Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Norwich City
Wolves came very close to win this game with three goals to two, as I predicted in my pre-match article, but the assistant referee just had to spoil our fortune by waving Fletcher off for offside. A correct decision, but still…
It didn’t start too well though, with former Wolves player Surman allowed to roam totally free just outside the area and nobody stopped him going inside and heading in the cross from Hoolahan. Very bad defending in my book, but I saw it coming as I noticed Surman without cover in that same position a couple of times before the goal and after it too. I believe that area falls on the defensive midfielder(s) to attend to and it’s the captains task to organise the defence and up to the manager to spell out the tactics and the dangers before and during the game. One or all of these failed in their task.
It was an open game from start to end and after their first I didn’t fret too much, as I knew Wolves would come back and score sooner or later. The surprise in the startup eleven, Sylvan Ebanks Blake, had a chance already after four minutes and he went close to score three times in the first half hour or so. I’m glad that Mick McCarthy tried to change things around a bit by giving him a rare chance to play from start and I believe he took it very well.
The Wolves equaliser came after thirty-seven minutes when Ward and Jarvis had one of their nicer runs on the left. Jarvo – who surprisingly played all game on the left wing – crossed the ball in and SEB had the skill and presence of mind to tuck the ball into the net in a goal scramble involving several legs. Good for him and Wolves!
In the firsts half both teams showed about equal strengths, maybe Norwich had a little edge in terms of chances. In the second it was Wolves who had that edge and it looked like we could get a rare thee-pointer out of this game. It was still very open, and I wouldn’t call it a surprise that it was Norwich that took the lead. They got the opportunity because of very weak defending once again on our behalf.
Johnson showed his inaptitude and lack of ability to move sideways fast enough when he didn’t manage to stop Morison from launching a ball into the center which substitute Jackson could score on without having to bother about anybody trying to stop him. In fact I counted to three unmarked Canaries in the Wolves penalty area, probably due to our defence trying to set up an offside trap, but it failed, of course, as Johnson was down the line battling with Morison. A Sunday football error, if any.
So the goals we let in were very disappointing and there are good reasons to give our defence and defensive midfield a reminder of that and some training in how to defend proper. Our former star defender manager seem to be the right man for that, but in over five years he has not managed to wipe out school book errors from the teams performances. Why not, mr McCarthy?
Fortunately we showed good spirit going forward in this game, even if it could have been done with better pace and precision in passing the ball. So we had our share of chances in open play, but needed a corner to equalise. Our French connection Ron Zubar made a brave run into the crowd in the area and got the head on the ball that flew into the net with great pace. Thank you, Zubar! That’s exactly the kind of wholehearted action we need to stay in this league.
The last part of the game Wolves pressured on a great deal and we had several chances to win this game. The most memorable apart from the turned down offside goal by Fletcher was when substitute Hammill headed right at the keeper, unattended from short distance.
He should have done better. Milijas had a shot that went a yard out from the left post but it was not to be. Actually it was not so much our attacking play that failed us this evening, but the defending. Craddock is playing a test match this evening and I hope he will be found fit again. He is better than both our starting central defenders.
I mentioned in my last article that I wanted to test another kind of rating system, so here it comes. Tell me what you think and feel free to criticise.
Goalkeeping – 7 – Hennessey did no spectacular saves in this game and he was at no fault for the goals. Good kick-outs as usual and I believe he managed to find Fletch seven times and SEB and Doyle three each. I like the way he manages to hold on to the ball after his saves and he gets an extra point for that and the smiley.
Defending – 5 – The weak point in Wolves game this night as on so many other. Ward met som trouble at his wing and so did Zubar at times. At central defence Berra played very well as usual this season, but I’m afraid he has to take blame for the misfired offside trap on their second and the play of Johnson on that goal was also under par.
The Norwich attackers came through far to easy on the Johnson and Zubar wing. Part of the reason for their attack from their left was the fact that Hunty had two roles to play. He strengthened the inner mid and also was employed as a winger. An impossible task and sometimes he was caught in-between jobs, so to speak, when the Canaries attacked and they could run through too easily gaining pace.
And then there is the continuous problem of defending just outside the box. In my opinion it’s an area that the defensive mids should take care of, but they fail on that all the time and did tonight aswell. I’ve addressed that before and will have to do it again, Im afraid. The Wolves players managed to get back in defensive positions very well after attacking, though, and that’s well done after running so much in a game.
Midfield – 7 – As I said above it shows when defending that we are one short in midfield. Hunty has to help out and at average he was actually further down the pitch than Henry. As usual, though, he was all over and also had a couple of chances at goal. Henry ran longer than any other on the pitch and I’m very pleased over his performance at the ball.
He had nice crosses to the wings and was more positive in his play in midfield than ever this season. The second longest runner in Wolves was Milijas and I believe he is coming to form now. A must, because O’Hara is reported to be out at least to February after an operation. A couple of dangerous free-kicks and corners and a couple of shots by Milijas. Nice play by Ward and Jarvo taking the ball forward as usual and Jarvo had the best percent of successful passes. Zubar was also succesful going forward but he and Hunty ran into troubles with Tierny who obviously must have been a personal friend or relative to the referee, being allowed to take to any means to stop them going forward. The over all midfield play will get Paddytheflea’s Big Star this match, although it was not perfect!
Attacking – 7 – I think the bringing of Ebanks-Blake into the starting eleven paid off. As I sai he had four chances and one goal in the first half and a couple of chances in the second. With the fine tuning that comes with playing he could very well carry the weapon that fires us to a fourth season in the Premier League. Fletcher was a little more off in this game and seem not to be friend with the ball, but only a feet or so away from deciding the game with a minute left, mind you.
Jarvo played well over all, but I think he could have slipped through more on his wing and his crosses were not top notch either. I’m surprised that Sky game him nine points, but he made our first, of course. As I said Hunty also had a couple of good chances and crosses and Hammill looked strong when he came on, but missed what looked to be a sitter.
I also think that Fletch and SEB worked better together than Doyler and Fletch. Milijas didn’t find that lethal pass to the forwards in the deep in this game, but he came very close. I believe he has to work so hard at defending that his precision gets affected when moving forward. I strongly believe, though, that we did see an attacking Wolves team, fresher than in a long time, much because of Ebanks-Blake providing another option in attack for the team. Worth to mention when it comes to the attack is of course the fantastic equalising goal of Zubar. I want to see more of those. The attack gets the little star!
Managing – 6 – McCarthy made the right decision to play Ebanks-Blake from start. I didn’t believe that he would have the guts to drop Doyle and take a chance on our former Golden Boot winner. He also made the right subs at the right time in this game. I blame him. though, for not giving effective instructions to the defence in how to handle threats outside the box and defend properly. The best thing he did, though was to let Jarvis play all game on left wing. That’s the territory he play best in and Hunt can play well at the right aswell.