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Heroic Failures?

Heroic Failures?

As I was attending a friend`s 40th. wedding anniversary on Friday evening, my wife accompanied me to Wolverhampton. Not wishing to leave her at a loose end on Saturday afternoon (why can`t she visit garden centres and DIY stores by herself? It`s not that I am much help there), I suggested that she should join me in the BW Stand.

She refused, probably to avoid doing anything that would indicate that she condoned my fortnightly trips up to Molineux, thereby lessening my feelings of guilt and my need to offer compensatory perks.

The party itself provided a good warm-up for the match as it gave me the opportunity (often at the same time) to bask in the fame accorded to a Vital Wolves blogger, to discuss the respective merits of management and players and to drink several pints of Banks`s Bitter.

Unfortunately, just after my wife and I returned to our room at the end of the evening, she fainted. At first I thought it was a shocked reaction to seeing me tidy away my clothes rather than, as normal, strewing them around the room, but then I realized that she was slumping to the floor.

No problem: she would recover by the morning and I could still go to the match. Wrong! She was feeling so bad that I could not coax her to watch the France-Tonga rugby match at 6 a.m. I had to go to the bar, though that was not a bad move. Uplifted by the shock result, I said that we would travel back to Surrey once the England-Scotland game had finished. Even that result failed to perk her up, just as Wales`s victory earlier this morning did little to alleviate my gloom.

In retrospect, it was probably the wrong game to introduce a person to the joys of watching WW. I would have been poor company and would have uttered something inappropriate had she pointed out that it was only a game. And, of course, my self-sacrifice brought its own reward: if brownie points were air-miles, I could now travel to the World Rugby Cup in New Zealand and back (though I would have lost them all by going!).

Naturally, I saw no obvious WW fans at Oxford or Warwick services and vainly looked for cars coming the other way with WW scarves streaming out of the window. I did talk to a Reading supporter at Warwick, gloomily remarking that we might be playing each other the following year should our result that afternoon accelerate our downward spiral.

While it is still early days and we can turn our fortunes round, the brave new world of the 2011-12 season is turning out to be a reprise of last year`s dismal showing ... and for the same reasons. We continue to ship goals through sloppy defending and fail to convert our chances at the other end.

Yesterday`s match fitted neatly into this pattern. We gifted NU two goals through poor defending and did not put away several clear-cut scoring opportunities. How Fletcher managed to hit Krul in an open goal is a mystery to me and others squandered gift-wrapped chances as well.

Of course, we were unlucky: we should have had a penalty or two at the end of the first half and Doyle`s goal should have stood at the end of the second period. However, such injustices cannot disguise the fact that we made mistakes at both ends of the pitch. It`s not that we cannot play good football or create chances - both of which we did yesterday- but it`s an unforgiving league and we cannot expect to pick up points if we commit such basic errors. MM admitted it too.

The most positive aspect of the match - apart from an encouraging performance in the second half- was a sign that reality had finally bitten MM on the bum. The replacement of Henry by Guedioura was a shift in MM`s thinking of epic proportions. He also gave Hammill a run-out too. Even he must have noticed the all-round improvement in the team`s performance that these substitutions brought about. Now, I want him to select Milijas in the starting eleven too.

And why was Stearman picked ahead of Doherty? Of the back four, only Ward emerged with credit. Indeed, he had to help out his colleagues at times. Johnson was as bad as any of them. He failed to track Ba for the first goal and was bamboozled by Gutierrez`s trickery for the second. Mind you, the Argentinian also withstood challenges from Stearman and Hunt and avoided the despairing lunge of Berra. Henry had given him the ball in the first place! Hennessey has to bear some responsibility too.

Upfront, Fletcher was far more prominent than Doyle but both of them missed chances or were not in the right position to capitalize on a cross. Late in the game, for instance, Jarvis hit a low cross into the box, which Doyle should have swept into the net. Unfortunately, he was jogging behind, yards off the pace. Matt indicated his disapproval. If Hammill`s cross to Fletcher for the goal was perfectly struck, too many of the balls were hit too hard, a common failing this year. Presumably, Hammill, Hunt, Jarvis and Kightly all practise getting it right on the training the ground. It doesn`t always show.

