Archives for October 2016

Blackburn Rovers 1 Wolves 1

Ironic that Blackburn Rovers fans were the ones staying away from Ewood Park while ours were subjected to Danny Batth, Jed Wallace, David Edwards, Conor Coady and co on the pitch.

This team, in disgusting green shirts, produced yet another vomit inducing performance to hopefully spell out to Fosun what Jeff Shi might have been denial over until 7.30pm last night.

Namely, that we are in a relegation fight.

We can deliberate how it ever got to this stage – after finally banishing Morgan and Moxey and pumping millions into the side – but it’s better to get our heads around it and start scrapping from here on in.

With Jorge Mendes’ grubby influence casting a shadow around the club – coupled with our inability to shift the deadwood that cost Jackett his job – and it’s doubtful a new manager would fare too much better anyway.

In this instance, Rob Edwards did ok. While I’ll never agree with Dave Edwards and Conor Coady in a three man midfield, his subs were at least positive and made some sort of impression. Eventually, we will probably play Costa, Texeira and Caveleiro in the same team from the start in a 4-2-3-1, which is patently the best solution for this hare-brained squad and the one we’ve all be calling for. (Heck, Jack Price might even make the bench when fit, too.)

Getting the job on a full time basis would be a major comedown from the early days when Fosun got the party started and promised world domination, though.

A new manager isn’t the biggest issue anyway right now. More pressing is the structure of the club itself, where literally nobody will take any responsibility for signing Paul Gladon and Ola John and a clear conflict of interest remains with Mendes, his clients and the stake he owns in Fosun.

While his mucky hands remain on the tiller, there may be more choppy waters ahead.

Whatever direction we will be heading, the journey is sure to be memorable. The tripe served up on the pitch like that up at Ewood Park, less so.

Blackburn Rovers Vs Wolves Preview

The Championship is ridiculous.

 

Although I wasn’t surprised or bothered about Walter Zenga being ejected, it’s amazing how quickly things unravel in this division.

To think just five games previous we were a point outside the play-offs with a game to come against the league’s bottom side and everything looking rosy.

And even within those five matches, it’s not a stretch to say we could easily have avoided defeat at Wigan and won at Villa park, which would still have seen us within one victory of the top six.

But I think the consensus in football, rightly or wrongly, is ‘nearly isn’t good enough’. And Wolves have been nearly for too much of this season.

Blackburn

Blackburn-Rovers-iconRovers looked dead and buried after the first five games or so, but credit to Owen Coyle for showing signs of turning it around.

I think he’s recruited well, particularly up front. Bringing in Marvin Emnes, Danny Graham and young Southampton forward Sam Gallagher has given them an edge. The three have 10 goals between them already.

Conway and Marshall are two very strong Championship midfielders too, so the supply line is there for those forwards to thrive.

Survival is a good achievement for them as they’re going nowhere fast under the current ownership. In my darkest moments, it’s the direction I fear we could be heading.

Their fans are planning to arrive 18 minutes into the game and leave after 75 minutes in protest against Venky’s on Saturday, which promises to create a strange environment.

Wolves

So what will Rob Edwards do? It’s always very interesting to see how a coach responds when given the opportunity to step up.

wolves-team-for-blackburn

He’s been in and around the team all season so will no doubt have his own thoughts about who should and shouldn’t be playing and a preferred system.

I look at this group of Wolves players and think it’s about finding that balance between work rate / physical power and technical ability.

Packing out the midfield with at least two grafters (in the above instance Edwards and Coady) and then trying to get the likes of Costa and Teixeira playing off Bodvarsson is how I would approach this game.

It will also be fascinating to see if Edwards brings anyone in from the cold like Price, Saville, John or Wallace, who’ve barely featured in recent weeks.

Rob Edwards

Predictions

Like Rob Edwards, I also think Blackburn are in a false position based on recent performances. This will be a very tough game.

My concern is they could prove a bit more streetwise than Wolves, depending on the team the caretaker sends out. And in a tight game, that’s often the difference.

