Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Bolton

Much hopes were placed before the game against Bolton that the Wolves team would come up on top. So it did hurt a lot when the team didn’t live up to our great expectations.

To do a proper analysis you got to wait for the sentiments to sink down and – if possible – look at a re-run of the game to form a more accurate opinion about the players and the game at hand. I’ve just done that.

Before the game I wrote an article called Seven Steps To Heaven mostly as a warning from looking to positive at Wolves chances to climb the tables. After the game – when very pessimistic about the future – I found this sign while googling:

And Yes. We did it again. After just 46 seconds Stearman headed the ball into his own net and that of course created an up-the-hills run for Wolves and an easier journey for Bolton in the game.

We did not play at all in the same fashion as in the latest games. The midfield functioned as an area to get through as fast as possible for both teams, but especially for Wolves.

I don’t know if it was due to instructions from McCarthy (probable) or just how the game shaped up, but not Wolves nor Bolton were happy to stage the war at midfield.

Hahnemann almost always kicked the ball up to our tiny forwards with tall Bolton defenders finding it easy to collect and defend. If this was deliberate tactics it was a bad one. Playing the ball up the field with short passes between the players has worked perfectly well against the top teams and I believe that it would have worked against Bolton aswell.

This meant that no team got the upper hand in the game. The chances were plenty for both sides, but especially Wolves reverted to long balls from the back by particularly Elokobi and Hahnemann. When the midfielders tried to engage they were too far apart from each other and the other parts of the team to play a positive role in the game.

That is my main critique of the way Wolves played and my main explanation on why we lost this match, and I don’t believe that it was the 4-4-2-formation per se that is to blame for this. It is perfectly doable to keep the team together and play a forward moving short passing game and to hold the ball in the team with four in the middle aswell as five.

But the Wolves team did not play a bad game at all. After that miserable first minute Wolves was the better team for the rest of the first half and actually in the match as a whole, except for some crucial minutes in the second half.

But – as so many times before – they didn’t succeed in getting the ball into the net. When looking at how Bolton played and comparing – as they succeeded in scoring twice in the second half – I believe that their midfielders operated further up the pitch.

At least in the crucial moments they were better at supporting their forwards and put pressure on our back four to get what they wanted. Their play going forward was better organised and supported than ours.

Such an organisaton could not, of course, account for the fantastic ‘Messi-moment’ by Elmander, but the support helps the individual player to be brave enough to try something like that.

There were too much of ball-watching in the Wolves defending last night. I believe I have complained about that before, but now it was evident as the four in the back line and the midfielders stood as salt pillars watching the ball when Bolton forwards and midfielders were running the channels all around them, being one step ahead at several occasions.

I can still hear him from within. Watch and follow the players – not the ball – my coach said to me when I was a little toddler trying to learn the game. I never learned that properly, but I nevertheless expect that the players in Wolves have.

When three goals down – and many of the South Bank regulars left Molineux – the expectations on the Wolves team to catch up were almost non-existent. But in fact we didn’t lack chances and we clearly were the better team just before the two goals from Bolton.

And the team continued to press forward – maybe not so surprising since that was the only way to go in trying to get anything from the game. And Bolton were of course happy with the result and did not attack as often as earlier.

Foley – not so much involved as in previous games because of the Hahnemann kick-outs and the Elokobi long passes – while well placed in the area took advantage of a Jarvis pass in to very professionally curl the ball past Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal. Just look at how concentrated he is and the balance.

Previously this season Foley has done everything right, but the last touch when in the spot to score. Now he managed to master that aswell. I’m impressed!

That goal signalled an even harder effort from Wolves to attack. Jarvis came more alive in this section of the game and Fletcher came in for Hunt, giving a little more power to the attack and a pair of fresh legs.

On set pieces Wolves crowded the Bolton penalty area and many times we came close of scoring, but it was not until Fletcher ran in towards the far post that we managed to get the second goal.

There is a lesson to learn there. A lesson a good friend of mine told me last season. Wolves seldom had a man at the far post at set pieces missing out on several goal chances because of that.

I have looked at those situations closely lately and found out that my friend is on the spot. But Fletcher did a couple of goals in that position for Burnley and Hunt did it for Hull, so maybe we don’t let these chances of scoring pass us by any more?!

But that second goal was the last one in the game, despite Wolves pressing on and Mouyokolo and Doyle coming close on extra time. Wolves started the goal scoring too late and because of the first minute goal by Bolton (read Stearman) we could never catch our opponents in this game, despite not lacking chances, and the game ended as a disappointing 3-2 win to Bolton.

Over to the individual ratings then. As always, bear in mind that football is a team sport and that the tactics and teamwork are an essential part of the game.

Hahnemann – 5 – I don’t like that he reverted back to kicking out the ball to forwards a foot shorter than the defenders marking them (probably ordered by Mick, but nevertheless). Bad distribution as he also kicked the ball out the sideline a couple of times. He could not prevent the goals, but he did no saves either. I want Hennessey to get a game. Maybe he can get us a lift in the defence and a clean sheet.

