On Toon

Brendan King is delighted to be proved wrong about Wolves new caretaker-manager.

It looked like being another one of those ‘fine messes we’d gotten ourselves into’ created stupifyingly by our Laurel and Hardy-esque chairman and CEO (Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey) when Wolves went down to two early goals  against Newcastle United. This was in front of the largest football crowd of the day (over 50,000) and our defensive flaws were laid bare once again.

What did Terry Conner say to his players at half time? Even if he said very little, it seems to have been a great deal sounder than the recent McCarthy team chats, following which our team have spectacularly collapsed through lack of spirit and organisation rather than energy or ability.

On this occasion, however, after letting in two goals, Wolves tortuously pulled themselves together by keeping the ball with close. Accurate, passing and started showing the massed Tynesiders (and our own vocal fans) that they could play football in the proper manner andwere  able to deny opponents possession for prolonged periods. But could they mount just a few attacks as well and score? It seemed unlikely during that disappointing first half but yes they could and they did.

In the second half Wolves quelled the infamous Toon Army roar and even drew boos from their rivals against their own team, which is a great change from drawing derision from their own fans. Wolves actually shut out the home side, refusing to panic when two down and kept their shape as obviously instructed by their hoarse-throated new team boss.

So it was no surprise when the effervescent Matt Jarvis and then the scintillating Kevin Doyle (best player on the field by a trillion miles) scored to equalise at 2-2 to produce the most unlikely comeback result of the season. On Sky Sports, our worst ex-manager of all time, Glen Hoddle, made the stupid cliched remark: “It’s sometimes better to go two goals down” (shades of “it’s too cold to snow”) in relation to the other two goal deficit comeback of the weekend by Arsenal, who went on to score five against local rivals Spurs. So, the Spurs fans suffered the same ignomy as Wolves fans a week before which made me, for one, feel a darn site better about the 1-5 thrashing by the Sandwellonians.

Yes, I’m eating my words not for the first time in this roller coaster of all roller coaster seasons. I’ve criticised Terry as much as his predecessor Mick McCarthy, But, with his modestly presented interviews and the way his players followed his game plan (a blueprint stuck with at last) and individually hugged their new boss at the end of this hard earned one pointer, I’m happy to change  my mind about Terry Conner.

Also, praise to the newly appointed captain, Stephen Ward, who was calling authoritatively to his team-mates and leading by example, which has been lacking all season. Roger Johnson has been a lonely, isolated, figure and it was a strong decision by Terry in deciding, for the first time, to leave out his beleaguered captain for the entirety of this match.

I’m not superstitious, so the number 13 doesn’t bother me as it’s my house number and, touch wood, my humble abode isn’t falling down. So the fact that this is Terry Conner’s 13th year at Molineux and there was only 13 games left for survival, hasn’t caused me to lack faith in our players abilities. I’ve always believed they’re capable of quality football (we’ve seen extended flashes of it all season) and all those players who fought out this magnificent draw have proved me and many others right.

As I said earlier, it’s impossible not to take a real liking to Terry Conner, with his modest self-effacing responses to questions about himself and his determinedly positive, but realistic, comments about his team and the task ahead. In my humble pie mode I now reckon that this Wolves team can survive as they’re definitely better and more spirited than several of the teams alongside, including Villa.

Have we, by default, found a successful manager for the foreseeable future? Is there really a need for a root and branch clear out at Molineux as I’ve previously declared? I’d love to think so for the former and it’d be simpler and far less expensive if it turns not to be the case for the latter.

But there’s a dozen hard games ahead and I’ve given up trying to forecast anything about Wolves this season. But, like all Wolves fans, I live with renewed hope after Terry and his loyal boys’ grand exploits up there in the  North East last weekend.

C’mon Terry – C’mon the lads.