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A Game of Two Halves

A Game of Two Halves



Although some of us warned against complacency, last Saturday`s game still came as a shock ... even to those fans who had warned against complacency.

For the past two weeks the gardener, who mows our next door neighbours` lawn (they`re even older than us), was completely insufferable. A Spurs supporter, he had collared me the previous week before I could hide, and asked me to give him an account of the game. This week, he wanted to discuss the Spurs-Liverpool match, pointedly observing that Dalglish and Co. will probably take it out of the next team they play in the PL.

I wondered whether their honour had been satisfied by the scratchy win over Brighton in the Carling Cup? Probably not ... and even worse, it meant that Skrtel and Adam would be free to play against us on Saturday. As it was a shot from Adam that RJ diverted past WH, this affected the outcome. Had that ball not gone in, the result could have been different.

More problematically, our rather more emphatic win against Milwall did little to restore our dented pride or to change MM`s opinion of our fringe players, who performed well in that match. Only Edwards made the starting line-up, though Doherty replaced Stearman at half time and Guedioura came on with ten minutes left. Personally, I would retain both of them.

Although a non-Molineux week, I still had to pay my dues, especially as it was my birthday on Friday and my wife`s today. Traditionally, I am forbidden to participate in or watch sport, as custom dictates that we go for walks, visit stately homes and gardens, partake of pub meals and, as a centrepiece, eat something a little posher than a takeaway curry. Hmm!

The big day is the one in the middle and that`s the problem this year: it fell on a Saturday. Whereas my wife was busily perusing the National Trust handbook, I was frantically trying to think of a good reason for not moving far away from home ... and without giving away my underlying motive.

I therefore thought it politic to accompany my wife to Debenhams to pick up the curtains she had ordered and even to insist that we went on to look for a mirror that she wanted. My wife naturally expressed her surprise at this unlikely show of enthusiasm so (gallantly, I thought), I said that it was so nice shopping with her that I regretted all those missed opportunities in the past. She told me not to be sarcastic ... but she smiled.

A delivery of flowers also put her in a good mood. For a moment, when I received the bouquet at the door from Interflora, I contemplated passing them off as my own, but thought that my younger daughter would complain. Even so, putting up the curtain rail and the mirror earned me brownie points and took us beyond lunchtime and the deadline for going out ... so I could watch WW with a clear conscience

As I am still in dispute with the supplier of the Beacon broadcast, I rely on dodgy freeview sites and the WW blog on the other computer screen. The site, which other contributors here recommend, was no better than the others, freezing momentarily every five seconds and then packing up for minutes on end. Not a perfect solution and, as a result, I had to wait for the Football First replay to clear up some points.

However, I did see enough to realize that it conformed to the time-honoured footballing cliché of a game of two halves. It`s just a pity that we did not score as many as Liverpool in our period of domination. At least, I got the result right in SS`s survey: small consolation, especially as I had not wagered any money on the outcome.

If we lost the previous week because of a slow start, why did we repeat it as a tactical ploy this time round? Well, we won the first couple of minutes then disappeared for the rest of the half. Liverpool, with Suarez to the fore, ran our defence ragged and although the first goal was somewhat fortuitous (and controversial), it was no more than Liverpool deserved for all their pressure. RJ should have left it alone as it was heading around the post. He, like everyone else, was out of sorts.

The second goal was superb, a precisely aimed ball bisecting the defence and putting Suarez through on goal. Even so, he wouldn`t have scored, if Berra had taken one of the two chances to tackle him and had WH covered his near post. At this point, I turned to drink, we were so bad.

The most noteworthy aspect of the half from the Wolves point of view was Hunt`s new haircut, which does away with the need for an Alice band and the rather fey look it gives him. It did not improve his play however, even if he was involved in our goal after the break.

After the first half, I was in despair and feared the worst: I can`t survive another relegation battle. However, a half time rollicking by MM clearly had some effect because WW came out with renewed vigour and my outlook brightened.

We also had a forward on the field who could score goals. A run from Henry, a fortuitous bounce of the ball and a neat pass from Hunt gave Fletcher a chance and he made no mistake. At the moment I think that he should be selected ahead of Doyle, who is struggling. Doyle missed a chance too. If we secure McFadden`s services, I would be inclined to give him a run out with Fletcher. Jarvis is looking threatening again after several lacklustre performances (including the first half). He had the beating of Kelly, especially after the latter`s yellow card made him more cautious in his tackles.

