Archives for November 2017

Wolves 5 Bolton Wanderers 1

Houston, we have lift off.

I have a confession to make – I didn’t go to the match. I wasn’t there when history was made.

But consuming the highlights, the tweets and the insights from my nearest and dearest, there was one consistent message – business as usual.

Ahead early through a set piece and then easing through the gears as and when required.

Rinse and repeat stuff from the victories over Leeds and Fulham.

Job done. Onto the next.

Let’s talk a bit about the set pieces.

For all the silk and sparkle, Wolves are dominating the meat and potato stuff to give themselves a foothold.

In this run of five consecutive victories, they’ve got themselves ahead via a free-kick or a corner on four of those occasions.

That’s no coincidence and underlines that we not only possess the most technically superior players in the league, but also the best drilled.

Ominous signs for anyone thinking of banking up and defending deep.

Things inevitably went south for Bolton pretty quickly after Willy Boly powered in the opener and Bonatini rounded off a slick move involving a sumptuous Neves pass for the second.

Then arrived the standard hatchet job on our best and brightest and the usual kerfuffle on the sidelines.

I for one am glad our bench are up for every decision. The home dugout has been too timid for too long.

And let’s be honest, teams come to disrupt our rhythm by any means necessary and if they want to dish out tough treatment, we should all be howling for the ref to dole out adequate justice.

It probably won’t be the last time Nuno is sent to the stands or the dressing room or wherever he camped out for the second half.

Much like me, he probably didn’t need to see the action with his own eyes to predict the likely outcome.

The goal rush is inevitable when Wolves are in the driving seat and the opposition start pushing.

Jota and Cavaleiro must be the most devastating counterattacking duo we’ve ever had, with the former bringing out the best in the latter.

The team, like those speedsters are sprinting away with it and doling out a clear message to everyone else – catch us if you can.

Wolves Vs Bolton Wanderers Preview

I’ll get over the play-off semi-final defeat one day.

But as firmly as I’m clinging onto that particular grudge, I’m glad Bolton have managed to stay afloat after a few uncomfortable years.

I don’t like seeing any club struggling to maintain their very existence, so it’s good that they’re still here and we can resume the rivalry.

Despite the 28 point gap and the obvious gulf in quality you wouldn’t put it past them to throw a spanner in the works.

Bolton

I am surprised they made an immediate return from League One given the turmoil on and off the field that Phil Parkinson inherited.

Persuading him to join from Bradford was a smart move given his success in the lower leagues but maintaining their Championship status will be an even tougher challenge for a manager who is yet to prove his credentials at this level.

The Trotters come into this game second from bottom with only two wins from their eighteen matches.

Both of those victories came at the Macron Stadium and they haven’t beaten anyone in their nine away matches to date. Hopefully it’s not tenth time lucky.

Former Wolves skipper Karl Henry is back in town for another showdown and Adam Le Fondre may also feature.

Wolves

After this game we don’t play again for the best part of ten days, so I don’t expect Nuno to indulge in rotation.

At the front of the queue is Helder Costa. He’s gradually starting to look like the player we loved and cherished last season. This might be a nice one for him.

If he plays, it’s likely Cav won’t and that’s very harsh after he enjoyed one of his best performances of the season in midweek.

Predictions

No game is easy in the Championship but Wolves are overwhelming favourites and I expect them to win.

It will be interesting to see how Bolton approach it and how much adventure they demonstrate, but based on our recent form I can only see one outcome.

They haven’t lost any of their last seven matches in fairness, but that’s likely to end if this follows the script.

3-0.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 4 Leeds United 1

It’s not often that a sky full of fireworks greet your arrival into Wolverhampton for the game, but such is the dazzling fare on show at Molineux these days that you’d think they’d been organised especially.

Something to do with the Christmas lights in Queen Square apparently, but if Nuno had have arranged them as a pyrotechnic precursor to the football then you wouldn’t have been surprised. A sign of things to come.

Everything else the great man touches generates similarly explosive results and at times during last night’s 4-1 drubbing – particularly in that first half-an-hour or so – I was more in awe of Cavaleiro and co as I was when the Roman Candles were going off.

