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The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Well, how on earth did we manage to salvage a point from this game? Outplayed for most of the match, we scored twice in a couple of minutes and might have won had Milijas headed across the goal-mouth to JOH rather than trying to loop the goalie.

At least we have stopped the run of defeats and that is something to be grateful for. Unfortunately, I only watched the match on the box. If I failed to attend the NU match because my wife was poorly in a Wolverhampton hotel the night before, I could not travel to the Swansea game because I was suffering from a heavy cold.

It wouldn`t have mattered but, as I have a major operation in two weeks` time, I have to be fit. The hospital advised me not to go and, more to the point, my wife insisted ... and hid the car keys. At least, I don`t have to accompany her to look for those bloody climbing hydrangeas this weekend.

At first, I thought the infection was a reaction to all the beer I had drunk watching the rugby world cup. I am allergic to alcohol: if I drink too much, I get a headache, feel sick and fall over. In truth, I either caught it from the flu jab or from the barking fellow rugby-viewer with the projectile sneeze.

I go into hospital, the day after the Wigan match, which I will not be able to attend either since my older daughter is coming down from Glasgow to visit us. She clearly has less faith in the surgeon than I have! By then, we will have gained a clear idea of the shape of our season.

We luckily won a point today but it might be the boost we need to 'kick-start` our season again ... but only if we learn from the mistakes of the first 80 minutes. A good showing against MC in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, in which we have an opportunity to assess the form of our fringe players and youngsters, would help, as would, more importantly, a competitive performance against the Sky Blues the following Saturday.

In the build-up to today`s match, an archetypical six-pointer, the tension was clearly getting to MM and the team. All week, Mick had been insisting that he enjoyed the full support of the players and management. Normally an indication of the opposite, incredibly it might just be the case at Molineux ... at least, for now. Predictably, Stephen Ward, the only decent outfield player at the moment, was wheeled in to give his backing.

I was certainly feeling the 'heat`. Yesterday, I made the mistake of going to the village wearing my WW logoed woolly hat. Walking up the High Street, I met Spurs and QPR fans, who held up six fingers to me. In retaliation, I breathed on them, peppering them with as many bugs as there are pounds in the MC coffers. If only viruses flew about in numbers akin to the notes in the WW transfer-chest, we would eradicate world sickness! And, as today proved, we certainly need to spend some money.

I contemplated the match with a great deal of trepidation. The past few games have exposed the fragility of our defence, especially against sides attacking at pace. WBA simply ran through our midfield and defence last week and Swansea operate in the same fashion. And that`s exactly what happened.

After allowing myself a moment of euphoria, having witnessed our team wrest a highly unlikely point from a rampant Swansea side, I regained my critical faculties. We were hopeless in all parts of the field for most of the game. Arguably, Swansea allowed us back into the match, firstly by not pressing home their advantage in the second half and then relaxing at the back. They should have been out of sight by the time we made our substitutions at 66 minutes, which materially helped to redress the balance.

Why isn`t Guedioura being selected in the starting eleven? He transforms our fortunes whenever he comes on, adding a sense of urgency and a cutting edge, hitherto lacking. He actually takes the opposition on. Milijas adds a threat of a more refined nature. If these two players were given more match-time, they would blossom. Afterwards, MM admitted that they did shake the team up but will he see the connection?

It`s ironic that a team supposedly awash with quality wingers only seems to improve when we withdraw them. Perhaps, we have become too predictable: that, and the failure of our wide men fully to engage in the game and to deliver accurate crosses. At least until Fletcher comes back, we might be better served by a different approach, that is, unless our wingers learn from players like Dyer and Sinclair, who showed them how to do it.

But, the real problem lies with the back four. Even Ward did not play that well today. Swansea scored two simple goals because their players were allowed to run up the pitch virtually unopposed and to pass to the man standing in acres of space. Johnson, who is looking worse by the week, was out of position for both of the goals. Berra possesses little positional sense either. Both are too slow and are easily turned. Sinclair, moreover, made a chump out of Stearman, passing him at will. Doherty must start next time. We`re repeatedly making basic mistakes, a sign of poor play rather than the odd excusable human error. Cheque book out in January, Mr. Morgan!

In midfield, Henry had a reasonable game but he still fails to impose his authority: good shot in the first minute though. JOH was as busy as ever and scored a great goal (though he missed a glorious chance on 19 minutes). He played more positively than last week but is still prone to dither, and needs to improve the accuracy of his passing. In comparison, Allen and Gower were far more effective in their movement and passing.

Upfront, Doyle had a better game than hitherto and managed to get on the score sheet, converting a rebound after a neat turn and shot from Vokes. He looked far more lively than SEB, who seems to be carrying an injury. He was largely anonymous and even Vokes was an improvement. How long is Fletcher out for? We need him badly.

In the last ten minutes WW played as they should have done throughout the match, pressing up the field , causing panic in the Swansea defence and scoring a couple of good goals. However, they have to cut out the mistakes at the back if they are going to progress up the league (or even stay in it). They also have to convert a higher percentage of their chances: how different would today's result- and those of some of the previous matches- have been, had they scored the opening goal? But that`s a cop-out, beloved of MM!

