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:
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.