Wolves fan Brendan King reports on his first visit to Molineux since disabled supporters were able to return during ground re-development.
Coming out of Molinuex after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wigan I overheard an apt comment from a young lad to his mate: “We’m still shite but we’ve won…”
From my great new, incredibly close to the pitch, viewing platform (I could almost touch Wardy when he ran to us celebrating his crucial goal) I realised that for the first half (without Mick deploying any wide players –even Hunt was playing as defensive back up to Ward, who had the tricky Moses to deal with) this was the most cautious defensive Wolves display I’ve probably ever seen.
At one point there were three Wolves players bunched together defending a ball controlled by Hugo Rodellaga and even then they only managed to bundle it into touch. A far cry from the barnstorming days of Wagstaff, Richards and Dougan.
Wolves were incredibly nervous and, during that first half and the latter part of the second, players were intent on the easy sideways and backwards pass to avoid losing possession, plus there was no-one up front to pass to – even Doyle was playing deeper and wider (with no wingers he was taking up that empty area to receive passes) so no players entered into shooting areas for suppliers to supply.
This was not the Wolves we’re familiar with, but it worked and the crowd, I think, understood this defensive tactic. After conceding two early goals in all recent home matches they’ve obviously worked on the training ground at playing deeper with cautious close passing and little attacking adventure. The aim is to avoid leaking those goals early on.
However, Stearman and Ward were regularly by-passed and outrun, with ease, by the fast Wigan wingers and midfielders. It’s a good job Wigan had no multi-billion strikers – like Djecko et al, as with Manchester City. They missed chance after golden chance in that first half but went to pieces (until near the end when they rallied) after Ward’s goal.
We had only about 15 minutes of real footballing excitement from Wolves (Jarvis made a huge difference after half-time, combining particularly well with Doyle) down the North-end, but those repeat strikes – with poor old Al-Habsi making brilliant saves to no avail – were brilliantly enthralling for a Wolves fan so close to the action. And just 15 minutes of real action and a win is the best to be hoped for lot of a Premier League supporter nowadays, at this prop-up end of the table.
Mention has to be made of Henry, who made one particularly outstanding saving tackle and then burst through with a great goalmaking run straight to the penalty goal-line (first attacking forward run I’ve ever seen from him – his nose was bleeding without receiving a blow after that).
As the lad said – “We was shite but we won.”