Foley – 7 – Not as involved in play as earlier, because of the change in play (see above). But in the second half he went more forward and scored a well taken goal that adds a point to his rating.

Stearman- 5 – He is too much of a risk-taker and needs a firm voice to tell him and show him how to act under pressure. And I’m sure he will find that voice very close to him. As a hint it has a Yorkshire dialect and is slightly nasal.

He made a couple of foolish things even after the own goal when he lost the ball to opponents in man-to-man encounters. Drop your painting-brush, Jody! You must be in the frame for some football NOW.

Mouyokolo – 7 – A very interesting and promising debut of the tall and quick central defender. He was made a fool by Elmander, but so were a couple of others.

Elokobi – 6 – Hard to rate. He had very much ball during the game and passed it well at times. But at too many times he crossed a long ball to nowhere or to a tiny Wolves forward under heavy surveillance.

But I believe he is a fresher alternative to Ward and under other instructions I’m sure he can perform better (and the team should use his long throw-ins more).

Hunt – 5 – We’re waiting, Stephen! Show your things or expect to be dropped. I know you have been sidelined for a long time because of injury, but we don’t have the time. But you should have some credit for your corners and one or two crosses.

Henry – 5 – Didn’t come to his right at all in this sort of game. Wrestled some against Muamba, but that doesn’t gain Wolves much. In fact I didn’t notice one positive thing in his play in the first half, but he gave away the ball twice, creating chances for Bolton.

In the second half he stood ball-watching on both of the Bolton goals. Perhaps it’s time to rest the captain? Where is Jones?

Milijas – 7 – Keeps up his good form and creates a lot going forward, firing at goal by himself with good precision and finding those nice passes with his left foot. But last night there were signs of some mistakes in defending, making me to take one point away from him. But he is Wolves best asset at the moment, apart from the next man.

Jarvis – 8 – He was not as conspicuous in the first half as in the second, but he did some good defending instead. In the second – especially after Bolton taking the lead by three to nothing – he started to show what he’s got going forward.And he showed good judgement passing the ball to Foley before he scored

He was a constant threat for Ricketts going forward during the entire game, though, and I’m very angry at Capello not offering him a place in the final England squad.

I haven’t seen a better English winger this season and it’s much harder to work in a team like Wolves than in for instance the big four. And it’s players from these teams that always seem to get the nod to represent England. Matt Jarvis is of course Paddytheflea’s Star Man!

Ebanks-Blake – 6 – Was better in  the first half than in the second, really. When we finally had two forwards in the team from start we reverted to hoofing the ball up to them most of the time, giving them small chances to get hold of the ball and create something from it (look above). But SEB did not give in because of this. He tried to get through and was a danger and he also passed the ball to players in a better position a couple of times. But his own precision when shooting was sadly missed in this game.

Doyle – 5 – I don’t know if it was because he was inhibited by the injury of his hand or if he is not in form, but I think he looked weak compared to the match against Arsenal. His passes were under par and he missed a several crucial ones that could have resulted in chances on goal by the supposed receivers.

That was in the first half of the game, but in the second he waked up after the Bolton goals, but then it was too little too late.


A reader who has worked his way through all this to the end deserves my opinion on if I believe that this game was only the first step in seven steps to hell. No, I don’t! My informed guess that we will take 12 points from the seven (now 6) games ahead stands firm. So Up The Wolves!

Links to highlights in the right margin and the vodpod player last on this blog.


~ by paddytheflea on November 14, 2010.

15 Responses to “Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Bolton”

  1. We defended poorly in the central defence. With Craddock and Berra (or with one of them) I’m sure we’d won. Stearman and Mouyokolos style of play is the same, pacey defenders, not quite as strong and direct in their play as Craddock and Berra. Mouyokolo has what it take to develop into a top class defender, though. Stearman has showed some weakness in the air, as mentioned above. We scored two goals on a day we could have scored more, which is quite a relief.
    Ebanks rarely miss chances such as those on last saturday. Despite of losing 3 points in an important game, I’m still optimistic – as we’ll get stronger with our two key players back in central defence. Elokobi showed how strong and quick he is when fit and in good form. Earned himself a place in the starting eleven for the next game.

    • I’ve just at the stats about accurtate passes and in fact Stearman and Mouyokolo is the two players who’s got the most correct ones.

      One alarming fact – that supports my analysis of the game above – is that Hahnemann only got 19% of his kick-outs (or throw-outs too, if he did any) to the right address. Eight out of 43! I’ve never seen such bad stats from anyone before. Of course keepers don’t get as good figures as other players, but 19% is lousy anyway. Jaaskalainen in the Bolton goal got 45% correct, to compare with.

