There are two sorts of painkiller. There are the pills one takes for a dodgy back and there are the liquids in bottles one drinks when the Wolves are having a bad day. Unfortunately, one cannot consume them both at the same time.
I was therefore completely sober when I watched the Wolves lose at the Boleyn Ground yesterday afternoon: a sobering experience in itself. It was even more painful looking at a re-run of the match on Football First in the evening.
My wife was upset, too, and not merely because at 10.15 pm I suddenly switched over from the Morecambe and Wise play to watch the footie. After all, her first view of the team in action on Wednesday had convinced her that the glory days (which I keep going on about) were just around the corner.
What a difference a season makes. Was this the same team that played WHU off their park in March? No, but we were all told that it was a better one! At least, I can ease the pain with the knowledge that, as after the previous three defeats, we will bounce back and win the next one. So, who are we playing on Wednesday? Oh dear! Pass me another paracetomol, nurse.
Wednesday`s euphoria has evaporated as quickly as the promises made and postures adopted by manager and players. MM constantly bangs on about the team`s workrate and determination, which even he admits make up for a certain lack of skill and sophistication. On Wednesday, the players proved it, quickly shutting down Liverpool with their speed into the tackle. So, why couldn`t they do the same against WHU? It`s not that they were unaware of the importance of the fixture, Ward commenting on Friday that they would have to apply themselves to an even greater extent.
The whole team were flat and lackadaisical, sloppy in their passing and sluggish around the field. Admittedly, for a few minutes at a time they looked lively and engineered a few openings. Nonetheless, WHU had the better chances and, unlike us, put a couple of them away, even at times of Wolves pressure. So they received a little help from Zubes but Cole should have scored anyway. This is the story of the season: the team is capable of playing reasonably well but regularly spoils it all by not taking chances and giving away soft goals through lapses at the back.
Moreover, the players display a worrying tendency of pitching their energy level in inverse proportion to the importance of the fixture. So, they raise their game against top teams and, although they usually lose, the manager and his boys can console themselves with the knowledge that they were plucky losers: sod the 'nul points`.
It`s a recipe for disaster because it breeds complacency, precisely the wrong frame of mind with which to approach a relegation battle. Believe me, you should read their comments over the season: I have a 29 page dossier of their quotes to date. New York City Wolf pointed out the same problem in a response to my article on the Wigan defeat.
The match did prove - perhaps, even to MM - that the present line-up (even allowing for injuries) does not automatically pick itself. And it`s the forwards` fault as much as the backs: I thought that Stearman, for instance, had a good game and saved us from greater humiliation. Clearly, for all his industry, playing Ward up-front is not the answer. Mind you, it`s not surprising that at times he gets caught out of position. According to Stears, he always gives 110 per cent so he must be permanently knackered. SEB was a mere shadow of the player who had tormented Liverpool on Wednesday. Hunt and Jarvis were ineffectual. Fletcher must start on Wednesday. I intend to be there to see them win.
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.