The transfer window has been shut and there has been no major signing in the last minute, as was rumoured among fans. Fletch, Jarvo and Kights are gone but no less than seven new players have been signed. Now its high time to get some togetherness to build a team, but that will have to be done in the midst of the war they call the Championship.
What are Wolves chances of bouncing back up into the elite forces of the footballing world immediately, fans are asking me. Its still early days and premature to give a comprehensive answer to that, but I will try to speculate and hopefully come up with some answers below.
Let us first establish the absolute truth that Wolves has become weakened going forward with the sell of Fletcher, Jarvis and Kightly. At least the first two are impossible for a team now playing in the Championship to replace quality-wise and Mr Kightly had the rare quality of starting up a team to progress forward, something he demonstrated for Wolves again and again the last time we were in the Championship.
At the same time its important to remember that Fletch did not figure in the team when we last made the way up to the Premiership, nor did Doyle. And we all know the potential of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after our last time in the Championships. Add to that the unknown potentials of Sigurdarson and Nouble and it does not look too bad striker-wise for the season that has kicked off.
What more can be said about our new signings the Icelandic striker “Ziggy” and the big man with double citizenship of England and the Ivory Coast? Ziggy looks a little lost so far, but I’ve seen some passes and runs that could forebode something interesting to come. I wish that he would have the guts to take on his man a little more in the penalty area, at least he could earn a penalty by that and even get past. But the confidence will come and he will get stronger in training and more used to the tempo of english football aswell. Probably a good signing, hopefully a star to be but maybe we should have some patience with him, not expecting him to break through completely this season.
Nouble is a positive surprise to me. Big, yet technical and a steady man to have at the bench if everything else fails and also to hold the ball up when we are in the lead and want to change to a 4-5-1 from 4-4-2. I’m not sure if he is the choice of Solbakken, but he will prove to be an asset to the team, I’m sure.
So the final conclusion about the strikers of the “New Wolves” is that we are better equipped than we were when we last made our ways up to the Premiership so there is no reason to believe that we lack the firepower to take the step, despite the loss of Fletcher.
Let’s take a look at the midfield. A lot of things has happened to that part of the team, positive and negative. The loss of Jarvis saddens me. He has been my favorite player in Wolves from the first season when he arrived to the club and his development as a player has been amazing. I will follow his career and wish him good luck wherever he will play. A top player and a top bloke.
What do I have to say about the players that have been signed on to replace him and Kightly, then? Peszko, the Polish winger from Cologne has been involved a lot already and I must say he looks like a very good signing! Some say that he is as good as Jarvo, but I wouldn’t go that far (it was said by a man who is yet to understand the greatness of Jarvo). Clearly Peszko – or “The Pez” – could be the best or at least one of our best signings under Solbakken. He assisted for plenty of goals in Cologne and he has the potential to do that and score some himself for Wolves. Like about Sigurdarssen its about self-confidence and knowing the league. He will be a great asset to Wolves this season and hopefully seasons to come.
We have more influx in the middle, something that delights me as you know that I’ve seen our midfield as the weakest part of the team. Solbakken has probably drawn the same conclusion and brought on Razak Boukari, like a couple of others from France schooled at Chateauroux, a special crib, it seems, for skilled, technical footballers. I believe he still have something to prove, but with our own Forde getting better and better we do have enough skill on the wings to support our strikers.
There is a problem with, and has been for a number of years, with our inner midfield. With O’Hara and Henry both injured at the moment we are more vulnerable than ever in this part of the team. Hopefully, though, Henry will soon be back (thought I would never write that) and O’Hara will strengthen the team in a couple of months.
Until then, though, we have our new arrivals in Tongo Doumbia and Bakary Sako. Doumbia has managed to get a very good start in the team and is already a favorite among the fans which of course bodes well as the fans are always right. No, but he is a box-to-box midfielder with skills to hold the ball and that is exactly what we have lacked for years.
Sako is a player I’ve only seen on Youtube and for twenty or so minutes in the game against Northampton, but what a nice beginning at our club! To me he looks different class and I hope he will settle in and become our first inner midfielder for years to be a real threat going forward. We have plenty more playing in the midfield like Edwards and Davis. They will sure play a role, but probably not in the first eleven in my opinion.
My conclusion for the midfield is that its strength depends on if we can use the potential our newcomers already have shown that they have and if O’Hara and Henry are getting back in good shape. I would, though, like to see another class player brought into the team, perhaps on loan. I had hopes that we would bring Whelan from Stoke to the team, but that did not happen, but perhaps that’s not too late if we take him on loan.
The defence is by most seen as the Achilles heel of Wolves. I could understand if many fans are very worried as this is the part of the team that is the most intact after the window has closed. But we have one new signing, an Austrian citizen with the name Margreitter. How come we always try young ones in these positions? It takes a footballer years to learn the trade to be a good central defender. I’m sceptic to this signing and would have wanted a more experienced man at this position.
We will probably keep Berra, and that is good. And we have added to the team so to speak internally by engaging Batth, who played very well for the Owls last season. Johnson has been given another chance and Moyokolo is said to be fit to play soon. We have enough central defenders to play bowling with them, but are they good enough? Only time will tell, but I doubt other Championship teams have better. I am a little worried about this part of our team, though.
What about full-backs, then? Ward is a favorite of mine and will be very useful both at defending and going forward in the Championship as he has already proved. Elokobi is a good back-up for him at the left side and this is perhaps one of our strongest positions in the team. For the other side I have more doubts. Zubar may hopefully straighten up his play with more French friends in the team. The Solbakken tactics with wing-backs should suite his style of play, but he has to be better at positioning in his defensive work to fit the bill. Foley is on his way back after injury and may very well take this position when fit.
Conclusion for this is that we have fullback good enough for a top Championship side. What about our keepers? Could we really perform without Hennessey fit? Of course we can! Ikeme is doing just fine and De Vries is an excellent back-up for him. Hennessey will probably be back before schedule and will have a hard time to grab his place in the first eleven back.
The over all conclusion is that Ståle Solbakken looks to have been very successful at finding the right players to fill the gaps in the team. It’s early days yet and I may have to eat it later on but this looks like a team that could challenge for the title come spring. It’s an awful lot of work to do until then though and everything could also misfire. The potential is there, though and now its up to Solbakken to realise and release it. Time to settle down and do some magic, Mr Steel!
UP THE WOLVES!!!