Archives for March 2016

Burnley 1 Wolves 1

There’s nothing more beautiful than potential being realised.

Wolves celebrate

Matt Doherty is a valid example. He looks like he’s hit his stride since Christmas, performing consistently at a level beyond his previous best.

At 24 and with plenty of experience to draw on, he’s now coming into the best years of his career, which I hope are spent at Wolves.

The same could be said of our midfield trio.

Jack Price (23), Connor Coady (23) and George Saville (22) have all demonstrated growth of late and their future development is likely the reason Kevin McDonald is sitting it out.

The big Scot must have been itching to get on against his former club today, but with his junior colleagues performing admirably against the league leaders, he could only watch from the sidelines.

Both Price and Saville came close to giving Wolves the lead as they turned up the heat either side of half time after weathering an early onslaught.

It was then fitting – but against the run of play – that Sam Vokes put Burnley ahead.

Fitting because he was a player who always demonstrated great potential at Wolves but perhaps didn’t get the chances he deserved at a time where developing youth wasn’t high on the agenda.

These days it’s front and center, a fact demonstrated by the average age of our team being significantly lower than every other team in the league.

But many of these young players aren’t inexperienced kids anymore.

Beyond those already mentioned, look at Dominic Iorfa and Kortney Hause. Both just 20 years of age and with well over a season’s worth of Championship football under their belt already.

They could both go on another level next season and be the building blocks on which a serious top six tilt is constructed.

The returning Jed Wallace (himself only 21) looks immediately better for his spell of first team football at Millwall and played well up until his withdrawal through injury (typical).

If nothing else, today’s result, along with the gutsy (if not particularly attractive) performances we’ve seen against Blues, Derby and Bristol City show that this young team can’t be easily pushed over.

What they’re lacking is the devilment in the final third to really hurt the opposition in the spells in which they’re in the ascendancy.

Perhaps that will come next season when a (fingers crossed) fully fit Nouha Dicko is added to the armory?

Similarly there’s Jordan Graham to consider and even without his considerable talents, the emerging Connor Hunte who could yet be just as good.

And we haven’t even spoken of the conveyor belt of talent rolling out of our under 18s this year or the clutch of experienced pros who should return to the fold.

Danny Batth came all the way through the system of course, so it felt poignant today that he thundered home the late header that rescued a much deserved point, for his burgeoning team.

It feels like a difficult time to be supporting a club drifting towards a mediocre finish, but I just wonder if next season we may look back on this period as being the start of better things.

Exciting times ahead for sure – if potential is realised.

Burnley Vs Wolves Preview

There are 12 teams below Wolves in the Championship table.

Grey Wolves

11 of them have sacked a manager this season with only Karl Robinson at MK Dons lasting the course. Talk about fickle.

Even two of the clubs in the top half have made a change for crying out loud. It’s ridiculous.

It’s not so much a merry go round, more a swirling vortex of unrealistic expectations.

I remain pleased Wolves haven’t pulled the trigger, because for all his questionable actions this term, I still vehemently believe we’ve got the right guy for the job.

Burnley

Burnley_FC_logo_(1960-1969,_2009-2010)The Clarets are flying high and as of late are starting to disappear over the horizon in what once looked a hotly contested promotion race.

Six wins in a row and eight wins from the last ten have transported them from play-off hopefuls to pacesetters with just nine games left.

A good number of those fixtures are at home against crappy midtable teams like us, so they suddenly look odds on to make an immediate return to the top flight.

It’s quite painful viewing for Wolves given that a number of their best players were once part of our own title winning team. Jones, Vokes, Ward and to a lesser extent Kightly have all played a role in what’s been a great season for Sean Dyche’s side.

Wolverhampton born Andre Gray has also proven a wonderful acquisition and he comes into the game as the league’s top scorer. In fact Burnley as a team have scored 10 more than anyone else.

They also have the best home record in the Championship, just to hammer home the magnitude of the task facing us on Saturday.

Wolves

It’s about time Jed Wallace was called back. Millwall fans are gutted to see him leave, which is great to hear. He hasn’t yet been given a sustained run in our side but now should be his time.

Team for Burnley

Saville looked jaded in that second half against Blues and I simply can’t name a Wolves XI without McDonald in it, so I’d have to give Byrne the hook too.

I’d like to see Wallace in that number 10 role, because I don’t think we’ve currently got anyone suited to it, but he’s been playing wide right at Millwall and playing well, so maybe that’s where he should continue?

Kenny says below he might need a game or two to reintegrate but I don’t see much point given our current status. Why not just chuck him in? I would.

We need another strong defensive showing as it’ll be tough to get anything even if we’re not handing out freebies. Hause has slotted in well since returning to the center of the back four. We could still do with Williamson though I reckon.

The gaffer

Predictions

Got to be a defeat – sorry lads. The only thing to hope is that by a law of averages Burnley can’t keep winning, but that’s some serious straw clutching.

