Archives for February 2017

Wolves 1 Birmingham City 2

I’m still trying to land on the most disappointing thing about this poxy defeat.

It might have been Carl Ikeme’s butter fingers that presented another toothless away side with a precious lead to cling onto.

Or it could be allowing David Davis the freedom of Molineux to spank in a second and mercilessly taunt the South Bank.

Or simply our one-paced midfield making David Davis look like Roy Keane.

Then again maybe it was our meagre attempts to cash in against ten men after Paul Robinson was rightly dismissed for being Paul Robinson.

Or perhaps our distribution out of defence and Danny Batth’s endless hoofs forward to nobody in particular.

It’s difficult to overlook Helder Costa’s repeatedly over hit crosses that robbed Wolves of any momentum in the early exchanges or his subsequent hour long vanishing act.

And we mustn’t forget yet another goalless game for Bodvarsson whose beginning to make Bjorn Sigurdarson look prolific by comparison.

How about Nouha Dicko, who did finally score, but still looks bored, uninterested and five yards off the pace?

Maybe it’s the manager, who promised so much in January but has delivered literally nothing in February.

Yes, it could be the naked statistics that show five defeats in a row for the month with just two goals scored in the process.

And the fact three of those defeats came against three of the worst teams in the division.

Actually, it’s probably none of those things.

It’s more the realisation that we’ve relinquished £25 million in transfer fees and ended up with a worse team than we had last season.

All this made worse still knowing that the owners, the academy, the stadium, the fan base and everything else you need to be successful are all there and it’s simply the case that the people in power are demonstrating a gross inability to just connect the dots.

I’m not stupid enough to expect instant success in such a competitive environment, but surely – surely – we can expect better than this?

Disappointing would be an understatement.

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Wolves Vs Birmingham City Preview

15 games to go and we probably need to win at least a third of them.

That takes us up to 50 points and then a handful of draws should see us safe from total catastrophe.

Molineux holds the key with winnable matches against Blues, Rotherham, Forest, Blackburn and Preston still to come.

I think we’ll just about get there but panic will really set in if we don’t start putting points on the board soon.

Looking at how things are going for Birmingham and Gianfranco Zola this has the feeling of a must-win.

Blues

After we brushed them aside at the start of the season I couldn’t believe  Gary Rowett managed to get Blues right up towards the top six again.

I was even more staggered that the club then decided to dispense with his services for seemingly no good reason at all.

They’ve been sinking like a stone ever since and come into this game (like Wolves) on the back of three straight losses.

Zola has only managed one win in 14 matches and suffered 9 defeats in a thus far traumatic return to management.

I always thought Rowett was getting the maximum out of a very average group of players, so it’s no great surprise the Italian has fallen short.

He’s started to bring in his own players and adjust the way they play, but that transition will never happen quickly so regardless of what happens in this game, I think they’re in for a bumpy ride between now and May.

Wolves

It’s disappointing that Connor Ronan has been all but ruled out for the remainder of the season. He’s been consistently very good.

The above is what I reckon the starting lineup might be if Joe Mason is fit enough to play.

He is the only striker / number 10 who seems to consistently get into good positions to score so has to play.

I like Enobakhare but end product has been in short supply despite some good runs and link up play.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

We’ve lost four games in a row and only scored one goal in that time, so we’re not in a good place.

The performances against Newcastle and Chelsea weren’t too bad, but Burton and Wigan were as bad as it gets.

My concern is that this game pans out more like the latter and we’re frustrated by another team who can’t buy a win.

I think we should win but I don’t have a lot of confidence so I’m climbing on the fence.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 0 Chelsea 2

There was as much to lament as admire about this gutsy performance against the best team in the land.

The Premier League leaders were pushed and pulled for an hour, but as great teams do they absorbed the punishment and ultimately cantered over the finish line.

George Saville could have altered the course but squandered the game’s clearest opportunity to give Wolves an invaluable foothold.

The former Chelsea man typified the collective efforts of his side – industrious and committed but wasteful and ultimately found lacking in the end.

Paul Lambert set Wolves up bravely, playing a high line and keeping their illustrious opponents boxed in for much of the first half.

