Wolverhampton Wanderers 2017 Part IV: On The Charge

To say it has been a year of contrast for us Wolves fans is a one hell of an understatement as we’ve gone from Paul ‘Did I tell you I played in Germany’ Lambert to Nuno Espirito Santo, Nouha Dicko to Diogo Jota and Dave Edwards to Ruben Neves to name just three changes which shows you how much has changed at Molineux in twelve months. In the final part of this review, we play some of the best football we have played in decades, get kicked a lot, score a lot, concede few and it finishes with a win of ‘Champions’ at Bristol City.

October

The international break occupied the first weekend of October and that pleases no one at all as qualifiers tend to be a load of dross, but luckily, come October the 14th, club football was back at Molineux. It was the first time that the Sky cameras had bothered putting us on this season as their love affair with Leeds and Villa continued, namely John Terryand it will be no surprise that it was the latter, Aston Villa, who were our opponents for our first outing on television since the back end of the previous campaign. Not that that is a bad thing, of course, Sky is the bane of evil and ruins football for everyone. The fact we were on TV as well also got rid of our ‘under the radar’ status that I was beginning to quite enjoy, ah well, just have to do these Villa twats and watch potato head (Steve Bruce) squirm.

To say the game was an onslaught wouldn’t be giving Nuno and the lads enough credit, but that’s the best word I’ve got in my repertoire as massacre doesn’t work because we didn’t score enough. Onto the game itself and the first half saw us create chance, after chance, after chance, after chance without managing to break Villa’s resistance but it was easy to see from early on which team was going to win and it wasn’t the one containing the ageing ex-England centre-half who was getting torn a new one every five minutes. Johnstone produced a smart save from one of Neves’ many rasping drives, but that aside, we couldn’t hit the target as Saiss, Miranda, Jota and Neves all missed the target, we should have had a penalty, as well as Costa, was kicked in the head, but we won’t worry about that too much.

It only took ten second-half minutes for us to finally take the lead as a cross from Cavaleiro found its way to Jota who held off a handful of Villa players before firing it beyond Johnstone to put us one to the good and my favourite thing about that goal was the picture that was doing the rounds afterwards with Jota running off to celebrate with two of those Villa wankers on the floor looking completely hapless. Jota then turned from goalscorer to provider as he set up our second of the evening; he picked the ball up off Neves halfway in our own half and ran and ran and ran. If he had scored on his own I think it would have been the greatest individual goal of all time, it was not too dissimilar to Maradona against England where he took on the whole team and scored, anyway, as it goes, a Villa player did eventually manage to tackle him but then the ball fell to Bonatini who finished from a tight angle to send Molineux into raptures once more. We could have and perhaps should have made it more than two but we never looked in danger at any point during the game.

A week later, we were at Molineux once again, this time it was Preston who were the visitors to WV1 and they weren’t doing too bad themselves as Alex Neil had them playing some good football, but would it be enough to condemn us to what would be only our third defeat of the season? The short version is no they wouldn’t. The long version is as follows… To be fair to the ‘Lilywhites’ they took the game to us in the opening stages of the first half and if they had their shooting boots laced up properly, they may well have taken the lead, as it happens, they didn’t and we did. The ball found itself at the feet of everyone’s favourite Douglas, Barry and I’m convinced he tried to shoot and after watching it back prior to writing this, I still think he did and it just so happened that Cavaleiro was in the right place at the right time, either way, it went in and we were one up at the break, tidy.

After the break, we started the second half much like we ended the first, with a flourish as Doherty was brought down in the penalty area which gave Bonatini the chance to double our lead with still over half an hour left to play and he did just that as Maxwell in the Preston goal guessed the right way but Bonatini’s effort nestled out of his reach in the bottom right-hand corner. Four minutes later, Bonatini increased his tally for the afternoon to two and ours to three as the Brazilian was in the right place at the right time as Jota’s attempt was kept out by Maxwell and when I say right place at the right time, I mean the ball hit him on the chest and angled towards the goal, take them as you can get them, Leo, well in lad.

