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A Great Result against the Odds

It`s Saturday morning and I am sitting on my bike on a turbo in the garage, banned from the road on account of my poorly neck. As I whirr the pedals, the events at Molineux over the course of the past fortnight scroll through my mind like the tape of a Hollywood film.

... or rather, a variety of films, starting with the Texsco Chain Saw Massacre in which Peter 'Leatherface` Odemwingie and his chums hack our team to pieces. It continued with repeat performances of a Whitehall farce, with managerial candidates coming on and leaving the stage with bewildering rapidity. It ended with SM and JM shuffling along, trousers round their ankles and their washed-up underwear in full view.

At this point I have to declare an interest. In my report after the WBA game, I called for the sacking of MM, a demand that the board instantly granted. I was pleased with this, having concluded that Mick had run out of ideas and that the players thought so too. They showed it on the pitch and admitted it after the sacking.

However, I had not factored in the bungling of the selection process by SM and JM. Plan A was a reasonable one: find someone with good PL credentials, who would galvanise the players and turn our fortunes round. To succeed there had to be suitable candidates available and, more to the point, willing to come. Only Curbishley fitted the bill but a chat with JM soon made him aware of the skewed vision and wonky priorities of our CEO.

Much to the horror of many fans, Plan B [for Bruce] looked likely to succeed, to the extent that a contract was drawn up for the sacked Sunderland manager to sign. At the last minute, the board tore it up and turned to Plan C, the pursuit of a successful Championship manager, that is, something that MM had been good at. It failed but on the plus side it enabled Brian McDermott to squeeze a better contract out of his Reading bosses. Here, at The Mol, we don`t do judicious spending of a little extra cash, no matter how valuable an investment it would be. For Plan D we approached a Scottish pensioner, who, unfortunately, had retained enough brain cells to recognise a poisoned chalice when he saw one.

As a result, we offered the job to the only person daft enough to take it on, our very own coach, TC. Hmm! Wasn`t he part of the problem? And why, given this outcome, which the board could have foretold early in the negotiations, wasn`t he offered the post earlier? At least, SM and JM have acquired the patsy, who, in the event of failure, will take the blame. And, he`s cheap too. But, if we were working our way through the list of potential managers, why didn`t we invite Ray Wilkins in for discussions?

Yeah!!! The match is now over and I have a recording of the Wales-England RU game to look forward to after I have written this report. All I need now is a Welsh victory at Twickenham to make my day.

A friend of mine, bearing gifts of Old Speckled Hen, came round to watch the WW game on a freeview site and neither of us were very optimistic about the outcome of the game. In this respect, we reflected the views of most bloggers, who expected us to go down by a few goals. The line-up, minus Fletcher and Bassong, deepened our feeling of doom, because it left us weak at both ends of the field.

Nor did the opening minutes of the game make us feel any better. In the 6th. minute, Berra, caught on the ball, gave away it away in our box. Hennessey brilliantly saved the shot but hardly had we breathed a sigh of relief when the ball was in our net. Demba Ba scored it but it only counted because Edwards, stuck on our goal-line, played him onside. Eleven minutes later and Gutierrez (who else?) picked up a poor clearance and hit a screamer from 25 yards that Hennessey was powerless to stop.

To be fair to our players, they were playing reasonably well but lacked a cutting edge up front and were still prone to making silly errors at the back. At least, the slow-footed Johnson wasn`t playing, though Stearman was his normal inconsistent self. I hope Bassong is fit for the Fulham match. Newcastle were allowed far too much space going forward. Zubar`s penchant for attack might have contributed to this but he was a joy to watch driving upfield, ball at his feet. It was great to see him back and he must remain in the team.

Henry`s return added a little more solidity in the midfield, too, allowing O`Hara to focus on his role as play-maker. He did this quite well but he, as other men on the ball constantly found, it was difficult to target a player in space. Even before the commentators made the point, my friend and I were noting that while we might pass the ball about, we were incapable of achieving an adequate level of penetration ... an old problem.

It was clear from the outset that the team was up for this fixture. They were working hard for the manager, though whether for TC or to make amends for their lack of effort in MM`s last few games is a moot point. TC`s pep-talk at half-time certainly did the trick because within five minutes Jarvis had pulled a goal back. Cutting inside, he fired off a somewhat speculative shot, which went into the net off a deflection. Game on.

At this point my wife, returning home from a walk with a friend, was greeted by two blokes punching the air and clinking glasses of beer (though not at the same time I hope, otherwise there`ll be beer in the keyboard). She even got caught up in the excitement and watched for a few minutes.