My initial reaction to the match was one of disappointment, even anger. Reviewing the passages of sloppy play on Football First and MOTD still annoyed me, but at least I could see glimmers of hope. We did play well in the second half and did create a number of chances, which on another day we would have put away. We would not meet a goalie in such inspired form either. In addition, through a process of trial and error, our best starting eleven is becoming clearer. Even MM has begun to adopt a flexible and more realistic stance. We still need defenders by the bucketful in January, though! One or two signings in midfield and upfront would be nice too.

Advocates of a more cautious 4-5-1 formation could argue that the 4-4-2 system we played yesterday not only failed to deliver the goals but also left us exposed in defence. While it did the latter, it did supply the opportunities for the former. Only new signings will improve the solidity of our defence, though even at the moment we have other options. The acquisition of McFadden would liven up the forwards too.

Most of all, I want to see Milijas in the team. We miss his vision and the accuracy of his passing. It would improve the service to our front runners immeasurably. JOH has his moments and he is terrier-like in his application but he is often wayward. Indeed, his poor pass indirectly led to the second goal. He has to tighten up. The problem is: can we play Nenad in anything other than a 4-5-1 formation?

MM and the team now have a fortnight to reflect on the result and to attempt to put matters right, especially as we have to win the next two matches (against WBA and Swansea). Then, after MC, we entertain Wigan at Molineux. The day after that I am off to hospital, hopefully in a positive frame of mind in relation to events on the field as well as in the operating theatre.