What happened after we went three up can only be described as attempted suicide because we very nearly threw away the three-goal lead which was completely out of character for Nuno’s side, but luckily, we managed to see it out after an old transfer target of ours Jordan Hugill headed Preston’s first in after some slack defending from Danny Batth and Coady decided to get his name on the scoresheet, just for the wrong side. 3-2 and most importantly it was another three points chalked up as we were now setting the pace in the Championship.

Cup football was up next as we headed up North to entertain Premier League leaders Man City who were being well and truly merciless as no team had prevented them from scoring and we were in October, a hard task and even the most avid of Wolves fan wasn’t expecting much. We took 6,200 to City because everyone loves an away day when it means watching a big team which I’ve never understood at all and it gets called ‘great support’, when let’s be honest, it’s not because anyone can take loads to City in the cup, ‘great support’ is being there on the shit days and riding it out. Mini rant over, for now.

City naturally battered us in the first half as both managers made plenty of changes with the cup being the least important thing in the world which also annoys me but I’ll keep a lid on this one, yet City’s starting XI contained the likes of Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Yaya Toure, so and so forth whereas we had Danny Batth who couldn’t contain Jordan Hugill in the game previous and Ben Marshall, who I’m not sure is even a footballer. Norris was much like a performing seal in goal as he kept City at bay and just before halftime Bright constructed a chance of his own as he outmuscled a City defender and was bearing down on goal, this to put us one up at the break, go on son, saved. Fuck sake.

The second half was nigh on a carbon copy of that of the first as City kept knocking on the door but we refused to answer; at the other end, we nearly broke their door down through Bright and Costa on separate occasions but we failed to put the ball beyond Claudio Bravo. The best chance was Bright’s again and once more it was just before the whistle to end the half, yet, frustratingly, Bright couldn’t score. Was that the chance to beat them squandered? You bet it was. Extra time passed with little action, the highlight being Ruben Vinagre schooling £50,000,000 right-back Kyle Walker down the left side and nearly putting the perfect ball into the box which would have given us a vital goal in extra time, but if it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be. 0-0 after 120 minutes. Penalties. Now it wouldn’t have mattered who we were facing, I would have backed us to lose because we are notoriously shit at penalties, I don’t know what it is. We lost 4-1 on penalties and our Carabao Cup run had come to an end, however, we had got as far as we had by not conceding a goal in four games and becoming the first team to stop Premier League leaders Man City from scoring, so I guess it wasn’t a complete disaster.

After the agony of losing to City on penalties, it was back to the bread and butter of the Championship as we travelled from Manchester to London to face Ian Holloway’s QPR. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what it is about Holloway, but I just don’t like him. I thought he was great at Blackpool and a real breath of fresh air but now he’s just an annoying twat who has one of those voices that goes right through me, so I was hoping we would wipe the floor with his QPR side, especially considering we rested practically everyone during the week. Lo and behold, the complete opposite happened.

Similar to the Brentford game, we didn’t seem able to play to the best of our ability on a small pitch as it was compact and whereas in games before Jota could have acres of room to run into, there just wasn’t the same amount of room afforded to him. Just before the interval, QPR finally made their pressure pay as a ricochet set Conor Washington free, however, he really should have been picked up better by Danny Batth, he was chasing shadows yet again as Ruddy didn’t cover himself in glory, either. The aforementioned Jota did find some room two minutes later after a mazy run down the left-hand side saw him end up with the ball on the byline in the penalty area, so all he did was smartly pull it back to Bonatini who made it 1-1 before the whistle went for halftime, game on.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, we had the perfect chance to take the lead and it was a wonderful move as well; Jota dummied the ball fantastically as it went through to Bonatini who played it first time back to Jota in the area, who gave it back to Bonatini and if he hits the target, there’s a high chance the ball goes in. I’ll give Leo the benefit of the doubt and say the bounce was what made it go over the bar, but in all honesty, he really should have done better than what he did. QPR had a shot cleared off the line after some more circus-like keeping from Ruddy and from that point onwards, there only really looked like there was going to be one winner; they brought on target man Matt Smith off the bench and it was of no surprise that it was him who made it 2-1. It was with under ten minutes left that he beat Miranda to the ball in the air and arrowed it past John Ruddy. Our third defeat of the season. Fuck off, Ian.

