Going to the Palace
Wolverhampton Wanderers might be going to the Palace tomorrow but it will not be to pick up any medals for meritorious services to football. Judging from Ståle`s bulletin earlier today, there will be changes in the line-up for the game, even though it looks like he`s merely shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Once again he insists that he was the one to blame for the team`s dreadful performances in the last two games, ones which many of us had chalked up as three-point bankers. As he admits, " ... I have the responsibility - I pick the team and the players and do what I think is right." Well, he hasn`t learnt from experience then because ever since the game at Huddersfield we have gone backwards !
For various reasons, which I discussed in a recent report, the Solbakken revolution has stålled. We make just as many defensive errors and are just as incapable of scoring goals. Our midfield is no less porous and the players there habitually fail to provide the service which our forwards need. Even Sako is having trouble. It`s a shambles.
Even so, there is a glimmer of enlightenment in our manager`s statement, implying that he might be prepared to adopt a more flexible approach, one which might work better in the present situation ... and find favour with allegedly subversive elements in the team. He not only admits that he got it very wrong over the last two games but also recognises that, as a result of those defeats, he ought to tinker with the system.
His pronouncement suggests that these will not only involve changes in personnel but will also cover tactics. Thus, "There can be small adjustments to tactics but we are now in a situation where we need to pick up points quickly." So, will we witness the complete scrapping of the master-plan tomorrow with a reversion to MM`s style of play, so beloved by our squad that they cannot contemplate anything else (though they did not operate that one very well either)?
Ståle also makes a veiled criticism of the commitment of the players in his preview of the match. As he points out, some players have not been in their best form and should be rested. And, presumably, would have been had we had suitable replacements to hand. And, to whet our appetite (as well as putting added pressure on misfiring players), he indicates that he will bringing in one or two new recruits in January window (only one or two?).
We fans do not escape censure either. The atmosphere at Molineux clearly is more intimidating to our players than it is to the opposition. While dismissing it as a factor in our woeful performances, he partially contradicts himself by adding that there will be less pressure playing away from home against a top six side.
Personally, I think that it is a issue. On Saturday, the fans did not get behind players when they needed plenty of encouragement to get back into the match. Rather, there was virtual silence interrupted by the occasional boo and catcall, notably when Pennant replaced Doyle. In fact, Doyle was making little impact on the game and deserved to be substituted.
Of course, if the players were demonstrably making an effort, it would have enlivened the crowd. To me, they appeared semi-detached and lacking in energy or enthusiasm. Their woefully poor passing and lack of movement suggested a half-hearted approach to the game. So, who could blame the fans for not getting excited? By the final whistle, I had (yet again) reached the Buddhist state of bliss, beyond all pain and suffering. It`s becoming my default position now.
I hope that the team's combined New Year's resolution is just that: far greater resolution on the pitch.