Archives for January 2016

Wolves Vs Bolton Wanderers Preview

I really wanted to wait until Tuesday morning to write this blog.

Bolton Wolves

Only then will we know precisely what Wolves have and haven’t done in the transfer window.

But with my own deadlines to meet, I can only comment on a dreary Sunday evening about what’s been a disappointing January.

And as much as I want to be measured and patient in my assessment of new recruits, right now it feels like the squad is regressing.

We’ve lost shed loads of pace and devilment through departures and injury and done nothing to address the issue.

It’s the same old Wolves really – lots of investment in potential and stars of the future, but little to enthuse about the here and now.


bolton logoThe Trotters haven’t won a single away game in the Championship all season, losing 11 and drawing 3 of their 14 matches to date.

But then again, they hadn’t beaten anyone until Wolves rocked up at the Macron back in September and they secured a routine 2-1 victory.

It then took them another three months to win again, when Blackburn finally saved us from being an embarrassing name check in their miserable season.

Financial woes, a fire sale and the threat of liquidation hasn’t stopped Neil Lennon keeping them in touch with safety though and they come into this game with a chance to further reduce the arrears.

They’ve still got some useful players knocking about too, several of which have been linked with Wolves this month, and have very little to lose in their current situation.


With Edwards, Zyro and new signing Mike Williamson beefing up Tony Daley’s treatment room, Kenny Jackett will be happy to at least have Joe Mason fit and raring to go.

Wolves team for Bolton

There’s an immediate slot for our new striker/number 10 to occupy with Dave Edwards out for the foreseeable so no reason he won’t get his Molineux debut.

Funnily enough, Mason and Le Fondre know each other well from their time together at Bolton (and Cardiff) where both enjoyed successful loan spells.

If the remaining 10 are good to go, I can’t see the manager making too many changes. They were impressive in the second half at Loftus Road, showing there’s still an appetite to compete and the ability to do so.


Surely we’re not going to get doubled by a team who’ve only won two other league matches? They’ve long been a bogey team but that would take it to a whole new level.

I might sound all doom and gloom, but I really liked what I saw against QPR. Coady and McDonald are getting better the longer the season goes on and if van La Parra keeps hitting the heights, we’ve always got a chance.

Instinctively, I reckon this might be a draw but to counter balance my negative outlook, I’ll back us to secure the maximum.


Up The Wolves!

* Our very own StuWolf is joining Sky TV’s presenter Jeff Stelling on his “Men United’s Walk” for Prostrate Cancer on 26th March 2016 and I encourage you to support him in his efforts. You can learn more and sponsor Stuart on his JustGiving page here.

QPR 1 Wolves 1

In many ways, Rajiv Van La Parra is the ideal emblem for our current side – undoubtedly talented but perennially inconsistent.

Woves celebrate QPR

Today the occasionally flying Dutchman enjoyed one of his better days in a gold and black shirt.

A constant menace to a laboured Paul Konchesky, he gave the team a focal point that allowed them to grow in confidence after a disastrous start to proceedings at Loftus Road.

Danny Batth’s needless foul gave the home side a chance to put our defence under pressure. It was an opportunity that the gargantuan Sebastian Polter accepted gleefully, heading crisply past a helpless Carl Ikeme.

That set the tone for a first half that highlighted our dearth of resources, with our main tactic comprising of aimless long balls to a vertically challenged striker.

To be fair to Adam Le Fondre, he was only asked to play the fruitless lone striker role that Benik Afobe occupied before his recent departure.

Speaking of Afobe, unsurprising to see that we’ve yet to reinvest any of the healthy profit we made from his sale. One can’t help but wonder if that would have been the case if we were still flirting with relegation?

Given the way that the club has been run since our brief foray into League One, it seems fair to assume there’s no intention to spend now that safety has been all but assured.

In some respects, a transfer market splurge during the financially imprudent month of January could be considered ill advised.

The squad is crying out for reinforcements – of that there can be no doubt – but we’re unlikely to land our top targets (whoever they may be) at a time when most teams still have something left to play for.

If waiting until the summer means seeing some quality additions being made to our already promising side, then I’m all for it.

But the realist in me says that the only place the Afobe money’s going is into another admirable but ultimately ill advised real estate project such as the recently opened The Way.

Considering there hasn’t been a whiff of interest from prospective buyers of the club, that’s a sobering outlook for the immediate future.

Still, best to concentrate on the positives and our second half performance certainly fits that description.

Other than a late scare, we controlled the game against much more experienced opposition and would have won comfortably were it not for the stellar defending of Grant Hall and Nedum Onuoha.

A crumb of comfort to cling on to until we reconvene against the league’s bottom club, who’ve already beaten us once this season.

Here’s hoping we’ll be cheering at least one new signing onto the pitch by then – let’s not hold our breath though.