Liverpool were by no means out of the game and were always dangerous. Fortunately, our defence was better marshalled and the replacement of Stearman (given the runaround by Downing) by Doherty also helped. Ward played OK and made a great tackle on Gerrard in the 88th. minute. WH again kept us in the game with a couple of outstanding saves.

I would also replace Henry by Guedioura. The latter came on with ten minutes of normal time remaining and made an immediate impact. He is so much more positive than Henry and gives us extra bite in midfield going forward. I would like to see Milijas on the pitch too. Together, AD, JOH and NM would add up to a combative and skilful inner midfield.

Surveying the other games after the match, the results were reasonably kind to us. Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Swansea and Wigan all lost and WBA and Fulham drew. We are still mid-table with another tough match behind us. Moreover, MM surely has learnt the lesson of the last three games over the course of the last eight days, in terms of formations and players in form. But, if so, why did Hammill not get on the pitch?

It`s Newcastle at home next week and I will be there to watch the match, if a little hung over after my friend`s 40th. wedding anniversary in Wolverhampton the previous evening. It`s a game we can win but only if we approach the game with the right attitude from the off! It`s another acid test of our 'progress`.



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

Writer:southbank60
Date:Sunday September 25 2011
Time: 12:12AM

Comments

0
SB I i agree it was a game of to halves they had the 1st half we had the 2nd the difference between the to teams was Suarez but still confused by mm team selection.Why after not playing for six months Edwards walks straight back into the team Milijas and Guedioura must be wondering what they have to do and the same can be said of Hammil with Kightly.But i thought the interveiw with MM after said it all Fletcher was still not right but came on in the 2nd half just proves how good Vokes is. To me it proves what every one has said if Edwards is our best alternative in midfield and our best striker plays when still not fit why so little activity in the transfer window just hope the 3 Ms know what their doing.
kiawolves
25/09/2011 09:31:00
0
SB I i agree it was a game of to halves they had the 1st half we had the 2nd the difference between the to teams was Suarez but still confused by mm team selection.Why after not playing for six months Edwards walks straight back into the team Milijas and Guedioura must be wondering what they have to do and the same can be said of Hammil with Kightly.But i thought the interveiw with MM after said it all Fletcher was still not right but came on in the 2nd half just proves how good Vokes is. To me it proves what every one has said if Edwards is our best alternative in midfield and our best striker plays when still not fit why so little activity in the transfer window just hope the 3 Ms know what their doing.
kiawolves
25/09/2011 09:31:00
0
SB I i agree it was a game of to halves they had the 1st half we had the 2nd the difference between the to teams was Suarez but still confused by mm team selection.Why after not playing for six months Edwards walks straight back into the team Milijas and Guedioura must be wondering what they have to do and the same can be said of Hammil with Kightly.But i thought the interveiw with MM after said it all Fletcher was still not right but came on in the 2nd half just proves how good Vokes is. To me it proves what every one has said if Edwards is our best alternative in midfield and our best striker plays when still not fit why so little activity in the transfer window just hope the 3 Ms know what their doing.
kiawolves
25/09/2011 09:31:00
0
SB I i agree it was a game of to halves they had the 1st half we had the 2nd the difference between the to teams was Suarez but still confused by mm team selection.Why after not playing for six months Edwards walks straight back into the team Milijas and Guedioura must be wondering what they have to do and the same can be said of Hammil with Kightly.But i thought the interveiw with MM after said it all Fletcher was still not right but came on in the 2nd half just proves how good Vokes is. To me it proves what every one has said if Edwards is our best alternative in midfield and our best striker plays when still not fit why so little activity in the transfer window just hope the 3 Ms know what their doing.
kiawolves
25/09/2011 09:31:00
0
SB Thank you for another brilliant article. I listend to the game on R5L and I have just sat and watched MOTD and have to say from what I saw an heard you have it spot on! I predicted the right score unfortunately, but the second half performance gave encouragment. The other thing that got me was the fact that your weekends are so much like mine, and I I get the frowns from my wife the second football is mentioned. The problem I also have is I have two daughters, who despite my best efforts are not interested in football, every weekend I have my work cut out!! Thank you again and I see the Newcastle game as a big game in our season! I will hopefully be there, If I can explain to my wife that she will be better placed without me going shopping in Cardiff on saturday, and It will be easier if I spent the afternoon in the company of Wolves!!