Emboldened by the goal, WW continued to push forward and looked likely to level the score. When it came, it was the result of a well-directed free kick by JOH and a lucky rebound off Doyle. Regathering the ball, our striker hit it into the net. At first, I thought that the ball had gone out for a corner but seeing the scrum of celebrating WW players made for even greater jubilation chez SB60.

At this point, if any team was going to score a winner, WW were the favourites. However, the replacement of JOH by Kightly removed our creative midfielder without strengthening our defence. Moreover, as Newcastle moved up a gear, we had to spend the final one-third of the game fending off waves of attacks. We survived, sometimes luckily, even with five minutes of extra time to negotiate. At home, we hugged and cheered and declared that it was a notable point gained.

And it was a good result for us, more so, given the events of the past fortnight. While I was a little miffed over TC`s selection at the beginning of the game, the players played with commitment and fully deserved their share of the points. If some of the old shortcomings were still visible - none more so than the tendency (especially Berra`s) to give away soft goals- the lads showed that they have spirit and can play at this level.

I am really pleased for TC because this is a promising start to his managerial career, achieved in the teeth of a huge amount of adverse opinion and in the most unpromising of situations. We will soon see if he possesses the nous and the tactical acumen to plot a course out of the relegation mire. And, there`s no better place to start than at Craven Cottage next week. I have my ticket and am looking forward to another gutsy performance and THREE points.

After that, I have a tough decision to make. My daughter has a meeting in London on the following two Fridays and will be staying with us over the weekends. I cannot expect to travel up to Molineux for both the Blackburn and MU matches. Which one should I choose?




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The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday February 25 2012

