Archives for March 2013

Wolves 3 Middlesbrough 2

Slugging it out for survival in a league of fine margins, individuals so often make the difference.

Kevin Doyle Boro

And today those difference makers sported gold Burrda.

Stephen Hunt headlined again with trademark effervescence; chasing down, winding up and generally having his say-so.

Any concerns about the loss of a certain French winger were soon erased as he jinked his way to the byline to see a teasing cross deflected home.

Indeed, for all the Sako Va Va Voom, Hunt has twice energised Molineux in a way we haven’t experienced all season. It was palpable.

Bjorn Sigurdarson caught the bug, flipping on the burners and moseying in to finish with nonchalant swagger.

Will he become the most valuable remnant of the Solbakken era? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Kevin Doyle’s performing a neat trick of late. So often the goalless workhorse, he’s now perfected the art of complete anonymity, only pouncing from the shadows to nod home late winning goals. Lovely jubbly.

That these encouraging moments were spaced out by goals and opportunity for Boro says much about our predicament. Whatever the lineup, whatever the formation, whatever the positives, Wolves simply can’t defend.

They may have been victims of a questionable goalline decision and 25-yard piledriver today, but both events were preventable. Whether it was Johnson’s needless lunge in the build up to their first or a chronic lack of closing down for the second, we again turned the gun on ourselves.

Perhaps it was no surprise then that with time ticking down, Dean Saunders opted to baton down the hatches and hammer up the barricades?

In what must have been the most defensive run of substitutions in history, we finished the game with a team of blockers.

Fair enough I say.

In such situations, managers must stick or twist and live or die by that decision.

Deano prefers to stick and given that the team saw out the game with a degree of comfort, you can’t question his judgment.

It really doesn’t matter how you get across the line, just as long as you do.

Remembering that could make all the difference.

Wolves Vs Middlesbrough Preview

I’d hoped victory against Bristol City would make for an enjoyable two week recess.

Boro Wolves

Silly me.

The misery wire soon cranked into gear delighting us with the news our best player is crocked for the season and a failed attempt to recruit a Burnley cast-off is the collective sum of our loan market ambitions*.

No wind for our sails then.

At least Middlesbrough aren’t up to much these days. They’ve lost 7 of their last 10 games to see them slip from automatic contenders to play-off outsiders.

They’ve been dire away from the Riverside all season, with 12 defeats and just 5 wins. Even Wolves have done better than that.

Much like our last home game then, this is a real opportunity to get a win.

* Nouha Dicko hadn’t signed at the time of writing this and I refuse to count Marian Kello.

Wolves

Despite the best efforts of Hunt and co a fortnight back, I think it’s a big ask to stay up without Bakary Sako. His 10 goals and 11 assists (second in the league for that by the way) account for nearly half of all goals scored by Wolves this season.

Still, we mustn’t dwell. I think Deano’s got to look at starting with the team that finished against Bristol City, which would mean an XI of:

Wolves team for Boro

Doyle and Siggy are interchangeable. I’d prefer to see the Icelander start as a striker, with Doyle playing deeper, but I reckon the manager will plump for the opposite.

Although Hunt, Doyle and SEB took the plaudits for getting us the win against City, I think Sigurdarson’s presence up front was pivotal. Had he not been switched inside, I don’t think we’d have got the foothold we did.

With no outside reinforcements, the manager must contemplate involving the likes of Peszko and Hammill for the run-in. I would argue both should have been involved anyway.

Predictions

34 correctly backed Wolves to win last time out. Special well done goes to the 12 of those who also got the 2-1 scoreline.

It’s a maximum for Ben, Sir Fred Paisley, Highland Wolf, Haywood Wolf, Steppenwolfe, Twixfix, Martin B, dave h, Danny Velinski, Lee De Wolf, Paul Featherstone and Wolves4Ever. A single for everyone else.

I think we can hope for another win in this one, especially if we don’t score any goals on their behalf. Not expecting anything pretty, just enough to get us over the line.

2-1.

Up The Wolves.

Supermarket Sweep

Remember the time when Dennis Bergkamp once shopped in Asda?

