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'A Bit Nervy' (MM)

'A Bit Nervy' (MM)

The tension was palpable at Molineux yesterday, both on and off the pitch, and in spite of going ahead in the 21st. minute, it hung over the ground all afternoon. At least, we did not lose. Surely, this fact alone will boost the confidence of the players as they prepare for the vital match against Stoke on Tuesday. But we were lucky.

My outing started later than usual, for at 10.45 a.m. I was waiting on an access road to the M25 in Surrey for a carload of Wolves, Fulham, Spurs and Huddersfield supporters to pick me up. Only two of us looked tense, though in my case it was partly due to a feeling that we had left it rather late if we were going to sink a few pints of Banks`s Best Bitter before the match. And so it proved, with time only for a couple of pints to wash down a plate of steak and chips at a pub on the outskirts of Redditch.

Driving in from the Birmingham New Road, we parked in a side street just short of the ring road at 2.37 p.m. Silencing the Huddersfield fan (of all people), who derided the town`s architecture, by pointing to St. John`s Square with its parish church and Georgian houses, we hurried through the Wulfrun Shopping Centre (which I had helped to build over 40 years ago).

We split up at The Wanderer, the Fulham contingent making their way to the Jack Harris Stand (that would shut them up) and the rest of us walking down the slope to the Billy Wright Stand. We took our seats with a few minutes to spare. It was perfect timing ... but only if one was solely interested in watching the match and not drinking Banks`s beer! Perhaps we would squeeze in a celebratory glass or two afterwards.

Dream on! So, with a stop at Cherwell services and a chat to a couple of Wolves fans (they weren`t happy either), I arrived home in time to pay my dues, viewing the final hour of 'Love Actually` and having a glass of wine with my wife. I then had to watch the first half. As we had seen the film several times before, it didn`t spoil the story but it did mean that I also watched the Wolves game the wrong way round. That didn`t matter either because it was a repeat. Sadly, unlike the film, it didn`t have a fairy tale ending ... by a mere 11 minutes.

It could have been worse. Fulham dominated the first 20 minutes and, but for a splendid one-handed save by Hennessey, we would have found ourselves a goal down in two minutes. I turned to my friend and said that if this were the Everton game, we would score a breakaway goal and win by a considerable margin. And we did (score a goal, that is), Fletcher heading home a lovely cross from Henry (yes, Henry).

Unfortunately, instead of emboldening our players, it merely increased the tension quotient and allowed Fulham back into the game. A clear case of déjà vu: Craven Cottage on Saturday 11 September 2010. My friend, who had attended that match with me, agreed. It therefore came as no surprise to us when Fulham equalised, the only question being why they had teased us for so long. This time, however, my prediction that once Fulham had scored they would win the match, proved false ... but only just. In injury-time Hennessey made another fine save.

Afterwards, MM put a positive gloss on the result and in the context of the previous two matches we must be grateful for small mercies. We didn`t lose and, judging from the defensively-loaded 4-5-1 formation, that was presumably the object of the exercise (though we desperately need a win: where are the predicted three coming from?). We may therefore travel to Stoke on Tuesday in a more upbeat frame of mind (Ah! That`s one of them ... but at the Britannia Stadium?).

Even so, the players will have to improve on this performance, which no-one could claim was three clear goals better than the ones delivered in the Newcastle and Everton games. While Craddock did strengthen the defence, the players around him were as flaky and as error-prone as ever. It`s the reason why we have to play 4-5-1. The midfield barely functioned, with Milijas anonymous (apart from a wonderful ball onto Guedioura`s head) and O`Hara, after a bright start, fading away. Upfront, Fletcher battled gamely and was probably the only player to enhance his reputation. He deservedly received a standing ovation when SEB replaced him in the 76th. minute.

The loss of confidence is clearly at the heart of the problem. This was reflected in the passing, which all too often consisted of lumping the ball upfield or moving it sideways/backwards in an attempt to avoid giving it away (usually unsuccessfully). Promising moves repeatedly broke down and the impetus lost. As the players have proved over the course of the season, they can build up attacks carefully with slick, accurate passing, keeping the pressure on until an opening appears. Unfortunately, as in the Everton game, passes went astray, players dispossessed on the ball and basic dribbling skills forgotten.

