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A Game of Two Halves

A Game of Two Halves

Watching a collection of fringe players and new signings trot out onto the pitch at Sixfields this evening, it was clear that Ståle was treating the event as a training outing rather than as a must-win game. If I was at all concerned about the outcome, the team selection would have worried me. Naturally, I was interested in seeing Margreitter and Boukari for the first time and, more intriguingly, to observe how the pairings of Margreitter and Batth in defence and Double and Sigurdarson upfront fared. It was also pleasing to watch a match without the tension of points being at stake.

It was just as well because we were dire in the first half. Most of these players had not played with each other before let alone worked alongside one another in units. And it showed. We had no shape or cohesion either in attack or defence. Northampton looked far more dangerous in attack than we did, their threat magnified by our defensive frailties. To make matters worse, all the players were anxious to impress and therefore tended to perform as individuals rather than as members of a team.

Surprisingly, we went in at half-time 2-1 up, having scored two scrappy goals against a well-engineered one by Northampton. A lovely cross by Hackett in the 39th. minute was headed into the net by Platt in spite of the close attendance of Batth and Stearman.

SS obviously spoke sharply to the players at half-time because they came out with greater resolve and purpose after the break. Passing improved and players started running into space. We looked far more composed on the ball, knocked it around with greater assurance and inexorably took a grip on the game.

Even so, we still could not score. In the 49th. minute young Snedker in the Northampton goal spilled a ball but Boukari`s shot cannoned off a defender. A minute later the goalie dived to his right to turn a shot by Davis round the post. In the 60th. minute Boukari found Davis with a glorious ball over the defence, only for the midfielder to fluff his shot. In the 84th. minute a great cross from Sigurdarson landed at Peszko`s feet but his shot was blocked. Finally in the 91st. minute, Sako latched on to a cross from Peszko and smashed it into the net.

In the equivalent match last year we won 4-0 which suggests that we have gone backwards. That would be an unfair comparison because even professional footballers, earning many £1000s a week cannot instantly operate as an integrated whole. We did improve as the game progressed, partly because the individuals began to work better as a team and partly because we brought on better players.

In the 66th. minute Doumbia replaced Jonsson and immediately transformed the dynamics in midfield. One can only wonder what MM say in Jonsson because, if it weren`t for his fouling, he would have been anonymous. Sako came on for Boukari at the same time and quickly demonstrated why he is so highly rated. What a signing! Boukari, nonetheless, made an impressive debut. He likes to take his man on and made a number of penetrating runs. Both of them were tenancious on the ball and often powered through the opposition. We ought to accommodate both of them in the team.

Most of our attacks in the second half went down the left flank, where Boukari was patrolling, rather than on Forde`s side. As other commentators have reported, the lad needs more time to mature before he can do the job properly. He did not really have the beating of his man and his crossing was often wayward. Once Peszko came on in the 82nd. minute, openings started to appear on the right flank.

Upfront, the partnership between Nouble and Sigurdarson was not very successful. Sigurdarson has potential and his game strengthened as the match progressed. Nouble, however, lacked control and often got tangled up in his feet. He is undoubtedly fast and a willing worker though, constantly chasing lost balls back to the opposition goalie. Improving his skills on the ball is going to be a real test of SS`s coaching ability. At the moment, I see Doyle and Sigurdarson as the two front men.

At the back, Ikeme gave another assured display, without having to indulge in the heroics of the Derby match. In the second half he had little to do, mainly because we dominated the midfield. As a result, the CD partnership between Batth and Margreitter was put under less strain. It had creaked a bit in the first half. Batth was more prominent than Margreitter and, as a result, I find it difficult to assess the latter`s performance. He seemed to gain in confidence the more we controlled the game.

What this match did was to highlight the gulf between the better players in the squad and the ones on the fringe. Once again, SS`s has demonstrated his ability to sign quality players from abroad and this augers well for our campaign. Other players, including Forde, Davis, Stearman and Jonsson, did not enhance their reputations. Stearman, captain for the day, actually did quite well moving the ball out of defence but he is still as vulnerable at RB as he is at CD. Elokobi looked good going forward. We should sell the latter three and buy in replacements. I presume SS knows this and we will learn of the new recruits by 11 pm tomorrow. With the holes filled at the back, I am reasonably confident about the future.