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

I really don’t want to labour the point, but I still don’t get why Benik Afobe was allowed to leave so early in the transfer window.

QPR Wolves

Even if the intention was always to sell, surely the club should have stalled him until they’d circled in on a viable replacement?

Because they didn’t, the last fortnight has felt like take two of the infamous post-McCarthy managerial debacle.

And with every passing day you fear the end result will be another Terry Connor – an also-ran from the squad hailed as the answer to all our problems.

Even Dave Edwards reckons we’re lucky to be 10th with the players we’ve got and that says everything about the club’s rapidly deteriorating ambitions.


512px-Queensparkrangersfclogo.svgQPR sold Charlie Austin last weekend and less than three days later had wrapped up a deal for reported Wolves target Conor Washington as his replacement.

We all know QPR haven’t been the most responsibly governed club in recent years, but on this occasion they appear to have employed a much smarter game plan.

They enter this contest three points and five places behind Wolves, but buoyed by their first victory under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink last Saturday and the arrival of their new striker.

Loftus Road has hardly been a fortress this season, with only four home victories so far, but they have only lost twice there in 13 games.

They’ll need Washington to produce the goods as without Charlie Austin’s goals, they’ve often looked shy at the business end of the pitch.

Karl Henry remains a regular in the Hoops starting lineup and he’ll be hoping to make it a league double over his old team.


With Michal Zyro ruled out, Kenny Jackett will have to decide between Adam Le Fondre and Bjorn Sigurdarson. There’s also the gaping hole left by Jordan Graham’s season ending injury to resolve.

Wolves team for QPR

Although Siggy might be consider the more like-for-like replacement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Le Fondre given the nod, possibly with van La Parra dropping back to fill Jordan Graham’s position.

James Henry would then be the logical selection on the opposite flank but Nathan Byrne might also enter the manager’s thinking. He’s yet to be given a sustained run out.

Personally, I’d like to see Wolves being more compact and difficult to breakdown again on Saturday. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think if we go there more open, as we did against Cardiff and Fulham, it will suit the home side better.

The gaffer


If I was feeling dead pessimistic, I’d go for a 2-0 defeat with a debut Washington strike and a late 30 yard scorcher from Karl, but surely life isn’t quite that cruel?

I do think we’ll lose though, just taking everything into equation.

I’ll go for 2-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Cardiff City 3

At the very point James Henry flashed a ball across the face of the South Bank goal without a striker on the pitch to tap home, I thought back to one Kenny Jackett comment at the Fans’ Parliament the other month.

Wolves Cardiff

‘You’re only as good as your centre-forwards.’

At the very moment an open goal was presented on a dinner plate at a critical phase of our Cardiff defeat, you wondered what our head coach was thinking.

His team, cobbled together with two wingers as a front two, bereft of a single centre forward with that innate inclination to position himself where the ball might eventually arrive.

As it was, the chance went begging, the score stayed at 1-3 and we remain a team pretty much proportionate to Kenny’s repetitive message at the Fans’ Parliament meeting.

With Steve Morgan making a token appearance, presumably out of morbid fascination, he could at least see where we’re coming up short for himself, with a poacher of a Gary Hooper ilk more than sufficient to propel this team up the league.

If Morgan even cares enough to offer up some cash, he’ll probably tuck it back in the treasure chest for the summer anyway, once he saw Jordan Graham substituted with a knee injury, signalling the end of any slim play-off chance at the very moment a stretcher appeared.

Probably best to revert back to type, tootle back off to Carden Park and take another squint at it all through the gaps in his fingers when he absolutely has to, rather like me and my bank statements.

It’s not that Wolves didn’t play well on Saturday, or offer encouragement to the fans, as we were pretty impressive, particularly during the first half.

We just served to underline what we’ve known for the entire duration of the season…

…We’re two or three players away.

Three incredible Cardiff strikes put paid to any hopes of a result in a grim flashback to our days in the Prem, where ruthless finishing underlined our own lack of quality.

Craig Noone’s two goals were things of sheer beauty (as good as I’ve seen in years), while their third was another long range fizzer into the bottom corner, the strikes of which we just can’t live with. Few teams can, in fairness.

Unlike the Bluebirds, we made poor decisions in the final third, electing to pass when we should have shot (McDonald), shooting instead of passing (RVLP and Coady) or fluffing our lines when presented with glorious chances (Ebanks Landell first half, RVLP in the second).

As such, we won’t go up, nor will we go down.

When we’ve sold Stearman and Afobe, lost Sako and suffered an injury to Dicko – with a negligible sum spent to offset these losses – we surely knew what was coming…

…I’m pretty sure Kenny Jackett did when James Henry fizzed that ball across an empty goal.

Wolves Vs Cardiff City Preview

Wolves are doing a splendid job of making me look stupid.

