Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Manchester United

•March 23, 2012 • 6 Comments

I really hate this! It’s like it comes true when I write the analysis and ratings down and is still undecided before I do. Silly, I know, after all it’s been days since the game and a new is coming up soon.

No surprise that we lost to the magnificent league leaders, of course. We didn’t have to make it so easy for them though. Zubar didn’t have to slide into a United player soles first twice. Both times the referee got it right.  Why did Zubes do that, I mean it wasn’t like they would have a clear-cut goal opportunity if coming round him?

Ronnie Zubar has not got the pace and the technique for the game he is trying to play. It was obvious when he came through going forward himself aswell. He had no control over his crosses and they sailed wide and far. Maybe if he had some more games in his belt this season, but now he will not have the opportunity to get that this season. A sad story.

Wolves did fight well against the odds the first twenty minutes or so before their first goal. They could have got a couple before that but we went close too. We were still not getting forward with pace vertically, though. Still that balling around at lower midfield without a compass set at their goal area. A surprise to me that TC used Doyle again from start as Kightly really looked fresher when coming on against Fulham and I believe he proved himself as a sub again Saturday. And Kights always have been one of those players with his compass directed at goal. A strength of his for sure.

Otherwise it was the left side of our forward going play that functioned as usual. Ward and Jarvo knows each others moves inside out. A big loss was of course that Davis had to leave stretching some muscle in his abdomen as it looked on field. I haven’t visited the official site to find out the last couple of days, I must confess. Too fed up.

The defence and defending set pieces. As usual. Were we this bad at it last season or the season before? I don’t recall that. So we’re going backwards when it comes to defending. Why? There seem to be no player taking charge over the defending on set pieces or no one at all ever really. No strong, experienced man in the team that the others listen to and who knows how to set up a defence. It’s not enough if TC tells them before the game and at half-time and they train it in the week before. There’s got to be someone out there, adjusting play to circumstances. A strong wise voice. A leader. It is as McCarthy didn’t want to share power by employing such a player and we suffer from that and I believe we always have the last five years or so. Maybe he saw Johnson as such a man, but he doesn’t seem to have that kind of authority, not wise enough and with enough knowledge.

Perhaps Craddock would make a difference in defence. And remember he is good at scoring aswell, but with only one game played in the league this season he sure is a long shot. So we’re in deep trouble both in defence and in the inner midfield. At least we cannot sink deeper tha our current bottom placeing in the league and looking at play it is well deserved. Depressing!

The mini-league still lives, or does it? Blackburn looks to be on secure ground soon after two back-to-back victories and QPR can make a Houdini escape despite having a difficult run-in. And then we will be three and it will be decided. Noooo! There must be a way to escape this, but it will not be easy and most of the players have to hit form and find a way to play together with guts and efficiency. After Darkness…

About the ratings. The game got distorted after the sending off and it’s really hard to give the players fair ratings when they play with ten men. You might say that I give too high ratings in general, but I rate the individual players here, not the final result or how Wolves stood up against United as a ten man team.

Hennessey – 5 – Seems to have lost his magic and looks nervous at times. Doesn’t command his area like he still did a couple of games ago. Even the kick-outs sometimes fails, but with the defending by his  peers out in the field any goalie would get nervy.

Zubar – 2 – Disgusting! Came through a couple of times on his flank, but when crossing everything went terribly wrong. At defending he was a security risk with bad timing as long as he was on. TC should have gone with Foley from start, as I expected after Zubars game against Fulham. I’m still behind TC, but he got to show what he’s got in his pocket and brains now or I will accuse him of not being any better than his predecessor, as many other fans do already. Time flies and I’m afraid neither TC nor Zubar does so far.

Stearman – 5 – Managed to stop attacks on many occasions but also looked slow, clumsy and misplaced many times against fast running opponents. Is Johnson a better choice? Or Craddock? We will soon find out, but I’m not too convinced about that. Feel free to surprise me!

Bassong – 4 – Thought he was a class player when we signed him on loan from Tottenham. Now I would prefer Berra.

Ward – 6 – Not good enough at defending and together with Bassong he did not accomplish his task at defending his side of the pitch well at all. His rating goes up by his excellent job going forward, though, and he always fights and gives everything for the team. He is the right man to hold the captains badge at the moment and I will give him the little star, because there frankly were very few players to choose among in this game.

Davis – 5 – Did an ok job until injured, but his weaknesses defending the back four against the fast United players were more obvious in this game than the previous. We need hm back in shape, though. Good at tackling and wins more balls in midfield than any other in the team. Close to a six.

Jonsson – 6 – Came on for Davis and did remarkably well. I had no high thoughts about his abilities before, but perhaps I have misjudged the Iceland International. Missed only one pass all game and actually went forward and created a chance. Actually prefered him to Edwards in this game. Maybe he can play a role already this season.

