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.


~ by paddytheflea on February 3, 2011.

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

  1. Yours rating are usually the only ones I read, as I feel your opinion are always well balanced, and thought through.
    I seriously hope, you’ll keep it coming, as and I am sure others enjoy reading it.
    Having said that, it makes your very valid points about the current state of affiar even more worrying, as its coming from a guy with a balanced view of things, not a person caught up in a doom and gloom tainted view.

    • I’m not sure that anyone can stay balanced after last night, Carsten. Even if I waited hours before I begun my analysis and watched the game once more, trying to act rational. Thank you for the praise, though.

  2. c mon son .. this aint like you so chin up . We all feel it .

  3. To me it sounds that the loss of points colours your blog on this one, paddy. Zubar hasn’t been himself lately, and when he doesn’t deliver the goods, he should be replaced as Milijas was before this game.

    We could have won the game. We don’t score on the few chances we have. I agree with you also on Henry. Foley did good in this position and should replace in the next game. Moyokolo or Stearman could replace Zubar. A trio in the middle composed of Milijas, O’Hara, Foley seems reasonable and balanced to me. Now we have two classy wings. Will we continue to play 4-5-1 or do we play a 4-4-2? Would Milijas and O’Hara be strong enough defensively if the pair up in the centre of the park? And will Griffiths get his chance together with Doyle in a 4-4-2, and how would that work out?

    Questions, questions! We can make it, we got good enough players. But we have to find the right “code”, mix of players. West Ham won’t get relegated now, I’m convinced of that. They’ve got some damn good strikers in Keane, Cole, and this Obinna continues to impress. It seems like Grant finally has enough quality to carry out his attacking philosophy.

  4. Last night I was gutted. West Ham (Villa, Blues, Fulham, Blackpool) have put their financial future on the line to stay in the Premiership and as a result the team have responded and the fans must be feeling much happier this morning. Wolves have made it clear that financial stability comes first and if that means Championship football, then so be it. I don’t have a season ticket (the South Bank was sold out) and as I’m not working right now, I risk my financial security every home game by buying 2 tickets @ £78 a pop. Maybe I should save my money too and wait for cheaper ticket prices in the Championship next season?

    That’s how I felt last night anyway, this morning I love my club again and HOPE that team spirit, guts and hard work are enough to keep us up, without the addition of expensive, Premiership players.

    Up the Wolves!

    P.S. I like Zubar!
    Stearman, Ward, Berra, Georgie, Jarvo – they all seem to be taking it in turns to throw games. I don’t think Zubes deserved special criticism for last night

    • Well, if you have followed my blog you know that it’s very seldom I criticise individual players – or indeed the manager – as hard as I’ve done today. I still believe it was in place. It was not a one time error by Zubar, it was a systematic wrong made several times. And our manager didn’t right the wrong and act upon it when he had the chance to substitute the under par players.

      Of course I still have hopes somewhere, but it’s beginning to be a commodity hard to come by these days. I still believe it’s possible to play a team from the players we have that will pull through and stay up this season. But I begin to question if Mick McCarthy has what it takes to do it. He did not show that at all yesterday.

  5. … and don’t stop blogging. Your blog has become a dear addition to my routines regarding the Wolves. Keep up the good work!

  6. oh, and can i also ask you not to make any rash decisions . we love your work . the stats , the links and the heart felt content of the issues you cover make your site the best one that i know to .please keep up the good work .

    • Thank you, London Wolf Loyal. I’m sure I will pull through. Time heals and all that. But the disappointment is still hard to overcome. I feel betrayed by first of all McCarthy for not doing his job.

  7. Hey Paddy we seldom agree but yours is one of the blogs I enjoy the most, and my morning coffee wouldnt be the same without a rant or two on here…

    Interestingly – though unsurprisingly – I totally agree with you on the team’s performance.

    Usually a Henry fan, ive now gone off him, and he MUST be replaced by OHara from the start. I doubt I could even go into what I think of zubar without swearing so all i’ll say is, if never see him in gold again… it will be too soon.

    Then there was Ward on for Jarvis ?? WTF ??? and Zubar stays on ??? AM I ON DRUGS ???

