The last thing that we looked at was the fact that we had the opportunity to go twelve points clear if we beat Brentford last Wednesday and quite a bit has happened since then as we’ve beaten Real Madrid to a striker, played against a Premier League side with ten men for fifty minutes and one of our players has decided to bugger off to the MLS and that’s not even half of it. We’ll take it from the top and look at the game against Brentford first…
Bees Get Stung
There comes a time when you have to stop with all the doubt. Maybe the game against Brentford has put the doubt to bed once and for all, however, I know that about five minutes before we kick off against Barnsley on Saturday I’ll be shitting myself again as I’d have planned in my head how this season is going to collapse. That’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately, and even though it was sixteen years ago, the memory of us messing up in that 01/02 season which was impossible to mess up still lingers in the back of my mind. This time will be different, or so I keep telling myself, after all, Nuno is here.
Despite him making a massive difference in our fantastic win away at Bristol City, Cavaleiro was on the bench again as Costa started in what I imagine was a move to try and help him get his match fitness up and as is now the norm, Nuno was right to do it. Costa’s form in the first half wasn’t the scintillating stuff we saw last season, but there were glimpses of it and that’s all you can ask for, I know he’ll get back to the levels he was before his injury and so does Nuno. Anyone would think Nuno and I are joined at the hip considering the number of times we agree on everything or alternatively, I am Nuno. Maybe we’re all Nuno.
Costa’s performance in the opening period was one of many good ones as we put Brentford to the sword early on and although they looked half decent on the break, it was only a matter of time before we made a breakthrough. The only issue we were having was Daniel Bentley, in the Brentford goal, was playing like a man possessed as he kept out shots from the aforementioned Costa, Doherty and Jota as somehow the scoreline remained goalless as the players went down the tunnel for their halftime oranges. I wonder if they still have those. When I used to play many moons ago, we used to have jelly babies at halftime, the good old days when life was simpler. I’d like to think Nuno gives out jelly babies at the interval.
Jelly babies or not, it was far from a coincidence that when Cavaleiro came on for Costa nine minutes into the second half, the game changed again. It wasn’t as if we had more of the ball or anything like that, it’s just Cavaleiro seems to give us some extra zest and zeal and thinking about it, that’s what Costa did last season, so Cavaleiro is our Costa of this season if that makes sense? Na didn’t think so. Three minutes after Cav had come on we were in the lead; Jota won a free kick on the edge of the box after the referee deemed there not to be an advantage and Neves and Douglas stood over the ball. After his textbook set piece at Bristol City which got us back in the game, I think everyone was expecting the Scotsman to hit it with his left, everyone except Neves that is. Ruben pinged it into the corner with his right foot to finally give us the goal we deserved, pick that one out, Bentley.
Only two more minutes had gone by before we doubled our lead; Cavaleiro the creator as he played the ball into the path of the onrushing Barry Douglas who put it beyond Bentley with his weaker foot. Try and comprehend that; our left wing back is scoring with his weaker foot to put us 2-0 to the good, is it even a competition any more? At times it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Just to take the piss, Jota scored as he was lying on the floor with ten minutes left to give us three goals, three points and send us twelve points clear at the top of the table.
Let’s hope these go better than the others…
It’s fair to say that the players we’ve loaned out so far this season haven’t had the most successful of times as Jordan Graham has barely kicked a ball in anger at Fulham, Mason came back from Burton injured and Jack Ruddy’s spell at Oldham was one he would rather forget. That’s only naming three examples and there are much more where they have come from.
Connor Ronan and Sylvain Deslandes have gone to join ex-Wolves boss Kenny Jackett at Portsmouth until the end of the season and Ronan, in particular, will be hoping he has similar fortunes to that of another Wolves player out on loan in League One, Lee Evans, who has been the stand out player of those out on loan. Evans has done that well it’s thought that Sheffield United are trying to sign him permanently and you just know he’s going to score against us when we play them. Ah well, such is life. Prince Oniangue has gone out on loan as well, which surprised me a little as I just presumed he’d fallen off the face of the earth.
A trip to Swansea beckons
It was the nailed on ‘upset’ of the round if you asked a lot of people. We faced Swansea at Molineux in front of what was a relatively good crowd of just over 20,000, I say relatively good because if that was last season it would have been sub 15k but such is the effect that Nuno has on people. I know it’s easier said than done, but I would have made it £10 a ticket and tried to fill the place as there’s not a better footballing day than the FA Cup Third Round, I don’t care how much people try and tell me otherwise, it’s still magic.
We didn’t make as many changes as I thought we would (I think it was six) and I was pleasantly surprised to see Doherty, Bonatini and Coady included in the starting eleven which made me think that Nuno gets it. Who am I kidding, of course, he gets it, he gets everything else. Costa was also left in the side which I took as an indicator that Cavaleiro will start against Barnsley, he was on one side of Bonatini with Bright on the other and it was the perfect opportunity for them to get some much-needed confidence as that is the solitary thing both of them are lacking at present, because they’ve both got bags of talent.