Foley – 6 – Showed that he was a better choice than Zubar on right back and did a better job in the middle than last game. A loss to the inner midfield when he had to move to right back after Zubar saw red and there were not a chance that we would catch up after that. I awaited more goals in the back and they came until United decided to concentrate on all being behind the ball and defending the clean sheet.

Edwards -5 – He blows hot and cold. I’m not sure he is the kind of player Wolves need on inner midfield, but he battles hard and runs like a dog and we hadn’t many to choose from in this game. Hard to rate as the inner midfield suffered the hardest after the red card on Zubar.

Doyle – 5 – Uncomfortable on the wing, would maybe have been a choice if we play a 4-3-3, but with the team being pressed back by United he didn’t fit in at all. He always get chances at the start of each game and then he disappears somewhere. Why? Is he a show-off without guts or just easy to read? Too many bad games this season to be starting. The players that TC has shown more confidence in than McCarthy did has not repaid him by performing well enough. Sad.

Jarvis – 7 – The only player in the team to play up to his abilities in game after game.  Shows great character and morals to perform under these difficult circumstances. With the constant backing and support of Ward he goes forward but as the others are not of the same high quality they can’t make his gifts into goals so at the end it all comes to nothing. Sad, but Matt is not to blame for it and he of course gets Paddytheflea’s Big Star.

Kightly – 6 – Came on for Doyler with only 33 minutes left to play but showed a drive going forward despite that all was lost by then. Should play from start now and Doyle should be the one to come on from the bench. Gets my smiley and I expect him to be a star player against Norwich. Time to show what you really can do and offer us fans hope now, Kightly!

Fletcher – 5 – It’s so easy for a team to defend against only one danger-man, but despite that Fletcher got a couple of chances and he should have scored on at least one of them. It’s not easy for him and he of course suffered too with only ten on the pitch. Hope he haven’t lost his scoring-ability, though, we will need it. Very soon!

Paddytheflea

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Probable Team Lineups: Wolves v Manchester United

•March 16, 2012 • 4 Comments

Manchester United has no weaknesses, says our manager Terry Connor, but how come  they get beaten twice by a middle of the league team like Athletic Bilbao, then? When reading about the Basque team, ran by former Argentina and Chile coach Bielsa, I noticed this statement from him:

“Our simple ethos is this: we try and win the ball back as quickly as possible from our opponents as far up the field as we can, and by that I mean everyone is involved in regaining the ball, from the forwards through to anyone else. Then once we have the ball, we try and find a way of getting forward as quickly as possible, in a vertical direction if you like.”

Simple as that! It didn’t look simple last night when I saw them play against United, though. They were a very technical bunch, from their forwards down to their excellent right back. Wolves cannot match their technical skills, but we sure can use the same tactics as Bielsa so eloquent and succesful used to win against Manchester United both at home and away.

The frequent reader of this blog knows that the tactics Bilbao used is exactly the one I’ve proposed again and again that Wolves must apply to gain success. Especially against the better teams in the league, which are most of them seen from our at present in the gutter perspective. There has been no TC-effect yet, if not counting the draw against Newcastle, and it’s time for an upset and a three-pointer to lift us up in our spirits aswell as in our mini-league.

THE PREMIER MINI-LEAGUE

TEAM AND POSITION MATCHES GOAL DIFF. POINTS
1. Blackburn FC 28 – 20 25
2. Bolton Wanderers FC 28 – 26 23
3. Queens Park Rangers FC 28 – 19 22
4. Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 28 – 28 22
5. Wigan FC 28 – 29 21

I hope that the squad of Wolves watched the Athletic Bilbao-United game and now are convinced that it is fully possible to slay the giant and how to go about it. The Manchester team will still be affected, not only in their minds by the loss, but also in their bodies as it will be only two days and three nights of rest for them before they visit us. Let’s give them a warm welcome. Out of the Spanish paella pan and into the fire of The Black Country!

Karl Henry will probably, as a precaution, rest for another week before he will try his wings (?) again in the team. Maybe he will try to play for half an hour or so from the bench. That would suit our young midfielder well to be able to go out after an hour in the high tempo that United probably will  set up in this game. When I looked at Davis play last weekend I believe he comes closer to a vertical game a la Bilbao than Henry anyway.

Manchester United have a doubt about Jones as he has the flu and Rooney is said to have had a knock against Bilbao, but otherwise they have a very fine squad to choose among and Sir Alex Ferguson is usually very good at picking the ones most up for it for the day and Wolves will meet a team steaming with revenge from the Basque adventure that went wrong. They will no doubt play 4-4-2 against us and not the 4-5-1 that they  tried to stop Bilbao with.

