As a first father and son away day together, an Elland Road experience with the boy was something I’ll remember forever.
As a game of football against Leeds United, it was a quite wretched performance that I can’t erase from my memory quickly enough.
It’s a funny old game, football. Despite the cruel timing of the equaliser in the final seconds, it still felt like a relief to be taking home a point, having been completely outplayed from the moment we scored.
And when the Wolves fans politely enquired about Leeds’ famous atmosphere, a grand old stadium rolled its eyes, took a collective intake of breath and started blowing the ball into the net – through an incongruous ‘champions of Europe’ song that still makes little sense.
Watching Wolves makes little sense either, who were magnificent for the first three fixtures we lost, only to pick up 13pts from six games when looking like a pale imitation.
While my Bovril runneth over when watching the lad immerse himself in the experience, the team played as if it was a sinking, tethered ship, spending the entire afternoon plugging leaks until they could stem the tide no more.
But to keep making the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome is stupidity in itself, encapsulated by Nelson Semedo when giving the referee a decision to make at the death. The same Semedo who Bruno moved from the right to the left to deal with a problem that Ait Nouri couldn’t cope with. The same Semedo whose Wolves career has been blighted with moments like these.
That’s not to scapegoat him, but he has glaring defensive weaknesses, as does Ait Nouri on the other side. In the middle of the park, Moutinho can’t turn back the clock, never mind against an extra man in midfield. Dendoncker alongside him is of little use when he’s so terrible in possession (his hospital pass to Kilman which earned the defender a booking summed up his afternoon).
And we all know about the deficiencies in the centre of defence, with a lack of mobility prohibiting Bruno from playing two centre halves. In this game though, Coady, Saiss and Kilman were all fantastic. The best I’ve seen Saiss play for a long time, too. A word too for Sa, who looks a serious goalkeeper and an upgrade on Patricio.
Then up front, Adama remains the frustrating enigma that he’s always been, seemingly not participating in the game whilst Raul was doing the work of two men on his own. Whether it was Leeds’ Cooper and co making Traore tackles a badge of honour I don’t know, but he just didn’t turn up and he simply has to be better than he was. While Hwang offered positives – most notably his fourth goal in six games – he is still finding his feet too, making Jimenez’ task all the more unenviable.
In short, they’re all Nuno’s players (bar Sar and Hwang) and expecting them to dominate games in a new age of swashbuckling football is as unfair as it is unlikely.
So at a raucous old stadium on a Saturday afternoon, I drank it all in with my son for the first time away from home.
I’ll forget about the football itself, as I’ve seen all that before.