Stuck at home because of a knee operation, 'watching` the match on the WW Blogger made me impatient to get back on my feet: I should be at Molineux. With no freeview sites available (welcome to the Championship), out of range of Beacon Radio (in Surrey) and unwilling to pay for the official broadcast (having lost money on it last year), I had to make do with Paul and Otto.
I am therefore writing this report virtually blind. Even so, the outline of the game is fairly easy to discern. Clearly, this was a much better performance than our nervy display against Leeds at the weekend. Perhaps Stale`s message is beginning to get through. We seemed more comfortable on the ball, passed it around more effectively and put more pressure on the opposition.
And, we scored three goals. Looking at them on Sky Sports, I was impressed with the build-up play and the clinical finishing. Can we safely sell Fletcher then? Well, not really because it seemed that we still lacked a cutting edge up-front for much of the game. In the 60th. minute I wrote in my notebook that we had only scored one goal in spite of all the pressure, and that the old Championship SEB would have buried a number of the chances that had already presented themselves. Immediately, he scored, latching on to a great through ball from Doyle.
SEB still has much to prove, however. Indeed, most reports rated Doyle more highly and thought that he was unlucky not to score ... but that`s another reason why Fletcher is so valuable. It also seems as though Doyle linked up much better with Sigurdarson and that they could form the more effective partnership. Indeed, both of them almost scored at the end of the game. I think they offer the greater potential if we have to sell Fletcher.
And that is looking increasingly likely. Specifically, everyone now realises that we need to strengthen our defence. On Saturday only Johnson enhanced his reputation but Stearman alone paid the price. If Zubar and Ward performed better yesterday that probably was due to the absence of pressure. The defence still gave away a soft goal: Ward backed off Etuhu, allowing him to cross to the unmarked Cywka, whom Berra had lost in the box. If the rumour that Batth is going out on loan is correct, that suggests that Fletcher is leaving and that we already have a new CD lined up.
One of the main reasons why we won the game was our dominance in midfield. Doumbia was immense, a tower of strength with the ball at his feet and a crucial pivot in the team`s play . In my mind,I was recalling the exploits of Frimpong last season. It also seems as though he has fired up Henry, who revelled in the occasion. A power duo in the middle would be a real bonus .
If Fletcher is destined to leave, the same is not necessarily true of Jarvis. Matt had an even better game than he had against Leeds and clearly still sees himself as a Wolves player. On the other wing, Peszko`s performance indicates that there is still life on our right flank after Kightly. His perfect cross to Edwards accounted for our third goal. He can only improve as he gets fitter and more attuned to the pace of the English game. I only hope that RJ does not lead him astray!
So, have we turned the corner? Not all of them ... perhaps the confidence one but not the one that leads to defensive stability or the capability to pot chances at the other end. We still need time to adapt to SS`s tactics too. We sported two wide men,for instance, though reports suggest that Peszko was being told to cut inside whenever possible. Nonetheless, we have something to build on, especially if we acquire a couple of capable defenders, a creative midfielder (in O`Hara`s absence and Milijas`s departure) and a effective striker (will Siggurdarson grow into the job?).
I was so excited at the result yesterday that I was formulating a strategy to get to Molineux for the Derby game on Saturday in spite of my dodgy knee. I even spoke of it to my wife, who coldly reminded me that 25 August is our 39th. wedding anniversary. So, it`s going to be difficult.