Analysing: The Wolves Goalkeeping Wonder
There is something very special about the goalkeepers of Wolves. A week doesn’t go by without good performances from one or more of our keepers. How come?
Firstly we have our ‘old-timer’ Matt Murray. If it wasn’t for bad luck that lad would have no luck at all, as the blues-singers cries out. He played 48 games for Wolves in the club’s promotion winning season of 2002-3 and was named Man of the Match for the play-off final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
But after that his long spell of injuries started. He wasn’t back in play until January of 2005 and then he only played two games before he was injured again. But in the season of 2006-7 he was a regular feature in goal and excellent – until the play-offs when he was hit by injury again. He is now coming back after being injured for almost two and a half seasons.
But he is still a legend at Molineux and the founding stone of a new era of excellent goaltending in Wolves. And I don’t think his contribution to the other keepers development can be over-estimated. With his advice, good example and support in the dressing room he still means a lot to the goalkeepers wonder of Wolves. And don’t forget that he is on his way back!
Wolves where lucky to have one of the most talented keepers in Britain waiting in the shadows to come in and play a leading part when Matt was out. Wayne Hennessey, young Wales international did what many doubted and made the number one shirt part of his own wardrobe the season before last.
Wayne’s career jumped off when he was out on-loan to Stockport. There he made a record-breaking run of nine consecutive clean sheets.
He was ready to come in and play for Wolves against WBA in the play off Semi-finals when Murray got injured and in the season of 2007-8 he became a regular and kept 19 clean sheets.
Last season he played 34 of the 48 games in the league for Wolves and was one of the reasons for the club winning the Championship title.
This season he was outstanding in the first games for Wolves in the Premier League. It showed that he had made progress in his game, but he lost his place in the starting eleven after a couple of matches against top teams. But he made a mark in the FA Cup against Tranmere when he became Paddytheflea’s Man Of The Match.
When Hen’s got a red card last season many supporters did hold their breaths. What will happen know? Can Carl Ikeme really cut it at Championship top level or was Wolves to get punished for having their star keeper out of play?
But Carl played very well and even held Hennessey out of the starting team for many matches after his suspension last season.
Actually Ikeme was held as at least equally good a keeper as Hennessey before the 2007-8 season. If it wasn’t for a knee injury in the 2006-7 season he may very well have been the man that got the chance instead of Wayne when Murray got injured.
But he hanged on and trained well and last season he got his chance in the first team when Hennessey got suspended. He played ten games for Wolves and did very well. He was then forced out of the team because of a hip injury suffered against Sheffield United.
Carl Ikeme has been out on-loan a lot this season and he’s been doing very well. when he played with the Blades he made it to the Team Of The Week and now he is doing his magic for Queens Park Rangers. I hope we can keep Carl in Wolves because he will be a very good Premier League goalkeeper in the future.
When Hennessey started to lose his confidence against the giants of the Premier League it was nice to have an experienced goalkeeper on the bench ready to take over. Veteran keeper Marcus Hahnemann was signed from Reading for the season to bring cover, stability, competition and experience to the keepers guild at Wolves.
And he has fulfilled all expectations and then some. He came in and acted as a wall at shot-stopping. But I think his main contribution as a goalkeeper is the way he acts in the area and controls the back-line. That is the area that Hennessey’s next improvement must be at.
The last couple of matches Hahnemann has been outstanding and I would not be surprised if we can watch him live behind the American team in South Africa this summer. He was Paddytheflea’s Man Of The Match against Wigan.
Last summer Wolves had a team playing in the Gothia Cup in Sweden against some of the best Youth teams in the world. In the finals of the tournament they played against Cruzeiros – the best youth team in South America of seventeen year-old. And Wolves won on penalties!
The man everybody ran to – and over – after the victory was the goalkeeper Daniel East.
Coach Thelwell about East to WoW after the match:
“He’s only just come into the building full time as an Academy player ahead of this season, but he made three unbelievable penalty saves in helping us to the win.”
He has played some good matches with the Academy team after that and he has proved that he is a solid keeper – and very good at penalties.
And this September the very good Wolves Irish scouting found a new keeper to add to the fabulous collection; Aaron McCarey from Monaghan United who played his first match in Wolves gloves against the Chelsea Reserves a couple of days ago. He seem to have made a good impression on the Wolves officials and says to WoW after the match:
“It was good to get my first game although it was a disappointing result. It was a great experience playing against a Chelsea team who had a few first teamers involved.”
“There were a few nerves, in a good way, but it was good to get the game under my belt. As well as the players we were up against, it was also a case of getting to know how my new team-mates play given it was my first game. It was good to test myself against the calibre of player we came up against and I think we were unlucky to get done by a set piece and then a really good goal.“
(That ‘good goal’ can be watched from the links under ‘Videos’ in the right sidebar)
McCarey also comments on the Wolves staff:
“Being able to come over in November gave me the chance to settle in. I managed to get used to the training every day and get to grips with preparing for the matches whenever they come along. I’ve been able to pick up different bits and pieces which I didn’t know before. It’s been good to start working with Pat and the other keepers here who are giving me great advice.“
Pat who? That Pat is probably one of the main reasons to ‘The Wolves Goalkeeper Wonder’.
Pat Mountain is the name and goaltending is his game. Himself a very good gloveman, but forced to retire early because of knee injuries he became one of the youngest ever persons to obtain UEFA’s outfield and goalkeeping coaching ‘A’ licenses.
He is also an FA accredited tutor of goalkeepers and has both their ‘A’ and ‘B’ license qualifications. He became the successor to the legendary keeper and coach Bobby Mimms in the summer of 2008.
Mimms is the man behind the earlier successes of Murray, Hennessey and Ikeme. He coached for Wolves between 2001 and 2008. It seems that Pat Mountain is doing a good job continuing to develop the Wolves keepers – in my opinion the best part of the Wolves team and I don’t know of any footballing team in Britain that has so many excellent keepers as Wolverhampton Wanderers of today. Keep on the good work, Pat!