Will we mirror that? I doubt it. We don’t have the strength to meet them on equal terms formation-wise and  we should be better off playing 4-5-1, but still trying to catch them high up and press forward.

Before I line up the probable starting lines, what is the probable result. All but defeat is of course good for Wolves, but there’s nothing at all that points to any points gained for Wolves in this game. To hope for is that we can hold the numbers down, that’s all. 0-2 is a probable and secure result for United, though Wolves will not of course go down without a fight.

UP THE WOLVES!!!

Paddytheflea

P.S. Just as I finished the line-up below there are reports from TC that both O’Hara and Milijas are doubts. We can count on Hunt to replace one of them, but what about the other if not able to play? It will probably be a surprise start for Eggert or to play Foley in an inner midfield role. It sure is a substantial weakening of the team if both of them are out anyway. D.S.

Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Blackburn

•March 11, 2012 • 16 Comments

The first anger after the game have given way for the usual disappointment and despair. It’s not a good idea to write abut the game when still upset and angry, even if it’s probably more interesting to read, because your senses gets distorted by the sentiment in action.

Yesterday I wouldn’t be able to write that Wolves measured up well to Blackburn and that with a little luck we could have taken points in the game. In the first half we had as much of play and chances as Blackburn and who knows what would have happened if Doyler had scored on his chance early on? At the same time I must say that many of the players didn’t play to the highest of their known abilities and that bothers me.

Our formation worked well though and we looked fairly solid in the back, despite some semi-dangerous attacks from Yakubu and Hoilett early on. We started as the best team the first twenty or so minutes, but my notion was that we lost more and more of the initiative as we lost more and more of  the control over midfield as the match went on.

Before the game I would have thought that Davis was our weak point in the inner midfield, but as it unfolded it was O’Hara and Edwards who didn’t perform as well as expected. Perhaps because both of them are struggling with injuries and aren’t totally fit.

It’s very significant for Wolves in this period of Premier League play though, that a young medfielder who played with a league one team a few days ago can play a dominating role at our midfield much in the same way as Frimpong did when he came from reserves team play to boost our team.

I‘ve told you again and again during the years that the weakness of Wolves and what separates us from being a team in the upper half of the PL is our weak inner midfield. This game and many other games prove that I’m right and for those of you who hope for some player who didn’t play yesterday to step in and sort it out I just have laughs and headshakes as an answer. The problem should have been dealt with years ago, but was a blind spot for our former manager and still costs us every week.

The stats for Davis are excellent. He didn’t miss a tackle and he nicked the ball from the opposition many times and two of them got yellow cards trying to stop him from playing. His performance also corroborates another critique of our former management. The fact that they have not given young players from our own academy enough chances.

We have a whole generation of excellent footballers already shipped out to other clubs, not getting a deserved chance to break into the team and we risk that another generation of even better young players going down the drain because of mismanagement. I still hope that TC will have a different view than McCarthy on this, but I’m not at all sure. It’s only under the knife he has taken in the excellent Davis.

A few weeks ago it looked like Wolves had plenty of choices on the wings. Now it looks like crises as Kightly doesn’t measure up and Doyler doesn’t look as a winger nor as a striker when playing at the right side of field. Voices have been heard to take Hammill back from Boro and I agree to that. The problem is that we have to wait until the end of this month before we can do that according to the rules written into the loan-out agreement.

In the meantime my choice for the right wing would be our own young Anthony Forde. At the moment and with the right support he can perform better than both Kightly and Doyle at that position in my opinion. Or maybe Hunty is on his way back, I don’t know but something has to be done about it pronto and TC now has a chance to prove that although in McCarthy’s management team he hosts a different view of our young ones.

I believe that Zubar was the wrong choice for right back and may have had an impact on the performances of Kights and Doyle. With Foley at right back they would have had better service and would have been more free to go forward. Zubar is no master at positioning nor at the passing game and I frequently asked myself where he was when Blackburn attacked at his side and Stears had to face it alone.

Ward and Bassong at the other side had great problems defending against Hoilett and Stears had a handful with Yakubu, but they were actually not to blame for the goals in the back. Bad marking on the throw-in (but not from Doyler as some writes today) and a seemingly unstoppable young Hoilett in very good form were the reasons for us letting in two goals, but not necessarily for us losing the game.

For us to know why we lost it we have to look further up the pitch. I almost got as red as Morgan in my face watching us play the ball back and forth between our midfielders and the back four without gaining any ground on several occasions yesterday, as most of this season and seasons before. It often ends up with somebody getting under pressure and giving away a bad pass making us lose the ball.