But I’m hoping we get a few more per cent out of our better players going forward to ask questions ourselves.

I’ll go for a score draw – 2-2.

Up The Wolves!

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Project Big Sam

I want Sam Allardyce to be the next manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

As do 68% of supporters according to the E&S Poll at the time of writing.

He is the popular choice, the most qualified of the likely candidates and (as is my understanding), available and ready to go.

Lets be honest here, if the objective is success in anything close to the short term, there is no better horse to back.

To go with another experimental choice at this point in the season would be suicidal, so the likes of Marco Silva and Willy Sagnol should immediately be disregarded.

They may have achieved a level of success in Greece, Portugal and France respectively, but they don’t know the Championship.

Returning to square one with another coach who has to learn what the league is all about before working out how to win isn’t an appetising prospect.

Domestically, it’s hard to imagine Steves Cotterill or Evans making the fan base believe better times lie ahead.

The likes of Zola, Sherwood and Pearson might excite different sections but all would arrive with chequered CVs at best.

No, only Big Sam has the credentials, track record and personality to transform our motley crew into something credible.

He stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Presumably those opposing his appointment would cite recent transgressions off the field as a reason to look elsewhere.

My own moral compass landed on the verdict that it was right he left his position with England, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be allowed a swift return elsewhere.

Allardyce’s perceived ‘brand’ of football is often used as a stick to beat him with, but given the choice, winning is my preferred brand and there certainly hasn’t been much of that in the last year.

Decisive leadership, a clear plan and a solid identity are what it takes to be successful at any level and only one man can guarantee all of these things.

Simply put, if he’s interested it’s the easiest decision anyone should ever have to make.

Wolves 0 Leeds United 1

The things is, Leeds weren’t very good.

 

That makes this inept, clumsy, one-paced performance all the more difficult to stomach.

With 20 minutes left when Silvio poked the ball into his own net following Matt Doherty’s horror show, why did it feel like there was no way back?

Probably because Wolves couldn’t complete two successive passes, let alone find a way to break down a resilient, albeit rarely threatened back four.

Even when they went direct the usually reliable Bodvarsson flapped and flailed, unable to reach his usual superhuman standards.

The dream of 442 with the Icelander alongside Nouha Dicko made for a grim reality, with the latter still some way off match sharpness.

Costa and Teixiera shone occasionally but were guilty of trademark physical weakness and poor decision making.

In their defence, Wolves’ build up play was so laboured and one-dimensional it meant playmakers were rarely able to get up the pitch and occupy meaningful positions.

Edwards was combative and Saiss tidy but neither dictated the play or offered a meaningful platform to work from.

In short, Zenga’s selection and tactics didn’t work.

And with just a single point from that last 15 available, patience is wearing thin with a manager who continues to bemoan misfortune rather than the shortcomings of his team.

We’ve spent most of the season pointing to early mistakes, but it was a second half vanishing act that cost us today.

Wolves simply didn’t re-emerge after the break and without any sort of consistency over 90 minutes, it’s difficult to see how this team can be successful.

Accompanying these hot and cold performances is a lack of identity.

How do we characterise Zenga’s team?

Do they press? Do they pass? Do they look to go wide and get crosses in? Are they direct? Are they compact defensively? Do they break quickly?

They’re everything and none of these things at different times and that’s a problem. The game plan is neither obvious or decisive.

The Italian says he’s 100% sure things will improve and after this limp outing, it’s hard to believe he’ll be wrong.

But will better be enough?

Increasingly, I’m not so sure.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

Mick McCarthy reckons Christophe Berra is the best defender in the Championship.

 

This from a man who once went on record as saying Kevin Doyle put in the best performance he’d ever seen by a striker following a game in which the Irishman didn’t even score.

Anyway, Mick’s logic was that the Scot is ‘big and powerful and wins it in the air, he’s quick, he blocks things and is good at defending corners’.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure I agree with the quick part.