Another jaunt away from Molineux was how we were to finish the month of October, this time we were off to Norwich and the wonders of East Anglia. Weird bunch them Norwich fans as they have quite a large hatred for us, yet I wouldn’t even put them in the top ten of clubs I hate and it’s a woeful away day, in fact after the last time I went, I vowed never to make that trip again. We were looking to return to the second tier summit but to do so we would have to win atNorwich for the first time in over ten years and if we played like we did against QPR, then we wouldn’t have a prayer.

Nuno finally got rid of the much improved but hapless Danny Batth from the starting XI as Boly returned from injury and Miranda was also replaced by Bennett who was brought in to face his former side. The first save of the game was made by the Norwich keeper as the ball broke to Neves from a corner, but Gunn, on loan from Man City, smartly tipped it around the post to give us another corner as our early pressure was building up and it was only a matter of time before we made them pay. Step forward, Willy Boly, who was brought into the team for his defensive prowess, however, he was left completely unmarked in the Norwich area as he headed home his first goal in Wolves colours.

Bonatini could have doubled the lead in the first half after rounding the keeper, albeit, the angle was difficult and he could have done so again in the second half after another outrageous run by Jota that was becoming his trademark, but again, he couldn’t find the back of the net. He did eventually put us 2-0 up after a free kick from Douglas was partly cleared, Doherty tenaciously won the ball in the air when he really had to right to, Bennett squared to Bonatini who still had a lot to do, but he finished with aplomb to give us the spoils at Carrow Road which saw us return to the top of the league. And that was that for October. October Final Position: 1st | Points clear of 2nd: 1 | Points clear of 3rd: 2 | Points clear of 7th: 9 | Points clear of 22nd: 22. Overall points: 32

November

The penultimate month of the year is historically a bad time to be a Wolves fan as we had failed to win in our last eighteen Championship games in November, a run that goes all the way back to the year we won the league, where we done the complete opposite and won every game. The key difference this time around being that Nuno was at the helm and we were actually pretty good which made a pleasant change, but how good were we? Could we banish those November blues? Fulham were our first test of the month on Friday the 3rd as Sky decided they quite enjoyed the Villa game, however, it did mean that Fulham’s usual away support of a minibus was reduced to a taxi. Ah well.

Barry Douglas was at it again as his delivery put in on a plate for Romain Saiss who headed home to give us a one goal lead with not even ten minutes on the clock. The November curse was very nearly apparent once more as Ruddy forgot how to play and gave a chance for ex-Wolves man Kevin McDonald to level, but he must have still had the curse gene ingrained in him as he blazed over the bar. Douglas got another assist before the half hour mark; a free kick on the edge of the area on the right hand side which was whipped in with pace and vigour was flicked in by Bonatini who made it seven goals in seven games. Nuno had finally got rid of the hoodoo.

After the break, it was still all us as the Fulham fans were frantically trying to book a taxi to take them back down south and Bonatini could have made it eight in seven, but he was prevented by a wonderful save from David Button in the Fulham goal. It will come as no great shock that it was Douglas who whipped the ball in, Bonatini met it with real conviction but Button made sure that the score was kept at two, as Jota couldn’t find his feet quick enough at the far post. It was then our other wing back’s turn, Doherty, to whip in a tantalising ball to Bonatini, this time, he couldn’t quite get his header on target as he escaped his marker wonderfully. There were not too many clear cut chances after that, but the game belonged to us as we opened the gap at the top of the table up to four points.

Another trip down south beckoned as we went to the Madejski to face a Reading side who were yet to find the dizzy heights they found the previous year, I was just hoping it was better than the QPR game. Reading is a ground that holds mix memories; on the one hand, Alex Rae scored the winner in the Play Off semi final back in 2003 which set us on the way to the Premier League for the first time in just shy of two decades and on the other hand, the last time I went to Reading, I very nearly died. To this day, I still have no idea what happened, but midway through the second half, all the players turned to blobs and I couldn’t see anything at all, it was extremely weird. Sat down for a bit and I was alright and hasn’t happened since so no explanation available for that one, especially considering I hadn’t been drinking, either.

