End of year reflections from Brendan King, our man in the Molineux North Bank Bunker.
As at Molineux three days previously (Wolves1 Stoke 2), the rain began pouring as I emerged from the long tunnel that leads up to the concrete, four walled, enclosure where us wheelchair using fans are now ghettoized in the new North End Stand.
And the rain continued to pour on us, getting heavier during the first half, drenching everyone in the new unroofed North Stand. It would be unsurprising, therefore, if I reported as angrily and grumpily as I did after that last Saturday loss to the Potters. Particularly as we were 1-0 down at half-time and had been largely outplayed by the nippy and tricky green clad Canaries.
It was significantly warmer, however, on Tuesday evening and, like the weather, I tend to blow hot and cold about the performances of my beloved Wolves team. As, Mick McCarthy might say of me “I’m a typical fickle, numpty, Wolves fan”. Of course I am – ‘numptyism’ and ‘fickleness’ is the whole raison d’être of being a Wolves fan during recent McCarthyite seasons!
My report of the Stoke loss, repeatedly speculated the possible negative nature of the half-time team talk – such was the huge drop in performance in that second period.
Against Norwich, however, it was quite the opposite! Even before half-time and 10 down, all the Wolves players mounted a terrific fight-back and played, at last, like our teams of old and I was able to leave the ground fairly proud of my team and pleased with the performance overall.
Norwich were a completely different team to the big, burly, ugly ‘Pulis Potters’. They gave Wolves much more space to play, as compared to the heavy closing down, in-your-face Pullis style. And it led to a more attractive game to watch and gave a feeling that the fighting, hard-working, tougher tackling Wanderers could get back into this game and win this so-called ‘must win’.
In the end, all fair-minded Wolves fans would agree that we deserved to win and that surely it was very harsh of the assistant ref to rule out Fletcher’s brilliant last minute strike as offside. I reckon the offside rule should be modified to require that the whole of a player’s body should be beyond the last opposing outfield player. The game is about goals, after all, and rules should favour attacking play rather than offside traps.
I was delighted to see Sylvan Ebanks-Blake start, rewarding us with a goal. And, followed later by a magnificent corner by the highly talented and natural leader on the field, Nenad Milijas, a cross that led to a super headed goal by revitalised full-back, Ronald Zubar.
Along with the speedy and effective right winger, Adam Hammill, all of these players should be must starters in the next two away matches against Arsenal and Bolton. We need attacking formations in both of those matches – as did the brilliant Baggies in their 2-3 win against Newcastle last Wednesday night.
Is it that highly experienced, cerebral, managers like Roy Hodgson have the required nous to transform under-achieving, lower financed, clubs like West Bromwich Albion and Wolves, as compared to more simplistic strategists like Mick McCarthy? And is Hodgson the type of manager that we need very soon to take Wolves to that dreamed of ‘next level’?
Any roadup, a change in manager at Wolves, however much needed, seems unlikely for this season, so we have to get behind the team and manger for now. And this seems to be happening. The booing and vitriol doled out against our manager at the Swansea game has not been repeated, thankfully and I, for one wish the season’s greetings to all at Molineux– excepting those who designed and authorised the segregated, concrete enclosed, wheelchair using supporters ‘viewing platform’.
Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year to all Birmingham Press readers.