      • But as I pointed out above the reponsability of taking the tactical decision to kick out the ball almost all the time rests firmly on the management and not on Hahnemann himself. McCarthy took the wrong decision in this game, I don’t know why.

        Maybe he thought that with two men upfront the team could handle these kick-outs and the long high passes by Elokobi better, but they didn’t and in my opinion that costed us at least a point.

  2. Bolton had better central defenders ,better strikers and much better midfielders than us.Is it any wonder that they won.I have to smile at your comments on the left back position.Lots of people complained that Ward was at fault against Arsenal for letting Song get the cross in.Yet within 60 seconds Elokobi allowed Lee to get a cross in and worst still let Lee win the header which resulted in the own goal.Elokobi was also caught sleeping for the third goal.If this had been Ward no doubt you and many others would have crucified him.I also think you over rate Mouyokolo who looked dodgy to me along with Stearman.I think you are pretty spot on with the rest.

    • Fair enough, chris.
      But I really think you under estimate our players saying that theirs were much better. Despite that we applied the completely wrong tactics and suffered that blow in the first minute we actually were at least their equals or in my opinion better than them if we look on the game as a whole. We had many more crosses in than them. Jarvis alone created eight (8) chances with his crosses and we had many dangerous corners, some by Hunt.

      To say that the first goal was the fault of Elokobi I believe is wrong, and ward uses to let people go past him alot more than Elokobi. But we need to find a better left back than both of them in the January window.

  3. Paddy, My comments on being better,really relates to how good I thought Bolton were.Their two midfielders really impressed me.If only we had a playmaker who can do it all the game like Holden.Cahill looked good and enough said about the Swedish striker.BUT you must be joking not blaming Big George for the first goal.It was bad enough that he let Lee get a cross in,but then he failed to react to the clearance from that cross and let Lee get ahead of him and win a header in the box.It was this header than Stearman could not react to and put it in our net.Sorry I forgot it must have been Ward’s fault all along.

    • Had to get some support from the stats to check your views of Holden. He did really well, but if I compare him with Milijas they have about the same stats. Holden tackles moe and is good at it and he is a little better at passing the ball, but Milijas has five scoring attempts while Holden only has three. On the other hand Holden scores on one of his. But the conclusion must be that Holden was not ‘much better’ than Milijas.

      I have defended Ward many times on this blog, chris. I can see through single mistakes and even single games when a player makes a bad performance. That doesn’t mean that the player is ‘not good enough for PL’ or other forgone conclusions that some fans use to bring down some players they don’t like.

      I try not to do that in this blog. Elokobi did a lot of good things in the match against Bolton. He did some mistakes as well, but I believe his development is promising and that he will get better and that McCarthy did the right thing to play him against Bolton.

      The important conclusion about the game is that McCarthy applied the wrong tactics. If he wanted the players to play high balls to the forwards he should have a tall target-player amongst the strikers. I know he wants to, but he got to realise that for the moment he does not.

    • Paddy, Please don’t get me wrong,I think you run a good site,and provide us with lots of info,often before the E and S and official site.I was trying to bring out the irony over the left back position.Lots of people criticised Ward and then Elokobi comes in and gets caught out in 60 seconds.As for Holden it proves that there are lies and statistics.Holden ran midfield and we struggled to get get two passes together especially in the first half.Cheers and keep up the good work especiially on how the Zele and the youth team are getting on.

      • O-k, chris.
        I can tell you that the Under 18’s won against Crewe Alex, Sunday with 3-2 and that Gorman, Forde and Kempton scored. A match report will probably be written soon. I believe Forde is one of our yungsters that can take the step to the Senior level, aswell as Gorman, of course. See ya. 😆

  4. Very dissapointing for us and felt Bolton just about deserved the points overall. Felt our midfield totally broke down by Henry either being caught in possession of mis-placed passing. One who really annoyed me, especially in first half was Ebanks-Blake. Two passes put through by Milijas and Hunt he couldnt be bothered to chase down. In fact Hunt had to try and reach his own pass as EB just stood and watched it !I thought he has lost weight at the start of the season but looks like hes put it on again. Think he is too slow and we have a realy problem up front for this league

    • I don’t agree at all about SEB. I’ve seen him play better, but he would have had much more opportunities to score and probably had scored if the distribution had been better. I don’t recall these Hunt-incidents, though.

  5. what did i say about the Bolton Game huh

  6. Arsenal fan here. Just want to say that I came on here the other day as I was very confident we would beat you on your own patch. As I said the other day, you guys play decent stuff, but unlike NUFC and WBFC you don’t have enough goals in your side and you defend poorly. Those two things normally conspire to see teams R…

    • Yes, I believe you’re right, Carl. We’re not firing on all cylinders yet, but we begin to get all the pieces together now. So I’m sure we will both get the goals and stop the leaking soon. But we have to pull off a good fight this season, as we did the last, to stay in this league.

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