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Go Back Home and Prepare for the Championship

Paraphrasing David Steele`s misguided exhortation to the Liberal Party in 1981, this instruction is all too likely to prove true for us and for our team.

Although deflections accounted for two of Stoke`s goals, even MM did not argue that, but for such bad luck, we might have stayed in the game and (even more unlikely) might have salvaged a point. If Hennessey had not saved us on numerous occasions, Stoke would have been out of sight by half-time.

One of many of the irrational arguments that have served to counteract the evidence of the league table is the belief that we always improve in the final run in. On the contrary, our results against Stoke reveal the opposite trend. In the opening match of the season SEB and Fletcher tore Stoke apart and, but for an injury to Fletcher, we would won more handsomely than the 2-1 margin. At the end of January Stoke won 1-0 in a dour battle in the cup. Now this!

In this match Stoke were the team doing the tearing apart. They were so much sharper on the ball, so much more astute in running the channels and so much more accurate in their passing. They sliced open our defence at will. We were led to believe that the two week gap between the Everton and Fulham games had allowed the coaching staff to guide the players gently by the hand through the basic footballing skills they lacked. They clearly weren`t listening to them.

The first goal illustrated the glaring difference in quality between the two teams in general and the fragility of our defence in particular. Jones held up a ball from Shawcross out of defence before laying it off to Pennant. With space to pick his spot he aimed it at Jones, who, running between our two defenders, headed it into the net.

Wolves played better in the second half without really threatening a goal. While I worried every time that Stoke came forward, Wolves looked laboured, slow-witted and bereft of ideas. We only seemed to hold on to the ball when passing sideways or in the default move back to Hennessey. In attack, we lacked guile and penetration, largely because we were misfiring in midfield. The injury to Fletcher didn`t help. I hope he is fit for Sunday or our attack will be gumless, let alone toothless.

MM`s initial team selection had some merit, with two wide men and Mancienne as the extra midfielder. Unfortunately, both he and Kightly were rusty ... and so were their later replacements, Hunt and Guedioura. Even so, it`s in central defence that we really are weak and opposing teams have been quick to exploit it. It`s now hard to imagine that I once thought that Berra and Stearman were forging a reasonable partnership in the heart of our defence. Stearman`s name was even being put forward as a potential England player. Incredible!

Is it mere coincidence that this decline has occurred at a time when Doyle, our talismanic front runner, has been side-lined by injury? The very notion seems bizarre but is there a link? Doyle is so good at holding up the ball that it forces opposing defenders to focus on him, while also allowing our midfielders to move up in support. His absence gives opponents a far freer rein. I pray that reports of a return in the final two games prove to be accurate.

Optimists will point to the fact that we are still in the mix and that a victory or two will take us up the table and away from the relegation zone. This is another of those irrational arguments that have bedevilled our fight all season. MM was even putting it forward after the Fulham match. Somewhere along the line we have to get actual points. All those months of complacency and a refusal to accept the seriousness of our plight are coming back to bite us. We should not be in this position - and would not have been - had players and management alike adopted a more realistic stance. We had the money to buy players to cover our problem positions but they refused to spend it.

A new extended stadium ... who will fill it? I will, once I have accepted the fact that we will be playing Doncaster and Scunthorpe next year. I am, indeed, at home and preparing for the Championship but how many others, facing this prospect, will make the same choice? Certainly the fixture list will not attract extra fans.

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

The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 27 2011

Time: 9:06AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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:(((........ I turned the stream off after 30 minutes of 1st half yesterday, it was hard to watch the embarrasing performance :(---------- But we are still not dead ! 2 home victories are possible ! Doyler targets miraculous return for last two matches ! We can still make it on the end !
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27/04/2011 10:18:00

Scunthorpe will be in League 1 so I doubt you are right. Doncaster maybe too. For heaven's sake fight for the last few games and turn this around. I'm a Villa supporter but want you to stay up - start fighting and make it for the next game, please!
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27/04/2011 10:19:00