Anyway, to the game itself, we took 4,000 down there which again was deemed brilliant support, when it isn’t because we were top of the league, so let’s dispel that myth. That’ll be the last I mention on the topic of support and numbers, promise. There was a bit of a gap between this game and the Fulham one because of another bloody international break, luckily, it was the last one of the year meaning that club football was being played every weekend, what a feeling! Reading nearly took the lead as the ball awkwardly bounced in front of Ruddy, but he still managed to tip onto the post and the rebound was well defended by Ryan Bennett and we lived to fight another day. Ruddy then booted the ball at the onrushing Reading forward as he received a rather swift pass back, fortunately, the ball went just past the post rather than in the goal as we got lucky for the second time and not even fifteen minutes had been played.

A few minutes later, we made Reading pay for their lack of conviction in front of goal as Cavaleiro scored what I think is my favourite goal this season so far. He picked the ball up on the right after some good work from Doherty, played it into Jota who took one touch to control the ball, one touch to set himself and then the third was a wonderfully weighted pass back to Cavaleiro who timed his run to perfection. He then, instead of smashing it, rolled it with his studs past Mannone and side footed it home. Made it look easy, 1-0. In the second half, when the game was opening up a little bit more, Vinagre, who was in for the injured Douglas, played a ball across the face of the Reading goal where if anyone was there, it would have been 2-0, however, it evaded everyone. After that, Bonatini produced a snapshot that went just beyond post, after firing from the edge of the box. We were pushing, but couldn’t get that elusive second. It was then the defensive side of our game which took centre stage as Ruddy produced a magnificent one handed save to keep us in the lead and moments later he was using his feet to keep the ‘Royals’ at bay.

With only two minutes left on the clock, in a rather romantic way, Ruddy started the move for our second as his goal kick found Doherty on the right wing who flicked the ball on to Helder Costa, who then mugged off about four defenders as he made a Jota-esque run into the penalty area before pulling the ball back to the edge of the area where the ball eventually found itself back with Doherty who played a magical one-two with Costa before turning and finishing like a seasoned striker, not anything like the RWB he is meant to be. 2-0 for the third consecutive game, could get used to this.

On the Wednesday after the win at Reading, we had our penultimate game of the month as Leeds came to WV1 on the back of a decent win against Middlesbrough, but they would prove to be no match against us. Douglas was back in the side and back in the thick of it straight away as he brought the game against Leeds to life with a fantastic free kick not too dissimilar from the position where he set Bonatini up from in the Fulham game.  For the rest of the first half, we dominated and the only downside was that we only managed one more, when we could have started building a cricket score. Doherty passed inside to Cavaleiro who made it two in two with a fantastic turn and finish just inside the penalty area, 2-0 within half hour. That’ll do donkey, that’ll do.

Leeds got a goal back just after halftime, but then they did us a favour and got a man sent off which tilted the balance of play back in our favour and from then, it was never in doubt. Our third goal was superb, again, much like Reading, it started from a Ruddy goal kick which went out wide, it was then one touch inside, one touch into the path of the fantastic Jota, who done the rest. He still had a lot to do when he picked the ball up, but the Leeds defence couldn’t get near him and then produced a wonderful chipped finish to put us 3-1 up. Costa got his first of the season from the penalty spot after Andy ‘Quaver Hands’ Lonergan brought down Bonatini, so it was a brilliant result against Leeds, but it came of little surprise, when you consider they had Lonergan in goal.

We closed the month off against Bolton, who are another club that are just wankers, aren’t they? Bolton were having a torrid time in the Championship, so it wasn’t really a case of who would win the game, it was more a case of how many would we score. I’ll tell you. Five. A Douglas corner was planted right on the head of Boly who got his second goal for the club and got the ball rolling after only thirteen minutes; it was two before the half hour mark for the second game running as Neves played a ball with the outside of his foot to Jota that wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in the world which Jota flicked over the keeper, just not with enough zest to carry it in, luckily, Bonatini was in hand to head it home.

