Analysis & Ratings: Bolton v Wolves
Yesterday I was full of rage combined with sadness. I believe I’ve never been so disappointed after a Wolves game. I was actually thinking about to shut my blog down and stop to report about the team that keeps letting me and all their supporters down, time after time again. A couple of more games like this and I will not have the energy to keep on reporting – and maybe not even supporting - Wolves anymore.
The reason – or should I say trigger off – for my disappointment and rage was of course the late back-pass by Zubar that left an open road for Sturridge to score and give Bolton all three points – but not at all just that. It was also about the way we played and the team selection by Mick McCarthy.
I‘m now left very much in doubt if Mick McCarthy is the man to take Wolves forward. I was actually positive at first that he did choose a 4-5-1-formation, but it stood very clear only after a few minutes of the game played that our full backs were totally out of bounce. The mistakes by George Elokobi in the first minutes combined with the sloppy back-passes by Zubar on the other side were absolutely shocking.
Already in the third minute Zubar made his first horrific try to pass the ball back. In the 9th minute he did the second. Why? I believe it’s due to instructions from the man at the sideline. Not directly, but as a tactic. And since some players of Wolves does not seem to think for themselves anymore but to take orders it couldn’t have gone any other way, really.
The nervousness of Zubar was only toppled by Elokobi. Every time he controlled the ball I waited for a mistake to happen. And they frequently did. Either he is not at all match-fit and should not play or McCarthy has scared the hell out of him and left him as an empty shell with the equivalent of stage-fright. In both cases there is only one man to blame. Mick McCarthy.
Every pundit and supporter have said that Wolves have to strengthen at the left back, I’ve actually been more flexible than most about it, pointing out that it is not only an individual question, but a matter of teamwork and that Ward and Elokobi have not been given the help they should on the flank. But I have to change my mind on this. The evidences are all there now and too massive to ignore, despite Elokobi perhaps not being match-fit at the moment.
The second mistake by Mick McCarthy was of course not to make changes when it was clear to all that Zubar and Elokobi did not perform at all. That was not done despite disaster was waiting down the corner. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they both came on after half time. It was actually only luck and a fabulous effort by Hennessey in this game that saved us from going one, two or even three goals down.
I know that this is not happy reading, but I want it all out now. Parts of our midfield didn’t work either. Henry may have had the same instructions as our full-backs or he was simply his good old self but he kept on passing back aswell, interrupting our efforts to go forward. And with the bad passes by Elokobi and the long kicks by Hennessey – we left the midfield to Bolton to roam in and play through.
Not a single tackle by Henry registered also speaks words about his – by some highly praised – efforts without the ball. He may also not be totally match-fit yet, but if he isn’t he shouldn’t play and – yes you guess right – it falls back on our by me til now much revered manager. We played 4-5-1 but with one midfielder not performing it became 4-4-1.
To the positives, then – cause there were some, as I discovered watching a replay of the game. The first one to mention is of course the play of Wayne Hennessey. He did a fantastic game. And our central defence also worked very well, having much to do as our full backs didn’t show up.
Hammill has played himself into the starting eleven and that is a surprise to me. He seem to be a better crosser than Jarvis – albeit not with the same speed – at least not yet. Dave Jones worked very well on the midfield aswell. And he was very much involved and the spider in the web. As always Edwards runs alot, but I don’t find him very effective going forward. Perhaps because he had to cover up for Henry or due to some instructions from somewhere?
Glimpses of Doyler’s old self could be seen and he came very close to score – as did Jarvis. But while Jarvis – beautifully played free by Hammill – missed a sitter, Doyle made his chance with a hit at the bar all by himself and out of nothing.
I want to mention Jamie O’Hara aswell. He looked very good, but a bit rusty when he came on for the last quarter of an hour. And he had a shot at goal that he should have done better with. But it became clear that he knows how to get through a defence and that he is a very good passer of the ball. Thirteen passes, all correct!
What should be done? Zubar and Elokobi can NOT stay in the starting eleven. And I don’t want to see Henry there either – at lest not as a midfielder, maybe as a full back. I want Hammill and O’Hara to start against Manchester United. And I want Mick McCarthy to take the full blame for the result in this game and better himself or the team in my heart will lose a lot of the supporters.
To the ratings, then. Or have I already started?
Hennessey – 8 – Saved us from goals in the back four times and some above average delivery aswell. Should have a nine, but he was sloppy and not on his toes in an attack when he crashed with Elokobi towards the end. But the all over terrific play renders him a small star.
Zubar – 3 – Not worth mentioning any more, really. He has – hopefully – played himself out of the team for good or at least for a long, long time. Thank God for Foley!
Stearman – 8 – One of our very best players and handled attacks by Elmander and Davies excellently most of the time. Perfect record in the first half, but did one mistake in the second. Better distribution than Berra.
Berra – 7 – Also very good yesterday, having a war with Davies, not the easiest forward to handle, mind you. But he came very close to get an own goal. Thanks to Hennessey, that didn’t happen.
Elokobi – 3 – My second three in this blogs lifetime. His passes were bad (56% correct. Awful!). He let people through easily. He gave the ball away. He blew chances high up in the air, etcetera. He is either not match-fit or scared to death. Probably both.
Henry – 4 – No tackles. Many bad passes. Not so much involved. Has been playing below par and his abilities in many games this season. Thought he could do a job in a 4-5-1, but I was wrong.
Hammill – 8 – I’m not trying to be nice to a new signing here. Young Adam Hammill was excellent on the wing. He was the one who played Jarvis free with the Bolton keeper to score, but unfortunately he didn’t. Numerous of other deep passes from his feet created chances for his newly found comrades.
Three shots at goal and an 83% passing success, despite some hard to find ones (Jarvis 73%) tells it all. I’m just embarrassed that his debut for Wolves from start came in a game when several of his team mates played so badly. And those team mates should be aswell. I would like to ask him if he thought we played better than Barnsley. Anyway. In his first game for Wolves in the Premier League Adam Hammill is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Jones – 6 – Very much involved, but still a little too weak. But connects the defence with attack well. I would, though, prefer Milijas in that role, but perhaps he can not play three games in a week and Jones is and was a good option. Tired some in the second half.
Edwards – 6 – Actually the best tackler for the day, according to stats. He also created two attempts and had one himself. But, as I said above, he was all over instead of being the number 10, as I thought when the team was announced. But that was not his fault.
Jarvis – 5 – Did fairly well, but not at all as much involved as when he was in top form in the beginning of the season. But he came through on a couple of occasions and had a couple of good crosses in. More in the area then he uses to. Should of course have nailed it when he was totally clean. One point less because of that. It was a match-shifting sitter. Changed flanks with Hammill and it worked well.
Doyle – 7 – Almost back to form after injury and illness. Showed will and hunger and had some very good crosses and passes. Went close himself on a couple of occasions. Some say that we should play Fletcher or Ebanks-Blake instead, but not when Doyle play like this.
A longer MOTM highlíght are among my links in the right margin as usual if you want to relive this tragedy.