Gosh, Pan Filuta, have you suddenly acquired the Infinite Improbability Drive of the 'Heart of Gold', the spaceship in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? On the front cover of the guide are the words 'Don't Panic'. Clearly, the compiler was not a Wolves fan.
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27/04/2011 10:40:00

As the guy from Villa says ! Fight ! FFs, Mick and players, start biting and fighting like the real wolves ! I just cant understand, that Doyler gets injured and whole team suddenly breaks :(.... I am afraid, but untill there is the smallest chance, we have to fight !
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27/04/2011 11:37:00

PanFiluta, if you have indeed acquired that Drive, the one Southbank speaks of, hold on to it. Embarrassment, frustration even....yes, but as long as there are games, there is hope. It is not the result that bewilders. It is that it is difficult to accept, to reconcile performances such as this with those seen against Spurs, Man.C (even the defeat) and Chelsea. Not even MM can account for it, and where he has failed it would be presumptuous to offer an explanation, except it be that there IS no explanation. We are now at the stage where the scenario attributed to myself is not only an unthinkable option, but an indispenasable necessity. Whimsical or otherwise when put forward, it is now the only way forward. The word used twice is intentional. FORWARD I say again. I still say it can be done. The only difference is that now I cannot add 'MM's way or otherwise'. Otherwise is the only way.
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27/04/2011 12:04:00

Thanks to Banksy for taking care of an analysis of the game- I can't say I saw all of it because much like our 'team' the stream was beyond dodgy, would work for several minutes and then collapse. Repeat. All in all this is being put down as one of our worst performances under Mick McCarthy and just when we need it most, we are getting worse by the week. He may be wishing he had not been so public about the security of his position some time ago, because if this continues over the course of another four games Morgan will be having a serious rethink on that. Some of us argued for 4-4-2. Some of us argued for 4-5-1; he has tried them both now and no matter how we set up there is something else wrong beyond formation and instructions. It is hard to put a finger on the moment, but at some point in time the confidence has gone up in smoke and worse still we have lost the bite and snap that we would previously have shown through games from start to finish. At one point last night we were on the half way line, 9 passes later and we had sent it back to Henny again to the cheers of the home fans and rightly so. There were players in front of them in just as much space so are the players being instructed to repeatedly go backwards? I have to keep staring at the table to really accept that a draw against Blues and defeats for Wigan and Blackpool would still see us climb to 17th.
New York City Wolf
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27/04/2011 14:48:00

I like the freeview analogy, NYCW. As you say, the performance was beyond dodgy. Why did we waste all that time discussing different formations when the fault lies in the players' heads ... and elsewhere! There's no spark, no urgency and no pride. I want to support the team and bolster their confidence but how in all honesty can one do that after the shambles of the last four games.
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27/04/2011 15:05:00

I'll drink to that. I have spoken about their loss of confidence over the past four games, I would love to hear a team talk just to know whether they really are being told to keep playing it backwards or whether he is going barmy at them for doing so. The fact that Karl Henry insisted Joey Barton was never mentioned in the team talk before the game at their place is either a lie or plain stupid. Either option would at least go some way to explaining our performance. Love him or hate him he pulls the strings for them as he has the ability to do for any team and has the ability to open you up like a tin of beans be it through set pieces or open play. How or why you would ignore your opponents play maker is beyond, especially having dished out 'the treatment' as we did early at home, and lets be honest we were clearly sent out to kick him repeatedly. Mick has slated the performance at Stoke, saying we need a Mick McCarthy performance next. It was a MM performance. Devoid of ideas or tactical awareness. We are like a wounded animal in the headlights and Blues must be rubbing their hands together waiting for this game. It will be fun for them. Back to confidence, everyone can suffer from a lack of it but I refuse to buy into 'pressure'. Everyone is paid to do a job and if you can't handle it find something else. Our players clearly can't. They have lost faith in themselves and whatever the manager is telling them. Give me thirty grand a week and I will hit a 100% pass ratio if I only have to knock it back to Wayne. I got up this morning and I could not have cared less if there was a 'shock' sacking. It would not even register across football as anything near a shock but it would still surprise some in and around the club because this manager will most likely have permission to stick his foot in the concrete when they are building the new stand such is his apparent standing with his own boss. Sarky aside I have admired the way Morgan has dealt with the club. As I have always maintained he is a smart business man. I do believe that his heart is truly in the club and for this and the reason above I do not think he will stick his head in the sand; there remains a very good chance he is twiddling his fingers right now wondering how best to deliver the news. I can't offer up a solution to the present situation. I don't think Mick can either. Sacking him won't help. All we can do is sit back and watch.
New York City Wolf
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28/04/2011 04:35:00

