Archives for August 2015

Wolves 2 Charlton 1

Early season victories rarely feel this important.

Le Fondre

But our spirited fight back against a well organised Charlton side was crucial after consecutive league defeats and the goings on behind the scenes.

And whilst it’s unlikely to evaporate the discontent felt by most supporters about the imminent loss of Richard Stearman, it was nice to see signs of life after our feeble outing at Cardiff.

James Henry had one of his better games on the left side of midfield while Kortney Hause and Ethan Ebanks-Landell also looked pleasingly dependable at the heart of defence, offering hope for the immediate future.

Nouha Dicko’s injury is a major setback and it’s worrying to think of a Wolves team deprived of his services. Few centre forwards can stretch a backline as well as our number nine can and it’s crucial that Kenny Jackett is allowed to re-enter the transfer market to cover for what looks like a lengthy absence.

Carl Ikeme’s early season woes continued as he came unstuck by a relatively straightforward attempt by Johann Berg Gudmundsson. The big man’s kicking was also dire and the psychological impact of his demotion to the bench is beginning to look worryingly obvious.

Performance wise, we can have few complaints. But any feelgood factor brought about by this victory is tempered by the baffling news of Richard Stearman’s sale to Fulham.

For a club that allegedly has ambitions to return to the Premier League, it seems strange to sell your reigning player of the season to a side to a rival.

Kenny Jackett may describe this as a ‘footballing decision’ but it’s becoming more and more apparent that Steve Morgan’s influence at Molineux stretches well beyond the boardroom.

The club’s insistence that they won’t sell Benik Afobe is now beginning to look uncreditable. If they’re willing to take £2 million for one of the best defenders in the division, can we really trust them to turn their noses up at a big money offer for one of its best strikers?

After the futile assurances that we would spend big to replace Bakary Sako, Morgan and Moxey are at real risk of undoing the good work of the last two years and transforming us into a team whose tendency is to look down the league table rather than up it.

The next three days are crucial and I’ll be crossing my fingers for better news, albeit more in hope than expectation.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Charlton Athletic Preview

Kenny Jackett’s Molineux win ratio must be as good as any manager we’ve ever had.

Chalrton one

Unlike so many previous incumbents, he actually gets the crowd on side from the off by playing high tempo, attacking football.

I worried the loss of Bakary Sako would take the wind out of our home performances, but despite patchy results, we’ve come out of the blocks quickly against both Hull and QPR.

Where we seem to have fallen short is making the most of the chances we create and being overly generous at the back.

If we can cut out the silly errors, soft penalty concessions and horrific goalkeeping errors, I still think we can beat anybody.

Charlton

Charlton logoThe Addicks had a tough start on paper, so to be sitting third in the table, undefeated and with a couple of wins up their sleeve suggests good things are happening at the Valley.

When they came to Molineux last season, in Guy Luzon’s first game in charge, they were solid at the back and dangerous on the break in a competitive nil nil. It was a good Championship performance.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise then that they’ve progressed and could very well be that surprise package who slip under the radar in the early months.

Like most foreign managers, Luzon has filled his team with an assortment of European talent making Charlton a real unknown quantity. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve got to offer on Saturday.

Wolves

Here’s a brain teaser for you. How many players could you definitively say would be guaranteed to start for Wolves tomorrow?

Wolves team for Charlton

After last Saturday’s indifferent display and the more encouraging midweek performance, Kenny has selection dilemmas all over the pitch.

Will Ikeme retain the number one slot despite costing us a goal at Cardiff? Did the likes of Doherty and Price do enough to warrant a recall? What about up front? Is Le Fondre now in contention for a start?

Good luck working all that lot out. The above XI is one of probably two dozen or so permutations given all the players the head coach has at his disposal. He needs to establish his best team sooner rather than later.

The gaffer

Predictions

I have no idea what will play out tomorrow. I said Charlton are an unknown quantity and that’s kind of how I feel about Wolves right now.

There are a good players all over the pitch, but it was concerning how easily we were nullified against Cardiff and then exploited defensively.

My gut instinct is the team will put on a significantly better performance and hopefully that will deliver the result we so desperately need ahead of the international break.

2-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Barnet 1

When a League Cup performance is as fizzy and crisp as this one at Molineux, it’s a shame the sponsors are no longer Carling…

Wolves Barnet

…Admission was roughly the same price as a cheap round of beer and the experience was way more palatable, just when we we’d become parched for a positive to get stuck into.

Forget the scoreline, (and the opposition for that matter).

This really was a pleasant performance from a youthful looking side against Barnet, which should have yielded five or six goals minimum on another night.

It certainly went some way in washing away that bitter, gassy aftertaste of the Cardiff defeat, which can only be a good thing.

The system looked more like a 4-2-3-1 with Adam Le Fondre up top and Bright Enobokhare in behind.

Sheyi Ojo and Jed Wallace occupied the other advanced positions with Jack Price and George Saville anchoring.

At the back, the positively gargantuan four of Ebanks-Landell, Hause, Deslandes and Doherty were rarely troubled, with the full backs offering the requisite levels of mobility to befit a Kenny Jackett side.

Ojo, a clear man-of-the-match contender, offered more in these 90 minutes than we’ve seen before, while Deslandes looked at home at left back, if not lacking in composure here and there.

In short, it was a raw performance, full of young raw players with a heck of a lot going for them.

Bright Enobakhare was a shining example of this, scoring a well worked opener following a defensive lapse and showing positional maturity in a number 10 role, with one or two bustling runs at full throttle.

It was a performance that underlined the ‘DNA’ of a typical Wolves player these days and boy weren’t we a big, physical unit with no shortage of ability on the ball!

But for some ice cool instinct and this could have been a landslide.

Which brings us back to the bigger picture and the need for some experience who these lads can really learn from.

Throw in this missing ingredient and we really would be salivating.

Five things we learned from this game:

1. There has to be a place for Jack Price in our first team.

The lad oozes class and composure on the ball and we must find a way to accommodate him in that holding role. He was excellent and we know he brings the best out of McDonald. He outshone George Saville, who was neat and tidy enough.

2. We still need a target man.

Ok, so this might seem churlish to say when we could have won by 5 or 6 and Le Fondre did pretty well, but when there is such pace and mobility buzzing around the final third, a big man to be their focal point seems a no brainer. Le Fondre did ok up top, but there’s still little to suggest he’s any different to what we have. The possibilities are endless with a proven Plan B.

3. Don’t expect too much from Jed Wallace.

It was a competent showing from the ex-Pompey man but I saw little to suggest he’ll be challenging for the first team any time soon. It’s his first game back so a long way to go for him, but that explosive pace and power was to be seen elsewhere.

4. Sheyi Ojo is some prospect

On this performance, you’d have to say he is above van la Parra in the pecking order of wingmen, if not James Henry.

As Andy Gray said about Bully way back when: ‘He’s got rough edges! (But I like rough edges!)

He will infuriate at times but he will occupy defenders and give them some real headaches on this showing. Add in Dicko and Afobe to the mix and we really have the potential to hurt teams.

5. Experience needed!

For all of our impressive build-up play and explosive attacks, we were still hanging on a wee bit at the end and should never have been defending a one goal lead at that point. It was crazy.

So here’s a thought…

…Get on the phone to Tony Pulis for Lescott and while you’re at it, have a word with Tim Sherwood for Libor Kozak (who Villa don’t want!).

We’d get an instant fix of grizzled wherewithal to replace a lingering sense of naivety.