What’s funny is that in describing the former Wolves man, it made me realise this type of defender is exactly what we’re lacking.

The goal at Brighton once again felt soft, after similar disappointments against Norwich and Wigan where stronger defending may have changed the outcome.

Leeds

leeds01Gary Monk’s team are (statistically anyway) a lot like us in that they don’t concede loads but don’t score that many either.

Hence why we’re both in and around midtable and needing a few wins to get closer to the top than the bottom.

Perennial Wolves target Chris Wood has been their talisman thus far and his 8 goals in a team that aren’t blessed with finishers have been crucial.

Given what I’ve previously said about our inability to defend crosses, his considerable presence would seem an obvious route to goal for Leeds tomorrow.

After a good winning run that saw them climb the table, they lost at Derby and drew at home to Wigan in midweek.

Wolves

It was good to see Nouha Dicko get some minutes but I’m not sure he’s the man to lead the line in the current system.

team-for-leeds

Like many people I’d be interested in seeing him get a sustained run alongside Bodvarsson rather than in place of the Icelander.

I also wonder whether deploying two deep lying central midfielders and playing two out and out wingers might be worth a go at home?

The composition of the above team seems about right, with my only concern being physical power in the center of midfield. We could get overrun depending on how Leeds setup.

It’s about time Cavaleiro started showing the same type of form his compatriot has been producing on the opposite flank. If we can get the two of them playing well, it could be a game changer.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Call me an optimist but I think we might win this one.

I don’t know enough about Leeds to be definitive in that opinion, but looking at their results and our recent performances (notwithstanding the scores), I’m hopeful.

As always, team selection will be key. It looks to me that Zenga is closing in on his first choice eleven, so I hope he’s not tempted into wholesale changes.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

*Prediction League fans will be happy to know I’ve finally updated the table.

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Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Wolves 0

When Kenny Jackett had amassed 15 points from the opening 13 games of last season on a shoestring budget, the natives were restless.


Yet after an extraordinary summer of shenanigans and a storyline of Sky Dream Team proportions, here we sit, a solitary point better off under Walter Zenga, with two paltry wins since August 20.

While money can’t buy success, it’s about time it purchased a bit of accountability before this season – so full of promise – lurches into the laughing stock.

For 11 of our 13 results (Reading home, Newcastle away), Wolves haven’t bothered showing up for the first 45 minutes, in a maddening trend exploited this time by Brighton.

And of the 13 hastily assembled summer signings, only three were on the pitch when we kicked off (Costa, Saiss and Oniangue) to suggest there are more problems behind the scenes that many fans want to give credit for.

What became of Ola John, a wide player whose stating berth is filled by central midfielder Prince? Or Paul Gladon, who can’t even make our goal shy squad which only has two recognised strikers to its name?

Rather than heads being scratched and questions being asked, a devil-may-care attitude seems to pervade, with Fosun’s megabucks cushioning any questions that would otherwise be asked in any other given season.

Mine, were a chance to ever be offered to Walter Zenga, would be along the lines of:

· What do your teamtalks consist of in content and delivery? And at what point will you adopt a different tack to ensure we actually participate in games of football for the first 45 minutes?

· Why do you play a 4-3-3 formation, with players out of position, when it patently doesn’t work?

· Do you not rate Texeira or Caveleiro when neither can command a regular place in your side? (The latter a supposed match-winner worth £7 million who looks inferior to James Henry.)

· Come to think of it, did you have a single say on any of our summer signings when you are so reticent to play any of them? IE Do Ola John and Paul Gladon exist?

· Should we send Stearman back?

Thomas commented last night that he wasn’t surprised at this start, given the type of players we’ve accrued and the head coach in charge of them. Personally, I am staggered. I thought the days of Steven Mouyokolo and Tomasz Frankowski were a thing of the past, not to mention the penniless Birmingham City outperforming us once more.

After last night’s no-show, give or take a final few frantic pushes, we are what we are…

…Low on inspiration, high on squad numbers and two points above Aston Villa.