It was Cavaleiro’s turn to put away from the spot as Saiss was pushed over in the box, he beat the keeper down to his right. 3-0. Bolton got a goal back after we fell to sleep at the back, probably because they had nothing to do all game, but after that, we just turned the heat back on. Costa played a ball along the floor to Cavaleiro who was selling Bolton defenders down the river for fun before putting it beyond Alnwick to get his second of the afternoon and our fourth. A Bolton corner in the dying embers of the game ended up in their own net to make it 5-1 as Ruddy produced a tremendous drop kick right into the run of Jota who was never going to miss in a one on one situation. Nine goals in two games at Molineux. Every game won in November and the last time we did that, we won the league at a canter. Let’s hope, this time around, history repeats itself. November final position: 1st | Points clear of 2nd: 4 | Points clear of 3rd: 7 | Points clear of 7th: 15 | Points clear of 22nd: 30.

December

November was going to be a hard act to follow as surely we couldn’t carry on winning every game, could we? Let’s find out. Our opening game of six saw us make the short trip down the road to St Andrews where we would face them Brummie twats. We took all three points for the sixth consecutive game as we made the gap to third place ten points. This wasn’t the total football that we’d witnessed against Bolton or Leeds, this was a performance of grit, determination and composure. Now, you don’t normally see the three of those together, it is normally the first two on their own and composure is normally complemented with a word like calm or something along those lines. Let me explain.

We weren’t at the races at all against Birmingham, we probably just about arrived into second gear in the first half with some pulsating football on show. There was an instance where Ruddy plucked the ball from the air and within a blink of an eye, we were down the other end, having yet another attempt on goal. Our goal, which came quite early on, came after a mistake from a Blues defender and I couldn’t tell you his name, as he decided to present us with the ball in the final third and the rest is history. Cavaleiro had the first shot which Stockdale did well to save, then Jota had a go with the rebound, again saved, then finally, Bonatini put it beyond Stockdale but it was cleared on the line. On first view, I thought it was over, but the second it took for the ref to give the goal seemed to be an eternity, however, in the end, he gave it. 1-0.

Despite the fact that Blues had more of the ball, the next big chance of the game fell to Diogo Jota after some neat interchange play but between the Portuguese talisman and Leo Bonatini, they somehow managed not to score. Any other season we would live to rue to that miss, but we are resilient at the back this time around and again, the next chance came to us. Costa, who was brought on just moments before, was put clean through one on one with Stockdale. If I was in that position I’d of twatted the ball as hard as I could and hoped for the best. In hindsight, maybe Costa should be attending my footballing school as he tried to roll it past him with his studs, missed the ball and that was the end of that. Another chance had gone begging.

Two clear-cut opportunities squandered and the Brummies could smell blood and there very nearly was blood as N’Diaye, the suspended Neves’ replacement, thought it would be a good idea to push ex-Wolves boy Gleeson in the face after going forehead to forehead with one of their other players. There are no two ways about it, N’Diaye should have been walking off the pitch for an early bath. It was a stupid thing to do and as far as I can recall, to make matters worse, the officials had a clear view of it but for some reason, the referee decided a yellow card would suffice. Lucky.

There was another bust-up in the last ten minutes of the game that saw Jota chucked to the floor by one of their mob that had already been booked and they were reduced to ten men which meant that the training game of the first half was back and I could relax, the job was done. Eighteen points from a possible eighteen and next up was Sunderland, who had just appointed Chris Coleman, who decided that he wanted to go from managing Gareth Bale to being in charge of Darron Gibson. Each to their own, Chris.

To say the game against Sunderland was frustrating would be the understatement of all understatements as we just couldn’t break them down. Neves, who returned after sitting out the Blues game with a suspension, was the star of the show as he controlled the game from the first minute to the last. There was only a single moment in the first half where Neves lost the ball if memory serves rightly and it was him who won it back, such is the beast of a man. I’ll be honest with those of you that are reading this, the Sunderland game was a bit shit; Cattermole got sent off, it took us about 80 minutes to have a shot on target and it finished 0-0, that’s the end of that. We move on.

Hillsborough was our next location and we would be hoping that it would be better than our last trip up to Sheffield and with Carvahal’s job seemingly hanging in the balance, it was there for the taking and the perfect way to bounce back from the 0-0 draw with Sunderland. Neves put us in the lead in the first half when the ball broke to him after a free kick about twenty-five yards out and instead of smashing it over the bar like he had been doing, he to simply put it, passed it in. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, please do, it’s a work of art.

