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Another Bad Day at the Office

It was with some trepidation that I set out for the match, given the team`s performance against Newcastle the previous weekend. Even so, I was comforted by the fact that, whatever had happened at St. James`s Park, it would be a different story at Fortress Molineux.

I left early - 11.30 a.m. on Friday to be precise - and therefore did not meet any fans at Oxford or Warwick services, just loads of people going off on holiday. Me, too, I thought ... but events at Molineux were to prove no picnic.

Ironically, I found some rival fans in the most unlikely of places on Friday evening. I was speaking at a village hall in a north Worcestershire parish and made a throwaway remark that I was looking forward to a Wolves win the following day. This immediately drew some good natured banter from an audience that included AV, Stoke and WBA supporters and a little old lady who used to attend matches at Molineux in the late 1950s. Co-incidentally, at that time I must have rubbed shoulders with the guy I sat next to in the Billy Wright stand because, like my teenage self, he used to watch games from behind the goal on the South Bank.

I arrived at West Park at 10.40 on Saturday to find that the parking spaces along the railings had virtually filled up. Was the game about to start or was this merely the normal Saturday morning shopping traffic? Probably the latter, because The Varsity was empty. It meant that I could purchase a pint of Banks`s best bitter without subjecting myself to the normal scrum at the bar.

I even enjoyed a chat with a tableful of Everton fans, who, fleeing from the Aintree punters, were anticipating a hard-fought, entertaining game. Concerned about their lengthy injury list, even cocky scousers thought that the most likely outcome was a 1-1 draw. On the way out I noticed my first Doritos shirt: perhaps he was wearing it as the quid pro quo in a bargain with the soccer gods for a Wolves victory. If we escape relegation, I`ll wear mine at my daughter`s wedding later this year!

And so to the match. I expected our team to make a bright start in an effort to shake off the lethargy of the previous week. And so it proved. We completely dominated the first quarter of the game to the extent that the Football First commentator could consider that Everton were hanging on. We had our chances, too, admittedly mostly potential rather than actual ones. Had Guedioura`s thunderbolt or Fletcher`s header gone in (or had SEB not been muscled off the ball in the penalty area), the outcome of the match might have been different.

Unfortunately, in the 20th. minute slack marking gifted Everton the lead, totally against the run of play. Osman was given acres of space down the right wing and with Elokobi ambling back, he could pick out his man in the box. Beckford, effortlessly getting in between our static central defenders, headed the ball past Hennessey.

Thereafter, the team steadily disintegrated, shipping another two goals through defensive errors by half time and stumbling though the second half in an ever more ragged fashion. It was a relief when the final whistle blew. At least, we drew that part of the game.

Nothing went right. Passes went astray, players fell over the ball or failed to control it and altogether the team looked like a collection of strangers. For all their vaunted spirit and mental toughness, the players radiated nervousness and uncertainty. The third goal, presented to Bilyedtinov, when O`Hara and Elokobi left the ball for each other, summed up the shambles of the afternoon.

Craddock has to come back in order to add authority and experience to the defence. Up in the Billy Wright stand we were all agreed on that. It`s not that Stearman and Berra are poor defenders and they have improved so much in recent months that I have even argued for the deployment of the more aggressive 4-4-2 formation. But, as they tend to switch off and drift out of position, they need constant reminders of what to do and where to go. The game also exposed the shortcomings of our full-backs, especially on the left flank. Even the management must be regretting the failure to invest in a solid defender or two in the January window.

Up-front, SEB and Fletcher were ineffectual, demonstrating that a 4-4-2 formation is not the answer to our problems. Clearly, we need the extra man in midfield. It also allows us to make better use of O`Hara, who once again was wasted in a deep-lying role. MM probably reasoned that Guedioura`s competitiveness would help plug the gap. The lad played well and tried hard but it was asking a lot of a player returning to the top flight after six months away. Nonetheless, he will prove an asset in the final six games. The difficulty is finding someone effectively to fill Doyle`s boots.

I know I have been accused of negativism and a lack of confidence in the team but, as I was leaving the ground, I heard the same sentiments being expressed by others. The boos at half-time and at the end of the match indicated the feelings of the crowd. It was not the defeat itself that sparked the reaction, but rather the pathetic performance of the players on the pitch. If MM manages to turn this season round now, he really will deserve the title of Merlin the Magician.

