Relegation Battle II: This Time it`s Serious
If it was a bad day for the Wolves over the weekend, it was a worse one for me trying to track their progress. I had hoped to watch the team return to winning ways but that failed on both counts. At Saturday lunchtime we were hundreds of miles away from Molineux, visiting our elder daughter in Glasgow and with no hope of accessing a broadcast of the match (not that my wife was that bothered).
To be fair, my daughter did offer us choices for the afternoon but they comprised a visit to Doune Castle or a trip to Eaglesham Moor with its 140 wind turbines (and gale-force winds and sub-zero temperature). I pointed out that there was a third option but the suggestion that we listened to the Beacon radio broadcast was voted down. Moreover, the ladies timed the return to the flat to coincide with the start of Strictly Come Dancing rather than with Jeff Stellings`s results service. We did go out to a pub with a wall-sized screen in the evening but my request to watch the Wolves match fell on deaf ears. They did not have Banks`s bitter on tap either.
Even so, I had a computer to hand and, while my wife and daughter were watching Anne Widdecombe make a fool of herself, I was reading about Richard Stearman doing the same at Molineux. As I feared, the fixture list from hell has cast us adrift, with only WHU for company. Saturday was a reality check, pointing out our basic inadequacies in front of goal (ours and the opposition`s). Amazingly, the players remain bullish about the dire situation we find ourselves in, a response which increasingly sounds hollow, even delusional. Repeating the mantra that we are too good to go down and that somehow we will pull through is plain stupidity. If we are playing so much better this season, why are we five points worse off than in the equivalent fixtures last year? Stop dwelling on the plucky defeats and the unfairness of it all. Just get some bloody points on the board!
A glance at the table this morning made me think about the contrasting fortunes of the Wolves and Bolton, teams which ended last season one point apart. Why have Bolton done so much better than us? It`s not as if they chucked that much money around in the summer, certainly nowhere near the £17,000,000 that we doled out. Never mind the millions we need to spend on a left back and a central defender (though we will have to do that), how much would it cost to tempt Owen Coyle to Molineux?
We have to sort out the problem now because it might be too late in January. Surely, our manager, an international centre back in his own right, can devise a plan to tighten up our defence ... or are the men at his disposal simply not good enough? Is MM being too loyal to Championship standard players? He, of all people, should be aware of the difference in quality between the two divisions and act accordingly (but, his purchases have hardly improved our performance, that is, when he has selected them). Even Championship players should be able to focus for the entire game, something certain members of our team patently cannot do. Perhaps they suffer from ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? The symptoms suggest it:
* Failure to finish tasks or sustain attention in play activities;
* Seem not to listen to what is said to them;
* Failure to follow through instructions ... ;
* Disorganised about tasks and activities;
* Avoid tasks ... that require sustained mental effort;
* Lose things necessary for certain tasks or activities [for example, the ball, the location of the opponent`s goal, the ability to mark and tackle a player];
* Easily distracted;
* Forgetful in the course of daily activities.
The Blackpool game is taking on ever greater significance. It is a match we must win or, if not, at least keep a clean sheet. That is no easy matter, given the way Blackpool play. If we are to do so, we should revert to the flexible 4-5-1 formation we were playing in the games before the Bolton debacle. If we manage to contain Blackpool, we can hit them on the counter-attack.
It seems as though the 4-4-2 system we started with on Saturday did not work, weakening out midfield without adding to the fire-power up front. Compounding the problem was Hahnemann`s wayward kicking and the poor form of Henry. With Stearman having another of his off-days, it was not an opportune moment to blood Mouyokolo. I`ll reserve judgement on him, but in the long-term I think he will prove a more reliable central defender than Stearman (who doesn`t?) and a more pacy and agile one than Berra. It will be interesting to see whom MM picks for next Saturday`s match, that is, if he has anyone left. And ... umm ... what about left back (now that would be Groundhog Day except for the fact that Bill Murray improved his skills every repeated day)?
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