    Mick sounded a defeated and deflated old fart in his post match interview, and I reckon this is also a good description of his tactics. I believe it is purely down to the talents of a few select players that we stayed up last seasson and have even been in the chase this, and I really cant see Doyle, Jarvis and Wayne hanging around for the championship.

    Foley returning should see us rid of either zubar or ward, and a promising debut for Hammil are the only things keeping me going at the minute…

    As they say Paddy, misery loves company, so with thousands of Wolves fans online, you’re not gonna be short of that !!!

    • In the post match interview Mick also said: -“We’d actually played well with a really solid performance away from home against a good team.”

      The problem is that he does not seem to share any blame himself when he talks about individual errors and things like that all the time, instead of questioning and blaming his own choice of players and that he didn’t substitute them when he saw what happened. Or didn’t he? I’m not sure what’s worse. Bu hopefully I’ll be o.k. again in a day or two. The show must go on.

  8. I enjoy your player ratings too, I don’t look at the detailed stats like passing success myself, so its nice to get a summary from you. Don’t get disheartened, think about the spirit of a team grinding it out for 90mins, not with a blundering mistake.

    I only followed the text commentary and the motd highlights but some of your ascriptions of blame are correct.

    I am at times left puzzled by McCarthy in team choice and substitutions, for example why bring Ebanks-Blake on at the death (unless it was for an injury)?

    Zubar’s pass back was horrific, and I’m not very fond of the mentality that pass backs, in my opinion, give a team. It’s far too over used. Henry, I really never have rated, and I don’t think he’s the best choice in the midfield. I’d prefer to see Milijas getting more time, despite his penalty miss.

    It’s hard to come down too hard on Zubar, but these kind of mistakes are just not acceptable. He’s not the only player to have made shockers, like own goals, but where does it end? How late do we want to leave the fightback? It’s not all about _our_ results either, we’re going to quickly find the ability to stay in the Premier League is taken out of our hands by other teams succeeding beyond us.

  9. Zubar is a very good football player, when he’s in form. Now he’s not. Some time ago he scored some goals and he was everybodys hero, now after one big mistake he’s a scapegoat and people wants to get rid of him. I do not agree with those who claims he doesn’t have a future in gold and black, in form he’s one of our best players. The criticism of Elokobi is way too harsh too. Ok! his passes wasn’t good, but he has defended well. The same goes for Ward. Everyone turn against a player, and suddenly they get criticised and blamed for Wolves not winning games, when in truth it’s the team’s effort and the inability to score goals.

  10. ZUBAR ONE BAD PERFORMANCE ??? K-J-K are you insane… he was absolutely useless against Liverpool, and it wasnt one mistake, he’d cocked up penty during the match, even doing a dry run of his last minute nistake on5 minutes with another suicidal back pass that I think Hammil had to run back and clear… He is a liability and needs a good few games in the reserves at best…. I’d rather be shot of him.

  11. Zubar has had 2-3 bad games, but is a good player. Give him a chance in the middle, maybe in Henry`s place. He is fast, good in the air and can go forward with a very nice shootingcapas. Much better than KF. KF is a fullback. Period.
    We only lost 1 point yesterday because we are not able to score.

  12. I’m surprised moyokolo chap hasn’t been given a run at left back as he impacted well when he did and offered some forward threat!

    I’m somewhat concerned that MM has forgotten that we need to win matches as opposed to just not losing.

    Also when we played with better footballers in Midfield we actually threatened the opposition by turning play quickly which is what henry stops entirely…

  13. Paddy, Supporting Wolves can give you some of the most depressed feelings and anger you can imagine but stick with it as it makes the good times even better. I’d hate to be a Man City supporter just buying our way to the top. You do a fantastic site.

  14. spot on with your report paddy…like you I was so angry and lost the will to want to watch another game… if we go down I can’t see me renewing my season ticket or away season ticket…I couldn’t stand another season watching championship football

    • Thank you.
      I can understand that you are saying that now, Pete, but there’s still some hope that it will not come to that. On the other hand the tickets will be cheaper and we will win more games. 😆

  15. We now have to win about 50% of the remaining games to survive (6-7 games from the remaining 14).
    So far our record is 25% (6 wins from 24 games).
    Not meaning to be negative, but trying to put some perspective on the task at hand: does anyone REALLY still think we have a chance?