And the fans booed. But, perhaps as a sign of improvement, their derision was aimed at the Fulham players, Murphy and Sidwell, rather than at ours. It`s a victory of sorts. I have read NYCW`s comments in an earlier thread (hey, wait for the mature, carefully considered report before jumping in) and agree with them. However, I want to reserve judgement until after the Stoke game. For all their failings yesterday, the team collectively were playing under an enormous amount of pressure. Of course, they should be able to defend a one-goal lead but at least they did deliver it in the first place and it is a basis on which we can build.

Given the results elsewhere, it is still in our hands.

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

Date:Sunday April 24 2011
Time: 9:52AM


Lets hope Stoke have got Wembley on their Mind Banksy!,I can see this,no wait a minute it is going to the wire,only five games left.Forget all the rest,only one thing matters now!,that game in hand,its the most important game and one that we have to win.I think its going to the last game of the season,we are not playing well enough for it to end sooner,we may end up going down with Blackburn if we cant beat them on the final day!.If tyhe table stays as is if we win the final game we finish in 16th,that will do all of us I think!.UTW.
Crete Wolf
24/04/2011 10:24:00
Effective as 4-5-1 seems to have been in securing a draw, 5 others will probably not do. If we attack we get pummelled on the counter and if we play a game of containment (when we succeed) hoping for a goal on the break (when it comes) wins a point. With 5 games still to go, this point goes down well because of that and because we got more than we deserved from the game. The good thing is that three consecutive derbies come next, where both sets of players are apt to be somewhat 'nervy', neutralising, or at least lessening, the impact of tactical and technical superiority of any one team, which, if one is to be sincere, must, in our case, be credited to the opposition.
24/04/2011 16:20:00
Ah Banksy- I was looking forward to the mature, carefully considered report as always- turns out that despite 'jumping in' our opinions were very much the same. I was tempted to write a report myself but considering you were actually at the game and would provide a greater portrayal of the build up and a descriptive of the tension around and inside the ground I held off on that at least. Thus far, having read the thoughts of yourself and Crete we thankfully at least saw the same game and resisted the option to fit the blinkers and ignore the negative nature of our approach. Furthermore, no one is exactly thrilled with the point although you both show a bit more leniency than me and have been able to champion the point gained more than I. One point is better than none, but it will count for nothing on Tuesday if we fail to make the game in hand count, and over the course of a home game against Fulham and a trip to Stoke saturday was our chance. Not getting beat is going to prove difficult and if our players can look that scared in front of their own there's a very good chance they will fall to bits under the volume generated at the Brittania. Another draw will leave us in the relegation zone facing the reality that from there on in, even if we are winning we are going to rely on others to achieve less- Saturday...we got a point...Blackpool got a point. A trip to Blues, Albion at home (what is it, one defeat in eight for them?). If we were playing anywhere close to our potential it would instill greater optimism we could pick the bones of what slim pickings remain and find a couple of wins. The performance leaves it open for people to deride 4-5-1 as negative tactics but as I have already said elsewhere if we had gone 4-4-2 against the Fulham we saw I have no doubts we would have been beaten. From his apparent satisfaction with the point we should probably expect much of the same over these last five games as he sends the side out to pick the points one at a time? West Ham have hit the bottom but they still have a nature to them where they are likely to have a couple of stinkers yet still spring a win from somewhere and as the season has unfolded the only reasoning is to expect the unexpected. 39 points is not going to be enough so somewhere a long the line a manager who has run out of ideas and a team shot of confidence are going to have to find a way to win.
New York City Wolf
24/04/2011 16:37:00
LovesW and NYCW: I agree with both of you, which is weird because you come from different directions. LovesW's point about a derby generating nerves on both sides is a good one and should help us in the games against WBA and Birmingham (and the Blues cannot be feeling too confident at the moment). On the other hand, I take NYCW's point that we were more likely to gain three points at home to Fulham on Saturday than we are on Tuesday at Stoke. I think we have to see the Fulham game in context, that is, a match in which our players were under severe psychological pressure. A defeat would have opened wide the trapdoor. It didn't materialise and I hope that the result has drawn a line under the blip (if blip it be). Given the 'previous', the Newcastle game was always going to be a difficult one and the heavy defeat had a knock-on effect in the Everton fixture, especially after we conceded a goal after 21 minutes of pressure. Now the slate has been wiped clean and we start afresh on Tuesday. But, as we do have to win this game in hand, the pressure has not gone away. I'll be listening on Beacon Radio, even at the expense of my French conversation evening at a local pub (which unfortunately only serves poncy Home Counties beer).