Kenny is always saying we need to be conceding zeros and ones to be successful, but I reckon we’ll be shipping two or three on Saturday, so that limits our opportunity.

But I’ll back us to score – 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Thinking of the things

I’ve never admitted this publicly but the emotion I most closely associate with running this blog is guilt.

Wolves programme

So many people take the time to contact me with thoughts, ideas, stories, initiatives, activities, suggestions and various other tidbits that continually go to waste.

It’s not intentional I assure you – far from it. I’d love to be swapping messages and churning out articles daily but as this isn’t my full time occupation, life dictates otherwise.

However, cleaning out my desk drawers over the weekend, I rediscovered a letter sent to me by Terry (aka Lynx) nearly two years ago and had to give myself a big old slap on the head.

Terry sent me this programme from the Wolves Vs Arsenal match during the 1935/36 season after we got chatting about it at the inaugural ‘Bloggers Get Together’ in the summer of 2014.

Front

It’s a fascinating document and certainly the earliest programme I’ve ever seen first hand. I had to handle with extreme care as it’s not in a particularly good state of repair.

As Terry says in the original message he sent to me (see below) there’s not actually a lot of football-related content, but it’s a lovely time stamp of the era.

I particularly enjoyed this advertisement for ‘Carters Little Liver Pills’ which will get you as fit as the chaps out on the pitch apparently (click to expand):

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If you’re wondering what the Division One table was looking like in March 1936, wonder no more with Wolves marooned in midtable as they would be almost exactly 80 years later (albeit in the top tier):

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There’s also a rather amusing article referring to Molineux hosting the FA Cup semi final the previous weekend, blaming the local paper for restricting access to the ground and preventing a record attendance (click to expand):

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This was Terry’s original message that arrived in the post with the programme:

Thomas,

Thanks for your reply. I enclose the Programme as promised. My father came across it in the fifties and passed it on to his ‘Wolves’ obssessed son who kept in a safe place as a treaured item for over sixty years, surviving years in the Middle East and Span before being discovered once agains this week under the wife’s sewing machine !! A charmed life indeed!

Re-reading it again there not much ‘footie’ information but as a reflection of life in the Thirties I find it fascinating.

I’ve done a little research on some of the items mentioned in the Programme and found the following:

The semi final (referred to on page one) was between Sheffield United and Fulham. Sheffield won 2-1 but lost the final to Arsenal 1-0.

Wolves beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield the previous week, only the second away victory of that season.

This match (Wolves Vs Arsenal) finished 2-2 but I cannot find the Wolves scorers.

Researching for info I came across this site http://spartacus-educational.com/Fwolves.htm. Some of the accounts of the era of Major Buckley on this site make interesitng reading and possibly could be a mirror image of Wolves in recent times. Have we seen a ‘Moxey’ before?*

I hope you enjoy the programme and that is is of some use.

Regards, Terry.

A massive thank you to Terry for sending this to me and a sincere, groveling apology for the delay in transferring it into digital format.

Sadly as many of the long term bloggerati will know, Terry suddenly dropped off the radar sometime last year, which is a great shame as I always enjoyed his posts and very much relished that short time in his company.

If you do read this Terry, please do get in touch so I can arrange to return this superb historical document.

Wolves 0 Birmingham City 0

If Birmingham’s plan was to lull us all into a false sense of security, it worked perfectly.

Wolves Blues

In a feisty, low quality first half our play-off chasing neighbours barely threatened.

Wolves weren’t exactly Real Madrid of course, but they did at least occupy good positions and threaten to threaten Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal.

Connor Coady was a driving force and his two efforts were as close as anyone came to scoring in a scrappy, but not entirely unpalatable 45 minutes.

Funnily enough, for all the criticism leveled at Kenny Jackett for taking too long to make changes, I actually thought he acted prematurely with his half-time tinkering.

Bjorn Sigurdarson still doesn’t look like scoring in a year of Sunday’s let alone a month, but I did feel he occupied the Blues back four quite well and helped bring others into play.

Shoving him out wide to accommodate Michal Zyro didn’t really work and may have contributed to a significantly less cohesive second half team performance.

Truth be told, Birmingham could and should have won it from there on, given that they created a handful of very good chances that were routinely spurned by a variety of culprits.

And when one fizzing effort did find the mark from the uncharacteristically brilliant David Davis (where was this performance in a Wolves shirt?), Carl Ikeme was thankfully on his mettle.

Around that time I couldn’t work out why the South Bank were screaming for Joe Mason, when to me it seemed like the problem was the gaping chasm in our midfield.

Saville in particular seemed to be wilting as the game went on, so I can’t have been alone in hoping to see Kevin McDonald stripping off?

Still, all’s well that ends well right?

A point isn’t a bad result and some of the individual performances provide cause for optimism.

Kortney Hause impressed. Save for one first half lapse in concentration he coasted through and looks a greater prospect at center half.

