Archives for July 2014

Tall tales

It takes a certain type of transfer rumour to warrant a blog all of its own writing, irrespective of the likelihood of it ever happening in the first place.

Zigic

Nikola Zigic. 6ft 7ins of skinny-streaked contention.

The notion of attaining the services of a striker from a rival West Midlands club (albeit an out-of-contract one) is always one to get the fans tweeting, as has been the case in the last 24 hours.

That the player in question dangles somewhere between the cult and the comedy makes this particular snippet of gossip all the more titillating.

The chances are that the rumour of a done deal being revealed in early August is the most ridiculous in recent history. It has to be hasn’t it?

Given his notoriously extortionate wages and our recent history with high profile players, signing Zigic would be a disaster.

But there again, with the beanpole unable to command a lofty salary these days and being settled in the area, might he just be an unlikely answer to the striking conundrum we currently face?

Playing 4-5-1 with Jacobs buzzing behind Dicko has always looked so aesthetically pleasing, but when one or two more anaemic performances inevitably follow (Peterborough and Gillingham away spring to mind), an alternative option like this might just be a masterstroke.

With athletic and accurate wingers in plentiful supply at Molineux, could a bit of Chris Iwelumo history be repeating itself, who was similarly undesirable at the time we bought him, but feasted on our wingplay like a ravenous beast.

If Zigic scored a bucket load of goals before December like Big Chris so famously did, then might there be method to such madness?!

Stress symptoms

If those boffins at Opta Statistics measured stress levels at this time of year, then surely they’d be twiddling their thumbs.

Sako pre season

A couple of Irish cakewalks, followed by some marginally more meaningful fare back in England should render a heart monitor pretty dormant for a Wolves fan right now.

No pre-season defeats thus far and the Championship cut and thrust still some distance away.

So why do I sense one or two twitchy bums as the Big Kick Off draws closer?

Maybe it’s in our nature. Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe it’s the realisation that the Norwich game will arrive with only one new face in the squad (with Rowe out injured).

With Harry McGuire eluding, a reputable new striker frustrating and Jamie O’Hara active only in shagging, there still appear to be jigsaw pieces missing.

That damned Express & Star ‘Bomb Squad’ catchphrase (regrettably used on the 7/7 anniversary, incidentally) must be causing Kenny Jackett headaches, not least Jez Moxey and Steve Morgan, who receive daily reminders of the profligacy they’d prefer to forget.

Surely the drain on resources is having some sort of effect on our transfers, however much the club protests.

Having read Sir Alex Ferguson’s book while kicking back on a week’s holiday of my own, I’m staying relaxed ahead of the new campaign, irrespective.

Injuries permitting – which is always the biggest reason for concern as a Wolves fan – I think we’ll finish in the top six.

Any expectation of anything more, irrespective of who else might or might not sign for us, must be considered unreasonable, considering the competition we’re up against.

Even the great Sir Alex had a fair few problems with signings as he observed in his book, with the development of youth the one aspect of the club he could control with certainty.

He missed out on Petr Cech and Di Canio (who he thought would have been a superstar), not to mention the more famous examples of Gasgoigne and Shearer.

In taking punts on Bellion and Kleberson for example, he failed, while a more typically successful signing of Javier Hernandez owed everything to a month’s worth of due diligence out in Mexico, after all manner of scouting reports were filed beforehand.

Sebastien Veron, while acknowledged as one of the most gifted he’d ever come across, simply failed to work.

Interestingly, the likes of Welbeck, Nick Powell and even Tom Cleverley excited him more, as dressing room harmony complemented his obsession of the bigger picture.

The chances are that Jackett has missed out on a few players and will miss out on one or two more.

But with the squad at the perfect age and Ikeme, Batth, McDonald and Dicko comprising our spine, I’m as relaxed today as I was with my Kindle in Spain last week.

Irish eyes

“I’ve never been to Ireland love, how do you fancy a couple of days in Dublin?”

Wolves Bohs RVlP

Devious maybe, but effective. And sure enough on Wednesday evening the 46a from O’Connell Street transported me to Dalymount Park, home of the Bohs, Bohemians F.C.

The ground was largely deserted when I arrived, with the Wolves flags behind the goal almost outnumbering the spectators. No worries though, they were all in the bar!

Kenny decided not to risk Ikeme on the hard pitch and young Jonathan Flatt started behind our first choice back four, save for Doherty coming in for Ricketts at right back.

Flatt had very little to do as Golbourne, Batth and Stearman in particular all excelled. But the young keeper looked confident and assertive. I can see him pushing McCarey hard this year.

It was nice to see Doherty back and he did OK but I’d say he’s some way from forcing his way back into the starting lineup.

Wolves dominated play with good possession football, playing out from defence through to attack. MacDonald cruised alongside a surprisingly average Price while Sako looked keen and threatening on the left.

