Analysis & Ratings: West Bromwich Albions v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Depressed? You bet! And I’ve got a lingering flea-flu aswell. As usual the game of the weekend didn’t fold out as hoped and now we are in deep trouble. Still avoiding to pick up points, now for the fifth consecutive match, I begin to feel doubts that we’ll stay up this season.

Maybe it’s the flue, but I still think we didn’t play that bad. In fact, when looking at play, we were the better team in the first half of the game and our efforts deserved at least a point looking at play through out the game. But that’s the way it has been in nearly all of the games this season and it can’t be a coincidence that we’re not scoring and winning the games, but letting balls in and lose.

So what’s wrong? First of all I want to point out that McCarthy got the starting eleven totally right. Milijas was surprisingly out of the ice-box, apparently the manager had no other choice because of a late injury on Edwards, but anyway. I also think that they kept their positions well, nothing to complain about there.

When looking at the Sky stats from the match we had an edge on almost every statistics. Possession, tackles and passing success and territorial advantage all went in our favour.

When it comes to play in the last third, though, it tends to get too predictable. Very seldom we manage to attack by surprise or do the odd thing inside the area or around it. The typical pattern when going forward is a high cross from one of the wings that almost always ends up in the well defended middle of the penalty area.We had 43 (!) crosses against 5!

It’s about the same with the corners. Eleven of them and everyone looked about the same to me. What happened with the experimenting kind to O’Hara or someone else just outside the area? We have to be more flexible and have more fantasy in both set pieces and fluent play Look at the back-footing by Scharner before their second. Inventiveness.

The other pattern when Wolves are going forward is to play the ball sideways between each other for a long, long time, maybe in order to secure that the opposition defence is well in place to block the final shot or snatch the ball when a Wolves player lose concentration. The tactics of holding on to the ball at any price has gone too far, Mr McCarthy. Sort it out!

When looking at our forwards, counting in Milijas who played in the forward midfield role, compared with our opponents forwards I would say that Odemwingie, Long and Tchoi outshone Doyle, Ebanks Blake and Milijas. They had an easier task, of course, after their first goal they could concentrate on counter attacking with less defenders on the right side of the ball in our team. Even individually they showed more skills and inventiveness, though. With Fletcher injured and SEB just back from injury, and Milijas from the ice-box, they have some excuse, but Doyler has none.

We managed to control the middle of the pitch against West Brom, being five against four. Henry had a fairly good game and so did O’Hara and Milijas, considering the latter showed some lack of match fitness, haven’t played in the Premiership in this season so far. Their play made the team go forward and our wing-men looked good going forward aswell, Hammill in his first Premier game from start. The lack of speed and inventiveness, though, made it easy for our opponents to form their defensive forces.

Almost all of what I have written above as a critique actually goes for almost all of the games this season and many games in the two seasons before that in the Premier League. This is not something new to the fans and it shouldn’t be to McCarthy or the players. So is it the tactics of our manager or the lack of skills and determination of the players that continuously makes them hit the wall instead of being inventive, creative and play with fantasy? Are the players that McCarthy have brought into the team in lack of just those faculties?

My answer to that last crucial question is no. I have seen many of our players who were on the pitch at the Hawthorns playing with great fantasy, creativeness and inventiveness. Some of them didn’t show much of that on this sunny afternoon. It’s hard to tell if that’s because they strive to keep possession of the ball at any price and look for the easy pass or if they’re just out of form.

What about our defending then? Well, it looks like our central defenders had an off day, but actually they are not equipped to take care of counter attacks from fast running opponents. You could see that when Johnson was totally humiliated by a forward who almost made him spin to the ground. Johnson looked out of touch all game and Berra was not much better. Stearman was O.K. and Ward was terrific.

McCarthy tried to make a difference by first changing Milijas for Ebanks-Blake and then bringing on Hunt and Guédioura. It didn’t make the team better, quite the contrary, as we lost the midfield and began to look more and more like a losing team. SEB had a couple of chances just when he came on, but then, like Hunt and Guédioura, he fell out of sight when it comes to contact with the ball.

That proves to me that the 4-5-1-formation from start was the best way to play this game and who knows how it might have gone if we had scored that ever important first goal? It stands very clear to me now that we have no chance at all to win a game when coming from behind There are no working tactics for those frequently occurring games, maybe because of the lack of inventiveness, fantasy and creativeness from our manager. So we’ll better start to score the first goal of the game, starting with Swansea at home next Saturday.

Hennessey – 7 – Saved us a couple of times from an even more humiliating defeat. Did nothing wrong in this game and is close to an eight. He is worth the little bouncy smiley thing, although he probably finds it hard to smile at his defence.

Stearman – 5 – Had a lot of ball in the game and played well most of the time going forward. Had a hard time stopping fast forwards, though, and that want do as a defender.