As Oscar Wilde had Lady Bracknell say, 'Losing one game badly by three clear goals may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two in succession looks like carelessness.`

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The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 10 2011

Time: 10:16AM

Your Comments

Positive thinking!thats all we need now.I am still in the belief that at least two teams above us wont win another game,we just have to dig in and grind out 1-0 results.Unbelievably Sunderland now joining in the drop zone party!. I just hope if we do survive all that money wasted in the summer will not be forgotten,who's fault was it?why did we buy players that were not going to be used?. I think personally if we do stay up,we do need someone tactically to take us up another level,not saying change manager,maybe another coach?look whats happened to Chelsea after Wilkins left and Albion now Hodgsons at the helm.If something is'nt done and we do manage to survive it will all happen again next season if we dont sign the right players again!!.UTW.
Crete Wolf
Surely our defense needs a rechange. Please craddock
not enough quality. not enough effort made to bring any in. All sides incur injuries at some point, Mick you are entirely to blame for not making contingencies. Please Leave
Another 6 working days at the office to go, but I still say we will all be lazing (not dazing) on a Sunday afternoon, that of May 22nd. The other teams around us, except WBA, keep losing, and a draw is as good, for us, or as bad, for them, as a defeat. The danger now is a 'justified' reversion to a Doyleless 4-5-1. Most of us have argued for 4-4-2 for months now - has all that suddenly evaporated into thin air? Does a poorly deployed and executed plan render the plan itself discardable; moreover does it all at once render the already renounced alternative again feasible?
One has to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances in order to make best use of existing resources. I was therefore not unhappy for MM to try out a 4-4-2 formation on Saturday, as it was worth giving the partnership of SEB and Fletcher the opportunity of playing together. But, to operate it successfully the strikers have to convert their chances and the defenders have to work extra hard and concentrate more intently on the game. We did neither. Having tried it and seen the result, we should revert to Crete Wolves's suggestion of grinding out a result, perhaps a series of draws, through the deployment of a 4-5-1 formation. It will give us more security in defence and enable O'Hara to play further up the pitch. We also need to keep Guedioura in the team, while bringing back Craddock to shore up the defence. And, naturally, someone else, perhaps Mancienne, at left back.
In answer to the Malteser yes,and glad you agree Peter.Hehe.UTW. NYC is not showing,hope he keeps taking his medication,he might need it against Fulham.As I said earlier,positive thinking and I stick by that some teams wont win another game!,Blackpool have lost to Arsenal so its not all doom and gloom.
Crete Wolf
That's the only positive result of the weekend, though in the run-in we cannot rely on other teams imploding. I just hope that we do not collapse under the strain. Who said that being in the bottom three all season gives players the strength of character to cope with the situation and to fight their way out? That wasn't apparent yesterday?
I do not think mick shud be got rid. Never . But i do think he makes poor tactical decisions week in week out which may have a huge impact at the end of the season. If he does nt swap around the defense by Fulham I will see to it that a banner is hung at the next game telling mick himself
As Oscar Wilde had Lady Bracknell say, 'Losing one game badly by three clear goals may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two in succession looks like carelessness.` Thrice? I would point to stupidity but that is already present. I watch my games at 10am and take no shame in enjoying a half time beer and see where it goes, but 745 seemed a bit to early for the bottle- I wish I had loaded a couple of bottles in. Miersable performance and I was happy to jump on a train and take a trip out to the sticks. Spot on with everything Banksy and points well raised once more in return. When Doyle got injured my article was titled 'What Now?' and if I could have scanned a picture of sudden despair I would have. Time, never on my side allowed not. This is not I told you so, but the proof is in black and white- pun intended. We started at Newcastle as we had finished at Villa, yet a goal down and five minutes without the ball stirred a wild and peculiar panic in Mick who gave up. Employing this wonderful 4-4-2 formation we have managed a grand total of one goal and shipped six. For two years now I have had to wonder why we can not employ this formation with even the slightest sense of organization. I have come to the conclusion that it is the orders the players are being given so yes, I put this at the door of Mick and his trusty, doting companion. I am not calling for the sack but TC has outlived many managers at the club so a change perhaps? Too late? The players did not have a clue where they were supposed to be, who they were marking, what runs they were picking up, who and where they were supposed to run and pass to. The second half was like watching a poor Sunday pub team. It either went backwards for young Wayne to launch down the field or we resorted, when we were in their half, to lobbing