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Thrown out of the Last Chance Saloon

Thrown out of the Last Chance Saloon

We have been supping at the Last Chance Saloon for some time now but after our defeat at the hands of Bolton today, the landlord has finally had enough of us hanging around, propping up the basement bar and not getting in the points (he`s Irish).

Personally, I left this metaphorical pub after the Blackburn fixture and have approached subsequent matches with a calmness that only total resignation to our fate could bring about. Today`s result really does cut us adrift, seven points from safety with seven matches to go.

To compound the pain, I am taking extra flak from my wife. While she could just about appreciate the attraction of watching WW in the PL, if only because it brought top-class players in really good teams to Molineux (her words), she couldn`t understand why I would want to make a round trip of over 300 miles every other week for half a year to see Barnsley, Millwall or Peterborough play. She sees it less as an eccentric retirement pursuit (which she does) than as a drain on finances and a waste of time, better spent (I suspect) in visiting garden centres and DIY outlets.

Showing a rare flash of footballing knowledge, she pointed out that it would make greater sense if I swapped my allegiance to Fulham or Chelsea, arguing that it would cause me less stress, would be cheaper and would enable us to eat the traditional Saturday take-away curry at a sensible time. I tried to explain that one has no choice in the team that one follows, but it was only when I made the analogy between my support of WW and her love of Bournville chocolate and creamy toffees, that I felt that I was making some headway.

Even so, she has sneakily upped the ante. This week, apart from the customary visits to shoe shops, I have had to comment on a selection of increasingly silly mother-of-the-bride hats, assess the merits of virtually indistinguishable handbags and accompany her on an emergency dash to Monsoon to look for a potential replacement bridesmaid`s dress. I`ve even attended a ballet. Actually, I`d sign up the principal dancer straight away as he might just about reach one of MJ`s overhit crosses or a hoof upfield out of defence.

Worn down, I observed that if she was so keen on us doing things together, I would buy her a WW season ticket. However, this suggestion was met with an indignant snort, a frosty expression and an imperious curl of the lip ... so, no change there. To be fair, I wasn`t that enthusiastic about enrolling on her cake decorating course either.

I did not see any WW supporters at Euston or on the train but plenty of them in the town centre when I arrived at 2.12 pm. The mood seemed reasonably upbeat as I walked to the ground, Gregg`s pasty in hand.

And the players were clearly in the same mood. If today`s defeat ended all hope of survival, at least we made Bolton work for the win. Indeed, we outplayed them for most of the game. Not only did the lads display a lot of spirit but they also put together some great passages of play. They showed that they could run the channels and deliver telling through balls. As a result, chances multiplied: in the first half we did everything but score. If we had gone in at the break two or three goals to the good, it would have been no more than we deserved.

We created three clear-cut chances. Firstly, Bogdan somehow managed to scoop Fletcher`s header round the post; then Miyaichi cleared another of Fletcher`s headers off the line; and finally Fletcher, faced with an open goal, headed Kightly`s perfect cross on to the bar and over. He would normally have buried it. Moreover, I lost count of how many times Jarvis and Kightly (and others) pumped crosses into the box, only to see them miss the outstretched boot or head of their intended target.

Surely, if we continued in the same vein the second half, we would soon convert one of the myriad of chances we were creating. And we did. In the 52nd. minute Ward passed the ball to SEB out of defence. He cut to the right in midfield and pinged the ball to Kightly, who, driving in from the touchline,beat Bogdan with a well-placed shot.

Unfortunately, it only took Bolton nine minutes to draw level, when Johnson was harshly judged to have tripped Mark Davies in the box. Petrov duly scored. A dubious decision, even after multi-replays of the MOTD tape, it earned Mark Davies, an ex-WW player, a barrage of boos for the rest of the match.

While the goal clearly perked Bolton up, WW were still playing well and one felt that the next goal would be the crucial one. Unfortunately, we missed the chance to go ahead when Jarvis headed wide in the 76th. minute with the goal at his mercy. Three minutes later slack marking by our defence allowed Ngog a free header, which rebounded off the bar to Alonso, who volleyed home from a suspiciously offside position. With WW pressing for an equaliser, it was perhaps inevitable, that we would ship a third goal. Kevin Davies, receiving the ball in the box, waltzed past Johnson and fired the ball into the net beyond Hennessey`s reach.

Even so, the lads did not give up and Jarvis scored in the 87th. minute after good work from Fletcher and inattention on Bolton`s part. Game on. We laid siege to the Bolton goal but, in spite of a period of extra time of MU proportions, we could not square the game.

The reaction of the supporters to the defeat, which consigns us to the Championship, was restrained. No booing or demanding that heads should roll but rather a dignified acceptance of the inevitable. The same sombre mood was tangible as I walked back through the city to the station.

