Dave porter looks at the things we learned from brentford v wolves
1. The Premier League is not very good at the bottom.
Brentford and Wolves played out one of the worst halves of football that you are ever likely to see. Both teams low on confidence and quality, created an absolute bore-fest in the first half, memorable perhaps only for the amount of times both sides made unforced errors. There will be teams in the division below and beyond that would have rightly fancied their chances against both teams, such was the paucity of quality of any kind. Having to extend that by an additional 6 minutes, owing to injuries to seemingly everyone on the pitch, was a form of pain that wouldn’t have looked out of place next to the iron chair or other medieval torture devices. If either side had anything about them, they would surely have put the other to the sword. The second half improved and was treated to a couple of goals that were totally out of place to the rest of the game, but make no mistake, this was two very poor sides playing at the lowest ebb of their potential.
2. over-reliance on adama
Wolves almost have a plan A, but it’s not sophisticated and it certainly doesn’t take anyone by surprise, especially when it has been displayed for everyone with a twitter account to see in the previous week. Now you could dress this up a little bit and say that the game plan is to overload the right hand side, in order to create space for the advancing full back on the left. What in reality this tactic is, is give it to Adama, see what he can do. This creates issues. What happens when Adama is marked or double marked, what if Adama has an off day, what if Adama hasn’t got a meaningful pace advantage against the fullback. As it happens all of the above elements were in play against Brentford. Adama could not find space. Whenever he received the ball he would immediately have the space closed down by Brentford players, who haven’t been living under a rock and understood this was our only means of attack. Adama did not have a meaningful pace advantage against a spritely Henry. It was obvious from the early moments that this was going to be an issue. The second part of plan A should be that if they are going to pay so much attention to Adama, then space must be created elsewhere, but we didn’t show any signs of trying to exploit that. We look completely unable to change anything. Maybe swap Adama and Podence for a while. Maybe tell Podence to go wider and have Adama play inside. We look completely incapable of reacting to in game situations.
3. Boubacar needs a lot more time on the griddle
In probably the weeks most overused commentary, Boubacar Traore is raw. Its not so much a steak cooked blue, but more straight from the butcher and onto the plate. The first half was quite difficult to watch. Yes there is energy and there is desire, and you can absolutely understand how he was one of European footballs top pressure players last season. There is some real potential here no doubt. What we actually witness here though, and particularly in the first half, was a player who would lose possession with unnerving regularity, often in areas that better opponents would have punished. The desire to press would also leave him totally out of position, leaving big holes where he should have been. There is no doubting that the presence, the energy and the potential is there, but there is a lot of work to be done here. It perhaps says something about the rest of the midfield options, that most would agree that even though he looked naïve, it was still better than what we have been used to in previous weeks. If Wolves stay with a midfield three, (which they should not) then Traore will get the game time. He will need to learn fast.
4. NUNES IS NOT AN ADVANCED MIDFIELDER
Did we learn this today? No. did we miss him when he went off injured? Not really. Nunes, if the injury allows, must play next to Neves. He cannot play in advance of the ball. Its obvious what he is good at, he picks the ball up deep, turns players and drives forward. This is what we paid for. We didn’t pay for someone trying to create space with his back to the ball. We have (Well had) the personnel to play 4-2-3-1. With square pegs fitting perfectly in their respective holes, but the insistence on playing 4-3-3 is damaging Nunes and damaging the team. The tactics we are playing are a hangover to the mess Lage left us in. They are poisonous and it we are not going to get better until we stop ingesting the toxin. Put the 4-3-3 in the bin. Move on from Lage.
5. Brentford v Wolves games must last over 100 minutes.
What is it about the combination of these teams. This is now the third game in a row where time has been one of the main talking points of the game. Ball in play time was again pushing record lows, despite the treble digits on the clock. Previous to this game, we had the Brentford time wasting at Molineux, followed by the drones. Jose Sa was of course responsible for a large chunk of today, with a brilliant display of creative thinking. With Kilman receiving stitches to a head wound, someone needed to go down injured. Sa remembered that he has a fractured wrist at just the right moment, and had his gloves off almost immediately. There is not a single person in the ground that thought Sa was in need of treatment, but sometimes you need to do what must be done. Sa’s recovery was equally miraculous as it timed almost to the second with a returning Kilman. This visibly irritated Brentford management, team and fans, and it genuinely disrupted them.
6. THERE IS HOPE
Most observers would continue to think that Wolves have too much quality to be involved in a relegation battle. You don’t start the season thinking this is the best team we have had in half a century, and have that opinion changed so dramatically, that it isn’t able to survive relegation in the space of 13 games. What we have legitimately questioned however, is whether there is enough heart, enough bottle and enough confidence to turn the tide. This was perhaps the first sign that there was a bit more fight and effort about the team. Some green shoots of life. There would have been more hope had the game finished 2 minutes earlier than it did, but you sensed there was effort here today, and that has to be the foundation stone of any recovery.
We didn’t learn these from the game but …
Scorpions gonna Scorp. Was anyone surprised that Costa has been sent off for a headbutt. I doubt it. We knew what we were getting. The reality is that if Diego Costa was anyone else, I doubt we would have patience with his antics or profligate finishing. This desperate experiment hasn’t really worked.
Ruben Neves. Words wont cover what he means to each of us. It is something less tangible than words could ever describe. Feel, absorb and savour every moment of the end of his Wolves playing days. He is someone you will be talking about to future generations.
Liverpool. Evidently Liverpool have taken it upon themselves to make our lives more difficult, by gifting 6 points into the relation threatened area of the table. Do not underestimate the significance of struggling teams getting unexpected results against the big six. Maths and averages are in play here.
We need a manager as soon as possible … but you all know that already.
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.