Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Blackburn Rovers

I know. I’m late again. But there were reasons to celebrate yesterday, to say the least.

But the reason was not how Wolves played the game, it was of course the fact that we stayed in Premier League. Did you notice chairman Morgans facial expression towards the end of the game in the broadcast yesterday? It looked like he was close to heart failure and no wonder.

Experts say that staying up was worth about £100M for at team yesterday. The lucrative TV-money gives the clubs so big funds that avoiding the drop is unbelievable profitable.

But the big heart of Morgan was alright at the end of it, perhaps partly because he is a fit man who has run the London Marathon this year, or was it because Wolves finally got that last goal that kept us in the division?

Anyway. This team has a fantastic ability of turning the lights off and on. The motto ‘Out Of Darkness Cometh Light’ is very appropriate indeed. As against Sunderland week ago Wolves had a lousy first half, inviting Blackburn in to play their best football of the season, according to their manager. The difference to last weeks game was only that Blackburn actually had strikers fit playing and scoring for them.

And as our midfield was outplayed by theirs defensively they had an easy road to our area and well there they could go about their business – typically being two against two or three against three – leaving a great advantage to overcome our defending four and score.

Our inner midfield didn’t work last season and it hasn’t this one. You probably know my cure to the problem by know. We need a player in the engine-room with skills far better than those of Karl Henry. Only occasionally he measures up to the standards one can expect of a key man in the middle and in my opinion a better player in that position is the difference between Wolves ending up fighting for survival to being comfortably placed in the middle of the Premier League or even higher at end of season.

Already early in the game it stood clear that we were in trouble. They had much of the ball and played it well between themselves while we struggled to get two passes in a row. Their tactics were to play the ball fast forward whilst we got caught tossing it around on midfield seemingly without purpose or direction. Despite them playing with two strikers upfront like ourselves, they seemed to have one man more at midfield with N’Zonzi and Jones clearly outshining O’Hara and Henry.

It was an individual mistake by Mancienne that carpeted the way for Blackburn and Roberts to score their first. He lost possession and they could launch a fast counter that left our defence unable to cope with the threat. It was a deflection on Roberts from a low drive by Selgado that sealed the fate of Hennessey, but it looked as made by purpose of their striker.

A quarter of an hour later Wolves succumbed to the Blackburn pressure once again. Unable to clear a ball in the area despite having lots of players defending, Emerton took advantage of the Wolves chicken shack and could score from 18 yards out. A little lucky, perhaps, but the opportunity was given to him and he took it.

Wolves didn’t have many chances in that first half and when it drew to a close the potent striker Huillett shocked the home crowd once more by scoring a third, making Craddock and Elokobi look like schoolboys turning them in and out. They even had calls for a fourth, but Hennessey was playing well and Roberts showed why he is not a top scorer in the Premier League.

Despair among the home-fans at half time of course. And anger. There were not many among us that thought we were going to make this and a look at the results among the other relegation candidates gave us non comfort.

I tried to comfort my buddies by pointing out the difference between the first and the second half at Sunderland and that there were some hope, but my words echoed hollow and empty and I actually was clutching at straws and didn’t believe them myself.

But we seem to forget that motto when it’s most needed. The second half saw Mancienne taken off and Elokobi taking his place as a central defender while Ward in turn took his place on left back bringing on Ebanks-Blake beside Fletcher in attack.

It stabled our back four and allowed our midfield to move forward with more confidence and less fear. We started chasing immediately with Sylvan giving the energetic Hunty a chance at goal and taking one himself.

But Blackburn was not harmless and Foley – the only Wolves player that had looked like a Premier League defender in the first half – made a mistake and let Houilett free to score, but Hennessey made a fantastic save one-on one.

That was a deciding moment in the game. With four down our life in the first division would have been over. Instead we were gradually eating ourselves into the game – perhaps because Blackburn sat comfortably with a 3-0 lead – but we had more and more possession and we went forward with much more tenacity than in the first half.