Coady was high energy again. Better on the ball in the first half but got back in the second to make one vital tackle with Ikeme rounded and their man bearing down on goal.

I also quite like Jeremy Helan. While certainly not a world beater, he’s a highly competent Championship performer, operates at speed and links up well with Matt Doherty. I’d take him permanently if it’s on the table.

Nothing to scream about now of course, but possibly building blocks for a summer that can’t come soon enough.

Wolves Vs Birmingham City Preview

Here’s one to ponder…

Wolves Blues

If a team plays terribly but still finds a way to win, does it justify the shoddy performance?

Equally, if the team plays well but doesn’t get the result, is all forgiven?

Earlier in the season, I felt Wolves played some good stuff during a number of matches but often didn’t get the result.

Lately it’s been attritional garbage but we’ve at least collected a couple of important wins to keep our noses out of trouble.

Many people seem to think we can get a more aesthetically pleasing performance out of this group, but I’m not so sure that would also deliver the results.

Birmingham

356px-Birmingham_City_FC_logo.svgIt’s been a wonderful season for Blues and their fans must be pleased as punch about the direction the club is going.

They’re actually where I thought Wolves would operate this term, which is to say sniffing the play-offs without really making the top six a permanent home.

I think they’ll fall just short of a serious promotion push but there’s certainly little between them and the likes of Ipswich, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday so whose to say what might happen?

When Demarai Gray left for Leicester in January I thought the wheels might come off, but that cash injection actually helped them bring in a few more bodies and further bolster the squad.

I’ve always been a fan of Clayton Donaldson and the likes of Jon Toral (on loan from Arsenal), Fabbrini and Buckley are all proven Championship performers.

They’ve also got considerable experience in defence, which is invaluable (as we know all too well) and probably a big reason why they’ve conceded 16 goals less than Wolves this season.

Wolves

We stunk out the place on Tuesday but won the day and being brutally honest, I’d take the same again on Sunday. Wouldn’t you?

Wolves for blues

Kenny was lauding Michal Zyro’s impact against Bristol City and he would probably be the logical choice to lead the line, assuming we stick with a three man central midfield team.

McDonald was hooked at half time – another indicator of a ‘result of over performance’ mantra being adopted by the head coach – but I’d hope to see him start on Sunday. Still our most important player in my humble opinion.

You can’t argue with Joe Mason’s goal return, but I’ve yet to see enough in his overall play to consider him an automatic starter, regardless of the bounty we paid Cardiff to get him.

Connor Hunte enjoyed a brief but impressive debut on Wednesday and everyone will be hoping to gain another glimpse of his potential if the opportunity arises.

The gaffer

Predictions

For maybe the first time this season, our home form is now better than our away form after the midweek victory.

It would be nice to get a few more Molineux wins before the end of the season and none (with the possible exception of Ipswich) would provide greater satisfaction than this one.

That said, a draw wouldn’t do either team much harm and I reckon that’s the most likely outcome.

2-2

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Bristol City 1

Never has a last gasp winner felt quite so flat.

Matt Doc

Matt Doherty’s decisive header deep into injury time – and the three points that accompanied it – came as a relief to the hardy few souls inside Molineux, but it barely lifted me off my seat, such was the tragic 90 odd minutes beforehand.

The house that Jack built, adorned with endless Red Row advertisements in a twist of irony, is looking tired.

The sparse few within it look drained and a vision of the Premier League with its £5bn trappings looks a million miles away.

Sure, Wolves won last night in the sweetest manner possible, but even the Fool on a hill gave King Lear a laugh or two before the inevitable happened.

In Shakespearian terms, Wolves is an unfolding tragedy, with our Bristol City scalp barely acting as tonic, but more a grim glimpse into the future where most home games are played out like this.

The ground was empty for a start. The silence within it deafening and the quality on the pitch on a par with the very worst Dean Saunders blackened Molineux with, particularly during the first half.

Joe Mason, bought specifically as a number 10, playing in a number 9 role and Connor Coady playing as a number 10 behind him made for a mind numbing spectacle, as big balls were pumped to a 7ft Bristol City centre half to rub memories of Sako, Dicko and Afobe into the Molineux mudheap.

‘Just another manic Monday’ entered the half time PA system sorrowfully. A couple of perished souls kicked balls hopelessly at an orange tarpaulin for entertainment and the only tenuous ode to the glory days was an intermittent ‘Wrights’ advertising board, extolling the goodness of a pie.

How did it ever come to this?

A £300k Polish winger-come-striker lauded as a saviour (not to mention direct replacement for Afobe according to the FP minutes) and a general spectacle with less quality than blades of grass on our appalling home turf.

Not so much the house that Jack built, but a lopsided pseudo-stage for failure, with Connor Hunte and Bright Enobokhare at least sweet and innocent enough to offer a chink of light for the future.

When fans can barely muster a cheer for a 94th minute winner you know that things are bad.

And unless something changes dramatically in the coming weeks and months, this is probably as good as it gets.