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Another Bad Day at the Office

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.`

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday April 10 2011
Time: 10:16AM

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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
10/04/2011 11:08:00
Surely our defense needs a rechange. Please craddock
10/04/2011 13:27:00
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
10/04/2011 13:43:00
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?
10/04/2011 15:14:00
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.
10/04/2011 15:46:00
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
10/04/2011 16:06:00
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?
10/04/2011 17:06:00
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
10/04/2011 20:23:00
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
10/04/2011 20:29:00
What would be your defensive line-up, superwwfc? It might do away with the need to prepare a banner!
10/04/2011 20:29:00
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