    Here is the sad thing about our predicament.
    From the bottom 6 teams, only the baggies have won more games than us. Everton in 15th place have won just 5 games and Fulham in 12th have won just as many as us, 6. Yet we find ourselves last! Just a few draws that we threw away in the last minutes, like yesterday’s, could have had us sitting in safety with a chance. Instead we are bottom.

    We are actually on the same number of points right now as this time last year, i.e. 21, and with a slightly better goal difference (-19 instead of -22). But this year there are some big differences from last year, namely there is no “Portsmouth” booking one of the relegation spots, and we have been unable to beat most of the teams around us (unlike last year) such as Wigan, West Ham, Blackpool, …

    So even though points wise we are similar to last year, the challenge this year is greater.

    Sorry guys, I know I should keep the faith but it’s looking tough from where I’m sitting. Of course now we’ll go beat Man U on Saturday and I’ll be saying what a chance we still have 🙂

    • We should be glad that Pompey play in the CC this season, GoWolves. We lost all 6 points against them last. 😆

      It’s of course impossible to do these ‘tables-exercises’ with any accuracy. There are simply too many variables to control. But we must take at least as many points as we did last season.

      I just looked at the ManU stats and they have drawn 4 out of 6 of their last away games, so it looks possible to take a point on Saturday. 😆

      • Paddy, that’s why I like you … you always bring me hope 🙂

        Won’t argue with you … just remember, they need to win every other game 🙂

  16. Let’s just face facts here for a second. The team is not good enough and also the manager is also not premier league quality. I’m really sorry to have to say it but that is the truth, just look at the league table and it does not lie. Our whole back four including the reserves are championship level at best. Jones,Henry,Hunt,Edwards also championship. Every striker we have on the books are not good enough non have reached double figures in the prem and non look close. I will support them to the bitter end and remain hopefull but im affraid it’s back to the drawing board.

    • I don’t agree at all on that. This team has shown that they can beat the best teams in the Premiership with the right tactics and spirit. Most of them are PL quality, even if we have a couple of ‘weak spots’. I believe that with the right managing we could have reached a middle position already this season, but now we have to fight it out to stay in the league.

      • Paddy, I fall somewhere in between you and WolvesSinse79 here. I think certain members of our championship squad have made the step up to premiership level, Jarvis, Jones, Craddock even the much maligned Henry… but mick mccarthy failed to address the glaring “weak spots” of which you speak.

        I dont think we will stay up – already partially preparing mentally for relegation – but lets just say we do… what then?

        Do you, or anyone else truly believe that next season wouldnt be EXACTLY the same with “stubborn as a mule mccarthy” and “tight as a nuns cünt jez” at the helm ??

      • I believe that Mick McCarthy can evolve and change his minds about things aswell as the players, Ad Mant. He will learn from mistakes like the rest of us, despite his stubborness. The question is; will he learn quick enough?

  17. as an aside, was fwd the following article on television rights, which a lot of us here in the UK (who dont live near Wolverhampton) would find quite interesting… its about a club filing for the right to air streamed feeds:

    I will definitely keep an eye on it – cos I refuse to pay £500/year to watch 2, possibly 3 Wolves games.

    • err, by club i meant pub… doh.

    • Yes, I read that myself. Interesting. And with a ruling for the foreign boxes the PL will get only half of what they get today in TV money, which I believe will be a good thing as the difference between the richest clubs and the rest will be smaller.

  18. Another great write up Paddy, we all feel the pain, completely agree about the profligacy of our catapult tactic we’ve certainly given it a good try this season, hope we manage some more forward movent as a team. Great to see Hammill and o’hara laying out some intelligent passes too . I hope you keep this blog going, it’s my favourite source of wolvish opinion.

  19. Keep the faith, Paddy. If nothing else this team has spirit (think you’re being a bit hard on the skipper though)

  20. Opinion is split regaring Mick and his tactical aware’ness, This team in different hand’s could finish mid table quite comfortably. Do Stoke,Blackburn,bolton,Fulham etc,etc have much better squads NO, Do they have managers who are tacticaly aware YES. Wolves 6 Manchester Utd 0

  21. Don’t quit paddy we all love your blog! Keep it up, this is the only blog I read. You always tell it as it is and I always tend to agree!

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