Archives for April 2017

Derby County 3 Wolves 1

Quite a few people pointed out I’d incorrectly named Andreas Weimann in my preferred XI to this game, despite the fact he was ineligible against his parent club.

Fair enough.

Just as well as he couldn’t play though, as we might not have seen Nouha Dicko’s best performance of the season.

For the first time in a long time our once prolific striker was barreling towards defenders and making things happen with powerful, direct running. That bodes well for next season.

Despite not being rewarded with a goal for himself, he did lay one on a plate for Ben Marshall in a rare moment of cohesion from Wolves on an otherwise poor afternoon.

You can point to Cavaleiro’s stupid sending off as a key moment, but Derby were coasting it well before lapping up the benefits of numerical advantage.

If you look at the goals, discounting the countless opportunities they created besides, it’s clear an inability to defend down our right was targeted and exploited.

David Nugent was all alone at the back post for his opener and Conor Coady himself was then skinned far too easily for the second.

I talked a lot in the preview about getting the balance in central midfield right, but starting next season with two specialist full backs must also be high on the agenda for Paul Lambert.

Don’t get me wrong, Coady has played superbly on several occasions in the back four, but he’s doing a job not mastering the art.

Midfield was again a problem though. You need only look down the Derby teamsheet to see the gulf in class between two sides pursuing the same goal.

Bryson, Butterfield, Johnson and Ince would all walk straight into our eleven and that sort of disparity simply can’t exist next season.

OK, we’re without two of our best outfield players (Costa and Doherty) as well as our first choice goalkeeper, but this was yet another reminder of just how much work there is to do over the summer.

It can’t come soon enough.

Derby County Vs Wolves Preview

Central midfield is the issue.

I know we’ve all got opinions on individuals operating in different areas of the pitch, but I’m convinced if Paul Lambert can address this one deficiency, we’ll do good things next season.

Against Blackburn and again on Tuesday in the defeat to Huddersfield, there was no attacking impetus from central areas, other than the times Ben Marshall stepped inside to make something happen.

Lambert’s got seven first team midfielders on the books (Edwards, Coady, Price, Evans, Saville, Saiss and Oniangue) and no combination is good enough in possession to consistently do what’s required.

If you want willing runners, closing down and all the ugly stuff then the above will do that (hence why we’ve taken some big away wins this season). You might keep two or three of them for this purpose.

But get rid of four or five of the above, bring in two better technicians and also look to extract the most from the likes of Enobakhare and Ronan who also have the necessary skillset.

Derby

If one team have underwhelmed more than Wolves this season, it’s got to be Derby. Cash was splashed again to help Nigel Pearson reconfigure an already capable squad to his liking.

Vydra and Anya arrived from Watford with lots of Championship pedigree and with others already there like Ince, Johnson and Butterfield, it seemed inconceivable they wouldn’t make the play-offs.

But looking at the table with two games to go, it’s clear they’re nowhere near. The higher powers at the club have to take responsibility for bad appointments and/or not showing enough patience.

It did look at one stage that Steve McLaren was going to get it going again, but after a good run of victories it was back to inconsistency and he also bit the bullet.

Gary Rowett seems like a very good manager, but you wonder how much time he’ll be given at Pride Park if they don’t get out the traps quickly next season?

Wolves

It would be pretty handy to have Helder Costa fit again. I really hope this injury is serious enough to be keeping him out and it’s nothing to do with his imminent departure. Sadly, I’m not convinced.

If he is able to make it back, the above is the team I’d play. Burgoyne might be our only fit keeper but I’d persevere with him anyway, despite letting in a soft goal in midweek. Incidentally, I was surprised Lambert chose to throw him under the bus for that in his post-match summary.

Both Silvio and Iorfa are playing for their futures so let them carry on I say. Despite a few wobbly moments I thought Silvio did some good things and showed strong positional play. We’ll be in the market for at least one full back in the summer and if he can convince over his fitness, he could be like a new signing.

My instinct is that Price, Coady and Edwards are the three to keep. Price because we know he can perform when partnered with better technical players. Coady because he can occupy different positions and Edwards for goals and impact.

But none should be nailed on starters next term and to compensate for what we lack moving going forwards in midfield tomorrow, I’d play an attacking trio behind Weimann who still looks like he’s got the bounce in his step to do something.

Predictions

I don’t think we’ll see anything like my proposed lineup tomorrow, but this could be a decent game for our try-hards to camp out and spring on the break as they did at Elland Road.