supersparkes
25/09/2011 10:12:00
0
SB Thank you for another brilliant article. I listend to the game on R5L and I have just sat and watched MOTD and have to say from what I saw an heard you have it spot on! I predicted the right score unfortunately, but the second half performance gave encouragment. The other thing that got me was the fact that your weekends are so much like mine, and I I get the frowns from my wife the second football is mentioned. The problem I also have is I have two daughters, who despite my best efforts are not interested in football, every weekend I have my work cut out!! Thank you again and I see the Newcastle game as a big game in our season! I will hopefully be there, If I can explain to my wife that she will be better placed without me going shopping in Cardiff on saturday, and It will be easier if I spent the afternoon in the company of Wolves!!
supersparkes
25/09/2011 10:12:00
0
Credit to Mick MaCarthy i thought as we were much the better team during the 1st half but his double change and tactical swich completely transformed proceedings. We were hanging on for long periods and looked nervy at the back after Fletcher had been introduced. See the full match report on Vital Liverpool - http://www.liverpool.vitalfootball.co.uk/matchrep.asp?a=256738
The Bagman
25/09/2011 10:21:00
0
Credit to Mick MaCarthy i thought as we were much the better team during the 1st half but his double change and tactical swich completely transformed proceedings. We were hanging on for long periods and looked nervy at the back after Fletcher had been introduced. See the full match report on Vital Liverpool - http://www.liverpool.vitalfootball.co.uk/matchrep.asp?a=256738
The Bagman
25/09/2011 10:21:00
0
Up until the recent past, losing by the odd goal at Anfield, would have fallen into that category of results that MM declared he was not interested in,i.e, the heroic failure. That isn't the case these days,however.This isn't an automatic top four club anymore.Had Wolves not been so bad for a two ten minute periods in the first half, a second consecutive away win at Liverpool was on the cards.Wolves had almost all of the first 10mins and then didn't have another move of note, until ten minutes later.In that time RJ had diverted Adams shot, that was going wide, passed WH and Liverpool had spent 10mins attacking us exclusively down our right side. RS was totally undone by Downing, Carroll and Suarez, in turn.SW at LB,conversely,was almost anonymous for the entire half, so one-sided was Liverpool's attack.It appeard to me, we were playing 4-1-3-1-1with KH between the defence and midfield and DE further forward of MJ,JOH and SH.KH saw most of the ball, for Wolves,in that half and did a good job of getting hold of the ball, without the need for much tackling.SH was hardly in the game but did set up DE with a square ball, from a FK on the edge of the box.The shot was struck well and was on target but Lucas blocked it from 7yds out.That had been the third FK we'd had from around the edge of the 18yd box,although the others came to nowt.Within 5mins, though,CB attempted to trap Suarez off-side, failed and left Suarez to beat WH at his near post. Both RJ and CB were less than impressive and had let two or three big punts upfield, from Reina,bounce around at the edge of our box.JOH created little of note and is yet to prove he's a play-maker worthy of keeping NM out of the side, indefinitely.I just don't think he possesses Ned's range of pass. 15-20yds seems to be his limit, with 80% of them going out wide, rather than directly as supply to KD and then SF. MJ was busy in the first 10mins, that Wolves dominated, but was quiet again until the second half.His best stuff came down the left,although he swapped wings,as usual, from time to time.Having seen us play Millwall I have to say MM's selections left me somewhat bemused. In order of merit,DE was fourth, in my opinion to AH,AG and NM.At least Gued eventually got on. RS going off for MD is just about the easiest substitute decision MM will ever have to make.Going 4-4-2 in the second half brought KH back into the middle, where he continued to get hold and give it to JOH with little of a battle from Liverpool.MJ was much better for longer in the second half and I reckon he got over a good 8 or 9 quality crosses in the match.Fletch showed why he appears to be our only goal-scorer, with a well taken goal. KD and SH were both off it, again.Doyle's falling over antics are now getting frustrating to watch, to say the least and Hunty hasn't given one of those spoiler