Finally that paid off when Hunty – who else – took a free-kick to the left outside their area and neatly and surprisingly placed the ball to O’Hara on his right instead of into the box or on goal. Jamie made no mistake and found a path for the ball with the end station passing Robinson and going straight into the net.

That goal meant that Wolves took a jump over the relegation line and we were back in contention – but just for a few minutes. Birmingham – who were one goal down on Tottenham – equalised and we were once again down. We needed one more goal to pass them on more goals scored in season, that’s how incredibly tough the fight for survival was.

Fletcher almost sorted that out immediately after the first when Foley crossed a perfect ball to him and he headed it like in previous game, but Robinson made a fabulous save.

The players out on the pitch knew that it only took one goal now and pushed hard for that. For the first time in the game we pressured Blackburn back and got chance on chance to score and Ward went close, but his shot was saved by Jones on the goal line.

Our second goal came sort of on what looked like only a half chance in the area and once again it had the trademark of Hunt all over it. He took advantage of a ball coming his way and made more than could be expected of it. Much more!

He managed to stay cool and curled the ball beautifully past the defenders and Robinson and into the net. If not the Goal Of The Season already had been handed out this would have been it. And at the moment it was the goal that kept us in the league.

A couple of minutes later Spurs took the lead at White Heart Lane again and the white-faced Morgan – gasping for air – looked like gaining back his ordinary pink again. What a thriller!

As both teams now knew that they had the result to stay in the league the last couple of minutes of the game went by as a light practice of passing the ball around while the supporters of both teams could relax and discuss on which pub to celebrate.

Like I guessed already in my pre-match thoughts Birmingham and Blackburn are playing in the Championships next year. It could be looked upon as fair as they have been the teams who have been weakest of the relegation threatened after New Years.

But I’m not bothered. Wolves are in the Premier League for the third season in a row. We are there to stay if we play our cards right and I do believe that Mick McCarthy is better at poker than most of us gives him credit for. Congrats to all!

Hennessey – 8 – He saved us at least twice in this game with his skills. That earns him two points above average. This season he has become our unchallenged number one keeper. The next he will grow to be one of the best in the Premier League. A smiley for him!

Foley – 8 – Is that too high for a player who nearly costed us a fourth goal in the back? Maybe, but it didn’t happen and almost everything else he did had a professional touch that was hard to find anywhere else in the team tonight. He will get my little star!

Craddock – 5 – He was far too easy to get passed tonight and it now stands clear to me that we can not depend on his skills for another season. Good to have for cover, yes, but 3M has to bring in an experienced central defender – or two – to the team. They have the dole and I’ve heard that there are one or two with Prem experience now available in the Birmingham area.

Mancienne – 4 – Individual mistakes and nervousness haunted him in this game and was responsible for two of the goals in the back. He looks too soft to play in central defence, despite having good footballing skills. I think we should let the new manager of Chelsea decide what to do with him. There are better defenders out there and probably cheaper too.

Elokobi – 6 – Behaved very well as a central defender in the second half, despite being turned by Houlliet once. Still much to prone to make individual mistakes and he could both make and break a team. Can he develop stability? Only future can tell, but at his best he is an asset and I haven’t given up on him yet.

Henry – 4 – In far to many games he is the weakest link and that was the truth this evening aswell. Pulis didn’t think he was up to it in the Premier League so McCarthy got him cheap and made him the spider in the web at Wolves. But he is absent to often and the web blows apart.

As I said above we are in great need of a better man in this position. We need an inner midfielder who – together with O’Hara – knows how to go about both defending and attacking and changing the game to our advantage fast, taking the opposition by surprise going forward. In fact we had a man on the bench that answers to those criteria better than Karl Henry. He himself will never be that man. If he was 23 or even 24 he maybe could develop to be, but he is in his prime as a footballer today and simply not good enough.