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

Date:Sunday October 2 2011
Time: 9:44AM


SB good article the seconh half performance is probably the best so far but untill we cut out the defensive mistakes were not going to win. Can not keep giving teams 2 goal starts i thought Jarvis and Doyle probably had their best games for a while you mention Johnson is he trying to hard for everyone else and is getting caught out off position. The same can be said of Ohara he has a bigger problem and hes called Henry glad to see Hammil and Guedioura get on to me 4 reasons we lost 1 sloppy defending 2 their goalkeeper had a blinder motm 3 the ref for not giving a blatant penalty and 4 ablind linesman from his position he could not see if the ball was out so we should of got the benifit of doubt.I know we lost but have to take positives out of game created a lot more chances than in any other game and MM might have seen the light with Henry but has to do something with defence and if anyone can answer this why did we have to RB on the bench Zubar and Doherty.
02/10/2011 11:00:00
Firstly,best wishes to Mrs SB,hope she's feeling better.Even the mere invitation to attend a Wolves match could have it's health risks,it appears. As for the match,sigh,same old. Chances not taken and goals shipped due to poor defending.Conceding from a near post corner was bad enough, but what RJ was doing, trying to "show him outside" for the second,I have no idea.Gutierrez only had to step inside and Johnson was out of it.RJ beaten and CB attempting a last ditch tackle is becoming a common sight.The sight of Johnson trying to turn was greeted,at least by people around me, with very worried looks.I still say you wouldn't be able to tell which of our CH's was our big summer signing.For the second match running, almost all of the attacks against us were coming down our right side.Either there's a glut of left-footed players around at the moment, or we're being targeted down that side. I thought MM would start with the same midfield,minus DE and won't be at all surprised if KH starts the next match,too.AG is just patently the better player,again(again!) he gets on when we're already chasing a match.So, if KH is on because he's supposedly a better defender-which he isn't-then how come we're always losing when AG gets on?As for the creative play from the midfield, it's still almost all coming from the wings. When we had the ball centrally,within 30yds of the goal(and therefore within JOH's passing range of 15-20yds)he didn't appear to have the pass within him to put SF or KD through with a defence-splitter.He played it out wide, or, more often than not, had a shot. Their keeper had a blinder and the officials were very poor and we played better than we have for a while but we'd already given the obligatory two goal start...again.So, on to Sandwell Town,with probably the same defence and midfield.I'd like to see AG start,at the very least, and Hunt clearly is out of sorts. We'll see, I don't expect any changes but would be delighted by the right ones.
02/10/2011 12:47:00
Well, given individual performances over the last few weeks, it's reasonable to assume that Doherty, Hammill and Guedioura should start, though whether MM sees it that way is another matter. To answer your wish for defence-splitting passes we only have to put NM on the pitch. If we have to play JOH as well- and he is good in fits and starts- that means a 4-5-1 formation. Regarding creativity on the wings, that too comes in fits and starts: too many balls being overhit. Hammill improved our accuracy and should have ensured that he keeps his place. Let's hope he does not frown in front of MM in the next few days. But, what has happened to Hunt? He was on fire at the end of last season and in the summer internationals. Is he carrying an injury? Perhaps, like Sampson, he has lost his strength along with his hair.
02/10/2011 13:27:00
Did you miss me? That's a line from some movie I can't thing of, delivered in sarcastic terms of course, or at least comedic. Speaking of comedy let's get straight into it. I obviously have lots of catching up to so I shall reflect in the main on yesterdays game, our latest defeat and similar circumstances. The first goal was Sunday league defending- if that is how we deal with corners we are going to ship a great deal of goals. The second, I did not know whether to laugh or cry- I think the ref could have blown for at least three fouls but used his head for once and allowed them the advantage. Johnson was turned with far too much ease and for the second week running Wayne has a lot to answer for. In his defense. I remember years ago when Sheffield United I believe came to Molinuex. He pulled off a string of great saves but keep shooting, the lad is not invisible so of course ultimately you are going to get one past him. I have long maintained that Karl Henry, once a promising player as a holding midfielder actually lost his game due to arrogance and buying into this pathetic bad boy image. He was still throwing himself around like an idiot yesterday. Look at all the tough midfielders we have respected over the years and there is a big difference between being a tough tackler and being an idiot. The cheer when he was taken of was shared all the way to Brooklyn, New York with a few expletives thrown in from myself. He is simply not good enough. We have all argued in the past over the system and whilst with great concern I argued Mick was incapable of employing a functional 4-4-2 system the blame is not in the system itself but the players and his ignorance to failings. Mick has taken tremendous stick for his loyalty to certain players, calling Stephen Ward 'Superman' for example I thought brought derision on the player who has actually proven one of our better players this season, and brings unnecessary attention to the player sets him up for if not failure, then at least unwelcome remarks from certain fans, aimed at a player who is doing his best, which has been good enough for me. Doyle I think has the 'lack of goals' hanging over his head hence his sometimes selfish play. Jamie O'Hara for me looks frustrated. There were several instances where players were in a better position but he would rather balloon one over the bar himself rather than show faith in his team mates- I do think he is a fantastic player but with Henry next to you how good can you possibly be. Hunt has indeed gone right off the boil- it's all a bit too much huffing and puffing with no end result. As for Hammill, if Mick does not start him next game he has serious problems. The introduction of he and Adlene indeed changed our look, but of course chasing the game... still, we almost salvaged a point if it was not for idiotic officials. Yes we should