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There is going to be a longer preamble to this report than usual, partly because I have been on the road to Molineux for an extra day and partly because I enjoyed the anticipation of the match far more than the actual experience of it.

I am going to start my account on Monday (well, I began writing it last night but you know what I mean) when I, like so many of the WW fans, watched QPR on TV. So, we were warned, as was MM, who said that he was travelling down to Loftus Road. Nonetheless, many of the posts in the week did not recognize the threat and, clearly neither did MM, given his team selection.

If it`s hard enough to watch our matches on the box, even after paying my dues, it`s virtually impossible viewing any other games. Inevitably, my wife dismissed out of hand the argument that I had to preview the team we were playing the following Saturday. I reckon MM`s wife put her foot down too, telling her husband that he had to spend the week papering the walls. Why else did he take such a huge gamble (see below)? In my case, I gained a reprieve. My wife suddenly remembered that she was going to see Jane Eyre with a friend, an engagement which I had fortuitously turned down. Who wants to be the odd bloke in a foursome with three women ... ?

So, I watched the match live. Initially, I hoped for a NU win because at the time I expected us to be competing with QPR for points rather than with the Geordies (that is, if any locals play in the team). As the match unfolded, I thought that QPR looked sharp, while NU appeared beatable. I therefore welcomed the draw.

Every game so far has had the label, 'the Acid Test`, stuck on it. But, in each case circumstances have modified that assessment, whether negatively (we were playing weak, injury-ridden teams) or positively (we were up against quality opposition, ones which play in Europe ... or have aspirations to do so). For the QPR game, however, I really did have my litmus paper ready. After all, if we cannot win at home against newly promoted teams , who can we beat? If that were true, we`re doomed. We were terrible.

I started to prepare for the match on Thursday evening, packing my bag for an early getaway the following day. It`s not that it normally takes a day and a half to get round the south-western section of the M25 but one cannot be sure.

At 6.15 a.m. on Friday I headed for Warwick to do some work, while my wife travelled to Glasgow to see our elder daughter, who had lined up a series of visits to wedding dress shops over the weekend. While, obviously, I like to see my daughter as often as possible, the thought of two days of trying on fluffy dresses filled me with horror. I backed out, promising all sorts of compensatory visits and jobs. In retrospect, Saturday afternoon at 'The Bridal Path`, 'June Bride` and 'Pronuptia` would have been preferable to a seat at Molineux.

I arrived at West Park at 1.10 p.m. and donned my WW shirt, ready for a pint or two of Banks`s Bitter at The Varsity. Wrong! As the delivery promised before the Spurs match had still not arrived, I had to make do with a pint of Mild instead. It`s not as though the pub was full of supporters, all emptying barrels of BB before I had had a chance to join in. I think a letter to the company chairman is called for.

But, enough of this flippancy, what of the match? Unfortunately, it is following the same trend as last year: a good start sending aspirations sky high, followed by a big let-down. I still think we have a better squad and that our first eleven is capable of ensuring survival ... but we lack adequate cover. On Saturday, the injury to Fletcher caused a chain reaction that virtually guaranteed defeat on the pitch.

Because MM could not call on SEB as back-up and he did not rate Vokes highly enough, he drafted in Ward. Elokobi took Ward`s place at LB and, as expected, he was not up to it. Even MM realised that and withdrew him at half-time, moving Ward back into defence. By then, of course, it was too late. I blame myself: I should have popped down to the dressing room for a word with Mick before the match started. But, surely PL players can cope with changing circumstances? Clearly not.

MM`s pig-headedness about Big Georg`s ability not only weakened our defence it also unbalanced the team in front of it. We lost the interplay between Jarvis and Ward, for instance. The team possessed no recognisable shape, with poor links between the three units, no width and a lack of bite in front of goal. They played like a bunch of headless chickens. Much of the play was sloppy and aimless. When Kenny gathered up Guedioura`s kick in the 87th. minute, the home crowd cheered the first shot on goal. It was that bad.