Seeing van La Parra for the first time was interesting. Sticking almost exclusively wide to the right touchline, he received far less ball than Sako. When he did he showed excellent pace, good control and a suggestion of real threat.

To me he looked like a guy who hadn’t really settled yet. I wanted him to demand the ball more. Hopefully he will gain confidence as he settles in because there’s a real talent there.

Jacobs started and played well in what is probably his best position, just behind the striker.

Clarke also took his opportunity to shine, dispatching two of his chances and only being denied a hat-trick by an excellent finger tip save. You could tell the fans are desperate for him to succeed so maybe this was just the start he needs. For me though, it’s Dicko until we need a plan B.

Kenny spent most of half time sitting between Sako and van La Parra offering what looked like words of encouragement and finishing with some warm pats on the back. More excellent man-management from the King.

A whole new team in the second half saw Ricketts effortlessly controlling the back alongside a very impressive Ethan Ebanks-Landell. For me he offers much more extra aerial strength and power than Stearman and has plenty of football in him. If he gets a chance, I can see him keeping the shirt.

Somewhat surprisingly for the huge, physical presence he is, Kortney Hause played at left back and I thought made a pretty good fist of it as well.

Henry played wide right and McAlinden made a game attempt at playing wide left, something he would not normally be asked to do.

With so much rejigging, it was little surprise the team’s control over the game was missing second half. There was much more long, direct football which eventually deteriorated into long and aimless. Dicko made a goal out of nothing emphasising the threat he possesses.

Wolves eventually paid the price for some sloppy play when an underhit pass from Edwards resulted in a well taken goal for Bohs and some merited reward for a decent performance.

In central midfield it was a case of little and large as Evans partnered the young Declan Weeks who I was seeing for the first time. He’s small alright but quite strong looking. He’s a lovely little fotballer with a wonderful a awareness and covers the ground with an athletic mobility. He didn’t look out of place at all and can only improve with experience.

So all in all, another satisfactory work out. The Bohs were friendly hosts and the loyal Wolves fans showed once again there are none better.

And the dear wife? Well she stayed in and watched Corrie. But she loved Dublin as much as me.

Try it out sometime. With or without the Wanderers.

Young and restless

News that David Davis might be traveling north to Barnsley (and south to League One) comes as little surprise.

David Davis

With half a dozen contenders ahead of him vying for two shirts (or five vying for one when you consider McDonald will start every game when fit) the numbers are stacked heavily against him.

Yet it was less than a year ago – post relegation and post Karl Henry – that the midfielder appeared to have finally locked down a regular start.

Emerging with credit from the double dip after inspiring a brief resurgence under Dean Saunders before missing the final knockings due to injury, it looked like his time had come. There was even talk of interest from Blackburn, Bolton and a few other clubs then operating at a higher level.

But despite the ego boost and a strong start, particularly against Gillingham where he controlled proceedings at half pace, his form and confidence soon deteriorated to the point where he could barely complete a simple pass.

Enter McDonald, Price and Edwards, effectively ending Davis’ season before Christmas, stock plummeting to a low from which it appears impossible for him to recover.

He’s now 23, he’s nowhere near Kenny Jackett’s first team squad, let alone the starting eleven and the competition for places will only get tougher. There is surely only one outcome?

Ismail

The same applies to Zeli Ismail, who appears set to spend at least half the season at Notts County. He was the great hope last season, but now has at least four senior pros ahead of him, plus Eusebio Bancessi lurking ominously on the periphery of a breakthrough.

With just a solitary year left on Ismail’s contract, it’s now surely a case of deliver or depart for the player once thought to have the footballing world at his feet?

Then there’s Jake Cassidy, still to score a competitive goal for Wolves despite considerable opportunity. Even a return to Tranmere last season, where he was so successful a year earlier couldn’t light the fire.

Despite this, the club decided to activate the option of a year’s extension, but like Ismail, Cassidy will have to do something of considerable note to prolong his Molineux stay.

I can barely even remember Anthony Forde so it’s hard to believe he’s still just 20. After being hurled in at the deep end by Mick McCarthy at the Emirates two years ago, he’s regressed to the point where his name is only ever mentioned as an after thought.

All of these players, despite being lauded at one point or another for their performances at youth levels or out on loan, haven’t done it in a gold shirt, despite being given the opportunity to do so.

By contrast, the likes of Batth, Price and Doherty have risen to the challenge, demonstrating consistency that their peers simply couldn’t achieve.

We therefore shouldn’t feel too sentimental about the mooted departures of Davis, Ismail and co. They might well achieve their potential elsewhere, but if they can’t do it right here, right now for Wolves, they’re no good to the club.

The decks must also be swept for the arrival of the new crop – the likes of Eusebio, Weeks and Keita.

All hungry, young and restless.

Talking points

  • Are any of Davis, Ismail, Cassidy or Forde worth persevering with?
  • Should any of the above be closer to the first team than they are?
  • Is Wolves policy of investing in youth i.e. the academy, starting to pay dividends?