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Let's Always Play With Ten Men!

Let's Always Play With Ten Men!

For the second week running WW sleep-walked through the game with eleven men (after a hectic first couple of minutes), only to buck up after they had lost a player to a red card (today, in the 24th. minute). Admittedly, Watford scored nine minutes later with (for us) a typical counter-attacking goal but really the team minus one looked reasonably comfortable in defence and they certainly created more chances in attack.

It`s all about pace and pressure. Many bloggers have commented that while we are trying to execute SS`s passing plan, we are not doing it quickly or effectively enough. It`s painfully slow and lacking in bite and momentum. Then, we go a man down and we have to up our game and play at a higher tempo.

And it`s not merely due to the need to cover gaps at the back: the urgency transmits itself to the midfield and forwards and we begin to exert pressure on the opposition. Indeed, a more vigorous start to the second half earned its reward with a trademark Sako goal from a long-range free kick in the 52nd. minute. Had Siggy not been floored six minutes later as he was driving into the box, we might even have gone ahead. Amazingly (it happened right in front of me) we did not even get a free kick.

In the final quarter of the game we further ramped up the pressure and could have scored on several occasions. In the 74th. minute Hoban felled Edwards in the box without punishment. But, not only did the referee fail to award a penalty he also booked Edwards for diving. Virtually all of the play was going through Sako, who had moved to the right wing in the second half, and he sent over a constant stream of crosses. On three occasions he found Davis in space outside the box but the latter blazed high on one occasion, shot at the goalie for another and drew out a fine save for the third. Typically, he often found it difficult to spot a free colleague.

I was able to watch Sako at close quarter during this period as I was sitting at that corner of the ground. He looks quite clumsy in possession but has amazing ball control and time and again was able to wriggle out of the tightest of spots. It was therefore ironic that his badly overhit corner led to the Watford counter-attack that resulted in their first goal.

Should both our central defenders go up to attack the corner or another dead-ball situations? We are regularly caught on the break after a badly weighted corner, a misdirected free kick or a poor pass. While our defenders are OK when defending the ball coming at them, they have trouble when they have to race back and find the ball looping over their head. It led to Berra`s dismissal.

This was bizarre. In the 23rd. minute Berra clumsily tackled a Watford player in the box without incurring a penalty only for the referee to send him off less than a minute later for a far milder offence. At the moment referees are not giving us the benefit of the doubt and at this rate we are soon going to run out of defenders. On the other hand, Watford are clearly referees` pets!

What the game showed was that if we do exert pressure on the opposition we can pin them back and we will surely score more goals. So, why don`t we kick-off at a pace that will give us the necessary momentum? In my opinion it`s because our players` minds are struggling to accommodate SS`s new ideas and tactics and they cannot do it at speed. It`s painful to watch and not very effective.

Then, when it is desperation-stakes, as they chase the game, they play instinctively and just drive forward. With Sako as the outlet, they immediately look like a potent force. We created far more chances with ten men than we ever did with a full complement on the pitch.

As for the individual players, heaven help us if Sako is not available to play. On the other wing Pennant was virtually anonymous and gave way to Batth when Berra`s dismissal forced a reshuffle. Doumbia and Edwards had their moments but were unable to dominate their opponents and Doumbia was substituted in the 72nd. minute, probably as a result of a hard tackle he had received earlier. Davis is improving and, to quote SS in relation to the Frimpong saga, deserves a chance.We can manage without Henry.

Batth had a reasonable game: he started nervously, slipping when turned in the 44th. minute but also made some timely blocks and tackles. He grew in confidence as the game wore on and Berra's absence offers him the chance to prove himself. Johnson put in a competent performance, as did Ward and Stearman as full backs. For all their bluster Watford were themselves luke-warm in attack and miscued many shots from good positions. They are not a good side and we should be beating such teams with the quality (at this level) we have in our squad.

Upfront, Siggurdarson got the nod over SEB, who has looked sluggish and ineffective in recent games. He , too, is improving and showed one or two good touches. In the 58th. minute he neatly controlled the ball before beating his man on the by-line and was only stopped from bearing down on the goal by an unpunished foul. He'll start on Saturday. As ever, Doyle ran himself ragged without really threatening the Watford goal.

Clearly, the SS revolution is not yet succeeding and I suspect that we are going to go backwards before we improve. Indeed, with our limp performances from the off we are no longer dominating the first half, let alone scoring goals. Ironically, we only do better at the moment when we throw out his precepts and just go for it. It gained us a point at home to Brighton and it could have given us another one today.

On the bright side, we are exhibiting a great deal of spirit in adversity and have shown that we can pressurize the opposition when we have to. What we need to do is display the same aggression from the start but to do it in a more controlled, SS-inspired way. I still have faith in our manager but evidently the project is still work in progress.