Given the situation, I would have kept Ward at LB, leaving Doyle upfront in a 4-5-1 formation, supported by Jarvis and Kightly or Hammill on the wings (if Hunt was doubtful). To open up the opposing defence, something we have patently failed to do in the last two games, I would have given Milijas a start. For the moment, we have to pack the midfield anyway, especially as the next match is at Anfield. We need to staunch the flow of goals, compete in the middle of the park and regain our composure.

Our timid approach to the transfer market has come back to bite us. We had the opportunity to fill in the gaps and add cover but, apart from the signing of Johnson and JOH, we refused to do any business. Did MM mislead them?

Yes, I know all the arguments put forward by the 3Ms (and by some fans) but they are looking rather lame at the moment (especially the one that insists that Elokobi is a PL class player). We`re paying the price for management`s complacency and a lack of imagination and enterprise. Contrast our approach to that of QPR. Sure, they have greater resources but we seemed to make little effort.

At some point an ultra-cautious transfer policy becomes a strait-jacket and is counter-productive. I kept looking at the single section of the upper tier of the Stan Cullis Stand and thinking about priorities. If we don`t possess a squad of 25 players of PL quality, what`s the point of extra capacity? Players like Wright-Phillips and Barton might receive higher wages but on yesterday`s performances, they deserve them. We don`t have to go mad but we need to do something to attract the right players (and they might not include Joey Barton, whose end of game antics were a disgrace. But Henry's tackle on him was ill-judged too).

No-one came out of this match with his reputation intact, though WH made a fantastic save early on and had little chance with the goals. Even Johnson had a poor game, missing the crucial tackle that led to the third goal, for instance. Stearman made some excellent blocks and interceptions but drifted out of position too often. Ward, at least, strengthened the defence. We failed to control the midfield; Henry was poor and JOH inconsistent, while Jarvis and Kightly hardly featured in the game. Guedioura, like Kightly, looked rusty. Upfront, Vokes has lost all confidence (surprise, surprise) and should be sold as soon as possible and in the meantime loaned out to save us money.

As we can do nothing about the squad`s shortcomings until the January window (except sign up McFadden, perhaps), we should consider blooding our youngsters. They can`t be worse than some of those playing yesterday: Doherty as cover for Ward at LB?

As I passed through the M6 toll booth on the way home the rain was coming down in torrents. At least (I thought to myself) the QPR fans will have a miserable journey home but then I realized that I was travelling in the same direction and felt far more wretched.

Not surprisingly, I did not see any obvious WW fans at Warwick or Oxford services, though plenty of QPR ones, easily recognisable in their hooped shirts. I noticed loads of AV supporters too. It was hard not to warm to the QPR supporters, though I tried my best. They were really excited and emotional, as realization dawned that they might avoid relegation. My thoughts, if not my car, were travelling in the opposite direction.

I arrived home at 8.15 p.m., knowing that, with my wife away, I could watch the featured match (perhaps the Blackburn-Arsenal seven goaler). Instead, it showed our game, which at that moment was the last thing I wanted to see. Several cans later, I consoled myself with the fact that survival is still in our hands. Of course, one shouldn`t make a knee-jerk reaction and we have bounced back in the past ... but we have made it harder for ourselves than necessary.