We have to find that fast path for the ball up the field with as few passes as possible. We are not Barcelona nor Arsenal and our players does not have the skills to play the ball around for fun and keeping it in the team forever. Wolves must play to the skills that the players possess and to play it around in our own half is suicidal and will always backfire.

At the moment, and for most of the last four years, our left side is the only path going forward that works and that is because Ward and Jarvis knows that as few passes as possible between them when running forward is the most efficient and secure way to get to the other side. No brainer, really!

In this game we had too few attacks and too few in the box when attacking. It looked like we were playing a 4-1-4-1-formation, but Edwards and O’Hara didn’t dare to go forward too far and Doyler was on the wing while Fletcher worked all over the pitch and sometimes not even he was to be found in the box when needed.

Are we so nervous to let one in at the back that we have lost the ability to attack even when one or two goals down? Sadly that could be the case and after each loss we can read about the team contemplating about how to strengthen the defence. Such analysis could be counter-productive in my opinion.

I’m not gonna comment about the protests against this or that, as I believe it gains nothing, called for or not. We are Wolves and we still have as good a chance as the other four teams in our mini-league to stay in the Premier League. Statistically it’s 40% and I would not hesitate to put a tenner on us staying up despite us losing yesterday.

UP THE WOLVES!!!

Hennessey – 5 – Not much to do about the goals and other than that he didn’t have much to do when it comes to saves.  I’m not sure though that he is active enough in telling the players to mark at set pieces. Maybe he is to nice and has to swear and shout at the players to mark everybody in and just outside the box. Use your authority, Hens!

Zubar – 5 – Not my first choice as right back. 67% passing success is far to low and he is often wrongly positioned when the opposition attacks. Many proposes that he should be played as a winger. Maybe worth trying, but Foley is the better right back.

Stearman – 6 – Works very hard and had a hard fight against Yakubu yesterday and I would say he won it, despite being in trouble many times. I could understand TC not playing Johnson in this position and Stears did well replacing our out of favour captain. Stears gets the smiley!

Bassong – 6 – Looked more solid than Berra at the position and is a better footballer in my opinion. Works well together with Ward and Jarvis and has the potential to play even better at the run in.

Ward – 5 – Insecure at defending, giving the ball away a couple of times. Still a threat going forward together with Jarvo, but missed a couple of crosses aswell. Not in form, hopefully he will get back into it pronto.

Davis – 7 – An excellent first in the Premier League, One I believe we wouldn’t have witnessed with McCarthy still in charge. Honours to TC for having the guts to play him, after all he had a couple of other choices.  With 5 out of 5 succesful tackles and two scoring attempts created while having one himself he was by far our best inner midfielder in this game and he was much more physical than Henry is (23 succesful tackles in 23 games played this season by Henry).

Just what we have missed in midfield, with or without Henry playing. He also caused two of the Blackburn players getting yellow carded while roughly trying to take the ball from him. Good work and good luck in the future! David Davis will get Paddytheflie’s Big Star in this game – his first in the Premier League – hopefully of many to come!

Doyle – 5 – He is clearly no winger but we didn’t have much better options for the position. The delivery was not tops with Zubar playing on the right back and he may have done better under other circumstances. Nevertheless he had chances at goal both as a winger and later when we went 4-4-2 as a striker. With some luck he would have scored one or two and then his ratings would have gone up.

O’Hara – 4 – Was all oer the place as usual. I had hoped that he would occupy a more forward role just behind Fletcher, but he was more of a box-to-box player in this game and with a lingering injury he clearly couldn’t pull that through without horrible errors and being absent in or just outside the box when needed. Rightly played and fit O’Hara is a very accomplished footballer, but he was neither and not yesterday.

Edwards – 5 – Also back from injury and maybe he couldn’t do himself full justice. Were though wrongly picked by the referee twice for fauls and was playing well in most of the first half when he was going forward more than O’Hara, which surprised me at first. Replaced by Milijas who had a few very intelligent deep passes, something I miss in Edwards. Both Edwards and Milijas had chances on goal and Milijas should have scored one late in the game.

Jarvis – 7 – Our only player being a real threat to Blackburn in this game. Looks like he is the only in form player in Wolves at the moment, besides Davis. With more players in the box and the players in the box being more concentrated and with more quality in their last touches Wolves would have scored a couple on his crosses. He missed a couple of them, true, but his accuracy was still high as is my rating of him. Matt Jarvis gets the little star!

Fletcher – 5Could hae done better in this game, but was left alone against the Blackburn defence in many cases. As I wrote above sometimes he drifts away too far from his main position and task, though. Putting in a shift for the midfield is great, but it is goals that we want from him firsthand.

Paddytheflea (Who has promised to stop moaning and will support his team to the end of season!)