Johnson – 5 – Close to a four. He has done nothing yet this season to prove to me that he is worth the amount of money Wolves has paid for his services, the wages he has or the band around his arm. I thought that he made his young fellow central defender look good in Birmingham, but it seems to have been the other way around.

It may be time to bring on Craddock. He is better at moving sideways and better at positioning. When it comes to going forward Johnson has had eleven attempts at goal this season and only one did hit the target. I’m certain that Craddock would have done much better!

Berra – 6 – Close to a five, but were more accurate in passing the ball than he uses to be. Had a good cooperation with Ward in bringing the ball up, but failed in stopping counter attacks from the West Brom forwards several time and Ward had to save his bacon.

Ward – 8 – Fought like a tiger in this game and his form is formidable. He is in fact the only player I can think of that has grown to this season, maybe Stearman excepted. I counted to four times that he singlehandedly saved us from goals in the back. Maybe another player in his position would have saved us on two of those occasions, but not all four.

He also has a lot of ball going forward and seem to enjoy it much. Together with O’Hara and Jarvis he actually makes a vital part of our attacking force, but as all our players at the moment, he usually stumbles on the last hurdle. If he goes on like this he will not only become Paddytheflea’s Star Man but our player of the season. Terrific!

Henry – 6 – Much better, Karl! He likes it much better playing in a 4-5-1-formation and he had much more contact with the ball in this game. With O’Hara beside him he doesn’t have to cover as much distance and he looked much more comfortable with the ball than in previous games. I would like him to take the ball away from our opponents, though, Milijas did that twice and O’Hara once.

O’Hara – 7 – Found himself playing a little more behind in this game, due to Milijas occupying the front seat and Hammill the right-wing. Still he was the spider in the web, and had more ball contact than any other player in Wolves. Very good cooperation with Ward, but unable to find that decisive pass to cut through the opponents defense. Many passes to Doyle, but he was not in striking position most of the time. Had two scoring attempts himself, one before I was seated, but both were blocked. For winning the midfield to Wolves he deserves the little star for this game.

Hammill – 6 – His first in the starting eleven and a good choice too. I like his style and his directness in play and he looked very good from start. He went very close to scoring in the start of the second half and he is also a very good passer of the ball with an accuracy of over 90%. With Hunt not in form Hammill is now our best option from start on the right-wing. Taking him off with twenty minutes left was in my opinion a mistake by McCarthy.

Jarvis – 5 – I want to see him hit the form he had before he was called to represent his country last season. His runs are not as energetic as they used to be, he does not take the defences on like he used to do and both his shots and his crosses fails to hit their targets. He still poses a threat, though, but he has lots more to give than what he is showing us at the moment.

Milijas – 6 – As I said above Ned looked a little rusty, but it’s not his fault. The ice-box does that to you. With him on the pitch we looked better in the middle than when bringing on SEB, anyway. He was up there posing a threat, but he wasn’t given many chances and his corners were awful. He went very close when a deflection on a ball from Jarvis came in his way and he fired but the goalie saved it, but that was not meant to be as Doyle later missed, or was blocked, on the same occasion. A promising start to the season for Milijas, though, and I hope to see more of him in the team from now on.

Doyle – 5 – Hard to rate as usual. As a midfielder he should be a seven or even an eight, but he is a striker, if he hasn’t forgotten. I’m through with the silk gloves handling him. He was terrific our first season in the Prem, average the second, partly blamed on injuries, and now? Begin to look a bit like Henry at his worst. Doesn’t even look for possibilities to go forward challenging the defence any more, but passes the ball back to the midfield at most occasions.

By that behaviour he manages to get a 94% accuracy in passes, but that doesn’t impress or fool me any more. He likes to be more on the flanks with Jarvis than being in the middle were he should be, especially since we played 4-5-1 in the first part of the game. Am I too hard on him, you say? Well, I’ve been too blo*dy soft on him previously, but now I’ve seen the light.

With Ebanks- Blake and Fletcher injury free and fit he should be placed on the bench if he doesn’t better his play to a great degree. He looks to be occupying the same position in the Republic Of Ireland team soon aswell. Maybe other things are more important to him than playing football?

Ebanks-Blake – 6 – Close to a five. Came on for Milijas after 55 minutes and presented himself immediately with a shot taken on target. The keeper was well placed, though. Sadly he didn’t get more than one more chance, and that from a distance, as our midfield found it harder to compete and bring the ball up, with Milijas missing. The second goal in the back was a big blow to the team spirit aswell, and SEB found himself with not too much involvement in the game. What he showed, though, made me wanting to see more. Maybe it’s his time to save Wolves this season, if Fletcher did it the last and Doyle the year before that. Let’s hope so!

Paddytheflea

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~ by paddytheflea on October 17, 2011.