And, there were some positives to take from the game. The team`s spirit has returned and we will need it if we are to bounce back next year. Secondly, our two wingers were on song, beating their men at will. Thirdly, the partnership between Fletcher and SEB upfront looked good, far better than that between SF and KD, because they play in tandem and work off each other. It was like watching them in the first half against Stoke last season. Fourthly, in Davis we have unearthed a real gem. He is a terrier in the tackle, is mobile and can run with and distribute the ball.

Unfortunately, we are undoing all the good work upfront by errors at the back. Even when we were dominating play in the first half, I felt anxious whenever Bolton counter-attacked. Both full backs were readily turned and the two central defenders failed to keep tabs on their men. Gosh, isn`t Johnson slow! They are costing us points, even in matches, like today`s, which we should have won.

Whereas Bolton`s defence, under far greater pressure than ours, managed to hold firm and only conceded two goals (and none in the first half), our defenders often gave Bolton too much space ... and they capitalised on it. Were it not for Hennessey`s customary quota of great saves, we would have lost far more heavily. It finally got to him, as witnessed in his spat with Johnson.

Over the course of the next few weeks our attention is going to be focused on the shape of our squad for next year. We will lose players and we will have to make good the losses. Of the players touted for transfer, I would like to see us hold on to Fletcher (however much it costs), Kightly and a fit O`Hara. I would rather not sell Hennessey, Doyle and Jarvis but I think we can manage without them (bring back Hammill). With the money - and more from Mr. Morgan`s pocket- we need to replace the whole back four ... but how is Batth progressing?

Of course, much depends upon the new manager and his coaching staff and it is important that we choose the right man and his team. Replacements should be signed up as soon as possible after the end of the season and, as a result, the club should be putting out feelers now. Swansea and Norwich have shown that there are bright young managers out there and, with a good eye for potential, we can improve the quality of our team.

I`m looking forward to the new season and the challenge it will bring, even if my feelings are tinged with regret that management managed to foul it up this time. I know there are still a number of games to go but really it`s all over. Still, we have a new stand.