24/04/2011 16:59:00
A draw will lift us out of the drop zone on goal difference?
24/04/2011 21:37:00
Southbank's round-ups of the games and comments thereon are ever so enlightening, though not at all heartening, because factual: so let me make my appreciation known - I have been meaning to do so for quite some time. For something heartening now but not at all factual: I have been forseeing a win at Stoke with still 15 games to go. Before any Cup Final factors, before the stark reality of having to win set in. I cannot of course substantiate the assertion, so please do not ask me to, though the fact that Stoke have since found themselves engaged on 'another front' with the prize now within reach may seem to go some way towards that, but it cannot have anything to do with that. I say this to keep spirits up, if only until Tuesday night.
25/04/2011 01:48:00
Whoever intends writing the next match report: it's been a 'Bad Day at the Office' much too often now. I am hoping it will be a 'Good Night at the Office' on Tuesday. That will still hold should the team have a collective sleep!!! In which case, precede with 'It's' and and have Good Night in inverted comas. But I leave that, and preferably better still, to the writer.
25/04/2011 02:54:00
Well, I am working late tonight and early tomorrow so I can get to see the game. Due to conflicting work hours this will be the first game in a long time I will be watching with the wife and if we are talking omens and such I think Blake has scored every time she has watched. Not one for omens and 'luck' I still think we have a very long way to go to even pick up a point from this game but alas, we are Wolves and these players have done the business time and again when the chips have been down so maybe they will 'turn up.' Appreciate the efforts to raise spirits W. A relief to see Craddock in the side- I think he helped them keep things together better than we have been- we can only hope he gets better with each game as he benefits from game time- he is going to be slightly off it after so long out, but I believe his experience will see us through it. Foley must wonder what he has done wrong and I hope to see him back in the side tomorrow. All in all I am not going to criticize Stearman's performance but his tackle was reckless and plenty of players have been sent of for less- I think the ref bottled the decision considering it was early in the game- if we had gone down to ten men so early it really could have been another bad day at the..... just kidding. We stuck by him on this site and his improvement this season has been vast, but the tackle fell in the error category- whilst previously prone to the odd silly, costly error that have cost goals, losing his head like that could have had greater implications. If Craddock has been brought for a steady head, surely Foley should be alongside him. I would be interested to hear opinions on the midfield having got thoughts over the weekend from friends back home. We agreed that whilst we want Adlene in the side his game left the midfield a bit unbalanced. Henry thankfully had a better game, and whilst I like O'Hara's running (and think he or Adlene are amongst the likely candidates to pull something special that might just seal us a truly priceless win somewhere) I think this was his least effective game for us so far. In recent games he has been employed too deep, on Saturday with license to go forward he was wasteful and trigger happy skying the 'chances' that came his way. I did cringe watching the Stoke highlights because 'the throw' was causing Villa all manner of problems. Considering our inability to keep a clean sheet and Wayne's flapping we are surely going to have to keep if we are going to come away with anything. The big positive of course was Fletcher. I thought he did a terrific job and proved once again that given the chance he will score for you. I will happily take the match report but if you want to skip Beacon Banksy I'll shoot an e-mail over now. I would take a point from this game because if we can overturn the calamity of the defeats with two draws rather than a lucky one at home to Fulham it may give them the ingredient the are missing most; confidence.
New York City Wolf
25/04/2011 14:21:00
Send me that email, NYCW: I still need to find a reliable freeview site. Can anyone tell me about the site, Live Football Online, Is it a reputable site? I need to know as one has to pay a joining fee. I intend to write a report of the match but if you can watch via a clear screen NYCW, it's better that you do it. Watching a flickering stop-start match 30 seconds behind the Beacon broadcast is a surreal experience.I would settle for a draw tomorrow but we are getting close to lovesW Doomsday scenario and the appearance of the 1-1-9 formation.
25/04/2011 14:39:00
Southbank, if pay site it must be, I pay £10 a year for membership to I have just checked and there are no details of the streams yet, though the match IS featured. Also, there is a free site:, but I fear this is another name for, which was excellent before being declared illegal by U.S law. Going to MYp2p directly, it says there: 'a station is available and will appear.....' Pity it is not on Sky. Several bars in my area show all the matches that are. I would of course love to see 'my' scenario unfolding tomorrow night, but 1-1-9? The first one is inactive for all but a few minutes of the match. Play Hennessey in midfield in a 0-6-5!! formation.
25/04/2011 15:54:00
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