Analysis & Ratings: West Brom v Wolves
Still feeling sick after the game. What is there to say? A game of two halves. Two teams that – according to play today – deserves to be struggling to stay up. Only glimpses of quality in some players, nothing else. Darkness.
Wolves were the better team in the first half. The first half hour or so we owned the midfield and with a more effective attack and more players in the area going forward we should have been two up at least after half an hour.
But we had no-one to take care of the end product in this game. with Doyle apparently out of form and many times not in the box when needed, set pieces are the only opportunities to score and that was also what happened, thanks to a well taken one by Nenad Milijas and a perfectly executed shot launched by Jamie O’Hara from the edge of the box.
We deserved that lead after a well-played first half against a very weak West Brom side. We kept the ball in the team very well and stopped most of the homesides attacks early on. It looked fairly stable – despite Baggies having some corners and chances – even a hint about more to come from the black and old gold in the second half, but that was not to be.
Sort of as a signal to the decline of Wolves footballing efforts of the day came when Jarvis missed his second sitter chance for the last three games to score after five minutes played of the second half.
It was like the air went out of the Wolves play and nobody seemed to want to hold the ball or to take it forward. The team tried to hold the ball between them down low on the field – probably ordered so by McCarthy – to lure up the West Brom players so that we could lose some markings when going forward.
But the problem was that we never did go forward. Lousy passing of the ball in the middle of the field time after another made us lose the midfield – our stronghold for most of the first half and the reason for us dominating – to the Baggies.
I believe that Mick McCarthy had the best intentions and maybe he even was right about the tactics for the second half of the game, but the players did not manage to carry it out. And whose fault is it then? The manager for giving orders that the players didn’t have skills enough to carry out or the players for not being able to pass the ball around among themselves in their own half without giving it away?
We didn’t lose – or draw, but it certainly feel like we lost – because of that goal by Vela in the 92nd minute. We lost because we let West Brom take over the initiative in the game and stopped playing. We were the team that bossed the game in the first half and we should have continued doing so.
I don’t know what Mick said to the players at tea, but I do know that it didn’t work. And that’s very sad. Things worked fine in the first half and the positives to take with us is that O’Hara played very well in the number ten role. And that Foley worked very well together with Zubar – who apparently became better in his ankle very fast – on the right side, both stopping Thomas and others from going forward at that wing and attacking themselves.
The back four and Hens had their flaws, but worked pretty well against the weak West Brom attacking play. In the first half the midfield worked well and dominated, but they didn’t go forward fast enough to pose any real threat in open play. The Sandwell team were there for the taking, but it was like we didn’t notice. You don’t score any goals from passing the ball around on midfield and captain Henry is in my opinion the first to blame for this impotent play.
And it only got worse. In the second half we dropped down and played the same way in our own half and gave the ball away more frequently to our opponents. Luckily they are not the best team in the world so they couldn’t make anything of it, but a home goal was in the air for a long time before they finally got it. It’s not possible to drop down so low for such a long time, inviting your opponents to score and not letting anything in. Sooner or later a goal drops in. The individual error arrives and hope is out.
So. One point when we could – and in my opinion should – have taken three. A disappointing evening and some idiots in the stands made it worse by behaving badly at the end of the game. I hope they will catch these idiots – from both sides. To the ratings then.
Hennessey – 6 – Some say he made one of his best performances, but I can’t say I agree. He should have done better on the goal and showed some inconsistency early on in the game in the air aswell. But he is certainly not to blame for us losing two points.
Zubar – 7 – One of the better in the first half and he worked very well with Foley who I could see instructing him how to run during the game. Seem as he needs that, which is a little bit unsettling. He became a little too much ball watching at times at defending, but luckily the bad West Brom attack couldn’t use it to their advantage. The upper hand in five tackles out of five in the stats shows his strength. Worked well going forward aswell.
Stearman – 7 – One of a very few who was very good in both halves of the game. He has grown very much this season and he is right to set his sights on at one day playing for his country.
Berra – 6 – Already play for his country and stopped most of the attacks on his side. But he had a little less to do today, so he gets a point less than Stears.
Elokobi – 6 – Makes a couple of potentially dangerous defensive errors in each game, but luckily our opponents today didn’t have the skills to take advantage of them. But he was good going forward but has to work on his passes and seem to get nervous when pressured. He looks better when he works like a central defender in the middle than when he is in his usual position on the left side of the pitch. Maybe he is a central defender after all?
Henry – 5 – Reverts back to his crab-play and his passing was awful in this game. Especially in the second half. Has not been himself after his injury and sending off and seem to get nervous when opponents comes in his face. Lost the ball on several occasions to opponents. He does not bring anything to the team playing-wise today. But yet he was allowed to stay on the pitch when Ebanks-Blake came on. Only 64% correct passes says the stats (Milijas 87% and O’Hara 81%). That says it all, really.
Milijas – 8 – Very good passer today and got an assist from his free-kick. One of the reasons for Wolves dominance on the midfield in the first half (the other one is O’Hara). Many people could not understand why he was the one that Mick took off for Ebanks-Blake. Both Doyle and Henry had a bad game and would have been better choices in my opinion.
Foley – 7 – Strengthened a part of our side that needed it. When playing higher up the pitch and not as an inner midfielder or right back the team can not use his good skills with the ball full-out in my opinion. But he did his job and worked well with Zubar. 89% correct passes is fantastic in his winger role!
O’Hara – 8 – I’ll spill it out to you right away. Jamie O’Hara is Paddytheflea’s Star Man! In the first half he both took the ball up and held it up. The cooperation with Doyler was not so good, but I don’t believe it was he who was at fault for that.
He took the goal formidably and when reverting to a more holding position beside Henry in a 4-4-2 he did that very well aswell. With Henry playing so badly he was the only one who gave us some hope in the later parts of the second half. Looks better and better with the ball but I believe he is not fully to his old strength yet. There’s more to come from this guy!
Jarvis – 7 – Very good in the first half, but tired some after he missed the goal in the second. If only! He had the time and the opportunity but he still lacks some of the skills to be a frequent goalscorer. Unfortunately many players in Wolves does.
Doyle – 5 – Made nobody happy today. Was not as we are used to see him against Arsenal and not today either. Made some bad decisions in one of a very few attacks at the West Brom goal. Had two others to play in decent positions but continued by himself and lost the ball. Does not possess a good shot and does not look like scoring, I’m afraid. Couldn’t even hold up the ball today. I would rest him for Ebanks-Blake if I were McCarthy, but thankfully I’m not.
A link to highlights in the right margin and in my vodpod account as usual