Comments & Probable Team Lineups: Wolves v Blackburn

•March 9, 2012 • 9 Comments

Heard that a team that called themselves Wolves played a game at a cottage in the London area, probably in the Sunday league. They even wore a black and old gold outfit. I know, I know, I know.

A few day  later their captain was fined for coming drunk to a training. I say sue the bastard impostors. You just can’t let them get away with it, soaking our shirts. I know, I know, I know!

I‘m not going to give Wolves players any ratings for the match against Fulham, by the way. They don’t deserve it. TC – our new manager – used the same language as McCarthy, explaining that individual mistakes was the reason for Wolves downfall. Makes me scared, very scared.

The truth is that we started with the wrong team against Fulham. It went totally out of shape and was very unbalanced. The whole right side of the team consisted of players with little experience of playing together and little experience lately of playing at all or playing at a specific position, and when the home team poked at them they crumbled to dust.

I’m talking about Stearman at right central defence, Zubar at right back, Kightly at right wing and Foley inside him at inner midfield. Individual mistakes? An individual mistake by TC, very much so and one I hope he will never make again.But let’s leave that game now and concentrate on the upcoming six-pointer against Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn is in our mini-league and after the debacle against Fulham we are behind them on goals. The games between the teams in our league are of course a must win and at home TC must win his first game as manager to get the supporters behind him and the team for the run in. You have to play well and get a result to get the fans behind you, TC. It’s not the other way round, as many seem to believe.

THE PREMIER MINI-LEAGUE

TEAM AND POSITION MATCHES GOAL DIFF. POINTS
1. Queens Park Rangers FC 27 – 18 22
2. Blackburn FC 27 – 22 22
3. Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 27 – 26 22
4. Bolton Wanderers FC 27 – 27 20
5. Wigan FC 27 – 29 20
We will end up in top of the league if we win this game and QPR loses or draws against Bolton in the other massive game in the mini-league, just before ours on Saturday.
So how can TC change the team to get a result? I believe I know how, but does he. I don’t know his thoughts and mind yet. It takes a little flea some time to tune in to that in a new habitat. 😆 So maybe I give you my thoughts of the best team to put out and see if TC gets close?!
The injury on Henry is of course a set-back when we have so few players accomplished at playing a defensive role in the inner midfield. TC has called back David Davis to Wolves, a sound decision and I would use him in the Henry role from start if not Edwards is fit to play. Milijas and O’Hara will surely play in the other two roles.
Hennessey made mistakes latest, but to change keeper at this stage of the season is not a smart move. A keeper earns the trust of the team and I believe the team still trusts Hennessey.  The back four didn’t work at all against Fulham, apart from Ward, and has to be changed. As I have said before I believe that Bassong and Johnson should be our first choice as central defenders and Foley is our best choice for right back and it is his natural and best position. You don’t learn to play on inner midfield in a coffee-break, that’s been proved by both Ward and Foley lately, but that doesn’t mean that they are lousy players at other positions.
Kightly has had glimpses of class, but seem to have a long way to go yet to become a winger of undisputed Premier League class. He doesn’t handle his defensive duties well and if Hunt is available and injury free he would make a better choice in my opinion. If not, Doyle would be my choice. As you may have noticed I don’t even considered a 4-4-2-formation for this or any game in the run in. We have a midfield much too weak to play in that way.
What about our opponents then?  They are a weaker team in defence than last season and the fans are still not happy at all with the owners and their manager. Orr is reported to be out injured, but Lowe comes back to cover the right back position. Dunn may be out with a virus, but the guess is that he will be fit enough to play. We will probable see them play in a 4-2-3-1-formation similar to ours (hopefully!).
Before I show you the probable starting elevens, what about the result? Both teams will be very cautious trying to preserve the one point they have going into the game, but neither team will have the strength at the back to keep goals from coming in. Two all is a probable result, but I hope we can take three points by a goal on a beautiful free-kick by Milijas in the 94th minute. 😆
UP THE WOLVES!!!
Paddytheflea

Probable Team Lineups: Fulham FC v Wolves

•March 4, 2012 • 4 Comments

Another hard one for sure, but we  managed to bring a point home from one of the best teams on their home ground last weekend, so why not? We’re on a role when it comes to matches away so let’s role on!

The team by the Thames are always a hard match at home, but we managed to beat them at our place. They’ve got some fancy Russian kid up front now, but I’m not bothered about that. More concerned about their ability to play a good game in midfield, really. And about that Dempsey guy. He’s quality.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that TC fights two matches away before bringing the show back home, and we have not lost on the road since 10th of December against United. The Londoners are hereby warned, we are able to beat any team regardless of who in charge at Wolverhampton.

