Archives for June 2013

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Competition rules

To be in with a chance of winning the shirt, simply complete the following sentence:

If I had to make one bet about Wolves this season, it would be…

The competition will remain open until midday next Thursday (27th).

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In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote. The winner will be notified via email.

Expats are welcome to enter.

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Hello, I must be going

According to last week’s E&S bulletin, Wolves have opened the book on Bakary Sako.

Sako Griffiths

Tim Nash reported negotiations are likely to ‘drag on’ and later stated on Twitter the club wanted a ‘repeat of last yr re Jarvis and Fletcher’.

A repeat of last year? Are you serious?

I would suggest that reviewing what they did last year and doing the exact opposite would be the blueprint for success, particularly where transfer policy is concerned.

The club were widely lauded over the generous sums pocketed for Jarvis and Fletcher, but the ‘we don’t need to sell’ pantomime was a major cause of the double-dip.

Holding out until the last minute for those bigger windfalls is typical of the club’s recent approach, which is to say ‘finance first, football second’.

The coffers were swelled by a few million quid, but it severely effected Solbakken’s ability to shape his squad. He’d have struggled to replace the influence of those players with a whole summer to go at, let alone a few days.

That to me was a major lesson that needed to be learned this time. Has it been learned?

As far as Sako is concerned, I would be straining every sinew to keep him at the club, however difficult that might prove to be. Operation Deadwood has yet to commence and I’d hope getting rid of our worst players would take precedent over selling our best.

But if there truly is no way he can be retained, even if we offload a lorry full of the no-hopers, I would sell for an acceptable fee at the earliest possible opportunity. Give the manager adequate time to reinvest and mould his team.

Meanwhile, poor old Leigh Griffiths appears to be staying put, which at least signals some intent from the club to hold firm over a want-away player.

Many believed Wolves only took up his additional year in a bid to rake in a transfer fee, but today’s quote from Jez Moxey seems absolute: “There is no offer which can be made at this time that will change our minds.”

I should hope not.

There’s another comparison to be drawn with last year in the case of Michael Kightly. The club thought getting the dosh was a better option than making him play out his contract. They were wrong.

Griffiths, arguably a greater asset than Kightly given our predicament, must not follow the same path. He has scored goals at an impressive ratio in every side he’s played in, at a standard that won’t be any worse than League One.

Even if he leaves for nothing in a year, having failed to score a single goal, so be it. At the very least we’ll know the club made a decision that had the best interests of the team in mind.

We haven’t seen many of those recently.

Kenny cut the mustard? A Watford perspective

It is roughly two weeks since Kenny Jackett was appointed as head coach but unless I am reading the vibes around Wolverhampton incorrectly, it will take a little longer to generate unanimous excitement over the whole announcement.


We probably all agree that apart from a 50 goal a season striker,  a steady pair of hands is the most important asset we could hope for right now, which is why we neither jumped for joy or threw our toys out of the pram when  the Special One (cringe) was unveiled.

The obligatory platitudes followed in the press, from the likes of Andy Keogh, Graham Taylor and even our old 50 goal a season striker, who would barely say anything other than: ‘He’ll do a great job for Wolves.’

I wanted  to speak to someone who packs more of a punch and tells it as he sees it!

Who better than Matt Rowson, a Watford statistician, blogger and lifelong fan, where Jackett helped gain two promotions as a coach in the 1990s, after being their manager in 1996?

Ben: On face value, some Wolves fans feel a bit underwhelmed by the appointment, more due to the fact a general ‘pick-me-up’ is needed after four pretty terrible years of football. A personality – someone like Zola funnily enough – would have got the juices going a bit more, but as time goes on, I think we all feel we’re in safe hands with Jackett.

Matt: Part of Wolves’ problem for me is a valuation of style – or perhaps status – over substance.  ‘Not a big enough name for Wolves,’ for example, is not a helpful attitude. Zola, a bigger name, is at Watford, a smaller club, but only because of the project that he’s bought into. We’re under no illusions that he wouldn’t be here otherwise, and I’d rather have a Jackett in any other circumstances than a Vialli for example.

Ben: Mick McCarthy’s achilles heel was a stubborn, dogmatic and thoroughly cantankerous attitude, which bordered on the insane by the time he left. Was Jackett ever guilty of favouritism / blind loyalty during his time at Vicarage Road? Was he fair to all players?

Matt: From memory there was no evidence of favouritism but we were a third tier side with very little scope to change things, and with players (Kevin Phillips) injured all season. Incidentally David Connolly broke through six months or so earlier but had his head turned by Mick McCarthy, ironically, who earned the brief ire of Watford supporters by telling Connolly, then 18/19 with 15 starts to his name, that he had nothing to prove at third tier level.

Ben: Both Mick and Saunders placed an onus on sweat and brawn over style and substance. Ugly, direct football has been our staple diet for longer than we can remember. What can we expect from Jackett?

Matt: Jackett is a pragmatic manager.  In 1997 his side struggled for goals, but that was more down to the fact that he wasn’t allowed to spend money on much needed striking cover than natural reticence.  Barry Hayles from Stevenage for £100k was the one he wanted at the time.  Personally, I’d suggest that style of football is less important than winning?  Jackett is a pragmatist, I think, but surely Wolves’ priority is to get the hell out of the division rather than trying to play pretty football and being battered.  You won’t get any credit for being Wolves, quite the opposite – every bugger will raise their game at Molineux.  I would expect Jackett to be quite direct, but he’s not Dave Bassett or John Beck.

Ben: As a coach under Graham Taylor and  as a manager himself, what style was favoured? Direct to a big striker with 2 wingers? Was it easily identifiable?

Matt: From memory 4-4-2, but a long time ago and with limited options.  Taylor (with Jackett as no2) was MUCH more flexible than history gives him credit for, we played wing backs the year we won the third tier (1997/98 with KJ back as assistant) but reverted to 4-4-2 early the following season and were promoted again.  Those two years quite extraordinary by any standards, we had some very good players but significantly very few of them stayed or returned to the top flight when we were immediately relegated in 2000.  We were much more than the sum of our parts, I’d certainly expect that from Jackett based on his experiences then and since (but ask Swansea/MIllwall).

Ben: McCarthy’s attitude was often abrasive to both the fans and press, Solbakken was occasionally aloof, while Saunders was downright bonkers. What can we expect from KJ? He always strikes me as being very measured and calm.

Matt: I’ve interviewed Kenny a couple of times. He’s extremely smart, calm, doesn’t get panicked into things.  Can come across as a little surly, but absolutely committed.  And he inspires confidence.

Ben: Overall, how do Watford fans remember Jackett?

Matt: As a player – a hero, very much part of our most successful era.  He was an all-round midfielder, both a ball winner and a decent passer with a hell of a shot.  He also played successfully at left back, including for Wales during a stronger era.  He claims his best position was CB, but he lacked the inches.  As a coach, he was again associated with great success, especially youth development.  As a manager his season was unsuccessful but he is excused from culpability, impossible circumstances.

Ben: If he came back tomorrow in a hold the back page shocker (pretend Zola has been abducted for a moment) how would you react?!

Matt: Astonishment.  Given our current circumstances (a WHOLE different question) it would take a huge revolution.  But it wouldn’t be a bad thing, in those circumstances.