Archives for August 2015

Wolves 2 QPR 3

You never know what to expect from a midweek trip to Molineux.

QPR Wolves

Last season the memory of a similarly disappointing 3-1 defeat to Huddersfield was later exorcised by rousing 3-0 victories over Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday.

QPR were always likely to be an unknown quantity. Despite being in the midst of a post-relegation transitional period, their side still contained Premier League caliber talent.

But you couldn’t ask for a better start and it was particularly pleasing to see Benik Afobe bag a goal in front of the South Bank after the fevered speculation surrounding Norwich City’s apparent interest.

QPR didn’t look capable of handling us, with their midfield struggling in much the same vein as Hull’s did in the early throes of Sunday’s game.

They soon benefited, however, from the lackadaisical approach Wolves are prone to taking after going ahead early.

First Dominic Iorfa failed to get tight to Phillips and his cross landed plum on the bonce of Charlie Austin – 2-1.

Golbourne was similarly lax after the break, allowing Phillips to cut in and take a speculative shot at Martinez who bizarrely palmed the ball into the net to level things up.

More weak defending allowed the visitors to take the lead, this time Hause allowing his pocket to be picked by Austin for Phillips to once again benefit from Martinez’s comedy keeping.

Kenny has made few mistakes since taking the reins at Molineux but I fear he’s created a rod for his own back by dropping the tried and tested Ikeme so early in the season.

Mistakes are to be expected from a team as young  but it’s hard to see us breaking into the top six if they become a theme, especially given the level of investment that has been made by some of our nearest competitors.

If you’re going to lose games in this fashion, lose them in the early stages of the season, learn the lessons and go again.

An away fixture at Cardiff is a real test of our mettle and the response may tell us more than this hugely disappointing night ever could.

Wolves Vs QPR Preview

It’s really no surprise that only one Championship team have managed to win both of their opening fixtures.

QPR celebrate

And even early pacesetters Brighton needed a 94th minute penalty to make it two in two.

This league is all about winning tight contests and making the most of your opportunities.

Wolves could have ran out convincing winners on Sunday if their early pressure had been rewarded with goals.

But equally Hull could easily have traveled back up the M1 with all three points after dominating the final minutes.

The teams that are predominantly successful are those that can find a consistency in their performance. In that regard, I think Wolves have as good a chance as anyone.

QPR

512px-Queensparkrangersfclogo.svgLoftus Road is seldom the place you’ll find consistency, but the appointment of Chris Ramsey suggests they’re now looking for stability.

Their summer transfer activity has been unusually low profile and it looks like they’re now operating in the real world again after years of reckless cash splashing.

Some cuter additions have been made like former Spurs midfielder Massimo Luongo who has impressed for several years at Swindon. He’ll be one to watch tomorrow.

If Charlie Austin is still knocking around he’s the most obvious threat along with winger and fellow wannabe deserter Matt Phillips.

Karl Henry returns to Molineux for the first time and can probably expect a mixed reception. He didn’t do much wrong did he?

Wolves

The only surprise against Hull was the omission of Carl Ikeme. Looks like Martinez has the shirt until he drops a clanger. I expect the same side again:

Team for QPR

The wide areas are where you’d expect changes to be made if any. With the amount of running Dave Edwards does and his injury record, he might be rested.

And there are good options if Kenny wanted to swap the craft and guile of Henry for a more direct, pacey alternative.

It’s all about winning that midfield battle and I again feel confident we’ll do that with the personnel we have in there.

The gaffer

Predictions

This could be a major egg on face scenario but I think we’ll win this one. QPR have got some good players but their early performances and results suggest a team in transition.

Wolves are not a team in transition and all the players know their jobs. We’ve also got the weapons to cause their aging backline some serious grief.

I’m going for a 3-1 home victory.

Up The Wolves

Wolves 1 Hull City 1

With this lunchtime fixture approaching its 45 minute point and tummies beginning to rumble, we adjourned for our inaugural half-time pie of the season, to offset the taste of Nikica Jelavic’s deadlock breaking penalty…

McDonald

“We do have loads of pies but we can’t sell you any,” said the spotty beanpole behind the counter. “They’re not hot enough.”

“Not hot enough!” bellowed a starved old soul in the Billy Wright, slobbering at the rows of elusive pickings just metres from his fists. “You’ve only had four months to cook the bastards,” he roared, salivating at the wall of pastries like a prisoner behind bars.

The chap grudgingly opted for a rubbery, oversized sausage in a parched, undersized bun and chuntered at the injustice of it all.