Cardiff Wolves

I’ve repeatedly stated they weren’t capable of a consistent winning run to elevate them up towards the top six.

Well, four consecutive victories later they’ve proved me emphatically wrong.

They toughed it out against Brighton and Reading, saw off Charlton in slightly more routine fashion and on Tuesday when the opposition were there to be attacked, they did just that.

The manager deserves enormous credit. As he states in his pre-match interview (below) we needed to be tougher to beat after the games against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday.

But then equally, after sitting off and defending well in the games that followed, the team needed to get on the front foot at Molineux and he made the changes to facilitate that.

Criticising the manager is the easiest thing in the world. Recognising when they make the right decisions that have a positive impact is what makes that criticism fair and just.


800px-Cardiff_City_Crest_2015We were just awful in Wales earlier in the season and Cardiff deservedly put us to the sword. It was as routine a home victory as you’re likely to see.

It didn’t surprise me after that to see them floating around the play-offs, while we bedded down in lower midtable. But after our mini revival we now enter tomorrow’s game locked on 37 points.

The Bluebirds have only managed three wins in their last ten matches and despite kicking off the new year with a decent win over Blackburn, they were easily beaten by Hull on Wednesday.

Away form has been what’s hampered their progress and with the six defeats and just two victories from their 13 matches to date, it’s clear where they need to improve.

Goal scoring as also proved difficult and their 30 so far is the fewest of any side in the top half of the table. Kenywe Jones, who scored the opener against Wolves back in August, has departed on loan, which likely won’t help their cause.


Stick or twist for Kenny Jackett? I have absolutely no idea what he’ll do, but the most likely bet is probably an unchanged team from Fulham.

Team for Cardiff

He’s spoken about the flexibility Rajiv van La Parra brings to the side, allowing him to switch between 442 and 451, so I wonder if we might start more cautiously tomorrow?

All the evidence suggests Cardiff aren’t as gung-ho as Fulham, so maybe pushing Connor Coady inside and playing RvLP wide could be more prudent?

Despite no new arrivals (as I write this post) the manager actually has decent options – apart from up front. Adam Le Fondre isn’t eligible against his parent club but Bjorn Sigurdarson may return from injury in time.

The gaffer


Five wins in a row would be a fantastic achievement and this fixture offers a wonderful opportunity to do it.

Cardiff are a good Championship side, but I don’t think they’re anything to be feared, particularly at home.

In stark contrast to Fulham, I suspect the challenge might be breaking them down rather than keeping them out at the other end.

I’ll therefore go for a narrow home win.


Up The Wolves!

Wolves 3 Fulham 2

Kenny Jackett is anything but predictable.

Doherty celebrates

No sooner had he deemed Rajiv van La Parra surplus to requirements by dispatching the Dutchman to Brighton, he now couldn’t praise the winger highly enough after an immediate recall to the side.

And what of the formation change?

The head coach has come in for all kinds of criticism despite registering three straight wins by playing just one lone forward.

Yet days after losing his star striker, he reverts to 442 and doesn’t even pick the one recognised front man he has on the books.

Utterly bonkers. But it worked.

Despite Fulham enjoying more than the lion share of possession, Wolves continually exploited their defensive frailty by going direct with power and pace.

Michal Zyro profited with two well taken goals and could have easily doubled his tally on a night where every ball seemed to drop in his vicinity.

The Pole matched physicality and aerial strength with the type of composure in front of goal we’ve lacked most of the season, even with Benik Afobe leading the line.

van La Parra couldn’t find that final ball, despite one cross shot that rebounded off the post, but his pace and trickery certainly kept Fulham on the back foot.

Kenny saluted his work rate, which is perhaps telling as to why he was farmed out down south in the first place.

Then there was Jordan Graham, who found it so easy to beat his full back that he did it two, three, four times before releasing the ball.

Despite the unnecessary showboating he assisted Zyro’s opener and created countless chances for his team mates. I’ve yet to see a full-back who can contain his many talents.

Conor Coady was asked to occupy an unfamiliar role down the opposite flank and never truly looked comfortable.

With the game stretched and Wolves twice enjoying a two goal buffer, I would have liked to have seen him shifted inside sooner to break up some of those fluid Fulham attacks.

After Ross McCormack hauled them back into the game for a second time, it seemed an anxious final fifteen beckoned, but late substitutions and some clever use of the ball ensured their efforts harmlessly fizzled out.

Fitting then that Matt Doherty’s one in a hundred (one in a thousand? one in a million?) strike proved to be the winning goal. He’s been an impressive performer since regaining a place in the team.

So a fourth straight victory in stark contrast to the three that preceded it and real cause for optimism moving forward.

Wolves are finding are a way to win and coupled with a manager that could do anything, it’s the opposition who will have to keep guessing.

Long may that continue.