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A Wasted Opportunity


This was a match of two halves. While the first half was as competitive as one would expect in a local derby and one of such importance to both sides, the second half was inexplicably very tame in comparison.

Given that the Wolves had to win and that they were playing against ten men, I expected them to come out after the break with all guns blazing as they pressed for a vital victory. In my mind I visualized wave after wave of Wolves attacks, with the Birmingham defence finally succumbing on two or three occasions. Dream on!

And it had all begun so promisingly. We started brightly and went ahead in the sixth minute when Fletcher converted from the penalty spot. Then, twenty minutes later one of our defenders made the obligatory error, allowing Larsson to put the ball past Hennessey.

It was a shocking mistake by Mancienne, even by the team`s low standards. Ironically, it was the sort of ball that Berra would have cleared with ease. Never mind; three minutes later the referee sent off Gardner for diving and this meant that Wolves would be playing against ten men for 61 minutes. A fair exchange, I thought.

Even we should be able score from open play. Clearly not, for we could not engineer a clear chance for the rest of the game. The nearest we got to scoring was during a scramble in the box in the 85th minute. Oh yes, earlier Jarvis had badly miscued a shot after Bowyer had slipped, leaving him through on goal.

While the players were able to string a series of passes together in their build-up, they lacked quality in the final third of the pitch. Moreover, as is becoming a habit, too many passes went astray. Although O`Hara was chosen as man of the match, he hardly stood out. We needed a play-maker like Milijas on the pitch, as he seems to be the only person in the squad who has the vision both to spot and execute the killer pass. Of course, we also need players who can run the channels effectively.

In defence, Mancienne had a dreadful game. Apart from giving away the goal, he made a number of other errors. At present, he possesses neither the presence nor the skills to operate in the centre of the defence, being much more at ease as the extra defender in a 4-5-1 formation. While Craddock has certainly strengthened the back line, one would never describe it as solid or unflappable.

Tactically, the team played too tentatively. We persisted with our initial formation, even after the sending off of Gardner. Had we introduced an attacking midfielder like Hammill - or even Guedioura - at that point, we could have caught Birmingham at their most vulnerable. Once the moment had passed and we had failed to make best use of our advantage, Birmingham grew in confidence. Thereafter, we never looked like scoring, substitutions notwithstanding.

It was a sign of MM`s desperation that Vokes came on in the 82nd minute. Even so, given the circumstances and an extra man in midfield, he might have had a greater impact if he had come on earlier. With his height, he might have troubled the Birmingham defenders, especially if playing in tandem with Fletcher. Really, such a comment is an indication of my own desperation and, in any case, it`s all hypothetical now.

We have to hope that MC beat WHU later this afternoon. But will it matter? If we couldn`t win today, where are we going to collect the points from? Even my wife thought we should have won with those odds in our favour. I`m off on a 25 mile bike ride to pedal off my frustrations.




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The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday May 1 2011

Time: 3:06PM

Your Comments

I cant be bothered to go biking Peter!,Pathetic is the word that comes to mind!.
Crete Wolf
At least WHU have just lost.
Southbank60
Only MM knows why Berra, the one rock in defence before the reintroduction of Craddock should make way for a relatively soft and recently returned Mancienne. The bite and class of Guedioura and Milijas out for the blandness of Foley and Ward? Vokes in the last 10' ? Other than the Doomsday scenario ridiculed a couple of months back. How all must be wishing for that now! Ridicule this M ediocrity in M oderation, rather. The question becomes ever easier to answer, given not only the league position which does not improve, but the performances too now, not even against ten men. Notwithstanding all that, I still think it can be done - but PLEASE, do not ask me how.
lovesW
How?
Crete Wolf
We might as well ask you, lovesW, because it is pointless (pun intended) asking the manager.
Southbank60
The mathematics has not pronounced sentence yet. There is still hope, AS LONG AS one is ready to risk all. The only way out is way out. The fanciful and unthinkable has become the only reasonable possibility now. And I am still not answering how with that, because not even I can see it happening. Were it not for those four or five brilliant performances, I would say that the team is incapable of playing offensively, and not even that may be enough at this stage. Reckessness is the word now. Risk all and die now rather than this agonizing slow suicide. But, unlike 12 games ago, I now doubt whether the team are capable of this, of even this.
lovesW
Is it time for the 1-1-9 formation?
Southbank60
Any alternative, Southbank, REALISTICALLY speaking?
lovesW
I have got it!! No wonder a point is quite satisfactory for MM, so will be another or even no points at all against WBA - Doyle will be back for the last two games, then he can get his two wins with his beloved 4-5-1 against Sunderland and Blackburn. How stupid of all of us not to see that! Dream on with your polished, cautious, safety-first, orthodox 4-5-1 - I will stick to my wild, adventurous, risk-all, unorthodox dream.
lovesW
I think we can win the rest of our games and will play for fun against blackburn with a 5 nil scoreline. If u look at the fixtures i think it will be wigan,blackpool and blackburn for the drop. W: that does make me feel a lot more positive. I may be going to the blackburn game after all!!! :) :)
superwwfc
For the Blackburn game this is the team that MM will have to select. Hennessey will be in goal with the ever-versatile Ward covering all four defensive positions in front of him and pushing forward to link up with the ten front runners at every opportunity. Doyle, Fletcher and SEB will lead the attack, flanked by Kightly and Hammill on one wing and Jarvis and Hunt on the other. Guedioura, O'Hara and Milijas will buzz around in between them. I know that this makes a total of 12 players but desperate circumstances call for drastic action: we'll never win without a numerical advantage. If the referee spots the extra man, we could argue that Doyle is only there as the mascot. The referee will believe it because that clearly is his job in the team. [Edited by southbank60]
Southbank60
No, no, Southbank! I strongly disapprove of fielding the extra man on the grounds that playing with this unfair advantage would be detrimental to the dignity of the Club and, more importantly, bread and butter now, not merely image, it is quite clear that the team does NOT win when playing with an extra man. For the rest, this formation makes a lot of sense, a far cry from the nonsense of fielding a lone striker up front, and out wide, at that, and hoping to take the lead before the opposition does, and, illusion of illusions, hoping further of being able to hold on to that lead - if there is a lead. The exclusion of Vokes is a minor deficiency of the formation, forced, I would say. Now don't you get any ideas! tell MM to field him too? - whatever will we have the referee believe now? That the game is the inaugural one betweeen an Association football side and a Rugby league side? But let us go back to being sober and level-headed about this. By the time Blackburn are up, Wolves will be sure of staying up. It will be just an exhibition match. Where has your confidence gone, Southbank? Did I let you have some of my abundace of it for you to cast it aside so easily, and so soon? It is not that cheap, you know - I must be the only one with any measure of it left at all. Six points from the next two games, the three points securing survival ... at the Stadium of Light!! O ye of little faith!
lovesW
I knew there was a flaw in my argument but I had forgotten the evidence of the Birmingham game (if only). It's clearly etched on the dark side of my brain, the one that is turned away from the light of reason and which houses the unbelievable notion that we will survive. Hang on, I'll access it by turning my ear towards the Sun. Yup, that's done the trick ... I foresee a 3-1 bruising victory over WBA 3-1, a hard-fought 3-2 draw at Sunderland and a thrashing of Blackburn by three clear goals. This will be washed down with copious amounts of Banks's Bitter. Wait, I can see something else ... it looks like a flock of flying pigs!
Southbank60
 

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