We’re nearly back to familiar territory and I couldn’t be happier, after all, it’s exactly what Wolves is all about. As a fan base, passion is a word that is banded about a lot when describing us, however, that passion can spill over as opinions go against each other and individuals end up bickering with one another. You see, that’s what it’s all about, not everyone being happy that we’re doing well and singing kumbaya around a campfire, I couldn’t think of anything worse. And the reaction has only been after we failed to win the last two. We drew against Norwich due to a last minute lapse in judgement by John Ruddy and then Fulham were better than us, that’s the bread and butter of it. Let’s look a bit deeper than that, though and see what the real issues were.
As I said last week, Norwich are weird. The place is weird, the people are weird and I still can’t get my head around them not liking us, never mind. The game itself was brilliant in the first half, we were pinging balls around for fun and we should’ve had a bigger lead than the two-goal one we had before Norwich equalised. Jamal Lewis put into his own net to give us the lead and that was followed up by N’Diaye scoring with his head from, surprise, surprise, a Barry Douglas delivery. At this point, we were cruising. Disaster struck two minutes later, Norwich equalised from a set piece of their own which made it the second game in a row we had conceded from a set-play.
Neves Out For Two Games
After that, we didn’t get anywhere for the rest of the half which was slightly disappointing; there were a couple of efforts, but nothing which particularly tested Angus Gunn in the Norwich goal. Halftime, 2-1 up, can’t complain, definitely better than being 2-1 down, that’s for sure. If you’re looking for negatives from the first half, the fact Neves got booked was a bit of a kick in the bollocks as it meant he now had to serve a two-game ban for accumulating ten yellow cards, but, that’s neither here nor there. Nuno thought it was a good idea to make a sub at halftime; now, I’m not saying I’m better than him (not yet anyway), although, the selection of the sub did leave yours truly scratching my noggin. Romain Saiss for Helder Costa. A holding midfielder for a winger. Costa must have been injured, surely? Nope. It was done for tactical reasons. One of the reasons I’m baffled by it even more so, Saiss was on nine yellows as well, so if he got booked as well, we’d have no Neves and no Saiss, ugh.
The formation changed with Saiss now on the pitch as N’Diaye sort of wandered around a little further up the pitch as Saiss and Neves slotted in next to one another, much like it has been for the majority of the season. Afobe then came on for Cavaleiro with half an hour left and we finished our subs for the evening when Morgan Gibbs-White replaced N’Diaye; Afobe isn’t much of an impact player, that’s problem number one. Problem number two is that, if he was to make an impact, arguably the best player to assist him, Cavaleiro, is withdrawn for him.
Again, we had a couple of chances, not much worth writing about, mind. Then, in the third minute of stoppage time, once Wolves target, Nelson Oliveira, was afforded far too much room as he struck from over thirty yards out. It should have been a routine save for John Ruddy, who didn’t have much to do all night, but the ball went under him after a dodgy bounce. 2-2, full-time. Fuck off, Delia Smith.
It wasn’t the end of the world that we dropped a couple of points, after all, we were still in possession of a healthy lead at the top of the league. Next up was Fulham. For you avid readers out there, you’ll recall me mentioning our form, or lack of it, in London earlier in the season. Fulham is a great away day, day out on the sauce, decent boozers to get stuck into and more often than not we tend to pick up a half decent result down there as well.
One that really sticks out, not the result, was when we played them at the Cottage in the FA Cup third round. The game was awful, but you could feel the stand physically shaking as we were singing about Iorfa. I’ll never forget that day, even though it was 0-0 (I think) because it’s what football is all about, normally the game ruins the day, I know it did on that occasion.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were in formidable form leading up to the game and they had a bit of a score to settle as we played them off the park earlier in the season at Molineux. And settle it, they did. The first half was 50/50, no team really had the upper hand and 0-0 would’ve been a fair half-time scoreline. Ryan Sessegnon had other ideas. It all stemmed from a ball up to N’Diaye who misplaced his header and Fulham broke towards us. N’Diaye strolled back without a care in the world and that annoyed me, it’s your mistake, get on your bike and chase the ball down, Alf! The ball ended up at Mitrovic’s feet who managed to unleash a stinging drive which Ruddy got down well to save. Sessegnon reacted first and Fulham went 1-0 up.
Want to know what makes it worse as well? They had them shitty clappers as well. What even is a Fulham, anyway? So insignificant it’s unbelievable, that’s not a story, for now, let’s get back on point. Following on from halftime, we started brightly as I imagine Nuno dished out a roasting in the changing rooms and we were pressing Fulham high without really causing them too many problems. Gibbs-White & Jota were introduced with just under half an hour left and I like Gibbs-White, I really do, but the game passed him by when he came on, which was a shame and I hope it didn’t knock his confidence too much.
We Miss Neves, Bad
Before either of them had a chance to really stamp their authority on the game, it was 2-0. Mitrovic was once again a thorn in our side as he held off Coady brilliantly before firing home from just outside the area, Ruddy didn’t have a chance. It was a good goal, don’t get me wrong, but, it was preventable, yet again, Coady had to be stronger. Their second goal prompted Nuno to bring on Afobe for Saiss as we went to a good, old-fashioned 4-4-2 with Coady moving into central midfield alongside Gibbs-White.
One of Coady’s first involvements in the middle of the park was to pick out Afobe with a delightfully weighted through ball and his shot was blocked before he intelligently pulled it back to Diogo Jota, who couldn’t have been more than twelve yards out if that. Somehow, he hit it over the bar. It was easier to score. If that had gone in, maybe we would’ve had a chance, but it didn’t and we got exactly what we deserved. Nowt.
Cardiff are now six points behind us, Villa are ten. There are twelve games left. We are not, I repeat, not, dropping that many points between now and the end of the season; even if we just win our home games, we’ll be up. Nothing to worry about, avoid pressing the panic button just yet. Even if we don’t win against Reading on Saturday, I’ll be chilled, still nothing to worry about. If however, we then don’t beat Leeds on the Wednesday or Villa on the following Saturday, then I’ll be panicking. We’ll get nine points from the next three and no one will remember the game at Craven Cottage.
Get the Big Coat Out
Reading have got ex-Wolves boys Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Dave Edwards amongst their ranks, so, if we do drop points on Saturday, I’d put good money on one of them playing a big part in it. That’s if the game is even on. It’s meant to be -45 degrees or something daft, the pitch will be good, it’s the areas around it and the transport which will be the issue. Last thing we need is fixture congestion as our squad isn’t the biggest as it is, Nuno will have the lads on the local streets with portable hair dryers to sort it out, no problem.
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Wolves in one form or another at the weekend. Yes, I said to back the double last week and no it didn’t win, but we live to fight another day. Millwall are a tasty price at 4/5 at home to Sunderland this weekend so we’ll have a bit of that, coupled with Wolves HT/FT at 6/5.
Until the next time.