inswingers in in from just inside the chanel, effectively in line with the middle, which flew over everyone repeatedly and gave our wide men nothing. When we were playing 4-5-1 Jarvis and Hammill were all over the ball, one cross after another as has been recognized. I waited for the interview to appear online hoping Mick would say, well that did not work did it? we need to have a rethink, but no. We will scrap til the end. Such insight. What an answer. It is not even the manner of performance against us that concerns me in the slightest because all in all Everton played a fairly sensible game from a fairly basic approach and they did not have to find another gear, or switch things around to achieve their goal of a victory. We can not play 4-4-2 end of story, and I won't even blame the players. Sure they are making mistakes, but they are lined up like sitting ducks. Two weeks ago Mick's job seemed the safest in the country. We have collapsed like a pack of cards and if this is what we are going to pay witness to for the next 5 weeks or so then Morgan might be pushed into a rethink. If you are amongst the worst performers compared to your peers in whatever industry you are working and cost your 'company' huge sums of money after already wasting its resources you expect to get fired. These two games aside, if we had managed to play as we were until the very end I would have had sympathy; still I would say sorry, you have to go. Relegation should not have even been anywhere near the cards this season. We had the solid foundations of a very good, young improving squad, we have *****ed large sums of money up the wall. It is not good enough. If we stay? Of course he stays. If he does, something really has to change on the coaching side. 18 defeats from 32 games?
New York City Wolf
What would be your defensive line-up, superwwfc? It might do away with the need to prepare a banner!
LB- Mancienne, CBS- craddock and stearman nd RB foley
What would yu have?
Probably the same, superwwfc. Mancienne has the athleticism that Elokobi lacks, as well as greater positional sense and is surer in the tackle. As for the central defenders, Stearman is more mobile, a more skilful footballer and does not wrestle the opposition so blatantly (did you see Berra's bear-hug in the penalty box yesterday?). With guidance he would shape up. It has to be Foley at RB, though, for all his daults, I miss Zubar. He would have manufactured a chance or two, galloping through from the back.
Its all very well and good saying these things here but if MM keeps playin the same team we are surely goin down
How true, superwwfc, but what else can we do?
For one thing, renew the Berra/Craddock pairing in the centre of defence. I see you have had a change of heart about Jody, SB. Stearman can then play at RB for Foley, and Mancienne for Elokobi, as you suggest. My first observation in those first 20' of pressure was that crosses were not coming in at the desired rate; the strikers were ineffectual, indeed,but only because of that. You can recall Vokes and throw him in as well, it would make no difference. Gued and O'Hara were resorting to wild attempts at goal from far out. Hammill and Milijas missed? For me there is always place for the classy Serb in the team, his set pieces apart, now that he has come to grips with the required pace of the game. And all this talk now: back to 4-5-1, grind out a result, a series of draws........all negativism. Series(?) of draws. Are you serious? We have had 5 all season, they have been more difficult to achieve than victories.
:(......... Terrible again. Now I am starting to be worried. C mon, guys, at least 9 points in 6 games, thats not that much, is it ? Was Doyler SO important, that the team just collapses without him ? By the way, I was thinking something like you do guys - should Mick bring back Craddock, even Hahnemann, should he use different wingbacks ? Isnt it too late for that ? I mean, Craddock, Hahnemann, Mancienne - arent they a bit rusty now ? Can they get in the speed right in the next game ? The three players who committed the most to our security last season were Doyler, Jody and "Buddy".... should we bring back at least those two who are available ?
Let's face it, lads, we're all clutching at straws, We've tried different players and different formations but perhaps the people we have left aren't good enough mentally or technically.
Yes,thats about it,we have to go with what we have regardless of quality, the 18 million pound question comes up again?are we going to rue all that waste of money?thats the question I'd be asking if I were Mr Morgan.Its not all gone on one player so there are no excuses,hes bought players that are not up to it,or are sick notes. Still think we'll get out of it,but if we do the questions still have to be asked!or it will be the same again next year.UTW.
Crete Wolf
I've even suggested bringing on a one-legged Doyle.
PanFiluta, Doyle WAS so MM. You said it: the team just collapses without him. But that is because the whole scheme of play was build around him, and relying on such a scheme was risky precisely because of the eventuality that has since become reality. That is why I have been against this 4-5-1: few forwards, if any at all in the PL (let alone in Wolves' ranks) perform Doyle's role to near optimal effect as he does, and that is quoting independent observers of the game. With 4-4-2 you have different combinations possible, for players and positions are interchangeable. Two defeats in a row. So what of it? Earlier on in the season it was four. And that was with the much-vaunted Doyle formation.