O’Hara – 7 – It’s hard to say if our downfall in the first half was due to the play of Henry only in the middle or if Jamie played under par aswell. He was, though, instrumental for us going forward in the second half and he scored the very well taken goal that gave us hope.

Together with Foley and Hunty he was the engine in this game, but with Henry not doing his job behind or beside him he has to shovel coal and that should not be part of his job description – or at least not the main part of it. I hand him a smiley aswell.

Jarvis – 6 – Came on from start in this game, but made little impact. His loss of form in the last games of the season has been a worry, but other players have stepped up and we have found – at least partly – other ways of bringing the ball up to the forwards. If McCarthy had let him have a rest now and then instead of playing him in each and every game he might have contained his form all season. Something to learn from for our next season in the Premier League (how lovely to be able to say that! :lol:)

Hunt – 8 – As I said before and after the West Brom derby he is the man to have on in these kind of games. fighting hard all over the pitch and in everybody’s faces. With his involvement in both goals he was our most important player in this game without a doubt.

And what a curl that was! Now I fully understand why the Hull supporters said they would have prevailed if not Hunty had been injured last season. Poor Hull and lucky Wolves! Stephen Hunt is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!

Ward – 7 – Went close to goal on a couple of occasions. Our most valuable utility player without a doubt and I hope the negativity supporters will stop dissing him now (but they will not. They don’t have the intelligence too). One of our best players both as a forward and as a back today. Almost an eight.

Fletcher – 7 – As Ward he came close. But with a terrific Samba in their defence our strikers didn’t find much room to work their magic. He played a part defending aswell and has saved our season in the latest games with Doyler absent with injury. We have a very good striking department with Doyle and Fletch as our first choice and Sylvan and Vokes awaited to break through. It’s the inner midfield and back line that need strengthening, not this part of the squad.

Ebanks-Blake – 6 – Came on for Mancienne in the second half and tried to make his mark immediately, but had no luck. He has the right moves for a great striker and I had hopes that he would make it for this season, but he didn’t. Maybe because he didn’t get regular playing time because Doyle and Fletch played so well but I still have high hopes for Sylvan at Wolves. He is still young and develops constantly. Last chance next season?!

Maybe you think this analysis and these ratings are a bit negative, but the fact remains that we didn’t play well as a team yesterday, despite us staying in the first tier.

But as a team when looking at the season as a whole we have developed further since last season, despite us ending up only as 17th team in the Premier League. We have deservedly earned us a place for the next season in the best footballing league in the world – for the third time in a row. Rejoice fellow Wolves supporters. Rejoice!



~ by paddytheflea on May 23, 2011.

15 Responses to “Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Blackburn Rovers”

  1. 8’s and 7’s oh dear Paddy, that shows no objectivity. We were useless first half, and cos Balckburn sat back second half we got in the game. I will shout this on every forum that will ave me.. MORGAN IS BACKING A DONKEY WITH MCARTHY – TIME FOR A NEW MANAGER – IF WBA CAN GET A QUALITY MANAGER LIKE ROY WHY CANT WE.


    • No, but we may very well be relegated with Henry in the middle. Hunt, O’Hara, Hens and Foley were instrumental to keep us up with their excellent efforts – particulary in the second half. Blackburn locked the door up, yes, but they opened it up.

    • No, but we may very well be relegated with Henry in the middle. Hunt, O’Hara, Hens and Foley were instrumental to keep us up with their excellent efforts – particulary in the second half. Blackburn locked the door up, yes, but they opened it up.

  2. Well, perhaps now MM will address the squad’s defensive frailties, obvious for all to see the past few months. It is worrying, therefore, that the only name so far linked with the club is of yet another striker, i.e. Billy Sharp. I assume, also, that Jones and Milijas are on their way which means central midfield reinforcements, both defensively and creatively, will be required. Hopefully O’Hara stays and with Hunt, Hammill, Kightly and, perhaps, Mouyokolo getting a decent pre-season this will boost us in various departments but the fourth worst defence in the division should tell MM all he needs to know about which part of the team needs urgent reinforcements.

