When a blanket of snow and ice covered Wolverhampton last winter, when steam rose from Diogo Jota’s crumpled body after another assault, some of us cast our minds away from the ceaseless Championship slog and dared to imagine how salvation would present itself if we ever reached the Promised Land.
On the sole occasion I dared to dream, it looked exactly like Molineux last night, in all its glorious splendour.
Old gold shirts gleaming, the stadium crackling and our magic man Diogo wheeling away to the South Bank’s deafening acclaim.
It was meant to be exactly like that moment, when 30,000 fans erupted under a fuzzy night sky. When Wolves were harmonious in the Premier League.
A hard beginning maketh a good ending, with an early deflected goal giving an ominously talented Chelsea side the lead, on the back of our winless run that has had some questioning the messiah who got us here in the first place. But a rousing second half performance – one which underlined that the strength of the wolf is indeed in the pack – ensured a signature win against one of the finest sides around.
Many wanted a Plan B after recent results and depending on interpretation, Nuno provided one via the outstanding Gibbs-White in a withdrawn no10 role (and Raul and Diogo either side). It was more of a tweak to the 3-4-3 system and also a nod to the adage that players win games, not systems alone. In a nutshell, we upped our levels significantly on recent weeks with everyone deserving an 8-out-of-10 minimum, from Rui right up to Raul.
Some highlights of an incredible evening featured immense last ditch tackles by Bennett and Boly at the end of the first half and start of the second. Romain Saiss reminded us what we’ve been missing in the middle of the park, while Gibbs-White shimmered in a performance of giddy proportions. And in Diogo Jota, we were reunited with our matchwinner, whose winning goal might even be more significant than the result itself.
To stay on the coat-tails of Chelsea in the first half took some doing, as Sarri’s men led us a merry dance at times, enjoying rucks of possession through some supremely talented interplay. That we were only a goal down at half time was actually a positive of sorts, as we were able to stay in the game.
Then within the blink of an eye we were 2-1 up. Molineux lit up the senses in the only way it can. Every kick, every cry and every gesture from a feverish Nuno thereafter added brushstrokes to a memorable work of art, enriched by the blue of Chelsea.
It was one of those nights. It was exactly how I dreamt it.