Date:Sunday October 6 2013
Living in Surrey, I would have travelled to Colchester for the match, that is, if the competition for away tickets allowed me to go. However, as my older daughter was coming down from Glasgow for a visit, I had something even better to look forward to.
As her train arrived at the local station at half-time, I only managed to follow the first 30 minutes of the match on the official blog. The second half passed in a series of sneaked glimpses about ten minutes apart. If I can hardly write an incisive account of the match, it was enough to enable me to form certain impressions of our performance.
Before the match began I was interested to see how KJ would react to the ongoing Sako saga. We`ve been here before and I did not expect him to play. In the event, I was pleased with his chosen line-up. If Golbourne does not possess the flair of Sako, he is used to running down the wing and crossing the ball. He would also tighten up the midfield in defence.
The arrival of Henry also added some steel on the other wing. Taking my cue from the comments of disgruntled Millwall supporters, I questioned his ability and attitutude. But, on this performance at least I was clearly wrong to prejudge him. Apart from his two assists, he provided us with greater penetration down the right flank. Naturally, Edwards, an inner midfield man, had to give way. I also agreed with KJ`s decision to retain Price, whose second half showing against Sheffield United proved his class.
Watching the blog scroll on from the start of the match, I had a feeling of foreboding. We were playing a virtual second eleven of a team, recently promoted to division 1, and were struggling. Colchester were the better side, had a few chances and would have scored had not Ikeme pulled off notable saves.
Then, in the 20th. minute the excellent Doherty was tripped in the box and Griffiths converted the penalty. From then on we controlled the game, putting it out of sight with two goals within ten minutes of the restart. We could have scored more but let`s not be greedy ... hmm ... a fourth would have seen us jump over Peterborough into second place and an automatic promotion slot.
So, what did the match tell us? Firstly, that we have to start in a more positive way: it only encourages the opposition if we give them the opportunity to attack us. So far, we have escaped punishment, either because of wayward shooting or because of the brilliance of Ikeme. Once we click into gear, we can dominate the play so why not start at a higher tempo?
Secondly, it proved what I have been arguing for some time. We can do without Sako, especially an unsettled one, and that in some respects we are a better team without him. We certainly offer greater resistance in midfield and that helps to solve one of our problems. Perhaps, those of you who attended the match can comment on this point.
Thirdly, the outcome of the match once again proved how important Doyle is to us. He provides the essential link between midfield and attack, receiving the ball, running with it and distributing to players in space. In particular, he brings Griffiths into play, enabling him to flourish once more as a striker. It`s no coincidence that the Scot`s resurgence coincides with the selection of Doyle to play in the hole behind him. And, to confound his critics even further, he scored a goal yesterday. The team literally revolves around him and we need to keep him at all costs.
With Doyle buzzing around, controlling the action, all sections of the team function much better. Moreover, as he gives the team momentum, he puts the opposition on the defensive and relieves the pressure on us. Moving Golbourne into midfield further strengthens us in the middle and, with the inclusion of Stearman in central defence, at the back too. Behind them is the incomparable Ikeme, who kept a clean sheet with memorable saves, including one from a penalty kick.
Yesterday`s performance not only pleased me because we won as we have been doing that all season. What was really encouraging was that we are finally finding our best formation and the best players to operate it. If KJ`s signings - Ricketts, McDonald, Golbourne and Henry - have proved integral to the plan, it has also involved him making crucial decisions about two established stars: Doyle and Sako.
It`s to KJ`s credit that he has recognised Doyle`s flair, energy and experience by selecting him for the key role in the team. With Sako, he has been less decisive and probably would have played him yesterday had the renewed Nottingham Forest interest not unsettled the lad. Now, he should realise that we can win without the Frenchman, who, if he can win us the game with a moment of inspiration can also lose it for us with 80 minutes of inaction. Loan him out to NF and get money for him in January. We can use that money more productively.
Date:Sunday October 6 2013
McDonald living up to expectations (Thursday December 12 2013)
Christmas Present (Wednesday December 11 2013)
Championship clubs line up for Ebanks-Blake (Wednesday December 11 2013)
Wolves holding talks with Stearman (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Wolves tie named in spot-fixing scandal (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Jackett praise for Morgan (Monday December 9 2013)
McAlinden recalled from loan spell (Sunday December 8 2013)
Morgan building a lasting legacy at Wolves (Saturday December 7 2013)
Cost of relegation priced at £33.1million (Friday December 6 2013)
Henry to make Wolves return against MK (Thursday December 5 2013)
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