well i hope you dont get stuck down their, God help you if you do
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28/04/2011 11:11:00

Hold your fire, NYCW. 'All we can do is sit back and watch'..indeed.
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28/04/2011 11:55:00

I think we have all been holding our fire for far too long. It's right that managers should manage, and as long as they are flexible and sharp enough to adjust tactics according to circumstances (and strengthen the squad if necessary), we should support them. However, they should expect criticism if they do not produce the results. Moreover, if they fail in the basic task of avoiding relegation, they should shoulder the blame and consider their position.
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28/04/2011 12:11:00

Mick sits very well in the judge me over the course of a season category and I have done just that. We have lost more games than any other side, have the joint worse goal difference and have been in the bottom three for most of the season. What are the chances, especially considering we go into the Blues game on the back of our worst 4 game sequence so far, of us getting anything. Sit back and watch indeed. As the spirit and confidence has drained from the players the same has happened here. We talked through the consequences of relegation months again following the stadium development- I won't open that up again here because I would say that based on the amount of money that we have wasted, as in players that have not been used, what makes us think things would have been any different even if we had spent another ten million in January. It is our club and we will continue to support them through thick and thin. I will be up at dawns crack Sunday morning and I'll be leaping around the living room cheering them on again. Mick can focus on May 22nd all he wants but if we don't pick up something very soon the Blackburn match will be an exhibition game for us.
New York City Wolf
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28/04/2011 14:36:00

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28/04/2011 15:42:00

I'll just modify: we will pick up what is necessary to pick up and make of the Blackburn match an exhibition game. All the criticism is justified, except, as I see, that the players have lost confidence. Neverthelesss I am still confident, it is my nature. What can I do? My being given another name to fit will be justified too!
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28/04/2011 17:25:00

If the players have not lost their confidence, how else can you explain the catastrophic run of results? I saw the last two homes games in person - watching the other two on the box - and they certainly played with a lack of conviction. And, remember, they have had two weeks, in which they supposedly concentrated on eliminating all the errors that had materialised in the Newcastle and Everton games. Perhaps there's something wrong with the advice they have been receiving. Of course, I do not want to add to the chorus of complaints, especially as they have such tender minds, but to avoid upsetting them I would have to lie or stay silent. We deserve better than this.
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28/04/2011 17:44:00

Very well, Southbank, even if this lack of confidence is (not 'be')vouched for by your personal presence at two of the games, for I will say that I am ready to take your word for it, in fact, I am doing so right now, still.. MY confidence is not shaken for all that. If now it be argued that this makes of my confidence a mere irrationality, so be it, for I cannot be otherwise than I am. It is not a show that I am putting on for myself and for others, a brave front to drown the dejection inside..it is just that there is no dejection there at all. And even if we do go down, all I will have to do is to accept the reality - life has given me enough lessons in that by now. Your last point is the one that struck me, however. I refer to the paying fans like yourself, the travellig fans, those whose money goes to the club, not just the heart, like myself. Fans deserve better certainly, but that holds for the fans of all clubs, and the reality is that three will go down.
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28/04/2011 19:09:00

It's not the prospect of relegation that depresses me - though I am clearly not happy about it - it's the abject surrender that I find so shocking ... and the tactical ineptitude that accompanies it. We could turn it round - the players are good enough - but they have to 'get their heads together' and perform to their full potential. In this respect, MM's panicky selection policy doesn't help.
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28/04/2011 20:22:00


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