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

Writer:southbank60
Date:Sunday September 18 2011
Time: 8:20AM

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Comments

0
SB good article my concern is if we bounce back and were doing alright come Jan is it going to be we have a good enough squad and dont buy. This is what happened at the last transfer window we all know we need at least 3 or 4 quality PL players it seems the only ones who disagree are the three Ms.
kiawolves
18/09/2011 09:01:00
0
SB good article my concern is if we bounce back and were doing alright come Jan is it going to be we have a good enough squad and dont buy. This is what happened at the last transfer window we all know we need at least 3 or 4 quality PL players it seems the only ones who disagree are the three Ms.
kiawolves
18/09/2011 09:01:00
0
I agree with you but I am trying to be as fair minded as possible. During and after the match my thoughts - and those of the fans around me- were far more negative. The boos started in the first half and continued throughout the game.
Southbank60
18/09/2011 09:10:00
0
I agree with you but I am trying to be as fair minded as possible. During and after the match my thoughts - and those of the fans around me- were far more negative. The boos started in the first half and continued throughout the game.
Southbank60
18/09/2011 09:10:00
0
It is with a heavy heart that I have to admit that we may genuinely have got it wrong in the transfer window. My heart said that Big G would be ok. Sadly my head now realises that he simply isn't good enough. This leaves us with a problem..... Ward can't play in two places at once. Vokes just won't ever cut it in this league and if I'm honest, SEB isn't the answer either. Doyle is little more than a slightly better Keogh. That leaves us with 1 genuine striker...... Not good. Henry as lost the plot...... O'hara looks isolated in the middle. Lightly is way off full fitness and If Jarvis is an England player then God help us. We have players on the bench who are worth a run out but what a mistake it was not to put the boat out and throw our money at DANN and a few of the other mentioned transfer window possibles. It certainly looks like we might pay the price for trying to save money. As fir the game....... I can't remember us playing that badly for a long long time. Let's hope it really was just nightmare day at the office. Liverpool next....UTW. ;)
Rustmonkey
18/09/2011 10:10:00
0
It is with a heavy heart that I have to admit that we may genuinely have got it wrong in the transfer window. My heart said that Big G would be ok. Sadly my head now realises that he simply isn't good enough. This leaves us with a problem..... Ward can't play in two places at once. Vokes just won't ever cut it in this league and if I'm honest, SEB isn't the answer either. Doyle is little more than a slightly better Keogh. That leaves us with 1 genuine striker...... Not good. Henry as lost the plot...... O'hara looks isolated in the middle. Lightly is way off full fitness and If Jarvis is an England player then God help us. We have players on the bench who are worth a run out but what a mistake it was not to put the boat out and throw our money at DANN and a few of the other mentioned transfer window possibles. It certainly looks like we might pay the price for trying to save money. As fir the game....... I can't remember us playing that badly for a long long time. Let's hope it really was just nightmare day at the office. Liverpool next....UTW. ;)
Rustmonkey
18/09/2011 10:10:00
0
Rustmonkey you have a point but we all knew we needed new faces what bothers me is some of MM picks why play kightly he is well of the pace. Why move Ward from LB when we all know Elokobi is not up to scratch Doyle and Jarvis seem to have lost their way and Ohara is starting to pick up Henrys bad habits. Whats happened to Hamil wheres Zubar we need to change things or we are going to be in a dog fight once again i have said all along some of these players are not PL QUALITY if this is what happens agaist QPR god help us when the Manchester teams come along.
kiawolves
18/09/2011 11:10:00
0
Rustmonkey you have a point but we all knew we needed new faces what bothers me is some of MM picks why play kightly he is well of the pace. Why move Ward from LB when we all know Elokobi is not up to scratch Doyle and Jarvis seem to have lost their way and Ohara is starting to pick up Henrys bad habits. Whats happened to Hamil wheres Zubar we need to change things or we are going to be in a dog fight once again i have said all along some of these players are not PL QUALITY if this is what happens agaist QPR god help us when the Manchester teams come along.
kiawolves
18/09/2011 11:10:00
0