We have stopped the rot and given the players a measure of (somewhat misplaced) confidence. However, the evidence of this match reinforces the need for a change in the starting eleven and set-up, selecting the players who are in form, and adopting tactics and formations which play to our strengths. If MM were to act without prejudice, we can start winning again Then, we would all be happy.

Ironically, the matches against MC would be a good place to start. Even so, we still need to sign several quality players in January. If not, we might as well leave the upper tier of the SC Stand as it is, a couple of staircases leading to nowhere.

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

Date:Saturday October 22 2011
Time: 6:11PM


SB good luck with the op!! For your sake I sincerely hope that your doc is more competent at his job than the lads were at theirs today. A point snatched from the jaws of defeat. Shocking defending all round. Lacklustre and void of any real quality. RJ was a disaster today, Berra not too much better. That combination is clearly not working. In RJ's defence perhaps he lost the ball in the sun for the first goal. From where I was sitting in the BW it looked to be quite bright. No excuses for our tentative containment style defending throughout though. Where have dirty Wolves gone? They'd never have stood off and conceded such a soft soft second goal. I thought the crowd played their part too. They showed support and tried to will the team on. However, when we play like that for 80 odd mins it's infuriating. Mick deserved the stick today and should take it on the chin. I think the writing is on the wall and this draw does nothing but buy him some time. UTW!
22/10/2011 20:51:00
Watching the dancers and singers on 'Strictly' and 'X-Factor' respectively this evening (there's no chance of watching the Sky match), I found my mind wandering back to the Swansea game. With some surprise I realised that I was reasonably happy with the result, which only goes to show how low my expectations had sunk. After watching a succession of dire performances, each one worse than the one before, any positive result was something to cheer. For the best part of 80 minutes today, our team was scraping the bottom, on account of the abysmal defending, the misfiring midfield and the clueless attack. Then, the players dragged themselves out of the pit and started to play with a little more conviction and bite. And it worked. Now that they have shown they can do it, there's no excuse for letting things slide again. But, it does depend on getting team selection and tactics right from the first whistle ... and, most of all, stop gifting the opposition a two goal lead every week!
22/10/2011 23:34:00
What a tactical master stroke! No, not the usual double substitution where AG gets on when it's already too late to win a game.Nor Swansea's under-elaborate(there's no such word,I checked) ploy of drawing our MF away from the back four and then chipping the ball into the space they'd vacated.That wouldn't have taken their manager too long to draw on the board in the dressing-room, therefore leaving me loads of time to show them how well I can draw Garfield.I'm not even refering to SB having escaped the penance of the garden centre trip.The best tactics of the day were displayed by the crowd. Whoever usually takes a boo, didn't. No heckling of KH, quite the opposite. He was having to get used to the sound of warm applause greeting his every action. Oh dear,that's a very topical and well used excuse for appaling performances made null and void. No crowd to blame for the latest championship level display.Completely out-played by another of the so called 'whipping boys'. Two home games against the newly promoted and one point to show for it.That fact is as embarrassing for us fans as it is an indication of the quality of player we have at our club. Their players looked better than ours. Just as QPR's did and the Albion's.Thanfully Wigan and Bolton are having crises of their own...until they play us? Our defence is a shambles of blundering cart horses, falling over themselves and each other (if that ricocheted clearance between RJ and CB had gone in, I think I may actually have laughed...shortly before bursting into tears!)The reason it's becoming so worrying, this early in the season, is because the same things are happening week in week out, home and away.As predictable as the performances, will be the reaction."We'll be long as we cut out the silly mistakes".When is it going to dawn on them, that these players CAN'T cut out the mistakes? The amount of mistakes they make is entirely consistent with the quality of player they are. As i've said, if it wasn't happening every week, then some bs about the odd mistake, might have some merit.If we're where we are, or lower, in Jan, then who will want to join us? A player with other, better placed PL clubs interested in him? As we knew when the fixtures came out, we had as easy an opening set of games, than we could have reasonably asked for and we've managed 8/27 pts...and now we've got to play the others.The Wigan game now becomes the next 'massive game for us'.An indication of a team doing poorly, is considering a game against Swansea or WA as 'massive', this early in the season.
23/10/2011 10:47:00