Derby have good quality though and I’m expecting them to ultimately put us to the sword at a ground where we’ve struggled to compete in recent years.

2-1 to the Rams.

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Up the Wolves!

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Bloggers Ball 2017 – Final Update

A final update on the Bloggers Ballbash on Saturday 6th May and Sunday 7th May.

Daytime Activity

Whilst we are gathering in A Park View Hotel on the Saturday 6th I am aware that some of you bloggers may not intend to arrive until Sunday to take in the match. We will still be there in the morning prior to leaving to meet the 12.00 kick off, so please pop in for a quick pint or coffee or whatever on the Sunday if you wish. It will be great to see you all.

Saturday is purely to get as many of us together as possible and if past gatherings are anything to go by I am sure you will all enjoy a good day, even if you intend to be there for just a short time, or if you intend to “hang one on”.

Come along and get involved. Many discussions on the Blog have been interesting to say the least and this season has not been what we expected or wanted – it would be great to discuss your views in person.

Evening Meal

I have received all menu choices and confirmed these with Sat at APV. She is looking forward to receiving us and has ordered in the Limoncello.

We have a total of 27 diners as shown:

Mark G Davies & Rona Davies
StuWolf & Jenny
Steve and Lyn Daley
Willie and Tess Carr
Phil Parkes
Mike & Trish Bird
Bedford Wolf
Bedford Old Gold
Brompton Wolf
Twixfix and Lilian
The DOOGooder and Sue
Witley Wanderer & Shaun
Clive from Houston
Exiled Wolf & Barbara
London Wolves Loyal & Elaine
Wolfstroker & Jayney

Sat has advised me that any food cancelled with less than 72 hours’ notice would be fully charged. Should any guest be unable to attend, please let me know and I can advise Sat accordingly. All meal charges will be placed on resident’s room bills, less those non- residents who will be asked to clear their bill that evening.

We now have the entire main dining area to ourselves. There is no set formal seating plan but I will provide you all with name cards when you sit down, the reverse of which will show the meal you have chosen. It is also intended to provide you all with some light entertainment, courtesy of theDOOGooder and Bedford Wolf which I am sure you will all enjoy.

The “dress code” for the evening meal will be smart casual.

Everything is now sorted and I look forward to seeing you all over that weekend. Come along and enjoy the day.

Brompton Wolf

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Wolves 0 Huddersfield Town 1

Since their jubilant arrival in sunny Wolverhampton last summer, our Chinese owners have often spoke about the size and potential of the club and the importance of returning it to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

And yet a glance up the Championship table sees Barnsley, Cardiff, Brentford, Reading, Huddersfield and Brighton sitting comfortably above us.

All due respect to these clubs – they’ve more than earned their respective standings – but none bare anything resembling our history.

This isn’t delusions of grandeur on my part, it’s fact.

But under the bumbling premiership of Fosun, Kevin Thelwell and to a lesser extent Laurie Dalrymple – because, contrary to popular opinion, we can’t blame Morgan and Moxey for everything – we’re now in a position where opposition as modest in stature as tonight’s can turn up at Molineux and claim three points without breaking sweat.

Paul Lambert made six tactical changes to his team but on recent evidence it’s apparent that there’s no winning formula to be found in the current side.

Truthfully, the blame for this can be afforded to every outfield department but having watched the ease with which two of this season’s success stories, Brighton and Huddersfield, passed circles around us it’s hard to argue against the notion that the midfield is our Achilles heel.

Sure, our strikers are laughably impotent but they might have mustered a few more goals if we had some vision in the middle of the park.

Be honest, who doesn’t see the sale of Kevin McDonald as anything other than scandalous?

God may love a trier but as professional as Dave Edwards may be I’d be thankful if I never had to endure another 90 minutes of him hiding behind opposition midfielders whilst we’re in possession.

No manager can legislate selecting any midfielder at this level that is not comfortable with the ball at his feet – the ever increasing standard of the league won’t allow it.

Though it’s a deficiency that is symptomatic of all our midfielders (except perhaps Saiss) the fact that Edwards is picked week in, week out regardless of form means he deservingly bears the brunt of most fans’ criticism.

Don’t let 10 goals fool you, we’ll never get promoted playing this guy every week.

Of course, ‘Deadly’ wasn’t alone when underperforming tonight. His bearded counterpart churned out one of his worst performances in a Wolves shirt and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson continued his excellent impression of Tomasz Frankowski with aplomb.