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

Date:Sunday April 1 2012
Time: 12:48AM


SB60 YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD how many goals do we have to score to win because are defence is useless. i dont think their is a need for us to sell anyone but if as you say keep the best ones as in SF.WH.MJ.JOH. AND A COUPLE OF THE OTHERS AND GET RID OF THE REST.Trouble is who wants to buy them so we could be stuck their lies the problem for are next manager.
01/04/2012 07:56:00
Contractually, we do not have to sell our stars but in reality offers will come in and our hand will be forced. We have to recognise the fact that we will lose our best players, especially if we get a good deal ... and they want to go. I was merely pointing out those individuals whom I feel are irreplaceable. Given the patchy form of O'Hara, which may be due to injury, even he is not indispensable, though we do need a dependable play-maker in midfield.Could Milijas do the job in the Championship, if he has Davis and/or Henry alongside him. In choosing Kightly over Jarvis, I feel he has the greater potential, both as a wingman and as a scorer of goals. In particular, his penchant for driving in from the flank is a ploy which helps us to open up defences and, as yesterday, enables him to score goals himself. I also think Fletcher and SEB as joint strikers operating in tandem and with two flying wingers to support them, would terrorize Championship defences. I would take Fletcher to one side and make it worth his while to stay for one more season. He is proving that he is much more than a header of the ball, being equally adept with it at his feet.
01/04/2012 09:24:00
I completely agree about bringin back Hammil, he and Kights will tear the Championship apart... Thing is, we still have those two idiots pulling the strings. The abortion of the last manager hunt still hangs heavily over the club's lifeless carcass, and I have zero confidence in them. On merit, talent and effort, we belong in the Championship next term, but how do we move forward with Laurel and Hardy running the club? Are we all to turn up next season, all's forgiven and place once again our campaign on (spits in disgust) jez moxey and (vomits a little) scouse morgan ?
01/04/2012 10:15:00
Spot on as usual SB. One thing you didn't discuss was the RJ and Henno incident. I was amazed and happy to finally see Henno pile into RJ ( our beloved Captain) for failing to deal with a basic defensive duty leaving Henno's goal open to a free shot. I suspect that there is much more to this than meets the eye. RJ was very unpopular in the Birmingham dressing room and it would appear that he ain't flavour of the month in hours. I honestly believe that he has destabilised our team this season to the point where we are in this position now. I know you can't blame him for poor tactics or lack of skill but what we had was......TEAM SPIRIT and that was lost early on in the season. RJ is under NO illusions what the fans think of him either and that in itself is a problem. Captain leads the team out, Team shake hands, Captain runs down to Northbank end with Mascot and acknowledges the crowd????? Was it really only me that noticed yesterday that he didn't acknowledge the crowd. Infact, he turned his back on us. This is not me being negative....this is a FACT!!!! He completely dissed the crowd. That spoke volumes for the man. On the bright side........after Henno's blow up with him, he was left in absolutely no doubt who the Northbank agreed with. HE WILL BE GONE at the end of the season. Sadly I also think JoH will too. I think the incident with the so called fan outside the ground was too much and he will seek to move away. I can't see us keeping Fletcher......he's too damn good. I agree that Jarvo can be lived without and good luck to him. We need a complete rebuild at the back and a general in midfield. Not mathematically down yet but I do think that yesterday was the end. It very much summed up our season. Lots of huff and puff, some flashes of brilliance but a lack of skill to be able to kill off a worse team than us. That is the real tragedy......Bolton, Blackburn, Wigan and QPR are actually worse than us unfortunately we don't have the leadership to show that.
01/04/2012 11:04:00
Rustmonkey: in retrospect the acquisition of Johnson has probably been the single most important reason for our downfall. Ironic, really, given our initial reaction to the signing. Hennessey's reponse yesterday laid bare the reality of bad-feeling among the players, with Johnson as the catalyst. As a result, we have lost the solidarity and spirit that did so much to keep us alive last season and which has been so patently missing this year. He has to go. In a funny way I am looking forward to the new season as I see the need to start afresh with a new coaching team and new faces. However, there also has to be a change in attitude among members of the board, especially by JM, whose actions and utterances regularly seem to be at odds with the true interests of the club. And, I am worried about the subtext of SM's ownership of the club, though I will gladly expunge my suspicions, should he plough the profits of the projected 56 luxury houses at Compton into the football club rather than into the general Redrow coffers.
01/04/2012 11:26:00
Agree totally, I will not blame MM for the RJ issue. I was very vocal in my support for both getting him in and in the brave decision to make him Captain. If only we all knew what we know now. RJ is our Joey Barton and therefore must go. I'd like to see us keep Bassong because I do feel that with the right CB next to him, he'll do ok. I personally think Foley is our natural RB so maybe Zubar could be turned into a CB. Wary needs replacing at LB so he can be used further forward. The midfield is a tricky one because we don't know who we will keep. Kightly, Henry, Milijas and hopefully JoH with Hunt taking Jarvo's position. Upfront.....Doyle and SEB with Ward and Vokes as backup. I'd love to see fLetch but I just can't see us keeping him. The rest of the hangers on can go for me and be replaced with some new blood. The championship is a lottery of a League but I do believe we are strong enough to claw our way back. Over to SM now to see if he can put right what he and JM managed to get so wrong. A young enthusiastic manager with fresh ideas and a good experienced back room team behind him. I still think someone like Lee Clarke might be worth a go.
01/04/2012 12:40:00
Rustmonkey i think Milijas is out of contract and Vokes has stated he wants to stay at brighton it all depends on the new manager who stays and who goes.what we do need is a complete new back four and at least another one or two midfielders who are not frightened to tackle like the ones we have now.
01/04/2012 15:41:00
I have heard that non footballing issues are at the centre of RJ's problems this season,if that is true it may explain away some of the reasons behind his awful form for most of this season.I would also like to add at my personal joy at the performance and commitment shown by Michael Kightly once again in a Wolves shirt showing us all the player we have been missing for too long. In this season of disappointment maybe this is the one good thing to happen and bodes well for us next year,hope they get a new long term contract drawn up very soon for him,he's earned it.UTW.
Crete Wolf
01/04/2012 20:50:00
Hi guys :) I had a lot to do in my life in last 3 months, so I was out of this site. Here are my "2 cents" : Well, after saturday even I lost hope, now we need a miracle and I doubt we will get one. Kill me, but I think sacking Mick was a mistake. He is a great manager in my eyes, we should either keep faith with him or fire him when Martin O´Neill was available. I live in Slovakia, so last 3 years were a rare opportunity to watch Wolves live on TV or on internet streams, I will miss it :(...... I will miss all those good players who we will not have a chance to keep, especially Fletcher, Doyle, Jarvis and Hennessey :(...... Now we have to give another manager the same chance we gave Mick, a chance to build his own vision and lets return stronger in a year or two !
02/04/2012 06:46:00
Easy now about tearing the Championship apart. In the 90's, it was everybody's expectation, neutral pundits included (remember?)... season after season the Bully goals counted for nothing. The also-rans up their game, and any year there's a good chance of a 'Reading or two' consigning the WHU's to the knock-out stages of the play-offs. Add to that the ultimate nightmare of a good cup run in either of the 2 knock-out competitions .....and a bridge will become a home for a while, hopefully, just for a while. I have read of several sports writers and commentators remarks on the arrogance of WW supporters. Perhaps that would be only ' a hint of arrogance' and ' a section (preferably small) of WW supporters'. Those who know more about it than I do, please comment.
02/04/2012 07:26:00
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