have had a penalty but let's not look for excuses as we were already two nil down and how many heroic come backs do we really expect from the players. Psychologically there is something wrong- they just don't look right. How can we suffer the QPR debacle and, despite a good opening 15 minutes or so at Liverpool lose our focus and shape so quickly. How can we give Newcastle a two nil head start. The fighting mentality and grafters, it's all good. I would run until I collapsed for Wolves so 'effort' is a pre-requisite for any football player no matter what club he is at. My mate Banksy has hit every nail on the head again. Same problems as last season, nothing has changed. We are leaking stupid goals and missing chances. I said a few weeks ago to a good friend, we don't have any of the top six at home until January. Looking at the fixtures I said, you know what, on paper there is no reason why we can't stay unbeaten at home until January. Grandiose thinking- hopes in tatters. We are suffering. We are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination but the way things are going who fancies us to go to Albion and win? Who is to say we shall turn over Swansea. After that it becomes very difficult and I have no faith at all we are going to replicate 5 big killings that effectively kept us up somehow last season. 7 points from 7. With last season all too fresh in the memory I am concerned we are already hitting ratios that spell yet another struggle and this club, with the quality at disposal should not have 4 defeats to our name with the words 'concern' and 'future' walking hand in hand. Still.
New York City Wolf
02/10/2011 17:43:00
NYCW we all share your dispair but i have always said MM has some sort of blind faith in certain players for some unknown reason.We have all said we needed at least another 2-3 more quality players but MM keeps saying these players are good enough because now they have 2 years in PL. But as proving just like last year we still leak goals and dont score enough if Zubar was fit to sit on the bench why did he not start Stearman has now been given the run around 3 of last 4 games. When will Hammil ever start will he ever drop Henry untill MM tells himself thing. need changing then its going to be one long season.
02/10/2011 18:50:00
Nice to see you back, Yorkie. If I tapped the nails in, you banged them home and drew blood!
02/10/2011 18:53:00
Roger Johnson is of as great a concern to me as any player is.How can I put it? Erm...he doesn't appear to be very good.That's it. Sums it up nicely. He doesn't appear to be very good.
02/10/2011 19:16:00
Kia, you are right. The stubborn nature of the man would prove his undoing at most clubs but just like last season he seems to hold the key to the city. We have been saying the same thing for three years now 'have to cut out the mistakes' blah blah blah. His arrogance in interviews afterwards is beginning to wear thin. It's all a bit of a grumpy sigh, mistakes grumble grumble. Tell that to the fans paying thirty or forty quid a ticket, however much our inflated prices have hit- for many like Banks, throw in the petrol money and hours of driving to support our beloved Wolves and it all amounts to a hell of a lot more than getting it right next time, which we won't. Due to the nature of the beast I often compare football these days, in terms of performance to the work place. If you are running an office and some particular fluffs a million pounds worth of business, you draft in your temp and he either saves you the million or at least dampens the blow you take him on a contract non'? Next game Kelvin Henry will be sprinting around the park with a snarl on his face ready to lunge into another farce tackle because he is behind the game and knows nothing better. His substitution yesterday was a first in memory, maybe Mick will shock us all and drop him. Yes we were great in the second half but we looked a hell of a lot better with AH and AG on the field. Stearman I have always stuck up for but right now the kid Doherty has not put a foot wrong so why did he not start. Banks- nails and hammering- team work there my friend. I have rarely questioned this of the team but they have a look about them now where something is wrong and we have seen this before. Rolling straight into All 4's comments.... Johnson does not look good at all right now does he. He is a fantastic player in my book yet suddenly after a couple of months having his head muddled he is starting to look as bad as anything else we have got. No apologies. This all points to one man- or two. Why is Terry still there? Points win prizes and as things stand we are no better than we have been for the past two years. We got there on peanuts yet it has cost us a fortune to stand still.
New York City Wolf
03/10/2011 03:10:00
Guedioura, Milijas and Hammill. I am glad we agree on all three starting. From the very start, from last season also,I have been saying the first two should be in the starting line-up. Why does MM have to wait until we are 0-2 down to play like we did in the second half ? It was the same at Anfield, more or less. Why then not consider playing like this starting with a 2-goal handicap, SB..that way we have a full 90' to make up the deficit with ample time also to go for the winner! I am serious. Is there anything in the laws of the game that rule out such an arrangement between two sides? For once I am in agreement with all the points in your article, but even if that were not so, it remains typically factual and in-depth. MM has shown he has got the ba**s to abandon 4-5-1, to substitute he can go on to play like this, with these players from the start, and to bring in Milijas instead of O'Hara! My comment after JOH had played only two games last season is confirmed with very game he plays. Nenad, in sharp contrast, plays for the team. Zubar should be considered too. Two points from the third-from-bottom now. At least we have found our level, we are back to reality.
03/10/2011 07:05:00
2 days later and I'm still trying to calm down from THAT SHOWER, and I agree with pretty much all that is said. Ive never been won over by the muppet, his stubborness, arrogance and digs at us nuggets are not very endeearing, but now we are staring a relegation fight in the face for a third season running. Johnson, his one signing has been useless, the 3 bumbling idiots alongisde him have been no better, o Hara who has also had a go at the fans couldnt hit a cows arse with a banjo, and apart from the two up front and hennessey we're looking increasingly like a championship bound side. if Adlene and Hammil dont start at the albion then it really is time to start calling for the sack.
03/10/2011 11:28:00
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