Spot on, A4D: as Aynuck remarked to Eli [Hamlet: 1.4.90], 'Something is rotten in the State of Ourteam'. Unless the players and management address the glaring problems exposed by the last few games, we're sunk. I do not wish to be critical - and I pulled my punches in the report - because I understand the damaging effect that it can have on morale. Doyle said as much in his post-match interview. And it's not only the fault of the players, whom, I am sure, are trying as hard as they can. What really annoys me is that we are misusing the resources we have at our disposal. That's due to the stubbornness of our manager, who steadfastly but myopically refuses to learn the lessons from the shambles unfolding in front of him. His tactics, set-up and team selection are bizarre and directly contribute to our poor performances on the pitch. And then he seeks to justify his shortcomings by cynically engaging in doublespeak, as A4D points out. The overly penny-pinching policy of the board exacerbates the problem because it prevents us from signing players of the required quality. Perhaps MM is comnplicit in this cosy arrangement: I get the feeling that he dislikes 'stars' because they might voice an independent opinion and be difficult to handle. Given that some players inexpicably fail to gain selection - at times, even to the bench- it suggests that MM aims at complete control, suffers no opposition and is vindictive towards those players who cross him. As a result, we end up with money in the bank but with second-raters who at best will do no more than ensure an annual survival struggle. At the moment, even that remains beyond our capabilities. And as A4D (among others) argues, who will come to Molineux in January if the current state of our play continues to spiral downwards. Strangely, as I noted above, that is why I felt reasonably happy with the result yesterday evening.
23/10/2011 12:23:00
How the hell have our players suddenly become "championship" players by the "fans"? as for the crowd being behind the team yesterday - what utter rubbish, has soon as their first goal went in the crowd were on the teams backs, and has for singing - what f*&^ singing it was like a morgue, the biggest outcry/noise came when Mick made is subs, and once again he was right! but not one wolves fan has the guts to say he was right, those subs pulled us back into the match. Has for those who left early - well you are a disgrace! the team need your support more than ever, never mind what you think of Mick or TC because at the end of the day only one person is going to have the final say on that. No - we need to show the players (even if they are playing crap) that we are behind them, we demand that they give 100% + so is it not right that we do the same, the last thing the lads need to see is fans leaving early! regardless of the way we are playing. Me, I believe in Mick, I do NOT WANT INCE, he couldn't manage Notts County, Hughes is a Hoddle and O'Nelly was even hated by his players at the vile. Question? If we had played Man Citae last week and lost would there have been the same responce has we have seen this week? my guess is NO! it's only because we lost to the unmentionables, and this happens "EVERY" time we lost to them. Ah well we will just have to do the double over citae!!!!!!!! We are Wolves.......
23/10/2011 12:31:00
Suddenly become championship level? I don't think fans are only just realising the players we have are going to struggle in this league, again.As for the crowd being like a morgue, it's been that way for quite some years now. Only sing when they're winning, I mean. As I saw and heard it, there was much more crowd support than there has been of late. The last time I can remember the Mol crowd not being fickle during bad times, was when it was counted in the single thousands. That's all just part of the distraction techniques employed by the smoke-screen brigade. I've never booed a Wolves team in my life, nor heckled a player, nor called for a manager to be sacked...and i've got no intention of starting now, either. Non of those facts can cause me to see what i'm seeing as anything other than poor displays against supposedly weaker opposition.
23/10/2011 13:00:00
John Wolf: you're right to insist that we get behind the team when we watch them play. That's why it's been so frustrating for me recently, having unavoidably missed the last two home games and, for sure, the next few ones as well. I would never boo the team nor join in chants aimed at anyone in the club because it's unfair and counter-productive. Nor do I ever leave the match early, even though it would ease my journey south. You might not believe it but I do not like to criticize the team or management in print either. However, one has to be honest when giving an opinion otherwise the people who influence the fortunes of the club might labour under the delusion that, thinking that everything is fine, they need do nothing. But that's the problem: MM seems incapable of listening to advice or to adapt to changing circumstances. Never mind about the performances of the players on the pitch, surely you are worried about current team selection, tactics and set-ups. Even with the players we have, we could do much better and that suggests fundamental flaws in managerial thinking. Yesterday, MM eventually made the substitutions that helped our cause but why weren't those players on the pitch at the start? Considering the losing streak, why did we gift Swansea the midfield by lining up 4-4-2 against their 4-5-1. It proved our undoing ... that, and our woeful defence. Let's focus on the point gained yesterday in order to boost confidence, while at the same time reflecting on the errors made and the means to eliminate them. Can MM make an honest appraisal of what needs to be done?
23/10/2011 14:08:00
Hi guys :) This is PanFiluta, the Wolves suporter from Bratislava.--------- To the game on saturday - Our defence gave me a feeling, that I am watching Football manager 2011 a real life game.... Thats not a compliment.... I agree with Southbank´s article in this.----- I agree aswell, that Milijaš and Guedioura should be in our starting 11 now.------ But to what I want to say.... I was just astonished to read in newspapers, that so called „fans“ chanted on Mick McCarthy „You dont know what you are doing“ and „You are being sacked in the morning“. I am forced to watch Premier League on internet streams and the quality of those is not very good, so I did not notice this during the game. Wow ! How dare these people ? To quote Nigel Clough... „They are a disgracious lot“ ! Granted, there are some decisions I self dont agree with... But Mick McCarthy deserves respect from us !
24/10/2011 07:20:00
edit - I wanted to say "that I am watching FM 2011 instead of a real life game.
24/10/2011 07:21:00
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