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Dave Porter shares 5 key things we learnt from Wolves defeat to Man City

1. VAR … again.

Manchester City are a good enough side to not need a head start or a hand from the officials. Another week, another terrible decision. Does anyone remember talking about refereeing quite as much as we do now? Two penalties in the game, both have issues. The first one, the game changing one, was clearly not a penalty. These never get given. A follow through from a shot that was sent way over the bar. A decision didn’t need to be made from what was a movement initiated by the striker of the ball. These happen all the time. It’s not and never will be a penalty or even a free kick anywhere else on the pitch. How VAR hasn’t overturned a decision or asked the referee to have another look is mind boggling and compounded by the second penalty. Now this one is probably a penalty that should be given in real time. What though is the difference in the rules to make the referee look again at this one, but not be asked to go the monitor for the first. Was the bar for clear and obvious any different? Well by the amount of time and rewatches it took to change the decision, obviously not. A clear and obvious error does not need an official to watch and rewatch an incident to change his mind, but it required countless reviews.

There is no consistency in the refereeing, there is no consistency in the application of the rules. Did it impact the game? Probably not, but you can’t help thinking after the Arsenal penalty earlier in the day, that even before the game, Manchester City were going to be given something. Add it to the list. Balance surely must come at some point. Maybe next year?

2. Imposter syndrome

This was not a typical Wolves performance. Errors everywhere. Simple errors. It felt like the players had an inferiority complex, like they didn’t deserve to be on the same pitch. The amount of times the ball was given away, that five yard passes were misplaced, the amount of times that we were caught in possession and the amount of just rank decision making. Again Manchester City are a great team with great players, but if Wolves play like this against anyone else, then they would still lose the game. There wasn’t a lack of effort or application, it felt like a lack of confidence that they were able to compete. Perhaps if we hadn’t conceded immediately after scoring, belief would have come back, but overall, this game is one to wipe from the memory. 

3. We need another centre half.

The absence of Craig Dawson has been underplayed somewhat in comparison to more obvious issues with injuries to forward players. When a player who Dawson marked out of a game previously, scores four and probably would have added more if not substituted, the gap that was left almost smacks you in the face. Wolves missed Dawson in-particular, in this game, but really it was the lack of depth in the squad that is most obvious. Semedo moved from his preferred position to retain the formation. Kilman clearly more vulnerable. Rayan Ait Nouri switching flanks. The compound issues created by not having an available centre half ripple through the team. It’s not good enough for a club to only have four centre backs when three play every week. Squad depth again is at the heart of the matter, although this time at the other end of the pitch.  

4. Hwang and Sarabia concerns.

Both of these players have proved me and many other supporters wrong. The numbers speak for themselves, but do they hide something? If Hwang is not scoring, what does he offer? Scoring goals is enough of course, and he deserves an awful lot of credit for the way in which he has transformed his form and fan opinions, but if he is not scoring, his all round game contributes very little. You almost have to carry him and accept his dreadful first touch and passing, and offset that against his undeniable finishing ability. Sarabia is similar. The numbers are pretty good in terms of assists and chance creation., He again though only performs well in very small moments, and his overall contribution to games is generally poor. They both may fit into the category of luxury players, but are they quite luxurious enough to offset the contributions for most of the game? Maybe you can have one, but two players is going to find any team out. This feels harsh on Hwang in particular, but it is something to keep an eye on and maybe address in the summer. A move and replacement for Sarabia probably suits all parties. 

5. Stay positive 

This was not a game to judge Wolves by. The season is all but over. The players and management have performed way above expectations. VAR and injuries have conspired together to cause frustration, but the season has been an excellent one. Wolves could still achieve the 50 points that their performances deserve, which would be a fantastic return. Yes it could and would have been even better were it not for a cluster of ill timed injuries to mainly forward players all at once, and if the officials had done their job with any semblance of competence, but there is so much to remain positive over. Players will leave and the squad will be refreshed with (hopefully) significantly more depth next year, but the nucleus of a really talented team should remain. There is a lot to be optimistic about and a defeat away to the probable champions, is on balance acceptable. Have that one on us. 

Dave Porter, Always Wolves Fan TV


Wolverhampton born, East Sussex based supporter. Old enough to have seen the descent to the bottom, young enough to not have experienced the days my friend. Not many Wolves fans to celebrate or commiserate with round these parts, so had to find an outlet to discuss the enormous highs, crushing lows and share the frustrations that only come with following Wolves.  

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