Paterson

Granted, the Loch Ness style sighting might just have been a hoax – with a smart, lean doppelganger tripping through those revolving doors at the very same time – but didn’t it feel exciting?

Back in June 2003, nothing was impossible and aspiration reigned supreme.

It began within an hour of the final whistle sounding in Cardiff, where Joe Cole’s name was banded around the delirious gold and black masses as if he’d already put pen to paper.

After all, ex United, Liverpool and Inter legend Paul Ince had chosen us, so the prospect of us landing other household names genuinely sounded plausible, didn’t it?

Ten years on and we can’t even land Martin Paterson from Burnley.

It’s not that this particular player induces a Hitchcock sound effect and a Robert Taylor shower scene. Far from it.

It is more the complete by-passing of any sense of endeavour and ambition, which are words reserved for a host of other clubs bar our own.

We don’t even shop in Asda anymore, opting for Sanjay’s Supermarket scraps along the Birches Barn Road.

How it all came to this is a blog for another time, but the names being mentioned today are barely more enticing than Danny Senda, Jemal Johnson and Darren Potter back in 2006, when three years of Premier League trappings were but a pipe dream.

That we all wearily shrug our shoulders when Simeon Jackson signs for Brighton says it all. Job done as far as Moxey and Morgan are concerned.

To dream the impossible dream these days is simply not an option, not even when the dream is for a 37 year-old Bolton striker who’d probably prefer to go home to Chesterfield anyway.

Don’t dream, so don’t be disappointed if we miss out on Martin Paterson, it seems.

As we fester in 23rd place, with two wins in 12 and three first teamers on the sick bed, we have a few hours to take action, and possibly entice a few season ticket sales in the process.

Quite who we’ll sign is anyone’s guess.

Judging by our recent ‘dealings’, Asda is unlikely to be on red alert.

Wolves Blog Postcard Stop #3 – San Francisco, California

Thanks to Andy in Sunny San Francisco for being the latest recipient of the Wolves Blog Postcard.

Wolves Blog Postcard Andy San Fran

Originally from Bushbury but grew up in Penkridge. My Dad was a lifelong season ticket holder until he passed away in July 2011 and it was he who introduced me to the North Bank as a nipper in the early Seventies with Waggie, Steve Daley, Mike Bailey, the Doug and John Richards, Frank Munro, Derek Parkin etc.

Went to the League Cup Final in 1974 and apart from being kicked by a Man City fan after the game on the way back to the coach, was a fantastic day and my one and only experience of being at Wembley.

Andy

I moved to San Francisco 25 year ago after graduating from Plymouth Poly and love living here. Weather is never too cold or too hot. Great beaches, nightlife, snowboarding in winter and camping in summer in the Sierra Mountains 3 hours away. San Francisco is a very small city as there are only 800,000 people who live here as its on a peninsula and theres no where else to build up so its only 15 minutes from the beach to downtown where my office is near the Giants Baseball stadium where I work for an ad agency.

Ive had the Wolves Blog postcard sitting in my office in San Francisco for 2 months after receiving it from those fine folks up in Canada. Frankly the reason its been sitting there is more to do with my depression at where the Wolves are the moment versus any antipathy on my part to get out the camera and take some snaps of the local sights. After a timely reminder from Thomas to pull my digits out I duly took some of the photos today of me, my dog, the Postcard and some familiar sights in the background.

Wolves Blog Dog

My dog funnily enough, looks like the Wolves logo. I swear it wasn’t a conscious decision on my part as he was a rescue dog and the kennel called me to adopt him but it must be fortuitous and serendipitous that he was chosen as he looks like the Wolf as evidenced by the sticker on the back of my Jeep which is proudly driven around the Streets of San Francisco in the vague hope that someone will recognize it and stop me as a fellow Wolves supporter so we can have a San Francisco Wolves Supporters Club that comprises more than one member (me).

So IF there are any Wolves fans out there in the Bay Area, then please get in touch so I can at least have a local moan about where the boys are at present and how the heck we get out of this mess.

C’mon Me Babbies!

My first game

September 3, 1988 was the day I fell in love with the Wolves.

Wolves Reading

I was nine years old, and held my Dad’s hand tighter than any other child amongst the 10,513 inside Molineux on a glorious summer day.

