Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Stoke City
Oh, that futile concept of hope! There it was, showing at least the shadow of itself to me after a first half when Wolves played close to a perfect game to their abilities, just to be shredded into pieces in a second half when the ugly heads of doubt and despair grew more and more as the game went on.
Mr McCarthy played the team from start that I had anticipated he would, and it worked very well as Henry and Milijas really were up to it and the threesome to the left between Wardy, Milijas and Jarvo was the road from defence to attack and gave Wolves the edge over the Staffordshire team from start of the game.
It was not a well played game when looking at passing, technical skills or tempo. Not from Stoke, nor from Wolves, but it was very competitive in an English old-school way, if you know what I mean. The game could have been played some 40 years ago, if not for the much better pitch than what was available winter-time in the sixties and seventies.
The fact that the Potters didn’t manage one single shot at goal for the first half speaks words about our defensive skills at this point in the game. The lads defended all over the pitch and were really in their faces, and Stoke played in the same way against us, really.
They didn’t have a player that could equal Jarvis’s skills in first half, though, even if Pennant showed some very good moves at times. The movement of Matt Jarvis on the left flank was superb and the Stoke defence didn’t have any legal weapons to stop him. That paid off before the half hour as the referee stopped the game and, rightly so, pointed at the spot after Jarvo being brought down in the area.
Hunty was as cool as a cucumber when he took the penalty and I propose that he will take all of them in the future if he is on. After this brilliant play by Wolves, all faithful watching wanted more goals, of course. We had the advantage, the initiative and the necessary weapons, so why not?
Well, you probably got to ask Mr McCarthy that question, as he chooses to change positions between Hunty and Jarvo shortly after Wolves taking the lead in the game. As I said in my pre-match article, that’s the negative when starting with Hunt and Jarvis. They both prefer to operate on the left side and at least Jarvo is not at all the skilful speedball when he resides on the right-hand side of the pitch as he is on the left.
So why did McCarthy disarm the team going forward? Wardy and Milijas had a very fruitful cooperation that made the team able to step up a few yards on the pitch and by that having an advantage to Stoke in midfield aswell as going forward and defending. I can imagine a few reasons to this behaviour, but no-one of them are sufficient, but then again I’m not a psychologist.
Maybe he noticed that the Stoke defence doubled up on Jarvo and wanted to make it easier for him going forward, having him switch sides? Maybe he was afraid that our gem would get injured by the rough defenders of Stoke?
Maybe he wanted to hold on to the lead and somehow thought that our only sharp weapon going forward should be turned to a defensive arm om the other side? Or maybe he didn’t want him to show up too much of his skills if an offer Wolves can’t refuse would be in the mailbox in January?
As I said, I don’t believe any of those reasons stand up to close scrutiny. Having Jarvis continuing his run on the left would have lifted our game for the last ten minutes of the first half and the remaining of the game. The Stoke defenders would not have been able to stop him legally from going forward and we would have seen either another goal, a red card, a free-kick in a lethal position for Milijas or Hunt to score on, or another penalty. What did McCarthy trade that in for? Thin air!
Just a couple of comments about their goals. A deflection in the wall leading to a goal is always hard for a keeper to defend from. Hennessey can NOT be responsible for that goal, but the defending wall can. Often, though, it is s*it that happens and in this case the free was also a wrong decision by the referee.
The other goal was due to bad defending from Wardy and probably Zubar, who should have been in the face of (was it?) Etherington on the other side, not giving him time to aim at Crouch. To the ratings, then. Maybe for the last time. I’m considering only to rate the parts of the team in the future, like defence, midfield and forwards (and the manager) and how they together carry out their tasks. After all that’s what the game is all about.
Hennessey – 7 – Not much to do in the first half, and actually not so much in the second either, but he did a crucial save when he tipped a shot over the crossbar and his kick- and throw-outs are very good as usual nowadays.
Zubar – 6 – A positive surprise both going forward and defending, but he didn’t defend well on the second goal and it’s a point off for that, I’m afraid. His play over all makes me want to see more of him and what he can do in the future, though.
Johnson – 6 – Finally a decent game from our new star in defence, but not more.
Berra – 8 – He was a giant in defence today and I bet Mr Pulis looked twice at him, despite them having a very good defensive part of their team already. Berra is one of a few players who has bettered his play this season.
When he gets it right on set pieces in the opposition defensive area he will be a complete PL central defender. I hope he practise that in training. Christophe Berra is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Ward – 6 – He had a hard time in defense with Pennant and Crouch lurking about, but managed very well until he blinked and Crouch went one step further from him. One point off for that, I’m afraid. Going forward he was a driving force, especially in the first half and towards the end of the game.
Henry – 7 – Much better, Carl! His best game this season as he hindered the Stoke players forward moves on several occasions, especially in the first half. A couple of bad passes, though, but that is forgiven when he performs this good all round. I wish he performs this good in every game, and not only against his former team. I would like to give him the bouncy smiley, but keep it up now, Carl!
Milijas – 6 – Being in the ice-box for the first part of the season has not made him a better player, but most of the first half he was excellent, both going forward and defending. Maybe he should have been replaced earlier, though, because he looked tired and made mistakes.
Hunt – 7 – Close to breaking through on a couple of occasions and a very useful player in games like this. Especially when we play with four in the middle. He looks in form now and I hope that will last for the rest of season.
Jarvis – 8 – As I said above he was displaced late on on the first half and played at the right side most of the second. When playing on the left, though, he was highest PL class and the only man that could stop him – Mick McCarthy – sadly enough did. He gets the little star as a comfort and because he is star quality. It’s a pity he didn’t get the chance to prove that in action all game.
Doyle – 6 – I believe Kevin was a tad better in this game than the previous ones, but it can depend on the opposition. Hopefully he is on his way to form, though, and/or realises that his position in the team from start is at stake. Still to few attacks on goal, though, and close to a fiver. As I thought SEB came on for Doyler when 15 minutes was left, too few minutes to make an impact and he never looked like scoring, I’m afraid.
Fletcher – 5 – Well watched by the Stoke defence and he didn’t get the crosses he wanted in this game. He looks a little weak on the ball still and the over all play doesn’t impress much. But we all know what he can do when getting the opportunity, and maybe he would have, if only Jarvo had continued to play on the left wing.
Paddytheflu (old gold running from my nose as I write) 😆