Time: 6:44PM

Your Comments

Get In! Thanks for the article SB60, can't see the game til they show it Tuesday. Sounds like they had some spirit and hopefully this will be enough to get something from the next 12 games. Apart from that don't see much change in use of personnel or the conceding of early goals, although prefer Stears at centreback than anywhere else. Anyhow, will take that and if TC can limp us through at least it buys us some more Premier League time then we can make some decisions. Knowing our lot we're more likely to beat MU... but the Blackburn game should be the one that tells us what we need to know...
Wolf Downunder
Good report SB but as per normal we make things hard for our selfs giveing away a sloppy goal after 6 mins.It seems no matter who is in defence we just keep on concedeing and untill that problem is solved it is going to be hard to avoid the drop. Only consolation is the other teams down their with us are leaking goals as well, why do we keep shooting are selfs in the foot and makeing things twice as hard . But good on TC for getting them to show some fight lets hope its not another false dawn like the victory over QPR to then be humiliated against WBA.
kiawolves
As the other results went our way, a satisfying day all round ... what with Wales winning too! But, if only we could cut out the silly mistakes.
Southbank60
Nice one Banksy,good result,lets hope they can keep it up,well done to TC as well.Wonder if he'll get to keep the job if we stay up?.
Crete Wolf
I know RJ is not every ones taste but Berra is getting worse two out of the last three games he has started hes give away goals first against A V WHEN HE DECIDED to kick Bent of the pitch and gavea penalty away. And now once again looseing the ball in side the eighteen yard box in side ten minutes its becoming all to frequent with him in the side its like haveing a limp dick at a sex orgy not much good. Hopefully Bassong will be back against Fulham and why not give Craddock a chance cant be any worse than RJ CB or Stearman who makes me nervous every time he gets the ball.
kiawolves
I tend to agree with your assessment of our CDs, kiawolves ... but I know nothing about limp dicks (unless you are talking about Stears).
Southbank60
Bassong will befit for Fulham as will Fletcher....that'll make for interesting team selections
Rustmonkey
Well. What a difference a day can make. I am not sold he is the Messiah, the opposite in fact, he has had plenty to do with where we are, I think the players had a '***** it... lets prove em (however they may be) moment. Good point. Did not see it because I was moving house, finally escaping the Brooklyn Ghetto, so have had to rely on reports- yours as always Banks was a joy to read. Pleased with the point, it's a shame really the Blackburn game was not coming next because I think the comeback would have served us well and we would go onto win. Fulham is tricky and I would take another point as long as we can beat the mighty Blackburn. See Terry's chances of keeping us up on now valued at more than fifty % as opposed to the 30% initial. I am not sold. The process was a joke and we can only be glad it is over. I think the players rose to the occasion yesterday; we do have strength of option with Basson Ting Tong and The Fletch available for the next game. As always it is going to be, well, emotional.
New York City Wolf
I have just read the following quotes from TC. As shown by his brave team selection and substitutions on Saturday, he is already confounding our traditional view of him. If only MM had adhered to such principles. TC's got a difficult decision to make on Sunday though. If he plays 4-5-1 at Craven Cottage, does he replace Doyle, who played a blinder, with Fletcher, our goal-machine? Or will he gamble on a 4-4-2 formation? Quotes: “We’ve done one now and we move on to Fulham. We’ll look at Fulham and make plans for that game and I will pick what I think is the best team for that game regardless of captaincy, what anyone cost or a player’s reputation. “When you lose a game 5-1 at home you’re not going to send out the same team and the same subs. We had a look at the team and we analysed it. I went with my gut feeling for the players I felt would do a job for us.”
Southbank60
SB60 in some ways i agree but to me its not all the team if you look at the stats i think we have scored in all bar one or two games.We dont have a problem with that its the defence two clean sheets all season and an average of conceding two goals per game which puts us under enormous presure. As like sat we were two goals down and fighting for our lives in the first twenty minutes that is what we have to stop. I hope this makes sense i would play Bassong with Craddock and Johnson as a back three and drop Edwards this hopefully would strengthen the defence which is the weak point so my team would be WH,RZ,RJ,JC,SB,SW,KH,JOH,MJ,SF,KD,. I think this would shore up the defence but still have enough attacking ability to hurt Fulham as we seemed to have tried every thing else and just keep on conceding silly goals.
kiawolves
Absolutely, kiawolves. We do need to shore up our defence and you suggest one way out (though I worry about RJ's lack of pace). Craddock would offer solidity and greater positional sense, though he's hardly Ussain Bolt. Neither is Stearman but he is more mobile, if inconsistent and liable to make mistakes. So is Berra: that's two recent games in which he has given away goals. Apart from that it looks a good set-up and does include SF and KD.
Southbank60
Thats the problem two who just make mistakes in Stearman and Berra or two who dont have the pace as in Johnson and Craddock but to me are more solid and do not do the silly things like the other two.
kiawolves
I would stick with the 4-5-1 that played against Newcastle. The lads didn't do too much wrong and were unlucky with both goals conceded. What struck me already was the passing and follow-on movement, this is obviously what they've been working on in training. A few more performances like that and we'll be ok. Gotta admit I would have tin-tacked TC with MM but now I'm starting to warm to him. Perhaps that clipboard really did have more on it than a couple of crosswords. UTW!!!
BIG TASTY
I like the idea of three in the middle- it is something we have not tried. Can anyone remember us playing three in the middle? I think Berra is error prone but has been in a poorly performing side and has altogether had his best season for us by far. Hopefully they can pull him aside and help him cut those silly mistakes out, and the shirt pulling which we have seen lead to penalties and free kicks which have led to goals. I was delighted he dropped Johnson- he has been more than a let down and perhaps he can respond in the future like he did after being dropped last time and rescue his own season and stand us in greater stead. Connor has made it clear he is going to make his own decisions and I like the words I am hearing from him- the most sensible approach the best team he sees fit to play, plays regardless of stature and cost. A back three? I would like to see Berra and Bassong in there and who better to steady the ship behind them than Jody for swansong number 500; I don't think there is a steadier head at the club and he can read the mistakes coming and cut them out. We really do need to stop this at the back because despite it being a good point, once again we have given a side a two nil lead. Think how far we could go to steady the ship for twenty minutes and build from there. Midfield? Can't believe I am saying it but there is cause to include Henry to add further solidity assuming he can stop giving the ball away; if he not, drop him. I think Milijias is a cracking talent and you are going to want him and O Hara in there to create. From there on in you can decide whether you are strong enough to play both Fletcher and Doyle (I think we should) if not consistently side by side then taking it in turns dropping off- it would mean of course no place for the natural go getters Jarvis, Kightly, Hammill etc but that is what a bench is for. I think we can go there and take a point but there is plenty of time for this turning point to similarly go tits up. They desperately need to put a few results together and stop being beaten and they have made a good start.
New York City Wolf
Oh yeah I forgot to include full backs! Zubar and Ward of course.
New York City Wolf
Think it has to be 451, perhaps with Doyle playing where Ohara had previously just behind Fletch... I disagree about putting Rj back in the squad, he is rubbish, and we should sell asap. Zubar was in brilliant form, and hopefully he can keep that up, Ward had another good game and I think thats out LB and RB spots sorted. Berra had a poor game on Sat, but overall think he's been our most consistent CB, so that leave Stears, Bassong or Craddock, and if Bassong is still unavailable I think its time to put the wise old head of Craddock back in to shore things up. Going forward I have very few complaints, its all about plugging the leaks at the back for me.
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