Molineux was crackling under the night lights and only a handful of seats remained in the house before kick-off, primarily due to the traffic around Wolverhampton with those lights being switched on. Gunpowder in the air, gridlock around the city and for the first time in years, Wolves and its immediate surroundings feel positively aspirational.

From where we came and all those mind-numbing seasons which seemed to roll into one, the transformation has been quite astounding. Only a year or two back it was a former CEO of Stockport County no less – commissioned by Jez Moxey – to tell us that if we want success, we should think again.

‘We believe in much more than the results on a Saturday afternoon,’ Jez once said. ‘We believe in these young players. It is working. (as we sat somewhere in the region of 13th place).

‘If you say you will not renew your season ticket unless X, Y or Z, then that is not a relationship I would want with supporters.’

I shudder when I think back to those days of managed decline, when expectations were managed as if we were Proles in an Orwellian world. Now we get fireworks before a ball has been kicked!

It is precisely those M&M seasons of doom that this 4-1 victory – and all the others before – feels so difficult to comprehend because after years of footballing abuse, I feel like another kick is on its way. Another slap around the chops to bring me back down to earth. To midtable obscurity.

Like a liberated state, free from the clutches of repression, it feels like we’re breathing, living and dreaming again for the first time in years. Perchance to dream, ay, there’s the rub!

Last night it was Leeds United and an accompanying bag of worry about their spritely front-line and an inevitable good result following a morale boosting win against ‘Boro at the weekend. Before that it was Villa, with a different bag of the same worry, who must surely knock us off our perch as they were so good on paper. And it was Villa, basically.

All attentions turn to Saturday and Bolton now. Maybe I’ll dust down a hessian bag of Trotter angst for their arrival too. They have always had the sign on us, broke my heart in 1995 and are showing signs of a revival under Parkinson.

Old habits die hard, I guess. After last night’s beautiful win – and the sum of Nuno’s drooling parts making a mesmerising whole – I should pack it in. Replace my ingrained pessimism with a more intoxicating brand of feels.

Let myself free. Fly on the wings of Cavaleiro, Jota, Neves and friends and enjoy this ride like the South Bank are doing. Live in the moment like those players last night and think positive thoughts.

No matter how many negative ones I put in the way of this phenomenal side, they keep kicking them away. In style, of course.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

The one thing Wolves haven’t managed yet is a long winning run.

Mick McCarthy’s title success in 2008 was underpinned by two runs of seven consecutive victories in the first half of the season.

His team limped and struggled down the final straight, but the gap they’d created with that lightening start proved the difference.

To be clear, I’m not complaining.

Even if Wolves lose tomorrow, they’ll still have won two thirds of their games and the current points average will see them blow away Mick’s 90 point haul.

But if we can add to this current sequence while the going is good, it just gives us some breathing space if the sticky patch ever arrives.

Leeds

Talking of sequences, Leeds were on a stinker prior to Sunday having lost three on the spin to send them spiralling towards midtable.

In fact, based on the last 10 matches they’d be in the relegation zone such has been their fall from grace after briefly reaching the summit in September.

But a good win over Middlesbrough at the weekend, made all the sweeter by getting one over former boss Gary Monk, might be the catalyst for a comeback.

Goal difference is the only thing keeping them out of the play-off places so it’s all up for grabs again.

As is increasingly the fashion in the Championship, they’ve shaped their team with foreign talent and I’m looking forward to seeing Sáiz and Lasogga (if fit) in particular. I’ve heard good things.

Away from Elland Road they’ve won 4, lost 4, scored 12, conceded 12, so do with that information what you will. Maybe they’re due a draw?

Wolves

Injuries are as crucial to a promotion push as anything else. If you keep your best players fit, half the battle is won. In that sense, it’s nice that Nuno is still playing with a full deck.

The main decision is whether to bring Douglas back in for Vinagre after his suspension. The Scot was instrumental in the win over Fulham in our last home game, so I imagine he’ll play.

There must be a temptation to try Costa again from the start after using him sparingly to rebuild fitness and confidence?

Flashes of last season’s Player of the Season won’t have gone unnoticed by Nuno. But then again, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Betting

If you fancy a flutter on a fourth consecutive Wolves win, you can get 11/20 at 888 Sport according to the Bookmaker Advisor. Their key bet, interestingly, is a Wolves win with less than 3 goals scored. Visit the site for a full preview for the game.