Fulham have a reputation of being a well composed team that always end up in the middle of the league come May. A dream for Wolves for sure. They last lost to United at home on the 21st of December. Hungry Wolves can change that.

We’re still on top of our league. Our mini-league is about five teams trying to stay up in the best league of the world. This is how it looks at the moment, with Wolves having one match less played than the others:

THE PREMIER MINI-LEAGUE

TEAM AND POSITION MATCHES GOAL DIFF. POINTS
1. Queens Park Rangers FC 27 – 18 22
2. Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 26 – 22 22
3. Blackburn FC 27 – 21 22
4. Bolton Wanderers FC 27 – 27 20
5. Wigan FC 27 – 29 20

This is all that matters in my world. The fancy teams playing in that other league, I’m not bothered. As far as I’m concerned as a fan everything for the rest of this season is about coming first or second in this league or we’re going down, folks. That should be the concern of the players aswell. As we’ve got a match less than everybody else we are in a good position to take the lead. Could we do that?

They are solid at home, more so than Newcastle. Jol is an experienced manager against our TC, still wet behind his ears. We have a great squad to choose among for this encounter in my opinion, Fletcher is reported to be fit again and so is Bassong. I believe TC will play both from start. What about Doyle then who played so well at Newcastle? Could Foley make room for him on the right wing? I believe so, I hope TC looks more to creative players than McCarthy and Doyler in form can not be left out of the team despite Foley playing well and Fletcher being our best goalscorer by far.

Another option would be to play Fletcher as a number ten right behind Doyler in the same role as O’Hara, but maybe a little more up front. That would release Jamie, playing with injury, to rest and make the team more dangerous for the opposition defense going forward. But will our midfield be strong enough to cope with that defensively? Maybe not and that will probably be to daring for TC to try at the moment

As Bassong is fit again I believe TC will play him and Johnson as I think that is our strongest option as central defenders regardless of Berra and Stearman playing well against Newcastle. That’s what I mean about having a strong squad. In defence and attack we have options and I believe that Bassong will prove to be a class player and there were signs that Johnson teams upp well with him, the reason why he was hired really.

Fulham have no recent injury problems except the Kelly guy and will play a 4-5-1-formation. They will therefore be harder to crack than Newcastle. It’s safety first for them, even at home, and they take a point without regarding it as a catastrophe, even against us. And that is in fact the most probable result in the game.

So it will be kind of a 4-5-1-formation for us aswell, hopefully with an edge of an in form Doyler on the wing and Jarvis on the other. Fulham are better at playing the ball around than Newcastle which means we have to fight to get into the game. If we play it out on our wings we will have the chance to score if enough players will go forward, Wr got to dare to win this one and to risk losing it on the counter. Are we up to it?

Probable starting elevens below.

UP THE WOLVES!!!

Paddytheflea

Analysis & Ratings: Newcastle v Wolves

•March 3, 2012 • 4 Comments

Don’t know if it was my move from the head of hair of Mick to TC or something else, but I got a rather nasty flu that’s hindered me from thinking straight for some days now.

The first match in the reign of Terry Connor at Wolves was not too different from many games this season. Wolves have collected fourteen points by coming from behind so far and that tells me in a positive manner that we are very good fighters and in a negative manner that we show weakness in defence early on in the games.

So have nothing changed since the era of Mick McCarthy then? Has the apprentice the same flaws as the old ,master and no new ideas on how to solve the problems and shortcomings of the team? Well, it’s early days yet and firstly we have to wait and see and give TC a chance to influence play, but there were a few things noticeable already last weekend.

Firstly the team played in a 4-2-3-1-formation with Edwards and Henry both taking defensive responsibility. That’s in my opinion a better and more modern way to form the team with five in the middle. Especially away and it suits Wolves well as we play much on the wings going forward.

The full backs were allowed to go forward more than in previous games this season and they were playing closer to the wingers and sometimes even going forward all the way leaving the wingers to tend to defending if necessary. In other words they became wing-backs.

Another noticeable change was that Berra and Stears positioned themselves a little bit further up the pitch so that the team as a whole came closer to the opposition while attacking, leaving no holes between the parts of the team for the opposition forwards to get a stronghold at. When we moved forward we moved with the whole team as one unit and the same thing happened when we moved back to defend. A more ordered and better kept together team that is.

These changes could not stop and will not stop players from making horrible mistakes though, which was what happened on the first Newcastle goal. We’ve seen it before. Henry making a pass back to Berra who is under pressure and not among the best in our team with his feet. Berra gets a lot of stick from the fans and pundits about this weakness and rightly so, but it’s a well-known flaw and Henry should not pass back to him while forwards from the opposition are close by. So they are both to blame for this and TC has to take a look at this systematic fault in the way they play. My opinion is that the central defenders should have much less ball in Wolves. They are bad passers and sometimes easy to overtake. So it’s not just “an individual mistake” as our former manager surely would have labeled it brushing it aside. It’s about the way we play as a team.

