Archives for June 2017

First day back

Well, if everyone is going back today I guess I’d better pull my finger out too.

It’s been a long, over indulgent summer so you’ll have to bear with me while I get back up to speed. Here’s a few warm-ups.

Bad timing

Wolves have been handed a tough looking start with games against Middlesbrough, Hull and Derby.

Many seemed to be saying words to the effect of ‘it makes no difference’ or ‘you have to play them all at some point’, but I don’t agree with this sentiment. Quite the opposite in fact, I think the timing of fixtures can be pivotal.

With the continued upheaval behind the scenes at our club, I’m fearful of a slow start and the implications that could have on the team. More than anyone else, I think Wolves could have done with a softer launch.

Walter Zenga was fortunate to kick off last season with games against Rotherham, who proved to be easily the worst team in the league and Reading who themselves were adjusting to Jaap Stam’s methods.

Shortly after we lost against the first decent side we played in Huddersfield and everything went south with Zenga chopping and changing the team every week in search of answers.

I’d like to see us get some points on the board early again to inject confidence into what’s certain to be another new look team. That will be difficult in a pretty horrendous looking August. I hope to be proven wrong.

Exit door

I wasn’t upset to see either George Saville or Jed Wallace leave for Millwall today. They’re obviously a couple of good, honest pros but it wasn’t working out for either of them.

Saville was always on the fringes of the team under Jackett, Zenga and Lambert and I thought it was unfair of those coaches to constantly shoehorn him in at full back or left midfield. He rarely made an impact and was mercilessly torn apart by supporters.

In Jackett’s final season he scored some important goals against Derby and MK Dons to ensure we finished in midtable instead of more uncomfortable territory, so there was a meaningful contribution there for sure.

Wallace just never got started. He had a great game against Blues last season in the 3-1 win at St. Andrew’s but got injured and fell away.

I suspect both players will prove to be solid Championship performers for Millwall, but the club already have better players and should be aiming higher again in this transfer window. Good night and good luck lads.

60 not out

If you’ll excuse the shameless self-indulgence, I just wanted to finish with a big thank you to Bully who joined us for breakfast at the weekend to celebrate my dad and godfather’s 60th birthday.

Suffice to say they were surprised to see our record goalscorer holding the birthday cake and delighted to share an hour or so in his company.

Steve told some great stories, answered all our inane questions and scribbled on the 300 or so items we all brought along for his cherished signature.

I put together a lighthearted quiz for the occasion, which I’ll post in the comment section below if you’d like to test yourself on some Bully trivia (FYI, even he didn’t know the answer to most of these).

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Back to front

I am intrigued by our transfer business so far this summer.

We’ve signed two seemingly very different centre backs in Miranda (a ball player) and Ryan Bennett (a no-nonsense pro).

Hopefully they complement each other and add just the right amount of guile and steel to the spine of team this year.

Our other two centre backs, Batth and Hause, are very much in the Bennett mould, so I get the feeling Nuno Espirito Santo is looking for one of those three to rotate around Miranda as a key figure. I’m guessing Ebanks-Landell will be shown the exit door.

Our third signing, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh, is also interesting. Kudos to those of you who had predicted this signing for a couple of weeks now, but it is still surprising – not only because it is quite unusual for Wolves to raid the German second tier, but also because of the questions it inevitably poses:

1. Who is he?

To answer this, and get some idea of what he would bring to Wolves, I took to the fans’ forum of his former club, Eintracht Braunschweig (eintrachtbraunschweig-fanforum.de). Some seemed indifferent to his departure:

“I was never actually convinced by him. He was very quick but never quite played the right final ball.”

“I think he found his level in the second tier.”

But this is countered by others:

“A good player on the way up.”

“A very committed player with the right attitude. A real shame [that he has left Braunschweig].”

The general consensus (from a 28-page thread) is that he was an extremely quick player who a few Eintracht fans would have liked to have seen more of. His time at the club was marred by injury – he only made 20 appearances in 2 seasons.

Pace is certainly an attribute you cannot have too much of in the Championship. Let’s hope his injury woes are behind him, because if so, we may have just acquired some much-needed athleticism at right back. At times last year our defence felt one-sided as only Doherty was comfortable getting forward.

2. What does this mean for Dominic Iorfa?

A bit-part player from last season seems to have been pushed further down the pecking order. Part of me can’t help but feel a little sad, given that it isn’t often that we have an England U21 international in our squad.

I also hope the new centre-back signings don’t curtail Kortney Hause’s chances, either. Both still have a lot of potential and it is very easy to forget how young they still are.

3. Is the defence now suitably reinforced?

I’m surprised we’ve already signed 3 new defenders. With Silvio potentially still to renew his deal, we could have a very different looking back four come the first day of the new season. In fact, we actually have two complete back fours in our squad currently.

4. Should we now focus on other areas?

A proven striker is a must, surely. And a real ball-playing central midfielder to supply the bullets, as we can’t rely on our wingers all the time.

Miranda and Ofosu-Ayeh are pretty much unknown until we’ve seen them ourselves. However, I do think a mixture of gritty Championship know-how and the surprise element of new players could be a potent mixture. For me, our defence seems to have that now.

One word of caution – I read that Miranda may be made captain. Roger Johnson was the last centre back we signed and immediately gave the armband to, and look how that turned out…

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Clive’s autograph hunt

I do hate an illegible autograph so when Clive sent me this a few weeks back asking for help identifying the culprits, I was keen to help.

As the man himself says, “it’s an album from the mid sixties and hoping someone can identify all the signatures. I got Peter Knowles, but ain’t sure of the rest.”

Here’s the picture rotated to offer another angle:

I’ll be disappointed if we can’t solve this one between us lads.