Predictions

I suspect this might be a draw and I wouldn’t be overly upset by a 4 point return from the next two matches.

But like everyone else I’m buoyed by how things continue to shape up so have to back us for another win.

Leeds are a decent side and will bring a big crowd as always so it should be a good battle, but 2-1 to us.

Up The Wolves!

Reading 0 Wolves 2

Groundhog Day is a film I’ve often described as being akin to watching Wolves.

Rarely has the comparison been used with flattery in mind.

Year after year we’ve endured one insipid performance after another, with an occasional upset victory cheering us up every now and then.

At times, it seemed as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

That has been provided in spades, however, by the promotion chasing juggernaut assembled by Nuno and co.

They too are a predictable bunch, the key difference between them and their predecessors in old gold being they can’t stop winning.

It’s a quaint feeling being a Wolves fan nowadays, with each victory carrying an alien sense of inevitability.

Yesterday, we were put to task by a Reading side that appear as talented as they are limited.

And yet the scoreline would suggest another leisurely afternoon for the league leaders.

The old adage goes that the best teams can win games without playing well and, though I’m not usually one to indulge in cliches, the saying is ringing true at present.

We play some breathtaking football at times, but our resolve when under pressure is just as impressive as our swashbuckling play in the final third.

After being subjected to years of calamitous defending by various coaches, it’s a pleasure to see Wolves be able to cope with onslaughts in the manner in which they did yesterday.

Ryan Bennett, Connor Coady and Willy Boly were in imperious form, particularly during a second half in which the Royals had plenty of chances to level the score.

John Ruddy, meanwhile, had arguably his best game since joining the club, keeping the home side at bay with a string of crucial saves.

As we all know, such solidity provides a platform from which our creative forces can do damage and both goals were once again pleasing on the eye.

Diogo Jota’s through ball to Ivan Cavaleiro was a thing of beauty, as was the latter’s ensuing shimmy round the opposition goalkeeper.

Matt Doherty left it late to prosper from some sumptuous build up play in the game’s dying embers, no doubt prospering from some tired Reading legs as he slotted cooly past a hapless Vito Mannone.

It all seemed rather routine, and quaintly poetic given the opposition had former subjects of ire in their ranks.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Dave Edwards always gave their all for the club, but they’re a million miles of the standard required to play in this current vintage.

Whether this air of invincibility will prevail over a notoriously bruising winter period remains to be seen, but promotion is currently looking an elementary task for this side.

* Wolves are looking strong odds for promotion so to maximise your returns with freebetting make sure you check out what’s on offer from the leading bookies.

Reading Vs Wolves Preview

It’s been a long old fortnight.

Maybe it’s because we played on the Friday prior to the international break so it’s consequently been two blank weekends without a fix?

Either way, it’s felt painful.

I’m so buoyant about our prospects right now I just want to get through the games as quickly as possible.

Bring it on.

Reading

That said, I smell danger in this one. Edwards, Bodvarsson, former players, our record, etc, etc. You know what I mean.

Add to that the fact that Reading’s form has improved of late and a 4-2 win at Derby certainly raised a few eyebrows.

It’s worth remembering too they came within a slither of reaching the Premier League last season so have pedigree.

Along with the players they recruited from Nuno’s ‘no longer required’ list, they also added Sone Aluko from Fulham for serious cash. His pace and guile could prove problematic.

Equally so, big Yann Kermorgant. We’ve struggled against target men this season and he’s been a thorn in our side before.

The Royals have only mustered 2 wins from their 7 homes matches thus far, so there’s nothing to fear in terms of fortress Mad Stad, despite our record being iffy at best.

Wolves

Hopefully no injuries or excessive fatigue knocking around Compton after some of our best and brightest jetted off to represent their countries.

I suppose that will become evident in Nuno’s team selection tomorrow. If everyone is fit and available I’d expect something very close to the side that saw off Fulham.

There’s plenty of competition for places though so I won’t be too disheartened if we see changes for the greater good.

Predictions

It’s a tough looking game on paper but we’ve got nearly twice as many points as Reading, so perhaps it’s they who should be fearful?

I haven’t seen a lot of them this season, but if they’re still about retaining possession and building up slowly I think that suits Wolves.

In a game of chess, I would back us to get the win every time.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!