There wasn’t much to talk about apart from Neves’ goal, but, our defence was superb as usual and Ruddy, apart from one first-half save, could have set up a deck chair in the penalty area as he had very little to do, however, that wasn’t to do with Wednesday’s lack of trying. We looked void of ideas going forward as Cavaleiro had a bit of an off day but the mercurial Boly, Coady and Bennett were excellent. Not the most riveting of games to say the least, but we were taking three points back to the Midlands, which was all that matters.

McCarthy was in town on the 23rd and it was difficult to second guess what sort of game it would be as Ipswich, like us, had been scoring goals for fun, but Mick has this thing where he doesn’t like to lose against us and to be fair, before the Ipswich game, we hadn’t beaten him since 1993. Again, much like the November hoodoo, though, the difference this time was that Nuno was in charge and much like the November hoodoo, it was no more.

The game itself was far from exhilarating as was becoming a bit of a pattern, nevertheless, every game can be like that if we carry on winning. The first half pretty much went over my head as it was basically a training game and we would keep the ball; pass, move, pass, move, waiting for a gap to appear in the Ipswich back line. Disaster almost struck within the first ten minutes as Jota got taken to the floor and even though he hasn’t scored in a few games, he is still by and far our biggest attacking asset so would have been a major loss, but the young Portuguese starlet got back up and was giving as good as he got which meant I could finally breathe again.

Conor Coady decided to test Ruddy’s reaction speed as he played a goal kick out to him, Coady decided to play it back to him with some extra zest and it very nearly ended up putting Ipswich 1-0 up, luckily Ruddy remembered how to play with his feet as he cleaned up the mess. The goal was a rare moment of brilliance in the opening period as Jota played the ball across the pitch to Cavaleiro who brought the ball inside and found the bottom corner to give us the familiar 1-0 scoreline. That came not too long before the interval which meant that as we went into the break, all we had to do was not concede in the second half and we would make it eight wins in nine.

We did just that in the second half and it wasn’t a case of us holding on, nothing of the sort, it was just that we couldn’t get that elusive second goal which would have killed the game off completely and it wasn’t through lack of trying as chances for Costa and Saiss went begging. Regardless of the missed opportunities, again, it was the all important three points that was the priority and again, that’s exactly what we got. And we beat Mick. Bonus.

Millwall was our next task and our third in London; our first two games in London had only yielded one point as we dropped points at Brentford and QPR so Nuno would have been hoping for all three on Boxing Day to give Wolves fans the best Christmas present possible. Hoping doesn’t always get you what you want and for the third time this season, we failed to pick up three points in the capital. In all fairness, it could have been a lot worse as Millwall took the lead after a blistering counter, which was rather ironic considering that’s what we had been doing to teams all season.

Minutes later it was nearly two as our defence decided that they weren’t going to bother marking Millwall players as the Millwall forward should have really done better, even though he was stretching. Neves was again the architect as we looked to respond in the best possible way as he produced an exquisite lofted through ball which Costa, who was in for Bonatini, took in his stride but took one too many touches as he eventually hit it at the keeper, it would be a sign of things to come, however.

Costa made amends for his earlier miss just before the referee blew for the interval as he performed a fantastic dummy and turn to sell the Millwall defender down the river, he then continued his run into the box and squared to Diogo Jota who was arriving right on time to send the travelling support who were housed behind the opposite goal, into raptures. Just what the doctor ordered before halftime. On a slightly worrying note, whilst Jota was drawing us level, Cavaleiro was down on the deck and he didn’t reappear for the second half as Bonatini replaced him.

We drew first blood after the break as Jota turned provider as he zipped a pass across the turf which could have put Costa clean through if he had got there earlier, either way, he managed to do something constructive with the ball as he fed it back to Saiss who arrowed it into the top corner, 2-1. It could have been three not too soon after if it wasn’t for the good work of Archer in the Millwall goal; a corner broke out to Neves and it was the worse of the two extremes when it comes to his shooting and his shot was heading for the corner flag, but Jota was unmarked and in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t beat Archer and the advantage remained only one.