The other goal. Well, its like the Robbie Keane goal when we played Villa. Not easy to defend against that. Maybe the team had backed down to far and didn’t get up the pitch fast enough, but there are situations in a game that cannot be controlled and the game would be boring if they could. The ball from Jonas deflected aswell, making it impossible for Hennessey to catch.

So two goals down after twenty minutes and that without Wolves being the underdog in play. The shape of the team looked good, but we had a hard time getting forward as the Toons backed down defending their lead. We had chances all first half and maybe we would have scored with the special skills of Fletcher on the pitch, but the skills of his replacement in the last third were to be shown in the second half.

There were no great changes in play between the two halves other than that we dominated the game even more and had more of the ball, passing it round very well, setting Newcastle under pressure. The goal came as no surprise to me. Some Toon fans call it lucky. I would say that it was less lucky than the Jonas goal. A well taken shot form distance from Jarvis, after a pass from Doyle, that deflected on its way into the net. The effect was massive hope among the players of getting a result and better pressure and more direct play as a consequence.

Around the hour Wolves had minutes with the ball, not letting the northerners touching it. There was just one team on the pitch and the home team were in grave problems. Just when they made changes to begin to play 4-5-1 to match us better we leveled. A very well taken free from O’Hara dropped down from a defender to Doylers feet and he managed to get it in the net on his second attempt. Fighting spirit!

Toon had changed a forward to a midfielder and I bet Pardew uttered some words from the underground after the changed circumstances. On the other hand we maybe would have taking all three points home if they had continued to play with only four in the middle. Wolves continued to have a lot of possession despite their change of formation and we could see the game out in a professional way.

To the ratings, then. Terry Connor deserves a nine for his management in the game. He employed the right players in the right formation and received a result in a game that most experts didn’t see us as having a chance beforehand. Keep up the good work TC and we will prevail!

Hennessey – 7 – Didn’t have much to do, which shows just how well our defending worked in this game, but he made one or two great saves as usual. Nothing to do about the goals

Zubar – 8 – A surprise choice by TC and a very good one. Seem to be allowed to go forward much more than under MM. Did that very well and worked very well in close co-op with Foley aswell. Best at tackles in Wolves with six out of six won. He was given a chance and he took it. Nice, welcome back! He gets my little star

Stearman – 7 – Another surprise. My guess is that Bassong was not 100% so TC opted for the old pairing of Stears-Berra. They know each other and function well as a pairing. No mistakes by Stears and he played a simple and secure game through out

Berra – 6 – Made that one mistake in the game and gets a point off for it. Is a scot international for a reason. Good at almost everything that matter, but not with his feet under pressure and at passing the ball. Must be able to train those flaws out of his repertoire or he can not reach top level as a defender.

Ward – 6 – Captain for the day and I can think of nobody better for the role. Solid in defending and good cooperation with Jarvo. Not in top form like earlier in the season, but a silent hard worker for the team. Must make better passes, though. One point off because of this.

Henry – 7 – Involved in the first goal in the back and got to refrain from passing back when central defenders are under pressure. A very good performance otherwise, taking control of the midfield together with Edwards and O’Hara. When three in the middle its good balance to have one of them being more defensive in style

Edwards – 8 – Won four balls from the opposition in play, a very good stats result. Got a lot of passes from Henry and delivered them to O’Hara. Worked very hard as usual and he looked very sharp in the more defensive role he had in this game. I’ve always had a question mark in front of his name and to be honest would have liked to see Milijas play in this role instead but his performance in this game has made me change my mind. He deserves the little bouncy thing and I hope he will play against Fulham

Foley – 7 – A surprise in the winger role, but he is one of our most consistent players and has an eye for the game, good passing skills and played well both defending and going forward. A complete player in other words and I believe that TC is right to play him in the middle as he offers the team a lot. Together with O’Hara he was the best passer in this game (88%)

O’Hara – 7 – Together with Henry and Edwards he dominated midfield and that was the key to our success in the game. Nice free-kicks and centers as usual, but maybe he should burst through more often?! He is in his right role, though, and reading that he is playing with injury bothers me. We need him at his best for the team. Good management by TC to replace him with Kightly the last twenty minutes and Kights did alright in that role.