He was getting mildly concerned at my preoccupation with an all-conquering Liverpool side and my longing for an elusive Mark Lawrenson Panini sticker.

Like Graham Turner in a Scoreline tracksuit, Dad got decisive and drove us to Wolverhampton.

Whenever we’ve had a home game since that wonderful day, we’ve barely been anywhere else.

The golden shirts dazzled in the sunshine, the like of which I’d never seen before.

The minor details have stayed with me ever since, even if the bigger ones remain elusive.

I can’t remember seeing Steve Bull, yet I can see Ally Robertson quite clearly. I can hear a ‘Ruby Red Records’ mention on the tannoy system, but not a sound from the phenomenal South Bank.

wolves v reading 1988 teams

I can see my Dad eating a Cornish pasty in the bowels of the John Ireland stand, but not a soul standing anywhere near us.

Add 30,000 people to the attendance and I still wouldn’t have seen a soul standing anywhere near us.

In a perfectly frozen snapshot I call heaven, I only saw my Dad.

Of course Wolves won the game, responding to a 1-0 deficit through a Phil Chard penalty and the rarest sight of all – a Robbie Dennison header.

In a quirky twist of symmetry, it was the exact same scoreline as the last game we all saw, featuring another winning header by an Irishman at the North Bank end (only marginally fuller than the empty cowshed!).

The biggest difference being that I whistled, screamed and shouted for the three most recent points like my life depended on it.

As a starstruck nine year-old clad in Staw Distribution branding in 1988, my life was dependant on somebody far more important than the football…

…The bloody idiot who walked me down Waterloo Road when I didn’t have a choice.

See you a week Saturday Dad x

Wolves 2 Bristol City 1

Heroes and villains was the underlying motif of yesterday’s crucial victory.

Ebanks Blake Bristol City

Carl Ikeme took the role of Joker, showcasing the poise and footwork of a drunk toddler. The sand wedge back pass from David Davis as much a riddle.

Bakary Sako was soon hopping along like the Penguin before pulling up and waddling off as we all looked skywards for a hero.

Enter Stephen Hunt.

Or should I say Lex Luther after his post-Watford comments? No surprise to hear his arrival greeted with a cocktail of boos, applause and ironic cheering. Molineux doesn’t know what to think anymore.

But with every tackle, every block and every measured cross, the villain became a hero and reminded us all of his powers.

Michael Kightly, Matt Jarvis, Bakary Sako he is not. He will not beat three men or tie his full-back in knots or sprint in behind. What he will do is get in faces, put himself about and when he can make half a yard, deliver the ball into good areas.

It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. He did all those things yesterday and was absolutely superb.

We’ve seen sporadic glimpses of the Hunt-effect in the Premiership years but we now need the consistency. 45 minutes of Championship-delight won’t save our bacon.

If we see the appetite more often, perhaps everyone will appreciate what he brings instead of questioning what he lacks.

If Kevin Doyle can suddenly remember the six yard box isn’t made of kryptonite, we might also get our Superman back. His clever run and well-directed header were almost as welcome as the chest pumping celebration that followed.

Ebanks-Blake is looking more Incredible Hulk than ponderous lump these days, capping another strong performance with a wonderfully taken goal.

Sigurdarsson is Iron Man, winning headers and always bullying the opposition. He should have started. His presence opens doors for the likes of Doyle and SEB to thrive. Without him, the ball is forever bouncing back.

The center of midfield, conspicuous by the absence of Captain America, laboured and toiled first half. But when City retreated and offered the initiative, O’Hara and Davis were happy enough to grab it. Much like the team, both grew in confidence and offered more as the game progressed.

Did we miss Karl Henry? You would have to say no.

The back four were hardly fantastic, but as City offered little as an attacking force, they didn’t have to be. Had they gone after the game when Wolves handed it to them, the outcome may have been much different.

But they didn’t and it wasn’t.

So we must commend our team for finding a way to win.

Because that is what it ultimately boils down to.

Much like Stephen Hunt, we are not pretty, we are not easy on the eye, but what we must be is effective.

Because after 38 games of villainous disappointment, there is still room for heroes.