Yes and No, lovesW. Doyle must be the world's leading exponent of the one in the 4-5-1 but the system does have more general application, especially at WWFC. It beefs up dodgy defences like ours and frees our creative midfielder/s. If you trawl through the online discussion, you will find that most independent observers (as well as rabid WWFC fans) think that we don't have the men to play a 4-4-2 formation effectively. I take your point about the flexibility of the system but we seem incapable of operating it properly. We might have done - again I hark back to the first half of the Stoke game- but injuries and circumstances intruded. As Saturday proved, neither SEB nor Fletcher shone. You argue that they received poor service and you are right. Guedioura is not Hammill and Jarvis had a terrible game ... but that's part of the problem too. MM felt we needed to strengthen the midfield to cover our fragile back four and that's probably why Guedioura got the nod. Moreover, you fail to consider chronology in your argument. What was acceptable (or at least recoverable) before Christmas is no longer an option. With hindsight, 4-4-2 was too risky a plan to implement as a panic measure, given the context. We must begin to win points, and stopping the flow of goals against us would help. Goal difference could count at the end of the season.
SB60,in your first comment you endorse Crete's suggestion of a return to 4-5-1, grinding out a result and securing a series of draws, and that should be the way forward....but to accumulate points? And at this stage, with six games to go? I refuted those suggestions on tactical and partly technical grounds,yet the principal ones remain simple mathematical ones, for even if that works out, the number of points secured thereby would be insufficient. I cannot agree that MM deployed the 4-4-2 as a panic measure, he employed it because he was satisfied, after trying and failing miserably, that 4-5-1 cannot work without Doyle - just what I have been saying. And woe to us if he tries again. Well may you ask superwwfc 'what else can we do'? There is nothing ELSE to do. Same set-up in the main, bring in Craddock and Milijas, aim for the same attitude as those first 20' and GO. Not all is lost, by no means. One consideration here: none of 6 teams still up have a defence as well-drilled and solid as Everton's was on Saturday. And with their first incursion, a goal. No wonder MM was heaping praise on Moyes before the match. He turned out to be right to an extent he himself must not have anticipated.
I think if we went through the defeats, which would take a long team, and study the formation we played we will see that we lost so many crucial games thinking we can play 4-4-2. We can't. We used it for an hour or so at Newcastle already a goal down, and then Saturday again, shipping six goals implementing this age old system and scoring once. We were picking up a lot of points the way we were playing and whilst there is no replacement for a Doyle; I think we have had to learn without him just how good he is and Banks will on a regular basis and rightfully declare him as one of the very best to play such a difficult role. The news today is that he may be out for the rest of the season which was always a possibility when it happened. Karl Henry must be having a joke today also; I said the same old mistakes would surface- we can't hold a midfield and our shape falls to bits. Stearman and Berra were repeatedly exposed as they were hit in direct fashion and errors were made- the usual clumsy behavior, desperate chasing and grabbing at players is always likely to see you lose a player or concede goals, free kicks penalties. Elokobi has had a hand in at least 4 of the goals shipped and he surely can not pick him again, the same as I do not think we can go again with 4-4-2. It just does not work for us. The mere mention of 4-5-1 seems to have some people up in arms, but where as Doyle was able to make that ball stick like glue whilst we moved forward and he brought in those around him, maybe we can at least play a variation of the formation as in two of the five playing further up the field in the event whoever gets the ball is not going to be able to hold the play as well as Doyle would. O'Hara is indeed being wasted because he seems to be under instruction to hold back somewhat which goes against his game. It was only a matter of time, but it has not taken Captain Fantastic long to churn out the all too familiar 'if we don't improve then....' line which I got sick of hearing earlier in the season and he should watch the video's of the last few days ON REPEAT to notice he has been as poor as anyone considering he is supposed to be the enforcer taking the pressure off the back four. I think there was a great wave of continued optimism ahead of the Newcastle trip that we had enough to continue picking up points- we were picking them up at a rate that would have had us up there near where Albion are now, but it is disturbing how the loss of one player has seen the wheels come off in spectacular fashion. No it is not the loss of one player, W is right, it is the fact we have not been able to line up a team in any formation that the players can play. Of greater concern is whether Mick or TC have any other ideas up their sleeve because after two seasons of this survival game we may have used them up. 9 points from 6 games is not much to ask for. We are indeed lucky that those directly above us have failed to condemn us to a position of greater distance but they can lose every last game and it won't matter unless we can win ours. Concern is the word.