The problem is if we don't pick up the pace and apply greater pressure, we are not going to score enough goals to win points. This will affect players' confidence in the system and in their ability to adapt to it and will lead to a further slide down the table. SS has already let it be known that he intends bringing in players who can execute his plans ... but who will want to come to a team in disarray? This is to leave aside the attitude of our fickle fans and the impact that this will have on performances on the pitch. To be fair, they were brilliant today.

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Date:Sunday November 18 2012
Time: 1:20AM

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Good report SB but at this rate well be in division one in stead of the PL.
18/11/2012 07:15:00
I've just looked at Berra's sending off and it was a ridiculous decision. The Watford player was as much to blame as CB. SS should lodge an appeal. This comes a week after another miscarriage of justice, namely, the penalty given against Ward in the Brighton match. It's hard enough in this league without having to play the ref as well. Nice bit of black humour from our fans though.When Watford scored they chanted 'Ref: 1-0' (or something like that).
18/11/2012 08:26:00
it's not often you walk away from a defeat holding an air of optimism, but having to play with ten men against the most biased ref (spit) I can remember and still having the home fans *****ting bricks til the whistle didnt leave me feeling too dejected. There were enough splashes of quality from the usually suspects for me to think when Stale gets a few more of HIS players in we will come good. The spirit amongst the players is there, RJ grabbing the ball from the tubby kid to speed up play symbolised this, and in Sako we have a game winner ... maybe we wont go up this year, and maybe the fat pig moxey will feed off us a few more years, but this club, with these fans, under Solbakken will find success ... WE ARE WOLVES !
18/11/2012 13:14:00
What a biazrre report this is! Although i'm sure i'm slightly biased about the game i cannot fathom most of things you saw in the game and put in this report. I too thought the red card was harsh. Berra was pulling Deeney back while he ran through but the fact he still had the shot meant the opportunity to score was not denied! However, with 10 men we dominated the game. Posession stats, shots on and off target all back that up, i don't understand where you think you controlled the game with 10 men. We missed 6/7 clear opportunities most notably through Hogg and Forestieri, although Pudil put a shot just an inch wide and Chalobah missed two other good opportunities. You did have some pressure after we went 2-1 up but the only chances you had were long range efforts. And David Edwards clearly dived over Hoban to try and win that penalty. I was close to incident and have to say the clearest evidence the ref got it spot on was the fact no Wolves player appealed for a penalty, and no-one protested when the referee booked Edwards!
18/11/2012 15:40:00
chriswfc: from my position at the corner of the ground it looked a certain penalty on Edwards but I am aware that angles can deceive. I don't disagree with your assertion that you won the game on points as well in goals but, given all the possession you had (plus an extra man and an indulgent referee), you should have been able to exploit the situation to a far greater extent than you did. That's why I thought you were limited as a team. As you imply, you were dreadful in front of goal. If you read my report carefully, you will see that I do not state that we dominated the game. We didn't but we did show more fight and aggression when we were reduced to ten men ... and in the last quarter of the match we put you under severe pressure. That we did not make more of it is the tale of our season. You should consider the flip title I gave the report in order to work out the angle I was taking in my report. Had we played the whole match with eleven men in the same spirit as we did with ten, you would not have won.
18/11/2012 16:37:00
The fact that U played better with ten men is not a plus.. All it shows us that your players are too relax & dont try enough when at full strengh.. Wolves didn't do a thing...
19/11/2012 09:19:00
Watford1881: absolutely! That's precisely the point I wanted to make. That's been our problem all season, even when we were winning games. We lack a cutting edge up front and cannot kill off the opposition once we are in front. To compound the error our solution to hanging on to a one goal was to defend deeply, thereby inviting the opposition to stake-out our penalty area. This was particularly evident in the Bolton match. I have to say, however, that on Saturday this was your problem too. You didn't make your superiority in possession and numbers (and and an indulgent referee) tell and we did force you back in the last twenty minutes or so. Had we been able to field decent strikers (like our departed Fletcher) we could have achieved a better result. As the previous Watford fan pointed out, you had a number of attempts on goal. Some of the misses were dreadful ... though, to be fair, Ikeme, in our goal, made some great saves.
19/11/2012 09:51:00
look SB, if hornets fans think they have something to bleat about after THAT kind of performance it shows their level of expectation ... personally, the highlight of vicarage road was the sprinklers drenching the home fans in freezing water ...
19/11/2012 10:08:00
We're still a point better off than bolton, and they have good players too. All of solbakkens signings have been brilliant and he'll turn it around for us!!!!! Also, an appeal has been lodged for berras red.
19/11/2012 12:16:00
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