Crumbs of comfort could be found in Silvio’s solidity, Morgan Gibbs-White’s youthful endeavour and the long awaited return of Jordan Graham but, truth be told, this was a damp squib not dissimilar to the dross served up on Saturday.

I’m yet to be convinced that Lambert possesses the ruthless streak that is needed to arrest this malaise but the efficiency of Andi Weimann and Ben Marshall since their arrival in January, coupled with his feats at Norwich in years gone by, suggest he knows enough about the Championship to at least engineer some improvement on this term.

Whether that faith is misguided is a question that won’t be answered for some time so perhaps it’s wise that for the time being we relish the prospect of a Molineux free summer.

Wolves Vs Huddersfield Town Preview

The good news is this can’t possibly be any worse than Saturday.

Even if we get well and truly roasted the entertainment value alone will make it a marked improvement on the weekend’s atrocities.

The bad news is it could be pretty unpleasant if Wolves don’t find their mojo.

Huddersfield still need one more victory to be mathematically certain of a play-off position and after getting blasted by fellow promotion chasers Fulham they’ll want to get that monkey off their back sooner rather than later.

Perversely though, their eagerness could play into our hands.

Huddersfield

I’m looking forward to seeing David Wagner’s team up close and personal. I didn’t go to the reverse fixture earlier in the season but I’ve seen them a few times on the TV and been impressed.

They’ve got good energy, bundles of creativity and that all important explosive pace in the final third.

Wagner has made folly of the idea you need experience to be successful in the Championship. Both he and most of his players are learning on the job and going along nicely.

The German has coaxed something like consistency out of Rajiv van La Parra, which itself is commendable. How he acquits himself tomorrow will be very interesting. I always thought he was useful despite blowing hot and cold.

Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy has also been getting rave reviews and he’s another I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on. He’s currently on loan from Manchester City and a host of clubs will be sniffing around in the summer.

Wolves

Paul Lambert has already declared his intention to ring the changes so who knows what that might mean for the starting lineup?

The above is just one idea based on the assumption that Costa and Doherty are out injured and Enobakhare is back in contention.

Now Dominic Iorfa has had a stretch on the sidelines, maybe he can come back in and show some of the form that made him a standout in his early appearances for the club?

I’d play him and Marshall as the full-backs to give us some proper width and allow Weimann and Cavaleiro to drift inside. Price and Coady holding.

I don’t remember reading about an injury to Bright but I think he’s the exact type of player we missed on Saturday. Someone who can introduce fluidity to an otherwise pedestrian performance.

Prediction

I predict defeat, but hopefully one that offers glimpses of individual potential for next season.

Like it or not, we will still have this nucleus of players to work with, so Paul Lambert has to find winning combinations and players who can step up and perform consistently next time.

2-1 Huddersfield.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

I said to Paul Lambert back in November that we should adopt Jurgen Klopp’s ‘entertainment first’ philosophy.

Serve up something exciting and win, lose or draw the fans will come back desperate for more.

Given the nature of this unspeakably grim affair, it will take a seismic effort for even the most optimistic to summon the strength to reconvene on Tuesday.

Nobody expected total football but I’m sorry Paul, it should never have been this bad.

Sure, Blackburn played three at the back, swamped the midfield and tried to eek out an ugly win to preserve their Championship status.

But their situation is understandable.

Wolves in contrast should have been able to play with freedom and adventure having escaped the shackles of responsibility.

Instead they were leaden footed and lacking ideas throughout in one of the most inept outings of the season to date – and that’s saying something.

The team selection set the tone.

Sure you can argue it’s the same eleven that saw off Leeds, but going to Elland Road and setting up camp is a much different proposition to breaking down a side on the cusp of relegation – at home.

George Saville playing left midfield at Molineux should be forbidden. I feel genuine sympathy for him being deployed in a position to which he patently isn’t suited.

And when Matt Doherty limped off with a hamstring injury in the first half, good old George was shunted into the back four.

That meant no width being offered on either flank with neither Coady or Saville comfortable getting forward to expose Blackburn’s defensive shape.

In a repeat of that desperately poor showing against Rotherham, it was then left to everyone else to flap about hoping that something would magically happen.

Saiss lashed cross field balls out of play, Edwards ran around in no particular direction and Cavaleiro repeatedly fell over.

A total shambles.

It would be unfair not to mention back-to-back cleansheets, which is a grain of comfort. I thought Conor Coady in particular put in some wonderful tackles and clearances.

But we needed grit and effort two months ago when things were going south.

With nothing left to play for there is only value in entertainment.

And we are not entertained.