Something terrible then happened and Boly went off injured meaning that Miranda had to come on which isn’t a bad thing, but, Boly had been the heartbeat of our defence for several games now and without him, it all went to shit, big time. It was like the early part of the season all over again when Millwall equalised as Ruddy should have come for the corner, the defence forgot to defend again and the Millwall player beat three defenders to the ball to score. Wanker. Not much else went on apart from Douglas have a free kick saved towards the end of the game, still a point gained as opposed to two lost.

The final game of the yearly review is probably my favourite. In fact, there is no probably about it, it definitely is. We travelled to Ashton Gate on the 30th of December with their gaffer Lee Johnson, who looks like a shit PE teacher, saying that they had to beat us for the good of the league and all that jazz. That’s one of the reason why what followed was all the more sweeter. City were on top for the first twenty minutes and we were lucky not to be behind by all accounts, but then, we thought it was best to make it even harder for ourselves when Batth was given a straight red card for a tackle that wasn’t even a foul in my eyes as he got the fucking ball. Then you look at who the ref was and it makes a little bit more sense, it was the same twat who sent off Coady against Sheffield United, I resigned us to defeat at that point.

We got to halftime unscathed, though and if we could hold on for another forty-five minutes, in the circumstances, I would take a point. City decided to utilise their extra man by putting their brute of a centre-half, Aden Flint, up top to try and trouble our back line. It wasn’t much of a game to watch as we were just defending for our lives whilst offering very little going forward as Helder Costa and Diogo Jota were often found isolated without the usual support from Doherty and Douglas who were preoccupied with wave after wave of City attack.

Not even ten minutes had gone by in the second half before Bristol City found a way through and we were the masters of our own downfall as Douglas didn’t have anyone to pass to and lost the ball just over the halfway line and we were undone by the sheer pace of Bristol City’s counter-attack which saw our normal ever so reliable back three drawn out of position which ended up with the prolific Bobby Reid sending the home fans delirious. After watching the replay, deflection or no deflection, Ruddy has to be doing better with the shot as it just crept under him and that was the second game in succession where the finger can be pointed at him. Never mind, we move on.

Costa was withdrawn for fellow countryman Ivan Cavaleiro around the hour mark as Helder was still struggling to replicate his form from last season and it was the obvious sub to make, but even still, the impact was almost instant. Cavaleiro picked the ball up centrally before sliding a ball perfectly to the onrushing Matt Doherty who was being a little more adventurous now we were 1-0 down, who touched it past Frank Fielding, who was in the middle of nowhere. Fielding didn’t have a chance to recover so he just took Doherty out. Red card. Game on. After Paterson was withdrawn for City’s sub keeper, Steele, Douglas had been readying himself for the freekick which was a little bit further out than the one in the first half. The whistle was blown so Douglas could take. GOOOOOOAL! Barry was at it again and Steele’s first job in the Bristol City goal was picking the ball out the back of his net. We had the momentum now, it was ours to lose.

Minutes later Saiss could have given us the lead but Steele was off his line fast enough to prevent the Moroccan from getting a clear shot at goal. Saiss was again involved as we were awarded a last-ditch freekick; he fought for a ball that wasn’t even there to be won, yet he won the ball back before being felled on the edge of the box on the right-hand side. It was Barry o’clock again as he waiting for the referee’s whistle. The whistle went, it was whipped into the far post and who was there to meet it? Ryan Bennett!! GOOOOOALLLLLL!!!! 90 plus four!!!! 2-1 to Wolves. Nuno was celebrating like every other Wolves fan, the only difference was, he was doing it in front of the Bristol City directors and the chief executive of the Premier League. May as well give them a taste of what’s to come.

So that was that for 2017 and it has to be said, it was one of the most up and down years being a Wolves fan as one minute I was buzzing off a win at Liverpool and then we would lose against fucking Burton, I mean what even is a Burton? Nevertheless, now we have Nuno in charge, I think the good times will be never ending. December position: 1st | Points from 2nd: 10 | Points from 3rd: 11 | Points from 7th: 17 | Points from 22nd: 36 | Overall points: 58 (equalled the tally from last season already!)

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For those that aren't involved, no explanation is possible. For those that are involved, no explanation is necessary. | WWFC |