Analysis & Ratings: Stoke City v Wolves
First of all let me be a sport and congratulate the Stoke fans to a good team effort and three points that will give your city another season of Premiere League football. You have a very good team!
It’s not so pleasant being a Wolves supporter right now, though. I had high hopes in the beginning of the season after beating the Potters at home and we played very well without taking any points in the following games aswell and when we did – against some of the best teams in the footballing world – many thought that we would have an easier journey than last season.
But now it’s a fact that our play has fallen apart. It’s there for everyone to see now. Our trousers are down to the knees. You could say that it’s because of injuries to key players and all that jazz and you’re probably partly right, but it surely must be more than that?!
Tonight we played a completely different game to the one against Fulham at home. We were the team that passed the ball around and had most possession and even the territorial advantage. But what’s the use of that when we just pass the ball along in midfield without finding any ways to get in the areas to score from and typically lose it to the opposition in the end?
Just one lousy shot on goal in 90 minutes and that shot was not dangerous at all. Begovic touched the ball to make half a save for the first time after fifty minutes played and that was about it when it comes to chances for Wolves in the game.
Our play in midfield does not work and we have no creativity at all out there. O’Hara has become Henry Mk II, playing the ball sideways and backwards as a crab and most of the others are doing the same thing instead of finding the forward pass that could open up play or run up with the ball to create spaces for others. Basics, but maybe not taught in the McCarthy school of footballing?!
The last may be a little harsh, but when a team who has played so well earlier on in the season revert to this it must be a managerial issue. All players cannot get out of form at the same time. It is the tactics and the instructions for the play at large that isn’t working, it’s not about ‘individual errors’ as our manager so often choses to put it to the media after losing a game. I’m not buying that. Not this time around.
I said after the Fulham game that we must play much better to take points in the upcoming games and when it came to passes we did. But not when we talk about attacking and use creativity to penetrate the opposition defence and create chances. The last third of the pitch didn’t exist at all.
It looked alright until Stoke got their first, I must admit, but as soon as the Potters noticed that we were no threat going forward they knew that they just had to apply some more pressure and crush us. And they did. They could have done it sooner than the dying minutes of the first half, but Hennessey saved us with a couple of good efforts.
Before that McCarthy had moved Ward to a striker position beside Fletcher – who was totally controlled by the Stoke defence in no-mans-land – and moved Mancienne to a left back position. An understandable change due to the circumstances. Our midfield did not have the creativity to find any space to go forward.
In the beginning of the second half the team tried to push on to get a goal, but it backfired and Stoke could counter-attack and you could say that they were lucky to get that third goal, but on the other hand there were three forwards – Jones, Walters and Pennant – following up against three of our defenders and they helped their luck on the way, so to speak.
After that it was of course game over – about the same development of the game as against Newcastle as a matter of fact. But we had even less chances in this game to score – non at all, really.
Tonight I can’t understand how this team will be able to beat the drop and I feel very empty inside. It’s like a body without organs or a car without an engine and the last thing is perhaps a good explanation of Wolves shortcomings. We have an engine room without a map and without gears. They doesn’t seem to have a clue how to go forward and I’m as lost as they are at the moment.
Sorry ’bout the negativity. To the ratings.
Hennessey – 7 – Maybe the only player not affected by the sickness the rest of the team has. Made four good saves and kept us in the game until the last minute of the first half. Not much to do about the goals, i’m afraid.
No signs of the nervousness of previous games and he clearly had instructions to throw the ball out to the back four, Mancienne or Henry instead of kicking it far away. Wayne Hennessey is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Stearman – 6 – As everybody else in the back four he made a mistake on a goal and a couple of other times aswell, but Stears was one of the better in a team not performing. He tried to go forward in the second half and showed the rest that it was possible – even for a player with limited technical skills – to almost penetrate the Stoke defence. He gets the smiley thingy for that effort.
Craddock – 5 – Had great problems with a Stoke team filled with quality forwards and pace and came second a couple of times and was misplaced.
Berra – 5 – He is a fighter but with a fast moving forward couple and pressure from wingers and central defenders thrown at him he can’t cope. But it’s midfield that should take more responsibility helping out defending.
Ward – 5 – Worked hard at left back, but was – like the rest -partly to blame for at least one of the goals. Tried an impossible shot but did not manage to strengthen the attack when in a forwarded role. Does not possess the necessary skills of a Premier League striker in my opinion.
Mancienne – 6 – Did well in his first start for a long time and makes less mistakes on the ball than the others in midfield. Pretty solid on left back aswell.
Henry – 4 – Lost the ball in possession four times in the first half due to bad passes and Stoke could counter-attack. We had most of the possession on midfield, but he refused to move forward or pass the ball forward despite Kightly and Jarvis being free on the wings on several occasions. There is nothing positive to say about his performance tonight.
O’Hara – 5 – Had the most possession of all on the field, but did nothing with it. Like Henry he lost the ball in possession three times in the first half and three in the second. It looks like he has copied the style of Henry for some reason I don’t know why, but it doesn’t score any points with me for sure. He was a creative force when he came from London. What has happened?
Kightly – 6 – His first match from start in ages and he was one of our better players, but that does not say much in a game like this. had a couple of good runs and a couple of good crosses aswell, but Fletcher didn’t reach them. I was not sure that McCarthy made the right choice by picking him before Guédioura and Hammill, but I may stand corrected. Kights gets the little star!
Jarvis – 6 – Looked good from start but after a while he seemed to lose the touch. But as usual they doubled up against him and Stoke has a very good defence. But he was better tonight than against Fulham and maybe he is gaining in form.
Fletcher – 5 – Maybe a little harsh, but he didn’t get through at all tonight. I believe that our midfield was too far away from him, playing one-two with one another through the mid-circle not bothering to try to find him. And Huth and other defenders were guarding him well not giving him any chance to shine. Made a big mistake when on left midfield losing the ball so that Stoke countered and were close to score. I’ve taken a point from him for that.
Stay Up The Wolves!!!