Archives for November 2014

Brentford 4 Wolves 0

It’s just as well Bakary Sako opted against sporting the diamond-encrusted boots he acquired to mark his 100th Wolves appearance.

Sako

Such extravagance would have been ludicrously inappropriate amongst another low value team performance.

Kenny at least added sparkle to a faltering side by reinstating Rajiv van La Parra and Scott Golbourne. And for half an hour, there was the shimmer of blissful hope.

But after Lee Evans surrendered the ball and Brentford punished the error with the type of ruthless pace and penetration in the final third that’s alluded Wolves throughout Nouha Dicko’s absence, things fell apart.

Golbourne, who was Wolves brightest light in an end to end first half, then departed at the break, replaced by the slow moving Tommy Rowe.

Without the outlet of the marauding full-back, the pitch became narrower and Wolves never once threatened an equaliser.

Perversely, the one break the visitors did engineer ended when Danny Graham was too slow in releasing Bakary Sako and Brentford raced up the pitch to score the decisive second.

Goal three was a wonderful turn of pace and powerful finish from Wolverahmpton-born Andre Gray. How his hometown club could do with those attributes.

And as if to underline the contrasting form of the teams, Brentford added a late fourth to go one better than Wolves famous victory at Griffin Park back in February.

Sako boots

Five of Kenny Jackett’s players from that memorable afternoon weren’t involved today (Price, Stearman, Henry, Jacobs and Dicko) and there’s an argument to say every one of those would have improved the team.

I wonder what Michael Jacobs was thinking, sat on the bench at the venue of his finest Wolves triumph? His neat footwork would have been a useful asset on a tight pitch, but he remained on the sidelines throughout.

What of Jack Price too, a player yet to be given an opportunity whilst Saville and Rowe continue to offer so little? With the team wobbling, his quietly efficient attributes would help firm up a disjointed midfield.

However, Nouha Dicko remains the most painfully irreplaceable loss. And while pacey, persistent, strong, goalscoring strikers are hard to come by, not having a like-for-like replacement for the forward completely alters the dynamic of the team.

Danny Graham remains a more attractive option than Leon Clarke, but he cannot do what Dicko does. Not because he’s a bad player, but because he doesn’t possess the attributes for the job.

Without the other half of the Mali alliance, the system doesn’t work. The ball keeps coming back, teams press higher, the game becomes condensed and our best attacker (Sako) gets nowhere near the opponent’s penalty area.

Kenny must address these shortcomings before next weekend, as both Bournemouth and Molineux promise to be equally unforgiving.

The gaffer

Brentford Vs Wolves Preview

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at Wolves how well Brentford have started the season.

Gray

They were a solid, well-drilled unit in League One and, aided by some smart acquisitions, have continued their upward trajectory.

Wolves have been going in the opposite direction recently, struggling to find the sort of consistency that fueled a 3-0 triumph at Griffin Park back in February.

The Bees will want to avenge that painful defeat and continue making in-roads at the top end of the table, whereas the visitors are desperate to arrest a worrying downturn in results.

It’s nicely poised.

Brentford

Brentford logoThree of Brentford’s top performers from last season departed over the summer – Clayton Donaldson, Adam Forshaw and George Saville. That left a hole that needed filling.

In came forward Andre Gray from Luton, midfielder Alex Pritchard from Spurs and winger Moses Odubajo from Leyton Orient. Three astute signings that have all done the business.

Their home form, as it was last term, has again been the bedrock of their success. They’ve won five of their eight games so far and lost only once.

Mark Warbuton’s team also come into this fixture on a four game winning run, which includes victories over both Derby and Notts Forest, two teams who’ve comfortably dispatched their opponents.

Wolves

There wasn’t enough pace or trickery in the Wolves team last weekend and that invited Forest forward. I think Kenny needs to be bolder in his selection:

Wolves team for Forest

I was mildly horrified that Michael Jacobs was linked with Birmingham. He hasn’t done it yet but I still feel he has a lot to offer in the Championship, for Wolves.

Dave Edwards was sensational last weekend, but perhaps his energy could be better employed deeper to help shore up a creaking defence? If not, Lee Evans offers more than Tommy Rowe, even with a broken hand.

Rajiv van La Parra brings speed and physical presence. I like James Henry but he was poor against Forest and I think the Dutchman is overdue another run in the side.

The sooner Scott Golbourne and Nouha Dicko are back in the side, the better, but Danny Graham showed glimpses of class on his debut and with pace around him, could be a decent fit.

The gaffer

Predictions

As with most heavy defeats, nobody (at a glance) took the maximum return from last week’s 3-0 defeat.

Three straight losses could easily become five with this fixture and a home game against in-form Bournemouth to follow, but I don’t think Wolves are as bad as they’re being made to look at the moment.

Confidence is fragile and this will be a tough examination, but I think we’ll get a point.

1-1

Up The Wolves.

Wolves 0 Nottingham Forest 3

If the first half of this demoralising third straight league defeat was nip and tuck, the second was more lay down and surrender.

Forest Wolves

Forest upped the ante after the restart, Wolves just didn’t start and that was the end of that.

The visitors well worked opener was the culmination of 20 minutes total dominance, to which the home side offered precious resistance.

Matt Fryatt, the outstanding player on the pitch, laid on the first and flicked in a second to put a hapless Wolves out of their misery.

Henri Lansbury’s thunderous third gave the scoreline one-sided gloss that was more than justified given the opposition’s second-half vanishing act.

But enough about Forest, what has happened to the Kenny Jackett side we’ve come to know and love?

The absence of key personnel remains a major factor.

Nouha Dicko’s pace to run in behind and Scott Golbourne’s ability to push forward and feed Bakary Sako are qualities that have so far proved irreplaceable.

Sako spent most of yesterday’s game retreating to the halfway line to retrieve the ball. Without him operating in the final third, chances were unsurprisingly at a premium.

Danny Graham emerged with credit on a challenging debut, showing strength with his back to goal and an ability to lay the ball off. But he doesn’t give Wolves those elusive attributes that Dicko offers.

Stronger opposition that exploit weakness are another obvious explanation.

Whereas last season Wolves could coast for extended periods, plodding along at walking pace, that simply isn’t going to work in the hustle and bustle of the Championship fast lane.

If any players need reminding about the levels of effort required, they need only look to Dave Edwards.

The midfielder was the catalyst for everything Wolves achieved in a more promising first half yesterday, driving the team forward with a limitless appetite to cover the ground. Few showed such desire.

Team selections must also come under the spotlight. Kenny himself admitted in his post match interview that Wolves didn’t have enough pace to get out and trouble Forest.

So why didn’t he do something about it?

Players like Rajiv van La Parra and Michael Jacobs cover the ground quickly and put teams on the back foot. The former only emerged when the game was lost and latter didn’t even make the bench.

Liam McAlinden is the player our manager is consistently turning to for that injection of ground speed but he remains an ineffective solution.

The positive is that all of these things can be addressed. Key players should return, better team selections are possible and Wolves can certainly push teams harder by showing greater desire for the duration.

As with anything though, it’s easier said than done.