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

Date:Friday August 31 2012
Time: 12:05AM


Have to disagree on one point as I felt Margreitter was far more impressive than Batth , Batth lost Platt for the goal and lacks serious pace where as Georg looks very easy on the eye and good ball control , most will say bigger tests lie ahead but he will not have a more powerful challenge than Platt and Akinfenwa and he did very well for his first game , A front 6 of Sako Doumbia Henry Pescko/Boukari Sigurdsson Doyle is the way for me , everyone has a pop at our defence but I think its about time our forward players started performing for 90 minutes and take pressure off the defence , Ward Margreitter Johnson Zubar should cope with most of what the championship has to throw at them BUT they need protection and thats why I would pick Pescko over Boukari for now , from what I was told Henry was missed bigtime against Derby , you know that player you all want out hahaha , Stale says he wants one last signing in an ideal world . I'm guessing or hoping its a player than knows the English league well !!!!! and lets get Hammill Hunt and Jonsson off the bloody wage bill !!!!
Will the Wanderer
31/08/2012 00:24:00
P.S Stearman looked ok at right back , but I would sell Foley over him as Stearman can be decent cover at this level for RB or CH and my 6 year old is quicker than Foley !
Will the Wanderer
31/08/2012 00:27:00
WTW: thanks for your opinion of Margreitter. I found it difficult to identify him, at times thinking that it was Doyle was on the pitch. The back four did look shaky in the first half but improved as the game progressed and we took control of the game. Presumably under orders from SS, Stearman and Elokobi brought the ball out of defence rather than hoofing it upfield. Of course, we have to consider the nature of the opposition. I agree with your choice of front six, though it would be a shame if Boukari were not to feature in a game. According to reports he is a little flaky and we need him to 'put in a shift' as well as exhibit his skills. Jarvis and Kightly, who?
31/08/2012 07:24:00
summed up nicely SB, was geared up to lambaste the entire affair at half time, but we looked decidedly better after the break - considering we were playing with no visible strikers!!! Sako made a fantastic debut, and along with Pezko and Dioumba look to be the three star signings thus far. I thought Batth did ok, but we need a decent (not one for the future) LB or CB signing or we will go on to 40 and 50 games without a clean sheet - i think we must already be apporaching some kind of guiness record. WE ARE WOLVES !
31/08/2012 08:00:00
I'm going to hang myself out to dry here and you can all shoot me down in flames later but this Margrietter is a footballing centre half , you can just tell a good passer of a ball when you see one , and with Johnson being the tough tackler they may compliment each other well , personally I want Mouyokolo to come back and show what he did at Hull , not holding my breath though on that one , Danny Batth to say he is 6ft4/5 got easily beat in the air for their goal and that worry's me as I cant see Johnson losing that header , SB definately Jarvis and Kightly who , this Sako fella in half an hour showed more variation in wing play than Jarvo n Kightly together , dont get me wrong both did amazing things for Wolves but its nice to see wingers with pace n power and skills , I think Doyle can thrive on this lot , Sigurdsson is the only purchase I'm concerned about , I expected him to be a lot better !
Will the Wanderer
31/08/2012 09:11:00
I think Batth and Forde should go out on loan. Forde definitely didn't look as dangerous as Boukari and Sako (although he did OK). Thought Elokobi and Stearman did OK. Stearman for once looked comfortable with the ball. I worry about playing Sig and Doyle up front as they both appear to be centre forwards who don't like to be in the box. I think (unless SEB recaptures his old form) we miss an out n' out striker.
31/08/2012 09:20:00
Forde looked uncomfortable playing as a right footed left winger in the first half. Looked better on the right. Disapointed with Davis's performance, I would expect some commanding midfield against a side like Northampton, Doumbia did that when he came on. Batth was far from convincing also... This was a game where fringe players had a chance to really shine and show there worth and for me it just highlighted our lack of strength in depth. Sigurdsson had little service first half and started to go looking for the ball, so woth better service will reserve judgement. Stearman etc are going to look more comfortable on the ball when a team lets them have it and does not pressure from the front as we did to them. But hey ho we won with massively altered side and new players coming in too, so still hopeful for a decent season, but I still think next season will be our real push for promotion.
31/08/2012 11:15:00
86lobo77: I am inclined to agree with you about Siggie and Doyle but SEB is not the answer at the moment. He is overweight and his touch is often poor. Elokobi and Stearman did play alright, especially going forward, but they looked fragile in the first half. They flattered to deceive in the second half because we gained control of the midfield and they had little to do defensively. As noted in my report, I seemed to miss Margreitter but other posts indicate that he played well. Batth stuck out more on account of his bulk but that ensured that I noticed his mistakes. He and Forde should go out on loan, though that might mean having to play Stearman should RJ or GM be injured ... or Berra, of course, if he is still with us. When assessing the performance of our players we have to consider the opposition. We were playing a D2 side and in the second half the back six had very little to do. When we have a first team out we will do better but we shouldn't get carried away. So far this season, reactions after each match have alternated between the suicidal and the ecstatic. Even so, we have an enviable midfield, which could provide the motor for some good team performances. I only hope that they are not let down by gaffes at the back.
31/08/2012 11:15:00
I can't see SEB performing anywhere near where he did the last time we were in the Championship - I hope he does though! I keep hearing very good things about McAlinden, not sure if he's a poacher but that is what we're missing. I noticed the language barrier between Margreitter, Batth and Ikeme a couple of times, so I expect Berra and RJ to start against Cardiff until GM and RJ are better acquainted.
31/08/2012 12:09:00
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