Steak and kidney everywhere and not a crumb to eat…

A bit like Wolves’ opening day draw with Hull City when you think of it.

It wasn’t what we wanted and caused similar levels of frustration, but a point gave us something to get our teeth into at least.

Like that batch of Balti pies, the chances flashed in front of our wide-open mouths, with Afobe and Dicko tantalisingly close to goals in the opening two minutes.

Judging by Steve Bruce’s body language on the sideline, there was only one team in this fixture as we continued to press our opponents before passing and moving around the pitch to suggest we were the recent Premier League incumbents.

We were great.

The energetic Edwards impersonated the great Gazza of ’96 by sliding for a tap-in, only to miss the ball by a coat of boot dubbin.

Conor Coady shimmered in Old Gold and McDonald looked immaculate alongside. In a narrower formation, Iorfa and Golbourne caught the eye.

But almost inevitably, Hull City scored with their only shot on target, when Kortney Hause’s needless shove assisted Jelavic for his penalty.

Thankfully, justice prevailed in the second half.

Tigers keeper Allan McGregor, villain of the piece for such nauseating levels of timewasting (from the 25th minute onwards), flapped a harmless Dicko cross behind him under no pressure, with the grateful James Henry gobbling up a tap-in like a pie-starved native in WV6.

From then on, Wolves continued to press and looked the more likely to win, with Afobe outstripping Dawson and electing not to shoot with the goal nearing.

Dicko then flashed a header across goal when most of the 20,000 expected the net to bulge.

And a well worked corner almost bore fruit with an Afobe shot being cleared off the line.

James Henry was also wild on two occasions when well placed inside the box.

But as the clock ticked down, the boys began to tire.

The classy Meyler exploited space in midfield. Striker Akpom was a livewire. Jelavic thumped the post. Scambles ensued. Martinez – in for Ikeme in a pre-match talking point – saved in between.

But when few fans grumbled at Andre Marriner’s mystifying decision to add just two minutes of injury time, you sensed we were all happy to wipe our mouths and take what was given, ahead of our QPR test on Wednesday night.

Hopefully the pies will have warmed up by then.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Hull City Preview

Two out of two ain’t bad.

Bruce

Yeah, both victories owed a thick old dollop of credit to lady luck, but winning is winning.

What we also saw against Blackburn and against Newport are the shoots of promise if Wolves can put it all together.

There have been good spells of possession and some smart finishing from our strikers albeit with some questionable defending in between.

Tighten up at the back, use the ball a bit more effectively in the final third and we could really be rocking.

Sunday promises to be a good early indicator of where we sit in the grand scheme of the Championship hurly-burly.

Hull City

1280px-Hull_City_Crest_2014.svgThis time last year most people were waxing lyrical about the business Hull had done in the transfer window to help them push on in the Premier League.

It just goes to show that names on a piece of paper are just that and a major recruitment drive doesn’t necessarily equal success.

Steve Bruce has had to be active again over the summer to replace those jumping ship after relegation. Robbie Brady and James Chester are amongst those who departed for big money.

Arsenal striker Chuka Akpom has come in on loan, £3.5 million has been splashed out on Brentford full back Moses Odubajo and their hot on the trail of Bees forward Andre Gray for reported silly money.

They’ve also got some Premier League names down the spine of the team like Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Nikica Jelavic.

Again, you’d have to say they look mightily strong on paper.

Wolves

Some of the midweek changes were surprising (e.g. Matt Doherty playing in midfield), some were more obvious. Sheyi Ojo made the strongest case for a start but I think he’ll find himself back on the bench.

Hull team

The two positions I see as being interchangeable are the wide players. There’s no doubt Kenny wants to be cuter and more compact in his approach this season.

We’re going to see a midfielder tucked inside a lot of the time, which will likely be Dave Edwards or Jed Wallace when fit.

I think we’ll always have at least one out and out winger on the pitch, only introducing another if we’re behind in matches.

That means we’ll have to be more patient in our build up play, but it should allow us to be more compact defensively. I see the logic, but still need to be convinced it can be consistently effective.

The gaffer

Predictions

I showed too little faith against Blackburn and perhaps a bit too much against Newport, so it makes sense to sit somewhere in the middle this time.

Hull will be right at the top of the league all season so I expect a tough game, but I’m sure this is a fixture they themselves will have identified as being tough.

I don’t think we’ll keep them out, but I fancy our strikers against anyone, so will give us a third straight narrow victory.