He’ll be disappointed that the quality of the balls into the box were repeatedly so poor with Costa and Coady in particular often failing to beat the first man.

Equally the wide players might point the finger at those in the middle for not making the runs or finding enough space to make the most of the opportunities.

That’s three home defeats in a row in which Wolves haven’t even managed to score, again begging the question why we didn’t recruit a striker last month?

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was much improved yesterday, making the ball stick effectively and finding those pockets of space to turn and run.

But he didn’t get on the end of a single cross and that must be a concern for both Lambert and the big forward himself.

It’s always said strikers shouldn’t worry about not scoring if they’re getting in the positions to miss chances but the Icelander is failing on both counts.

Diego Costa barely touched the ball but still found himself ideally positioned to sweep home a loose ball to kill the game. That’s what goalscorers do.

Chelsea’s opener was more skilfully worked with Pedro smelling blood after Coady was caught downfield, timing his run beautifully to head home a perfectly weighted cross.

Much has been made of their wing back system and in that instance it worked beautifully, pulling the Wolves defence in and leaving oceans of space at the back post.

Victor Moses continually profited too with inch perfect balls pinged out wide from Cesc Fabregas who was probably the standout performer for the Champions-elect.

Credit to Batth and in particular Hause who were both faultless for the defeat. The latter must surely be in line for a more regular start?

It’s Birmingham next as the focus of the season shifts back to one crystal clear objective – staying up.

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Wolves Vs Chelsea Preview

You never want to fight with a long term love on Valentine’s Day but Tuesday was a serious test of our relationship.

Wolves have served up some considerable dollops in our near 30 years together but that performance was right up there with the very worst.

It feels almost perverse that Molineux will be jam packed at the weekend after such trauma but hopefully this showpiece will expunge some of the memory.

We’re just two games from Wembley and even though this is a mammoth task, I’m not throwing in the towel yet.

Chelsea

What can you say about Chelsea and Antonio Conte this season that hasn’t already been said?

I thought the Premier League title would be more hotly contested than ever before with six teams in the running, but the Blues are walking away with it.

They’re eight points clear of Man City in second and look far more robust than any of their competitors.

Changing the system, signing N’Golo Kante and coaxing the best out of genuine superstars like Hazard and Costa have probably been the key elements.

I’m not expecting those players to start. Going off the team they put out against Brentford in the previous round players like Zouma, Ake, Chalobah and Loftus-Cheek are likely starters.

Conte may field a stronger side given we’re now a stage deeper in the competition and they’re away from home, but I don’t think it will be anything close to first choice.

I’d like to see Hazard, Costa and Kante play live, but I’d like to win even more and I’m not sure both are possible.

Wolves

Does Paul Lambert turn to the XI that saw off Liverpool or tear everything up and start again after Wigan? This is my best guess at where he’ll land:

I think he’ll want three spoilers in midfield as we saw at Anfield and that could mean a first FA Cup start this season for Jack Price. We missed him on Tuesday.

Hause is probably a cast-iron starter and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Williamson thrown straight in again. If not him, probably Stearman.

Connor Ronan should start after being the only decent player on the pitch against Wigan but I think Paul Lambert might turn to Weimann.

But this is all total guesswork. Every single player is probably interchangeable. Costa and Doherty are the only two I’d be shocked to see left out.

Predictions

I think Burnley showed the way against Chelsea at the weekend. Bank up, frustrate and break quickly when the opportunity presents itself.

In essence we’ve got to repeat what we did against Liverpool. I know we’re at home and that changes the dynamic, but we can’t leave spaces in midfield.

It would be foolish to predict anything other than a loss, but I hope the lads can defy expectations again and secure a famous win.

1-3.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 0 Wigan Athletic 1

Anyone reading the programme notes of Kevin Thelwell and Danny Batth who didn’t know better would think Wolves are a club riding an upward trajectory towards the upper echelons of the Championship.

According to Thelwell, ‘there is a feeling that everything is coming together and that there are promising and exciting times ahead’.

Batth, on the other hand, believes that Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle showed that ‘there was very little between us and them’ and that ‘we all came away from the game thinking that we are not too far away from where we want to be’.

