barnsley Vs Wolves Preview

Saturday’s draw at Derby moved Wolves a point clear of the bottom three, but did little to ease fears of a second successive relegation.

Barnsley Wolves

As it currently stands, only Bristol City (4 points back on the same games) can be considered worse off.

Barnsley remain that single point behind but now have a game in hand. Bottom club Peterborough are five points back but have played two less.

In the last six games (the Dean Saunders era) Wolves are second bottom of the form table with just a four point return.

Barnsley are 4th (13 points), Bristol City 9th (9 points) and Peterborough 14th (8 points).

In summary then, the only three teams below us are accumulating points at double or even triple (in Barnsley’s case) the rate we are.

Whatever the table might suggest, we are the worst team in this league.

Have I crushed your spirit yet? If not, how about a graph of our league position over the season?

Wolves League Position

In case you’re wondering, I’m not into sadomasochism. I’m simply using the numbers to point out exactly how important this game is.

One statistic that is in our favour, is Barnsley’s horrid home form, which is even worse than ours. Just 4 wins from 15 and 7 defeats.

Wolves

Positives from Saturday were the cleansheet and performances of Gorkks and Batth. Roger Johnson returns from suspension but he’ll be sitting on the bench at Oakwell.

I imagine it will be a similar XI tomorrow and I’d be happy enough with something like:

Wolves Barnsley Team

Young left-back Jack Robinson, brought in on-loan from Liverpool may be involved but the manager’s comments suggest he won’t start tomorrow.

Call me an optimist (ignoring above), but I still look at that XI and think it should be doing better than fourth bottom of the Championship.

Predictions

8 people correctly predicted the draw at Pride Park.

Well done to Andrew from Atlanta and Exeter Wolf who also got the scoreline for a 2-point haul. It’s a single for the other 6.

Ben and I are racing up the M6 tomorrow for this one.

Our record for away games attended together is mixed. A 3-0 at defeat Stoke and 2-0 win at Peterborough.

I’ll optimistically back the lads to level up the aggregate.

1-0.

Up The Wolves.