    • I totally agree on that, Bill. But as usual we will here a lot of rumours and not half of them are true. Billy Sharp? I don’t think so. Maybe Keogh going the other way instead. There are some interesting defenders in relegated Birmingham to make a bid on.

  3. Success trickles from the top down Paddy, Mick is out of his depth at this level. WE WILL GET RELEGATED NEXT SEASON WITH HIM IN CHARGE

    No matter how good Hunt, Doyle Jarvis et al are

    Im no expert, but the reason we’ve had to play 451 all season is tha that the “4” are useless so we need the “5” in front as a buffer leaving poor old Doyle to be supplier and scorer…

    PS – whats happenned to Hammil – has Mick fallen out with him, we all know what happens when that happens

    Morgan has already said there will be no spending this summer… more basement bargains at the back it is then…

    • I’ve seen nothing about Morgan saying that there will be no spending, dear deluded. Can you provide me with a link to that statement? Otherwise I will be forced to say that you are indeed deluded. 😆

  4. They obviously read this site:

    “Wolves have wasted no time after clinching survival in plotting next season’s Premier League assault and manager Mick McCarthy has been told he can bring in two centre-halves, a left-back and a central midfielder, which could see captain Karl Henry join promoted QPR.”

    • I soo wish that the information from the E&S (for once) is true, Bill! That would very much equal my best wishes for next season. 😆

  5. Morgan has given permission for McCarthy to bring in 4 new players.
    The same source claims Roger Johnson is one of the targets. McCarthy acted early on last season when he went for Fletcher.

    Who’s the player of the season?
    For me it’s two players that stand out from the rest of the Wolves pack: Fletcher and Jarvis.

  6. Phew what an exahausting season well done Wolves the team are still in the prem on merit not just down to one game as the media makes out. Gotta say that first half performance was a shocker, Which leads me to believe that Mick is not the right man. A progression of 2 points is surely not good enough. Stoke have spent much the same as Wolves and never looked in trouble. Why because there players are better quality NO infact a lot of our squad could walk into that team, it’s the manager he is out of his depth Big Sam black country born and bread should be given the job. He is not every one’s cup of tea but he has the quality to make Wolves an established prem team. Give it Mick till xmas if the same it’s time for change. Clear out needed defence needs major reinforcements if some one comes in for Henry bite his bloody hand off.

    • Wins against the three best teams in the league and an away win at Anfield. Two more three-pointers than last year and this in a season with many key players out injured for a long time. I’m sorry, ‘Wolves since 79’, but I can’t agree that we haven’t progressed sine last season. I also believe that it’s visable for the naked eye in many a game this season.

      The new owner has understood the benefits of keeping the same managing team for many years to build up a good team – like Arsenal, United, Stoke and Everton – and in my opinion they are on their way to succeeding in that task and making Wolves the stable Premier league team you are looking for. The young and hungry are getting experienced PL-players now and most of them are developing every season.

      With an additional £40M from TV-rights we can now add some more qualtity to our ranks and develop further next season. I maintain to think that Wolves play the best football for 30 years and I’ve been a supporter even longer than you have, ‘Wolves since 79’. My advice to you is to enjoy the positivies instead of wishing for changes that want come and aren’t needed!

  7. Looks like Joey Barton may be available – bad news is his agent is Willie McKay 😦

    • The Beeb says that he will wait out his contract with a year left at the Magpies, Chris R. I don’t believe he will fit in socially at Wolves anyway, but he is a good footballer.
      I would rather want Jose Enrique, one of the best left backs in the league. But there are rumours that he will go to Liverpool, so we will probably not stand a chance to sign him.

  8. Thank’s for responding to my post Paddy and sorry about the delay in my response. Not sure as to what relevance the length of time I have supported our club for has anything to do with the comments I posted. But hey you know best !!!

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