Jarvis – 7 – An extra point for his goal. As usual a threat to any defence, but not as active as when he is at his best. Shows signs of form about to come, though and when he gets the space he is very effective now. But the opposition defences double up against him and it’s not easy to get through. Those curls are very nice, let them keep coming. 😆

Doyle – 9 – Very early on in the game he showed that he wanted something from it. It was a complete different Doyle than previous games and I believe he relishes in the change of management, despite his praise of Mick in media. He has been forced to play a game that was not his this season and now he was back on a longer leash letting him go about his business in the way he saw fit himself. And that results in a happier Doyler plus one goal and one assist. Full of energy and skills in play aswell and an almost perfect game. Keep this going and I have no fear for the rest of season. Doyler gets Paddytheflea’s Big Star in this game!

Paddytheflea

Probable Team Lineups & TC: Newcastle v Wolves

•February 24, 2012 • 10 Comments

A familiar face? It should be or it will become. Terry Connor has been employed in Wolves for thirteen  years now under four different managers. At first as reserves coach, later in the capacity as coach and assistant manager to the first team. He has gone the long way to become the manager of Wolves and I wish him success in that role.

The board of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC has been very criticised for the longevity of the process to appoint a new manager after sacking Mick McCarthy. Is that a just critique? I’m not so sure. They had three names – or maybe even more – on a shortlist a day or two after the sacking and worked on them. Part of the critique by Mr Swain in E&S and Mr Moxley at Daily Mail is that they didn’t have a shortlist quick enough. That’s not a fair critique.

The problem was that nobody on that list, maybe with the exception of Curbishley, had the full backing of the board after the first interviews. That meant that they had to expand the process to managers employed by other clubs and that is a time consuming process.  With the same luck as the little club down the road we would have had a new manager in four days tops.

Back to TC. This is what he said after the appointment to the official site:

“I’m obviously delighted to be appointed manager to the end of the season. I’m honoured to have such a prestigious position and am a proud man today. I’ve worked extremely hard over the years to get into a position where a Chairman and Chief Executive would see me as management material.”

“I worked closely with Mick for a number of years. We are two Yorkshireman but couldn’t be more different in our approaches. There are certain things we were very much together on and others where we disagreed like all people. We’ve had some great times and successes together but Mick’s got his way and I’ve got mine.”

He was the man who, with Mick not knowing what to do, brought on Doyler against Rangers changing the team formation to 4-3-3 and by that collecting three points to Wolves. Respect!

That tells me he has a good eye for the tactics of the game and dares to take on the opposition instead of waiting to be beaten, something I have watched MM do many a time. I really hope we will se a more modern playing Wolves team under TC and a team that can take charge over a game and go for it.

As I said he has served under our four latest managers and I’m sure he has picked up both what to do and, what might be more important, how not to do things on the way. Apart from the tea lady he is the man with the most Wolves DNA in the club and I can confirm that as I have now jumped to his head and already taken som hair samples. 😆

Football history is full of accomplished managers coming through by working as assistant managers. McDermott of Reading is one, the Scot Smith another. I’m totally behind the appointment of TC and I will support him, and of course the team, in the struggle to stay in the Premier League starting with the game against Newcastle tomorrow.

Both Wolves and Newcastle have had a nice rest for the last third of the season. Toon have some long term injuries on Best, Ameobi, Ranger and S. Taylor and  R Taylor is a slight doubt. In Wolves Fletcher is a slight doubt with illness but Bassong is back after a hamstring injury. I really hope Fletcher can play from start. Kightly is back from a back injury and will probably play from start with the option of Doyle coming on to the second half if Fletch is fit.

Newcastle will without doubt play with a 4-4-2 formation as they have done the last six games home and away. With new signing Cissé and Ba upfront. Will TC copy that? I hope not. It’s guess-work when we have a new manager, but I would go for a 4-2-3-1 with Fletcher upfront if he is fit, otherwise I would give Ebanks-Blake a go, keeping Doyle as a strong force to come on later.

We need a strong midfield to nip the Newcastle attack in the bud and prepare for our own attacks. I have a hope that the treatment of Milijas and Craddock will change under new management, but maybe TC will go slow with changes of the team?! Hard to say, really. Ward and Foley will be at the back, hopefully together with Craddock and Bassong, but Johnson and Bassong is the more probable choice.

What about the result, then? Has the uncertainty and the kicking of McCarthy had a negative impact on the team? I believe not and we cannot play worse than we did in the last game. Away way are unbeaten for two and a half months. Draws against Arsenal and Tottenham say that it is at home we have problems, not away.

Newcastle is a very good home team, though, and I would drink an extra pint, maybe two, if we take a point home from up north. Actually I would be pleased if we just show some spunk and that our new manager proves to us all that he is the right choice. Two all is my positive guess. Below the probable starting elevens for the game. Exciting! I can’t wait!

GOOD LUCK TO TC AND THE TEAM!!! WE ARE ALL BEHIND YOU!!!

Paddytheflea