I'm glad I mentioned the crowd, on my view of the Spurs game(for those that can't accurately recall previous posts,they are a thing of permanency and can be viewed if, say, you have trouble remembering last week).The sight of dear old George taking to the pitch is, for some of us, a queue for a silent prayer. Or even,as I witnessed yesterday, a vocal one: "Oh, sweet Jesus! No!" Well, it's got the word Jesus in, so it's kind of like a prayer.To some,however,it's time to clear the throat and get ready to support their team in an increasingly popular fashion.Boo your colours.Maybe it's becoming so popular, the country over, because the words are easy to remember.From Wembley (just about any England game) and the Emirates. To Villa Park the Mol and beyond.It's fast becoming the default reaction to any period of play, longer than a few minutes, where your team isn't performing as you'd like. What MM has in his mind regarding certain "special ones",we can only speculate at. And, of course, we quite often do.What is a matter of fact, though, and not speculation, is that it isn't George's fault he gets picked.I know i'm not a trained scientist or nuffin but I think we all know that booing a player, already having a 'mare, is hardly likely to inspire him on to greater things.As it transpired, he was only due one tenth of the boo-boys admiration, this time.The whole lot of 'em, new and old alike, were truly awful.The views of the QPR v NU match, that i'd read from SB and Kia,came first to mind when i saw an old pal of mine on the way in. He'd put 50 quid on Q.P.R. at 4/1 in the week. "Did you see them against Newcastle?", he asked. I told him I hadn't but i'd heard they'd been quite good."If we start at the pace we did against Spurs and Q.P.R. are anything like they were on monday, they could hammer us", he assured me and off he went, me firmly told.If only we had started at the pace we did against Spurs (they were slow and so were we, is how I saw it) maybe things would have been different. As it was , we were nowhere near that slow!The shape of the team was ,at times, bewildering. No "lines of four". More a mosh-up of eight players. If this had been before the Johnson signing, we'd have been calling for a leader, who can both inspire and organise.Well, he was there and no better than anyone, yesterday.During the game,like SB, i'd cast a glance at the North Bank rising, whilst noticing the empty seats around the ground and wondered about priorities at boardroom level."Build it and they will come", is only a justifiable argument, I feel, when the ground is bursting at the seams every week.This being league football, one result is only 1/38 of a season and of course we're going to be better than yesterday more often than we are not.For his sake, MM better not have turned down money for signings, or told his bosses "sorry, couldn't find players better than we already have".Is there anyone left (from SM to us) not left wondering. "What if Ward(insert here any member of the first eleven) gets injured"? If there is then maybe, just maybe, you're blind.
all4divisions
18/09/2011 11:41:00
0
I'm glad I mentioned the crowd, on my view of the Spurs game(for those that can't accurately recall previous posts,they are a thing of permanency and can be viewed if, say, you have trouble remembering last week).The sight of dear old George taking to the pitch is, for some of us, a queue for a silent prayer. Or even,as I witnessed yesterday, a vocal one: "Oh, sweet Jesus! No!" Well, it's got the word Jesus in, so it's kind of like a prayer.To some,however,it's time to clear the throat and get ready to support their team in an increasingly popular fashion.Boo your colours.Maybe it's becoming so popular, the country over, because the words are easy to remember.From Wembley (just about any England game) and the Emirates. To Villa Park the Mol and beyond.It's fast becoming the default reaction to any period of play, longer than a few minutes, where your team isn't performing as you'd like. What MM has in his mind regarding certain "special ones",we can only speculate at. And, of course, we quite often do.What is a matter of fact, though, and not speculation, is that it isn't George's fault he gets picked.I know i'm not a trained scientist or nuffin but I think we all know that booing a player, already having a 'mare, is hardly likely to inspire him on to greater things.As it transpired, he was only due one tenth of the boo-boys admiration, this time.The whole lot of 'em, new and old alike, were truly awful.The views of the QPR v NU match, that i'd read from SB and Kia,came first to mind when i saw an old pal of mine on the way in. He'd put 50 quid on Q.P.R. at 4/1 in the week. "Did you see them against Newcastle?", he asked. I told him I hadn't but i'd heard they'd been quite good."If we start at the pace we did against Spurs and Q.P.R. are anything like they were on monday, they could hammer us", he assured me and off he went, me firmly told.If only we had started at the pace we did against Spurs (they were slow and so were we, is how I saw it) maybe things would have been different. As it was , we were nowhere near that slow!The shape of the team was ,at times, bewildering. No "lines of four". More a mosh-up of eight players. If this had been before the Johnson signing, we'd have been calling for a leader, who can both inspire and organise.Well, he was there and no better than anyone, yesterday.During the game,like SB, i'd cast a glance at the North Bank rising, whilst noticing the empty seats around the ground and wondered about priorities at boardroom level."Build it and they will come", is only a justifiable argument, I feel, when the ground is bursting at the seams every week.This being league football, one result is only 1/38 of a season and of course we're going to be better than yesterday more often than we are not.For his sake, MM better not have turned down money for signings, or told his bosses "sorry, couldn't find players better than we already have".Is there anyone left (from SM to us) not left wondering. "What if Ward(insert here any member of the first eleven) gets injured"? If there is then maybe, just maybe, you're blind.
all4divisions
18/09/2011 11:41:00
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