2-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Newport 1

If you’re looking for a positive, look no further than Benik Afobe.

Afobe

Our number 10 exudes class in his every involvement. Whether he’s dropping deep to instigate the attack or darting in behind to win (and then score) the decisive penalty, he consistently looks like being the difference maker.

It’s not just his ability either, it’s the confidence and application he shows every time he steps out onto the pitch. If he stays fit, he’s going places regardless of whether Wolves tag along for the ride.

Hardly surprising that Kenny Jackett chose to wrap his star man (and skipper for the evening) in cotton wool for the last 25 minutes and give Adam Le Fondre his Molineux debut.

Unfortunately for the on loan Cardiff man, the game had descended into a scrappy end to end affair by that point meaning he had nothing more than long old hoofs down the line to feed off in a short cameo.

If most people were surprised Le Fondre didn’t start, every single one of the 10,000 spectators inside the ground were flabbergasted to see Matt Doherty deployed on the right wing. Suffice to say that little experiment didn’t really work out.

Down the opposite flank, Sheyi Ojo showed signs of promise with a few rapid bursts of acceleration and the odd nifty piece of skill. However, despite a smart cross for Dicko’s equaliser, his final ball too often looked questionable.

The same accusation could be leveled at Wolves as a whole, who flattered to deceive for much of the game with neat spells of possession too often failing to produce a meaningful attack.

But despite going behind to a sloppy opener, they did maintain a level of control to proceedings after Nouha Dicko smartly turned home Ojo’s cross to level the score.

It was only in the final knockings, where the game became stretched and both sides were guilty of ridiculous individual mistakes, where Newport threatened to take the tie into extra time.

A few smart saves from Emiliano Martinez kept them at bay and the on loan Arsenal keeper looked reliable throughout, save for a horribly misplaced pass that required urgent intervention from Jack Price to prevent Newport a clear run on goal. Hopefully that was a one off blip.

Did we really learn anything tonight?

Well, I now know conclusively that Matt Doherty isn’t the like-for-like Bakary Sako replacement we’ve all been craving.

I can also confirm we’re heavily reliant on Benik Afobe and that without Richard Stearman at the back, we lack leadership.

But we knew all that right?

And who cares anyway? We’re through and that’s all I’m really bothered about.

Bring on round two. Haven’t said that for a while.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Newport Preview

My appetite for the cup competitions grows with every humiliating failure. I’m starving.

Terry-Butcher-008

When will it be our turn for a long, long, long overdue trip to Wembley?

Losses to Morecambe and Northampton in the last two seasons underline just how cack Wolves have been in the League Cup over the last decade (and more).

Sure, luck has played a part too. Whenever we’ve overcome the minnows early doors, we’ve invariably been paired with the likes of Chelsea or Man City soon after.

But these are all hard luck stories. It’s time to put the underdogs in their place and start causing a few upsets of our own when greater challenges present themselves.

Lets make it our year.

Newport

Newport_County_crestThe sum total of my Newport knowledge is that we signed Lee Evans from them, Terry Butcher is their manager and they’ve been knocking around in League Two for a couple of years.

They were tonked 3-0 by Cambridge in their league opener at the weekend and also picked up some injuries to key players.

A 9th place finish last season seems respectable though and you’d expect them to raise their game, much like Northampton did last year.

Digging around a rather stylish fan forum I spotted the following comment:

I don’t know if it’s been mentioned here before but as a reminder there is great history and relationship between the two clubs and this is an opportunity to see our team play against our brethren in a great and famous stadium.

Kind words indeed. Good luck to them after tonight.

Wolves

Kenny Jackett has already stated there won’t be wholesale changes tonight, which is music to my ears. We should still see a couple of Molineux debuts though:

Wolves team for Newport

Hard to predict who might be rested, but you’d expect Ojo and Le Fondre to start. I wonder whether van La Parra might be given a run out too with Dave Edwards spared? Ebanks Landell for Hause at the back could also be a goer.

Kenny talks in the below video about keeping a rhythm though so perhaps there won’t even be this many changes? What’s nice is that we can swap around three or four and the quality shouldn’t (theoretically) suffer.

The gaffer

Predictions

No PL points up for grabs in the cup competitions so it’s all just for fun tonight.

Surely playing (what seems like) a weakened League Two side at home must give us a good chance of progressing? This would probably be a bigger upset than Northampton.

I think we’ll avoid it with a degree of comfort, even though I say that every year and get proven wrong.

3-0

Up The Wolves