DAVE PORTER DISCUSSES THE THINGS WE LEARNT ABOUT WOLVES THIS WEEK
1. Three points from the worst performance of the season
Wolves chose to drop the traditional old gold and black in favour of the red away kit for this fixture. It perhaps though, would have been more appropriate for Wolves to have worn all black with accompanying balaclavas and a bag of swag, to carry three points away from the robbery at Goodison Park. Make no mistakes about it, this was the worst performance of the season so far, Wolves would have been punished by anyone but today’s opponents. Everton were poor, they are poor on paper and they are poor on the pitch. Wolves won’t mind too much, outcomes are everything. Getting the first win of the season is a much needed boost for morale and confidence. Most of the footballing world were looking on this as a game likely to be important in the relegation wash up come the end of the season, and on this performance, it is hard to disagree with that categorisation.
Wolves did not play well as a collective, and it is hard to single out any Wolves outfield player for any praise. It was industrious enough, but quality and confidence were clearly lacking. The first half in particular concerned. Players were starting to hide. You could almost sense the players hiding from the ball, deliberately marking themselves before raising their hands to feign a desire for the ball, knowing that there was no possible way they could receive it. Wolves improved as the game went on, as Everton’s belief that their banjo was clearly never hitting the posterior of any cattle today increased, but it still fell below the standard required to retain a place in the league next season. The result then is important, not just for the relief of having points on the board, but also to provide some much needed belief to a team that looked on the verge of mental collapse.
2. Football can be simple
Anyone who has watched the first two parts of the Wolves documentary about the Wolves giant striker, could not fail to be struck by the hugely likeable Austrian. The Wolves film team will surely be working the rest of weekend, editing in a new ending to part three. After an awful year of pain and suffering, the footballing gods did their best to redress the balance, courtesy of Sasa’s shoulder. For all of the tactics and complexities of the modern game, it can also be very simple. Cross the ball, head (shoulder) it into the goal. Neto’s cross was of course via his left foot, (there is as we know, absolutely zero chance of Neto crossing with anything else,) but what a joy it must have been to have seen someone in the box to be able to cross to. Sasa’s movement to find space was as good as the defence and goalkeeping were poor. Everton were clearly unsettled by the size of the Wolves forward, and seemed to panic allowing the Wolves forward to find the net. Its a remarkable chapter in the fairytale, and you can hardly blame the emotional scenes that followed.
3. Suspensions are going to hurt us.
A combination of the way Wolves are playing and the players involved, equals bookings. Had Joao Gomes have been playing for Everton, Wolves would have been livid that he stayed on the pitch, as a catalogue of almost bookable fouls followed his first half yellow card. This was perhaps punctuated by Sasa entering the field, with the only instruction being to tell Gomes to keep his head whilst miming the universal symbol for a yellow card. This is a serious issue. This should have been two games in a row that Wolves finished the game with 10 men, and will really test the depth of the squad, as cumulative bookings lead to inevitable and multiple suspensions throughout the season. Wolves will not change their style, and it would be impossible to calm the enthusiasm and aggression of players like Lemina and Gomes, but they must avoid unwarranted bookings such as Gomes’s first, resulting from arguing with the referee.
4. Fabio Silva needs to find goals.
Oh Fabio Silva indeed. Much will be said about the second one on one chance that has gone begging in two games. This one was more difficult than the one spurned against Brighton, but should have been taken regardless. Fabio did well to pounce on an Everton mistake to find himself one on one with a totally stranded Pickford, retreating from a ball he surely should have claimed. Silva should score, but it was incredibly difficult to score from the position he elected to take the shot from. His weight was all on his left side as he snatched at the shot, aiming to curl it in towards the far post. It needed a composure currently beyond the young striker. What was of more concern however was Fabio’s all round game. His touch and passing were both poor. The ball would not stick with the striker, and his failure to retain possession a liability. If you are not scoring goals, then your all round game has to offer far more than Silva is providing. Possibly the most frustrating point of his performance however, was the ludicrous offside. Silva despatched a cross from Bueno’s pinpoint cross with some aplomb, only for it to be ruled out for offside. You may think that this was unlucky, but there is simply no excuse for being offside here. Silva is looking at the ball, his marker is directly in front of his line of vision. What on earth Fabio is thinking going beyond the last defender almost defies logic. This was much less forgivable than the missed one on one chance.
5. Life without Nunes.
Did Wolves miss Nunes against Everton? Probably. It might be a little too simplistic to say that this was the cause of the poor performance. This was in fact exactly the type of game where Nunes has historically gone missing for large periods of the game. Wolves were just not very good. No outfield player played well. That was not owing to Nunes’ absence. Wolves will adapt without Nunes, yes it would be nice to bring in additions, but Nunes has always seemed to offset the balance of the team, almost forcing it to play in a certain way. Not trusted in centre midfield, not good enough to be playing in front of the ball in the ten position. Wolves have had to accommodate a three man midfield to include the undoubted raw talents of Nunes, or sacrifice a wide forward. Losing a talent like Nunes will hurt because of the moments that he brings, but in terms of overall balance, as long as the right replacements are brought to the club, this may be a blessing. Fosun must surely know that their future is in the balance currently. If Nunes does go, then money will need to be reinvested into the first team.
6. Jose Sa answering critics.
Whilst no outfield player played well, Jose Sa was an absolute colossus in the Wolves goal. Opinions on Sa, like many others issues at Wolves currently causes division, but there is general agreement that he is a very good shot stopper. Sa’s game was punctuated by ‘that save’ of course. It’s one for the end of season highlight reel for sure, but his all round performance was very good indeed. Sa was commanding in his area and his distribution pretty average for a modern goalkeeper. It still irked seeing balls to Neto overhit when Sasa is on the field. The reality is that whilst there is division on Sa, he is low down on the issues list. This performance should at least remove this as a talking point for a couple of games at least.
7. SARABIA SELFISHNESS
If Everton had managed to scramble something from the last few moments of the game, then there would have been only one man responsible. Twice Sarabia with the clock way over 90 minutes found himself in acres of space. Minutes on the clock should have been taken off by running balls into corners, or at least recycling and retaining possession. Twice in quick succession Sarabia inexplicably ran into trouble allowing Everton to counter. This was bizarre to the point of negligent. Punctuated further in the final moments by shooting at goal from a direct freekick with literal seconds left on the clock, straight into the hands of Pickford allowing a final Everton attack. It came to nothing but seldom will you see a player so out for personal glory as Sarabia’s cameo.
8. This is going to be an important week.
With the Nunes sale looking inevitable, Wolves and Fosun face a crucial week. There are already elements of the fanbase set on the departure of Fosun. To not reinvest a sizeable percentage of the money accrued from the inflated sale of Nunes, would see more of those undecided on Fosun’s future, moving towards removal of the owners. Wolves need additions, the squad and first eleven needs improvement, or this will be a long season. Financial issues will have been swallowed and to a degree accepted so far, but to see another huge departure without replacement, would probably be the final straw for many, and create a terminal chasm between board and fans. Until the week is over, many fans will remain open minded on Fosun. The investment in the club since their arrival has been very good. The decision making on purchases, and the feast and famine approach to progress however, has been more in the realm of stupidity than deliberate malice. The three points has brought some feel good factor back to the club for this week at least. The balance of the club though is on a knife edge, and by the time we kick off against Crystal Palace next Sunday, most will have a much clearer view of where praise or blame will lie for the seasons outcome.
article by Dave porter
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.