Archives for June 2014

Purgatory: Fun in the sun

And so it begins.

Wolves pre season

The purgatory of pre-season has spluttered into existence for the annual cocktail of inane transfer speculation mingled with insightful pics of the lads frolicking about the training ground.

Kenny is already hard at work stoically trotting out the well rehearsed lines about ‘ building base fitness’ and ‘introducing the footballs’.

Wolves are in pole position for Harry Maguire. Wolves are closing in on Harry Maguire. Hull might be interested in Harry Maguire. Hull are in pole position for Harry Maguire. Wolves might pull out of the race for Harry Maguire.

Meanwhile, I’m in pole position to end it all before we’re even into July.

It’s all part of the fun I suppose, but the mundane, plodding nature of developments is just maddening. I curse you Roy Hodgson for not facilitating a longer interlude.

Now all I can focus on are the daily Maguire journals and endless pearls from Tony Daley about the rigours of getting back to peak physical condition. We get it, you’re a specimen.

If I could just fast-forward through July and achieve these three simple goals, I would gladly enter into a voluntary month long coma:

1. Keep Sako

With the arrival of two wide players, I sense my beloved Bakary could be on his bike. I bombastically proclaimed we’d lose the Sak man in the last two windows though, so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised for a third time. van La Parra is also more annoying to write. Can we all just agree on RvLP as an accepted abbreviation while we’re on the subject?

2. Get rid of the cling-ons

As I write this very post, the E&S are giddily churning out yet another ‘news bulletin’ about good old Roger and young Jamie being ushered towards the exit door. If we can get them both to sign an agreement that they’re a) paid too much money b) not very good at football and c) guilty of heinous crimes against humanity, will everyone agree to a vow of silence until they make their long awaited escape?

3. Win a few games

Ever since Mick took his troops up to Scotland prior to the Championship winning 2008-9 season and wiped the floor with heavyweights like Kilmarnock and Dundee before returning to Molineux to devour Premier League Blackburn, I’ve been convinced that winning a good portion of the pre-season dead rubbers is inextricably linked to success. Make it happen lads.

Talking points: Am I alone in my disdain for pre-season? What do you want to see Wolves achieve before August? Does anyone have an update on Harry Maguire?

History not repeating

A month on from winning League One and Kenny Jackett is ensuring that history will not repeat itself.

Rajiv van La Parra

Where Mick McCarthy’s Premier League promotion was followed by a dogged refusal to replace his ailing heroes, our latest elevation would not appear tied to sentiment or misplaced loyalty.

Jackett’s quiet revolution continues with the arrival of Tommy Rowe and Dutch winger Rajiv van La Parra, who put pen to paper today from Heerenveen.

That the pacy youngster bears a slight resemblance to Big Chris Iwelumo is intoxicating enough, but more exciting still is the clear interpretation that we will continue to aspire to be better – with or without a record shattering season tucked under our belt.

With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see James Henry used more sparingly – if at all – if van La Parra can operate on the other side to Sako.

I would be similarly prepared for Tommy Rowe to figure alongside McDonald, with Lee Evans and Jack Price figuring less.

News that Callum Wilson is still on the radar would almost certainly put paid to Leon Clarke’s second coming and would Harry Maguire usurp Stearman or Batth were he to sign from the Blades?

One thing’s for certain…The grass isn’t growing under Kenny Jackett’s feet compared to Mick McCarthy, who was still starting with Ward, Foley, Edwards and Ebanks-Blake in his final game at the club – more than three years after they got us up.

The swingeing argument about loyalty has never been so black and white anyway.

With the astute additions of some better players, these very acquisitions would be aiding and assisting the likes of Price and Evans, without which the pair might flounder in a league above.

Leaving them out to dry would surely be more treacherous on players who deserve more protection after their wonderful exploits in getting us here.

And if they do end up departing, then they’d leave with our blessing, as history makers.

On face value at least, things would appear to be shaping up nicely indeed.

Bar Dicko and perhaps Jacobs, this team still lacks an explosion of pace. Cue Rajiv van La Parra.

Bar the heroic Kevin McDonald, we have a shortage in proven central midfield quality. Enter Tommy Rowe.

Take away the two centre backs and we really are looking short in depth. Maybe Maguire will follow suit, with Jackett knowing too well that another injury-free season is unlikely.

The future can never be assured in football, but aspiring to improve and minimising risk isn’t a bad start.

Prediction League wrap-up

Amidst the euphoria of wrapping up promotion and the League One title, I neglected to update the final Prediction League standings.

Wolves Blog PL final standings

So a belated and apologetic congratulations to Dave H, who romped home to victory, amassing a colossal 45 points in the process.

To average nearly a point per game is impressive. Nobody got even close to that, as the six point margin between first and the chasing pack demonstrates:

PL top 10

But well done to the top 10, who can all be very pleased with their efforts. I think about late 20s, early 30s was the par if you were predicting regularly. I was well below this mark.

You can view the complete final standings on the Prediction League page here. Thanks to everyone who took part. It seems to get bigger and more competitive every season, which is great.

The goal for me next season is to automate the whole process so the table is updated in real time and it doesn’t rely on me manually entering everyone’s score. All ideas and input welcome as always.

Pre-season predos

Some of you might recall an article published back in July 2013, titled ‘Cards on the table‘, in which I encouraged you to share some insights into how you felt the season would go.

My three predictions were as follows:

1. Wolves will finish in the top 6, but fall short of automatic promotion. 

2. Richard Stearman will be our best performing defender.

3. Dave Edwards will score at least 10 goals.

Glad to have been proven wrong with prediction 1.

Richard Stearman had an excellent season and I would personally say he was our best central defender, out-performing Danny Batth. However, Sam Ricketts was my defender of the season.

Dave Edwards fell just one goal short of allowing me to feel smug, but given that he only played regularly for half a season, his 9 goals represented an excellent return.

So in short, I was wrong on all counts.

But it’s all good fun and interesting to reflect on how most of our opinions have been altered over the course of this wonderful season.

I encourage you to check out that post here, look at your respective predictions and comment below on how you did.

And remember, good or bad, you were brave enough to comment.

That’s what I tell myself anyway.