For the second game in a row we were met with a keeper in fine form as Nordfelt kept out everything in the first half; Bright had one saved, Costa had one saved and so did Morgan Gibbs-White who was making his first start of the season, Gibbs-White’s attempt will have been one he will be disappointed with as he could have done better but it was like the ball got stuck under his feet, however, one thing I am certain of, is that he will go on to be a massive star for us. Bright had another chance later on in the half when the ball ricocheted to him but all he could manage to do was hit it wide, not by much, but wide all the same and if it was on target, it probably would have gone in, such are the fine margins in the world.
Not too long before the referee blew his whistle for the end of the half, he was getting pelters for showing Ruben Vinagre the red card after a quite frankly stupid tackle on Lloyd Dyer. Unlike the Danny Batth one against City which I still don’t believe warranted a foul let alone anything else, there can be no arguments with this one because, on another day, he could have seriously injured Dyer, however, that didn’t stop the ref getting loads of abuse from the Wolves fans and rightly so, just because he made the right decision and sent Vinagre off, he’s still a wanker.
Gibbs-White was the unfortunate one who was sacrificed for Barry Douglas as Nuno decided that N’Diaye can run midfield on his own and to be fair to Alf, he did it really well. After a bit of Swansea pressure at the beginning of the first half, we still looked the most likely to score even with a numerical disadvantage, but the best chance fell to the feet of Wilfried Bony who was left with too much space, he couldn’t do anything with it though as it seemed like he had his laces tied together. Midway through the second half, Swansea were reduced to ten as Fer tripped Costa as he was breaking; a red card would indicate one of two things, he was either the last man or it was a really brutal trip, right? Wrong. It was one of those tackles that a defensive player makes to slow the game down and you take the yellow card for the team and get on with it, but the referee must have felt guilty for the Vinagre red and decided to even it up. Bonkers.
The best chance of the second half fell to Kortney Hause who lost his man brilliantly in the area and had time to watch it come over but he got his timings all wrong as he headed the ball over when he should have probably done better. That was that, 0-0, full time. An entertaining 0-0 which means it will all have to be done again in Wales on the 17th of January, I hope we win it, I love a good cup run. More to come on that shortly.
One In, One Out
I initially saw the news and brushed it off as it seemed ridiculous. ‘Wolves set to beat Real Madrid to the signing of Valencia striker’ – it still doesn’t sound right now, but that’s exactly what happened. Real Madrid made an offer for Rafa Mir that we blew out the water, that’s the simplicity of it. He was attracted by the proposition of playing first-team football as opposed to reserve football which is what he would have been doing at Real, but regardless of that, it’s an amazing coup as we continue to send shockwaves through football. He very nearly made an immediate impact off the bench against Swansea but his header went just wide; he’ll be in the thick of things in no time as I think it will be him and Bonatini vying for the central spot.
So that was the in. The out is the departure of Jack Price which I am a little bit upset about, I’m not going to lie. He is a tidy little player and a fantastic distributor of the ball but such is the way of football, he’s just not good enough for us anymore which is barmy when I think about it because it wouldn’t have been too long ago that I would have had him as one of the first on the team sheet and I’m positive he’ll serve his new club well. The new club is perhaps the most surprising bit of all as he has opted to go to the MLS and Colorado Rapids, then again, if it was a toss-up between playing in the MLS or the Championship/League One for the next few seasons I’d be getting on the plane as well. Good luck Jack, because I know you’re an avid reader of my work (maybe).
Wembley route is planned
This might seem a little premature, I am fully aware of the fact that as it stands we haven’t actually got into round four yet, but bear with me. Right, so if (when) we beat Swansea at the Liberty we would face a jaunt up the road to Nottingham where we would entertain a Notts County side who are doing rather well this season, but even still, we’d steamroller them, probably about 24-0. That would put us into round five where we will face the winners of MK Dons vs Coventry, hopefully, Coventry because I can’t stand them, or MK Dons for that matter, another steamroller of a result, 14-0 this time around. So now we are in the quarters (round six to me and you) where we will play the winner of Millwall/Rochdale vs Carlisle/Sheff Wed/Reading/Stevenage, hopefully Reading because they would have probably hit a good run of form in the league at that point, be good to knock them down a peg, 6-1. Now we’re in the semis and it’s far too complicated to work out who we’ll be playing, but we’ll win anyway, no drama. Cue defeat at Swansea.
Obviously, if that happens then I must stress I wasn’t given any inside information, especially not from Roderick Miranda. All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Wolves to break Reading’s record @ 6/1 and I’d be having a dabble on us not to lose another league game @ 33/1.