Archives for November 2016

QPR Vs Wolves Preview

‘Streetwise’ was the buzzword for Paul Lambert after the Sheffield Wednesday debacle.

We do need to be more streetwise but I think there are far more fundamental issues the head coach must address, some of which were of his own making on Saturday.

In simple terms, the team was unbalanced. Saville on left, Coady and Edwards in the middle – it was too cautious, too safe, too much about destruction and not enough about playing football to be effective.

With the game already lost at the interval his changes were equally perplexing; Connor Coady ending up on the right side of midfield for example.

There are two or three players who must come back into contention, but most important of all is a team selection that offers enough going in both directions.

QPR

512px-Queensparkrangersfclogo.svgJimmy Floyd Hasselbaink survived being embroiled in the corruption sting a few months back but floating around in midtable was deemed unacceptable.

One QPR supporter I heard speaking about his departure wasn’t unhappy to see the Dutchman go, saying the football was tedious at best. Seems to be familiar theme.

Tedious isn’t a word you can use to describe Ian Holloway or the teams he manages, so one imagines more exciting times lay ahead.

The encouraging debut win over Norwich was followed by a 3-0 thumping at Ipswich last weekend so the rollercoaster is already well and truly in motion.

It’s three wins, three draws and three defeats from their home games thus far, with 14 goals conceded (only Rotherham and Barnsley have shipped more) so Loftus Road far from a fortress.

As well as Karl Henry they have two forwards Wolves were heavily linked to last season in Conor Washington and Idrissa Sylla. In another twist, QPR came close to signing Bodvarsson in the summer before Wolves upped the anti and won that particular race.

Wolves

There’s a generally accepted idea that last season’s players are reliable and will run around, whereas the new crop don’t put in the hard yards but are more technically blessed.

team-for-qpr

But I disagree that it has to be one group or the other. There needs to be a mix. The above eleven (with the exception of Stearman) is the team that won our last two matches against Newcastle and Brentford. Predominantly new players.

Equally, the other two wins we’ve managed against Reading and Blues came with Walter Zenga using last season’s squad with the addition of Bodvarsson. But that team was more balanced than Saturday with the likes of Mason and Wallace heavily involved.

And that’s what it comes back to – balance. We’ve got to get a mixture of qualities into the team rather than just setting up camp to be difficult to breakdown and hoping for the best.

For me, Hause and Iorfa are making far too many clumsy mistakes in and out of possession to be considered. Saville and Coady should also be replaced for more forward thinking alternatives.

Ikeme should also be back in goal without question. Lonergan was slow off his line in the build up to the second goal and although he’s capable of making some fine blocks, Ikeme is the more reliable all round performer.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

Tough to foresee anything other than defeat after the misery of the weekend. My fear is that the defeat sends Lambert deeper into his shell in terms of team selection.

He’s talked about taking risks, going for it and playing on the front foot, which is all great. But you’ve got to have the footballers on the pitch who can do the damage. We didn’t have that Saturday.

I think QPR are very hit and miss, so hopefully we can at least capitalise on a few of their frailties while trying to disguise our own.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Claiming to have witnessed the worst Wolves performance in 30 years loses its meaning after a while, after saying it so often in recent times.

But that was, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst Wolves performance I have ever witnessed in 30 years.

On a day we celebrated Bully and Thommo’s magical milestone before kick-off, their modern day contemporaries blackened the shirts they wore with such pride.

Never mind ‘new manager syndrome’ for Paul Lambert. This was dead cat bounce of bottom-three proportions, doing absolutely nothing constructive other than cement our two heroes’ legacy further.

In this instance, Lambert brought it on himself by playing Conor Coady, George Saville and Dave Edwards in the same midfield. Not so much a recipe for disaster, but a lethal concoction to earn any head coach the sack before the ink has even dried on his contract.

It’s bad enough having one of your midfielders locked into your ‘worst ever Wolves XI’ side. It’s absolutely terrifying that there’s another one there alongside him, with deferential Dave Edwards shuffling between opponents with all the impact of a junior waiter between the Toby Carvery tables.

‘Everything ok for you sir?’ he’d politely enquire, after the ball has been zipped from whence he’d came.

