Archives for October 2014

Wolves Vs Birmingham City Preview

I’m trying to decide whether it’s a good thing that Wolves are Birmingham’s After Eight (yes, I’m climbing on that bandwagon).

Rowett

Coming into a derby on the back of such a crushing, demoralising, regime-ending humiliation could be just the tonic Blues need to raise their weather-worn spirits.

On the other hand, if Wolves can smother them from the start, memories of last weekend’s drubbing will soon weigh heavy on their shoulders.

Throw into the mixer a manager taking charge of his first game, the return of David Davis, the presence of Paul Robinson and the chance for Wolves to go (temporarily at least) to the summit of the Championship table and you’ve got yourself a tasty little local dust up.

Let’s get it on.

Birmingham

356px-Birmingham_City_FC_logo.svgYou know why they call it a hot seat don’t you?

Jose Riga ended last season at Charlton, but rocked up at Blackpool in preseason where things went tits up and he was eventually given the flick. Meanwhile Blues got tonked by Bournemouth so Lee Clark was booted and Gary Rowett was plucked from Burton to take over, while Clark took the vacant post at Blackpool before he’d even had the chance to sign-on. Phew.

I’d say Blackpool and Birmingham are in equally shambolic states off the field so it will be interesting to see if either club benefit from the changes on it.

Gary Rowett inherits a mish-mash of a squad made up of loan signings, youngsters and the handful of senior players Lee Clark was able to bring in over the summer.

Clayton Donaldson was one of those players and someone I’d hoped Wolves might make a move on after being impressed with what I saw last season. He’s their 3 goal top scorer.

Wolves

Winning without Sako at Elland Road should fill the squad with self belief, but the irrepressible winger must start if fit. He is consistently the difference maker and brimming with confidence.

team for Leeds

The above would be my team. I still can’t make peace with Rowe at left-back and I feel Golbourne brings out the best in Sako. There’s not quite as much cut and thrust when he’s not bombing down on the overlap.

Henry, Clarke and possibly even Jacobs could all be in contention too and with so many options at Kenny’s disposal it’s a challenge to second guess his selections.

Rumours of an injury to Nouha Dicko are doing the rounds, flamed by Liam McAlinden’s recall from his loan spell at Fleetwood. Interestingly, Kenny’s pre-match video (below) omitted the usual question about having a fully fit squad to choose from, so maybe there’s something in that? We’ll be weaker without Dicko if that proves correct.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to all who correctly predicted a win at Leeds.

Like most of you probably, I have concerns that Blues will up their levels considerably after last weekend’s meltdown and combined with the lift of a derby fixture and the influence of a new manager we might have a game on our hands.

But logically, there can only be one winner and if Wolves play anywhere near their best, it will be more than enough.

4-1

Up The Wolves!

Leeds United 1 Wolves 2

Kenny Jackett’s half time team talk must have been like true love’s first kiss to the frog that was the first forty five.

Clarke wolves

Outmuscled and outmanoeuvred, Wolves played the pantomime fool in the opening exchanges.

The main villain of the piece was Tommy Rowe, who spent most of the match being skinned up and down the pitch by Leeds impressive number 19. I have to agree with Ben’s assessment after the Middlesbrough game and can only assume that Sam Ricketts’ leg has fallen off if Rowe is considered the more viable option.

In being caught out of position and dawdling, he allowed Morison an easy cross to give Leeds their goal, despite the hint of offside. He can also thank wasteful finishing that similar errors weren’t punished.

But whilst Rowe was giving Leeds free reign of the flank, the absence of the Championship’s best in Sako meant that Wolves were having equally little success at the other end, reduced to speculative long-rangers.

Without our talismanic Malian and the curiously absent Van La Parra to stretch the flanks (Jacobs best efforts notwithstanding), our midfield was comprised of too many centre-midfielders and seemed to amalgamate into a big, faceless blob of ineffectiveness. The crisp and accurate passing we expect was still there, but struggled to influence the game sufficiently.

However, Old Kenny waved the wand and Wolves came out swinging in the second half.

Hooking Dave Edwards for Clarke was met by groans from the crowd but provided a surprisingly effective outlet, and suddenly the midfield began to assert themselves.

Jacobs gut-busting runs down the left flank suddenly had pace and purpose, whilst the long awaited introduction of La Parra made all the difference on the opposite flank, stretching the Leeds defenders across the width of the pitch.

Well timed crosses, through balls and the short pass and move game began to open up opportunities. Two well worked goals for Clarke and Henry, both off whom kept cool heads under pressure, were the eventual difference in the match.

Leeds 1 Wolves 2

I find out as writing this that the Leeds manager has been sacked. Harsh I feel, as they were the better side for much of the game. Wolves were lucky to escape with all three points and Leeds will be feeling hard done by.

At this stage of the season, Jackett still looks a little lost with his first team selection and having a few names back from injury will go a long way to making later victories more comfortable.

Leeds United Vs Wolves Preview

Generally speaking, Wolves have done enough in all of their matches this season to get a result.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.48.18

No team has outplayed them over 90 minutes or demonstrated qualities that our side are lacking. That has to be seen as a major positive.

In fact, collectively, if not numerically, I would suggest this has been a stronger start than last season’s League One campaign.

It took the manager until Christmas to work out his best eleven then and Kenny is mixing ingredients again this time to find the right formula.

Victory over a decent Middlesbrough side on Tuesday without hitting top form must have pleased him immensely.

Leeds

Leeds_United_LogoEverything about the setup at Elland Road would worry me if I were a Leeds supporter. A madcap chairman, a manager with no experience of the English game (let alone the Championship) and a mish-mash group of imports that need time to gel.

I only see disaster and the fact they haven’t won any of the five matches Darko Milanic has been in charge suggests my concerns aren’t without justification.

Still, things change quickly in the Championship and a couple of wins in such a tight league can put a very different slant on things.

A gutsy 1-1 draw against Norwich in the week suggests there’s a decent spirit in their camp and with the phenomenal support they have home and away, they rarely roll over for anyone.

I know little about their current (largely foreign) playing staff, but one familiar name is Billy Sharp who is a proven performer and goal-scorer at this level.

Wolves

Kenny stuck with the back four that I largely condemned against Middlesbrough and it’s tough to argue with a cleansheet and a win. But argue I will:

team for Leeds

Ebanks-Landell did better on Tuesday I thought and he has the raw potential to become a good centre-half. I think there are mistakes in his game though as we saw in a few nervous moments in the first half against Boro.

Tommy Rowe grew into the game and was more effective in the second half, but playing him instead of Scott Golbourne remains baffling. I would love to know Kenny’s reasoning.

Hopefully Sako and Dicko are both fit and available, as we have replacements, but they’re far from like-for-like quality.

The gaffer

Predictions

Well done to everyone who correctly predicted victory in midweek. It was back to winning-ways for most people in the PL table.

As I said prior to Millwall, I really fancy Wolves to cause teams problems away from home.

The passing needs to be better at Elland Road than it was at The Den and assuming it will be, I think we’ll get a result.

Again, defending will be a key issue because I’m certain we’ll score.

2-1 victory.

Up The Wolves!