performances he's renowned for, for a while now.AG looked eager and strong, again but was having to do it when we're already losing, again.There's nothing unusual, in fact quite the opposite, in finding your best team and formation, as you go through a season.I think it's safe to say, we're still finding ours.Our first three matches gained us 7/9 points. We're now 0/9 from the last three.Starting with George last week and Edwards this week, proved to be mistakes, foreseeable ones at that.SF simply HAS to be on the pitch, when he's available to play, not benched in favour of a fringe midfielder.At least Kights was dropped, at last.Nothing heroic in the failure, then Mick.The failure lay in the initial team selection and a couple of poor performances. Without a bad 20mins in the first half, then, who knows?Other results went our way and we're at home again next week. A win is required, now, to keep some distance between us and the bottom...P.S....Happy birthdays to SB and Mrs SB.Another good read,too,SB.
all4divisions
25/09/2011 10:35:00
0
Up until the recent past, losing by the odd goal at Anfield, would have fallen into that category of results that MM declared he was not interested in,i.e, the heroic failure. That isn't the case these days,however.This isn't an automatic top four club anymore.Had Wolves not been so bad for a two ten minute periods in the first half, a second consecutive away win at Liverpool was on the cards.Wolves had almost all of the first 10mins and then didn't have another move of note, until ten minutes later.In that time RJ had diverted Adams shot, that was going wide, passed WH and Liverpool had spent 10mins attacking us exclusively down our right side. RS was totally undone by Downing, Carroll and Suarez, in turn.SW at LB,conversely,was almost anonymous for the entire half, so one-sided was Liverpool's attack.It appeard to me, we were playing 4-1-3-1-1with KH between the defence and midfield and DE further forward of MJ,JOH and SH.KH saw most of the ball, for Wolves,in that half and did a good job of getting hold of the ball, without the need for much tackling.SH was hardly in the game but did set up DE with a square ball, from a FK on the edge of the box.The shot was struck well and was on target but Lucas blocked it from 7yds out.That had been the third FK we'd had from around the edge of the 18yd box,although the others came to nowt.Within 5mins, though,CB attempted to trap Suarez off-side, failed and left Suarez to beat WH at his near post. Both RJ and CB were less than impressive and had let two or three big punts upfield, from Reina,bounce around at the edge of our box.JOH created little of note and is yet to prove he's a play-maker worthy of keeping NM out of the side, indefinitely.I just don't think he possesses Ned's range of pass. 15-20yds seems to be his limit, with 80% of them going out wide, rather than directly as supply to KD and then SF. MJ was busy in the first 10mins, that Wolves dominated, but was quiet again until the second half.His best stuff came down the left,although he swapped wings,as usual, from time to time.Having seen us play Millwall I have to say MM's selections left me somewhat bemused. In order of merit,DE was fourth, in my opinion to AH,AG and NM.At least Gued eventually got on. RS going off for MD is just about the easiest substitute decision MM will ever have to make.Going 4-4-2 in the second half brought KH back into the middle, where he continued to get hold and give it to JOH with little of a battle from Liverpool.MJ was much better for longer in the second half and I reckon he got over a good 8 or 9 quality crosses in the match.Fletch showed why he appears to be our only goal-scorer, with a well taken goal. KD and SH were both off it, again.Doyle's falling over antics are now getting frustrating to watch, to say the least and Hunty hasn't given one of those spoiler performances he's renowned for, for a while now.AG looked eager and strong, again but was having to do it when we're already losing, again.There's nothing unusual, in fact quite the opposite, in finding your best team and formation, as you go through a season.I think it's safe to say, we're still finding ours.Our first three matches gained us 7/9 points. We're now 0/9 from the last three.Starting with George last week and Edwards this week, proved to be mistakes, foreseeable ones at that.SF simply HAS to be on the pitch, when he's available to play, not benched in favour of a fringe midfielder.At least Kights was dropped, at last.Nothing heroic in the failure, then Mick.The failure lay in the initial team selection and a couple of poor performances. Without a bad 20mins in the first half, then, who knows?Other results went our way and we're at home again next week. A win is required, now, to keep some distance between us and the bottom...P.S....Happy birthdays to SB and Mrs SB.Another good read,too,SB.
all4divisions
25/09/2011 10:35:00
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