New York City Wolf
Next week Blackpool are at home to Wigan and West Ham at home to Villa. A Blackpool win would take them 4 points ahead of us. A win for Wigan will see us kick off bottom. Ah it just gets better.
New York City Wolf
lovesW: you are right about the need to win but had we been playing 4-5-1 throughout during the last two games, arguably we would be 2 points better off now. This would have given us a better platform to move forward, as well as avoiding the crisis of confidence now affecting the team. Sure, 4-4-2 could have provided us with goals in both matches but the two strikers have to put the ball in the net. While they created chances, they couldn't convert them. Yes, SEB did score one but by then it was too late because our fragile defence, shorn of the extra man, had shipped three goals. Against Everton we scored none. On balance - and I know I am using hindsight- the 4-5-1 is preferable. It allows us to play O'Hara and Milijas too. I have argued for 4-4-2 in the past but the evidence has caused me to rethink my stance on the subject.
How can it be said that we would have been 2 points to the better by now had we gone 4-5-1 in the last two games, SB60? Did we not go 4-5-1 at Newcastle, with SEB in place of Doyle? That was when MM decided to go 4-4-2 for the next match, right there and then, and I gauged this from his statements before the Everton game in a comment I made. And what evidence is this you speak of? One derived from 2 matches has hardly the right to be called such, another from the rest of the matches, save a handful,that kept the team anchored to the basement for practically the entire season certainly has. All credit to 4-5-1 for the points we did get, and the memorable victories against the Goliaths, true, but a 4-5-1 with Doyle as the -1, I hasten to add. Had this misfortune to Doyle not struck, yes, by all means, retain 4-5-1.This is the one point I have been emphasising. I think MM has got it, though most have not, it would seem.
lovesW: we started off with 4-5-1 at Newcastle but switched to 4-4-2. It did us little good, though I commented at the time that we did create chances thereafter. We also let in a further three goals. You still haven't answered the question about chronology. It was really too late to tinker during the NU game and it certainly is now, especially as we have the evidence of a couple of matches to assess its effect. Perhaps you advocate persevering with the experiment until the final game? You would because it's your Doomsday scenario. In an ideal world I would prefer a 4-4-2 system but we have to be able to select men who can 'guarantee' goals and a defence that can keep clean sheets. Just as you argue for the flexibility of a 4-4-2 system I could argue that 4-5-1 readily becomes 4-3-3. I have also argued the other way of course but this merely underlines the problems we are facing. You have consistently advocated a 4-4-2 system, which, though admirable, precludes a critical assessment of the situation we find ourselves in. In the end it's what MM thinks that counts and I worry that he is running out of ideas too. In that respect, I agree with you that he has built his tactics around q 4-5-1 formation with Doyle holding up the ball at the front. Now, with the failure of the 4-4-2 system, at least with the men at our disposal, he seems bereft of inspiration. So am I! P.S. Naturally, I cannot say for certain that we would have drawn the last two matches playing 4-4-2 but we wouldn't have lost by three clear goals. I think NYCW's argument for 4-5-1 has a lot of merit.
Fear not ye all !!3 wins will have our cup runeth over!some teams will not see victory until next year.May go till last match but I dont think so.I feel another poll coming on!!! My three teams to go down-Blackpool,B'ham,Blackburn going down on the last day losing at Wolves and Wigan surviving.
Crete Wolf
Oops! Drawing the last two matches with 4-5-1!
Crete Wolf: the gods of soccer have not decreed that three teams, whose names begin with the same letter, will go down. If so, what about Stoke, Sunderland and Spurs?
I think this has gone on for long enough now. All this 4-5-1 /4-4-2 business is getting the better of me, for one. We are one where the main objective is concerned, the means to that just our opinion. Everyone's views appreciated, light ones included. Not being too disCrete now, I wish I were half as sweet as a Malteser, in some of my ways of putting things,at any rate. I tell you, I have not seen those chocs around for years - what with all the Swiss and German stuff around. Which brings a thought. A foreign manager at Molineux. No one has thought of that, surely. I had not, and I am still not thinking of it. Not even of another manager, let alone a foreign one. We stick with the devil we know, he will deliver - in both senses, the goods, and from the Championship. Brave up!
I've heard Merlin speak!is'nt he foreign?,I understand Capello better,bet Jarvis did too !.
Crete Wolf
If he were Merlin, he would be Welsh and that can't be bad.
..........then he could be tempted to do a Guus Hiddink and take the Wales job part time, see more of Bale and perhaps persuade him to team up with Jarvis at Wolves. Crete, look up Trapattoni's press conference on taking the Ireland job, and for a real laugh his rant before the Bayern cameras when he was in charge there.

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