If it hadn’t been so entertaining for the neutrals, this game could have made for a useful summary of our season.
Blighted before kick-off by news of another injury to a key player, the opening 45 soon became a brutal exposition of the shortcomings of our squad.
Watching a ragtag defence and listless midfield pairing chase Jesse Lingard’s shadow was another nadir in this most forgettable of seasons.
Follow that up with a fight back that was almost enough to paper over the cracks, and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of where we’re at right now.
There is enough talent in this Wolves team to steer clear of danger, but it’s obvious that serious investment is needed to return it to the heights of the last two seasons.
I’d like to think that tonight’s aberration of a first half will be enough for Nuno to abort his four at the back experiment, but if it isn’t then we simply cannot afford to attempt it again with our current defensive options.
Coady and Saiss are both fine players but they were made to look like veterans of the Dog and Duck tonight. Perhaps one of them could adapt alongside a specialist centre half, but Michail Antonio made it abundantly clear that they can’t be trusted as a pairing.
Similarly, Neves and Dendoncker showed that they do not possess the dynamism required to collectively man a post-Moutinho midfield. Both have their qualities – and will surely continue to be key players – but were too easily overran by a Hammers side that was made to look more than the sum of its parts.
Throw in a loanee centre forward that never looks like scoring into the mix and you can see why we’re experiencing the problems that we are.
The question for us and, more importantly, the owners is – how much of this can be construed as a result of this most freakish of seasons?
For example, Willian Jose’s aforementioned struggles are a minor irritant when considered as part of the bigger picture of Fosun’s oft-discussed ‘project’. Raul will hopefully return as good as ever while Fabio Silva continues to hone his potential.
But the inability or refusal to recruit a centre half over the last three transfer windows has to be viewed as a failing on the recruitment team’s behalf. Why was the awful Jesus Vallejo deemed the only one worth signing? And why are prospects like Sanderson and, to a lesser extent, Kilman not given a chance to stake a claim?
My hope is that Jeff and co. will learn from the difficulties of this campaign and make a concerted effort to strengthen the spine of the XI in the summer.
Do that and, on the evidence of some of our attacking play tonight, we can realistically hope for much, much better next term. Our first goal alone shows we are capable of blowing teams away when we really turn it on.
Alas, for the time being we need to focus on getting to 40 points and bidding adieu to this dreary campaign. The news of Jonny’s injury was another bitter pill to swallow, and it seems only right to sign off by wishing him the best of luck in his latest recovery. With any luck, the next time he graces the Molineux turf we’ll all be there to serenade him.