9 Responses to “Analysis & Ratings: West Bromwich Albions v Wolverhampton Wanderers”

  1. Finally a balanced analysis. If we had 43 crosses, we should, with a couple of quality strikers, have scored. Fletcher has crosses as his speciality. Without him we don’t really have any strikers that fits our style of play (Vokes is not ready for premier yet) . Stoke buys players coping with long ball; Crouch, Walters, and manages to achieve strong results. And it surprised me that we didn’t buy a striker during the summer. I believe we would have been better off not selling Maierhofer.

    The positive aspect is the amount of crosses delivered. In 4-5-1 and Milijas behind Doyle we didn’t have enough players in the box to make it an effective way of playing.

    And Johnson is suddenly not worth the money we paid for him. I can’t disagree more. The reports vary. In some Berra was our weakest player.
    It shows how important confidence is, we’ve lost 5 in a row. We’ve lost points in two even games. We need to get in another striker in january, no doubt about that.

  2. You (finally) hit the nail Paddy:)
    We have the slowest build up in the country. That is why the statistics tell lies. Count the passes that goes forward. Except for Ward, neither of our defenders can pass the ball very good, but the main problem is Karl Henry. He is far too slow to beat a man and go forward himself and never have THE opening pass. He also don`t score goals. Remember also that O Hara is also not a very fast man. Our opponents have all the time in the world to come back and close room. Every time!!How many times the last to seasons have we made goals on counter-attacks?
    If MM can not see the KH problem he have to go!!

  3. We are too predictable and too easy to play against. Everytime we had the ball in our half the Tescos stood off and waited for the slow sideways build up knowing that we would eventually give them the ball back.
    Woy had done his homework and played counter attacking football agianst our pedestrian like defence.
    I fear the worst as I don’t think M.M has any tactical awareness and is totally devoid of ideas. Having said that we have a squad which should not be struggling this year. Time for some radical joined up thinking Mick, if not step aside.

  4. We dominated possession for long periods, but didn’t really ever look like scoring, even when offered an unbelievable opportunity just after they scored Doyle forgot how to pop it in from 3 yards (very slow to notice chance). Wolves have forgotten how to make runs to open space in the last third, our midfielders beyond Hammil and Guedioura never try anything different anymore. O’Hara has slipped into the Wolves mold really well this season, after showing us all that he had a lot more to offer than that in his early Wolves career (well done coaches). Nobody makes runs beyond our ‘attackers’ (i use that term in the loosest of terms) oh, for a fit Edwards or a fit and firing Kightly. Doyle has forgotten how to find space, spin off his man, show the man on the ball the pass to make, he just stands there waiting for the ball – hardly any surprise that he doesn’t get any clear chances. So what do you think of the show so far???????? Rubbish!!!

    Ward is the only person who week in week out this season has looked like it matters to him. Bring on Zeli, he’d have been given a chance by now at a lot of other clubs in the Premier league and I still can’t understand why Doherty didn’t keep his place at right back, he looked a star on his debut. Saying that, is Foley still injured cause again, he needs to be starting before Stearman at right back. We get carved open at the back over and over each week but never learn, Craddock could steady it again, I guess Batth could do a better job than the current incumbents Why don’t our strikers learn from how other teams rip our defence to shreds? They’ll never learn how to do it from our coaches. If all our strikers are unfit other than Doyle, bring Hemmings on, we’ve a lot of ‘young and hungry players’ but they never get an opportunity at Wolves.

    I don’t want a load of upheaval and Mick out. I just want him to start playing to our strengths and show the players videos of themselves stood waiting for the ball, rather than making runs opening spaces up and making the opposition work. If we don’t stretch the opposition out of the comfortable positions we’ll always struggle to score against them.

    • Sounds like all of you commenting on my article are very much in agreement in my view of the game and I agree with most of your conclusions aswell. Let’s hope that MM will open his eyes and give the team the right instructions so that they play the kind of football we all know they can perform and that the key players in the team finds form or we are in deep shit. Nothing else than a win against Swansea is tolerable. The supporters who wants MM to go will multiply if that doesn’t happen and I will probably be one of them.

  5. A very one eyed, rose tinted view of the game.
    Wolves are a poor side and getting worse. MM has failed to find a CH of PL standard, despite blowing £4m plus on a so called star player.
    No invention, no planning (except for the ground and Redrow houses) and a very unsure future…..

  6. Agree entirely with your comments. MM can be frustrating with his selections, but you have to trust his choices from the training ground. Our whole team ethic is a great spirit and playing for each other, but i think the statement of KH plus 10 others sends out the wrong signals to the whole club.

    Try and guess the Man Utd team week in week out, he picks players in form and keeps the squad on it’s toes…

  7. Now reading Fletcher could be out for up to a month! Surely this is the time to ship Vokes out (who doesn’t even score when on loan in the lower leagues) and give some of our youngsters a chance.

    • Vokes actually scored a goal against Chelsea in the reserves the other day. I would prefer Ebanks-Blake, though.

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