We got relegated with Edwards as a mainstay four years ago and if Lambert plays that midfield for a single game ever again, then we’ll be heading the same way.

Back in 2012/13, the prospect of the drop didn’t dawn until February time. This season, that rotting stench is there already – and we haven’t even reached December yet.

Back then, we had Bakary Sako, Karl Henry, Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Foley in our squad. This time around, we are caught between two stools:

1. Play the proven dross that got Jackett and Zenga the sack

2. Play the batch of waifs and strays who are probably no better

My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that option 2 cannot be any worse than 1. And I never want to see the likes of Coady, Saville and Edwards in the same midfield ever again.

On this latest performance, we need eight new first team players (unless Saiss, Oniangue and one or two others can convert into first team material).

Only Kortney Hause, Price and Costa looked anything like respectable against Wednesday, while Stearman also gets a modicum of sympathy for being largely fine, but still unable to eradicate the one howler-per-game that always ends up in the back of our net.

Bodvarsson looks spent – and starved of any service – Doherty looks half arsed, while Iorfa appears to be unable to control his own faculties, let alone the ball to feet. His shocking loss of form is arguably the most depressing sight of all.

The one paced plodders ahead of them speak for themselves and frankly, they’re not fit to lace the boots of Phil Robinson, Nigel Vaughan and Keith Downing back in the day.

It’s not like we’re hankering after those Old Gold heroes anymore – never mind dear Bully and Thommo.

So passionless, leaderless and rudderless is this side that I’d settle for Nigel Quashie.

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Wolves Vs Sheffield Wednesday Preview

Walter Zenga often talked about his desire to see a full house at Molineux.

Ironic then that his successor will (almost) achieve that aspiration in his first home game in charge.

OK, it’s more to do with half price tickets and tremendous visiting support than an insatiable appetite cultivated by last weekend’s pulsating draw with Preston, but all the same it’ll be nice to see a big crowd.

27,000 plus are expected and after a solid if unspectacular start at Deepdale, we’re all hoping Paul Lambert can extract more from the group.

He himself said we need to take more risks as a team, so it will be interesting to see if that’s reflected in the starting lineup.

Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield_Wednesday.svgTwo defeats and a draw at Fulham last time out have seen the Owls slip from their par position in the play-offs down to ninth.

There have been murmurs of discontent amongst the Hillsborough faithful as a consequence, which I suppose is understandable.

They couldn’t have come much closer to promotion last time out, losing the play-off final to Hull and further investment in the team over the summer meant expectations of a top two push didn’t feel unrealistic.

Carlos Carvalhal said this week he expected more from the new signings, as it hasn’t real clicked for the likes of Almen Abdi, Adam Reach or ex-Wolves pair David Jones and Steven Fletcher.

But that’s the risk you take when you add lots of new players to an already well-established team. Perhaps  there’s been too much change too soon?

Already 10 points off second placed Brighton and with Newcastle rapidly disappearing over the horizon, the play-offs look like a best case scenario.

Wolves

With Danny Batth suspended and Dave Edwards returning from his ban, Paul Lambert has some decisions to make.

team-for-sheff-wed

I think on recent form Edwards has to play, not least because he frequently seems to be the only one capable of getting on the end of crosses.

Price’s steady presence is always welcome and I think the combative Coady give us the necessary running to allow the likes of Costa and Cavaleiro to thrive.

Cav should start and do exactly what he’s done in his last two appearances, which is to say, make half a yard and deliver. If both he and Costa could do that consistently, they’d take some stopping.

Bodvarsson is labouring, but again a chronic lack of service has been an issue. You could start Dicko, but he himself isn’t up to speed.

A straight Stearman for Batth swap seems the smartest and easiest choice, but moving Iorfa central and playing Silvio or Borthwick-Jackson down the left is another avenue.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

I’ll be brave a go all out for the win. I’m expecting Sheffield Wednesday to be the better team for periods, but hopefully the lads can tough it out and do more in the final third.

The Owls have only scored 18 goals, which is the lowest of any of the teams in the top 11 of the table and one less than Wolves.

And given that they’ve only conceded one fewer than us, there’s no reason to feel we should get swept aside.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!