I pride myself on being a positive thinker but the posturing of our Sporting Director and Captain, regardless of tonight’s result, is delusional.

Wolves are 18th in the table on merit and are in real danger of sinking further if they don’t learn to raise their game against opposition of Wigan’s ilk.

No disrespect to the Latics, but they were begging to be beaten tonight.

From the get go it was clear to see why Warren Joyce’s men have been entrenched in the bottom three for much of the season and yet we rarely pressured them.

In a similar vein to our showing at Burton Albion, our default tactic was to either hit long balls to an isolated frontman or play sidewards passes within our own half.

All too easy for the opposition, with only teenagers Bright Enobakhare and Connor Ronan attempting to drive play forward.

As the game dragged on, you could sense the familiar feeling of impending doom engulfing the terraces. We all knew what was coming.

And yet when Jake Buxton bundled in the winner late on, you can’t help but be apoplectic. How can a team self implode with such regularity?

The reality is that these sort of games simply expose the truth that Thelwell, Batth and co. are seemingly in denial of – we’re just not that good.

Morgan and Moxey’s reign of frugality left us with a spirited but ultimately limited and unexperienced squad that staved off relegation only by retaining togetherness and through the unpopular but ultimately effective tactical manoeuvrings of Kenny Jackett.

Rather than improve that group in the summer, Fosun empowered them by commissioning an agent led recruitment drive that saw us add an eclectic mix of nobodies of which only two – Bodvarsson and Costa – have thus far proved to be of any use.

What we’re seeing now is the results of such lax mismanagement – a team that is worse than the one that cantered to the League One title three seasons ago and indeed in real risk of taking us back there come the season’s end.

To perform with such brazen indifference tonight was an insult to the opposition and the fans, many of whom abandoned their better halves on Valentine’s night to endure proceedings.

If this season’s not to end in disaster, it simply cannot happen again.

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Wolves Vs Wigan Athletic Preview

Please don’t lose this one Wolves.

After such a positive start to the year, getting reeled in by the bottom three would put us on a right downer heading into the Chelsea game.

As stated in the match report, I felt the team were unlucky and toothless against Newcastle in almost equal parts. We can’t afford to be either tomorrow.

Let’s approach it with a positive attitude, play on the front foot from the start and get a useful result to push us up towards midtable.

I think that would also be a useful confidence boost before playing the best team in the country at the weekend.

Wigan

It was late heartbreak at Craven Cottage on Saturday for the Latics as Fulham turned the game around to secure a 94th minute 3-2 victory. What is it about Fulham?

That leaves Warren Joyce’s team five points off safety, albeit having played a game less than Burton in 21st. Not insurmountable by any stretch, but they’ll want to get a few more points on the board soon.

They’ve lost six of their last ten and won only twice, which is relegation form in itself so hardly a glowing endorsement for the manager who took over from Gary Caldwell in October.

I thought Caldwell might have been given a bit more time having got them out of League One at the first attempt, but I suppose that’s the nature of the Championship?

Scoring goals has been their major problem all season. They might have Will Grigg but even with him burning a path, they’re still the joint lowest scorers in the league with just 28 goals.

Wolves

I really feel Bodvarsson should be starting up front. Nouha Dicko looks shot of confidence and while the big Icelander hasn’t scored for yonks, he seems more likely to find the net sometime this year.

While we’re at it, I think Hause is unfortunate to be out of the team after some big performances at Stoke, Liverpool and Barnsley. Evans will likely get the nod with Jack Price ruled out.

I’m torn about whether Connor Ronan should start down the left. He’s a big talent but this is an important game that we need to win, so perhaps the experience of Weimann would be wiser, even though he was off colour at the weekend.

Ben Marshall is another contender but Paul Lambert has suggested he’s short of fitness so hard to know if he’d be considered ready yet.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

As part of my ‘be positive’ mantra, I’ll back us to get it done.

No doubt Michael Jacobs will score or their goal-shy forward line will ping one in from thirty yards, but hopefully we can overcome those kind of setbacks to win.

I suspect this might finally be the night for at least one of our forwards to shine.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!