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Dave porter talks about the things we learnt from wolves v luton


We shouldn’t of course have to be walking the tightrope of a dodgy VAR decision when playing against Luton. The facts however are that if Wolves were not on the receiving end of a remarkably poor decision, then Wolves win this game despite playing for an hour with ten men. Despite the meagre allowance for away supporters, most Wolves fans would have been relaxed when watching the original decision being given. If not at first glance, the first replay would have been enough to confirm that this is not a penalty in today’s rules, and it has never been a penalty in any age of football. Gomes’ hands are high and were the ball to have hit the hand, then yes of course, but the deflection on the ball meant that there was no advantage being sought or gained, he wasn’t trying to make himself bigger, the hands were naturally positioned given the stretch and there was no way of predicting the deflection of the ball. In all eras of football, not withstanding the current very clear guidance, this has never and will never again be a penalty. Aside from one deluded and deliberately antagonistic presenter of a talking radio station, the footballing world are unanimous, it is not a penalty.  Wolves are now in all probability three points worse off this season than they should be. That is 75% of the points gained so far this season. Without the incorrect decisions Wolves would currently be 11th in the table having had an extremely difficult start to the season and perspectives would be different. An apology will surely follow but these are not trivial differences. 


Rob Edwards will be looking in the mirror today, probably disappointed with the point having played against ten men for the majority of the game. If three points were not obtained in circumstances such as today, then will they ever be? A manager must work with what he has and seek any advantage they can, that is understandable, but Luton were in overdrive. The theatrics of every tackle received was clearly tactical and instructed and was consistently applied throughout the Luton team. A referee in their first Premier League game was completely thrown by the players who themselves were bolstered by a partisan and physically close home crowd. Every Wolves tackle was met with a player writhing in agony and every Wolves attempt to bypass the press was met with a grubby tactical challenge, which went unpunished and uncautioned. This was punctuated by Bellegarde’s sending off. Tame but naïve. An anonymous lower league journeyman applying the wresting manoeuvre, screaming in agony having been pushed away with Bellegarde’s feet whilst trying to get out of the Ric Fair-esque hold. Luton outraged, said lower league defender on an ambulance to hospital, Bellegarde to the dressing room. It was a culmination of pressure to conceive the idea that Wolves were the aggressors, and as such, Luton bookings were avoided long before this incident. The game was simply too big for the official who could not stand up to Luton’s dark arts. Edwards is a potential future manager of Wolves, but those tactics were anti-football and would be difficult to swallow unless you are the smallest fish in the pond.  

3. Gary O’Neil needs a win more than Wolves do.

GON was not many fans first choice for a managerial appointment. Most have given him a shot and understand that his appointment was under incredibly difficult circumstances. There is also a general acknowledgement that the opening fixtures have been unkind. Talk of this game being must win were a nonsense in terms of the table, but perhaps had more validity in terms of a must win for Gary O’Neil to put some money back in the account, because he is running out and in need of a deposit. League games against Manchester City and Aston Villa follow which are unlikely to see much in the way of points. Time will move on relentlessly into late October if a win is not secured and an away day at Bournemouth has a feel of destiny about it already. If Wolves have not improved on the four points obtained by that fixture, you would feel that failure to win that game may see his former employers put an end to his time with his current club. Looking at the fixtures, Wolves are probably only one or two short of what would have been expected, and were it not for the refereeing issues, may be doing slightly better than Par.  The problem for O’Neil is that he did not have a groundswell of supporter goodwill to begin with and it is running out. He is not helping himself, some of the line ups and substitutions have been questionable and have through bad luck or judgement seemingly cost points. This was compounded yesterday by the first third of the game where Luton were dominant against a Wolves team looking clueless as to how they should approach the game. In truth, a point in a game where you play two thirds with ten men in the Premier League is a good outcome and by and large, the half time changes worked quite well. There is no disguising though that Luton’s approach of hitting the ball long and pressing the second ball was both predictable and dealt with poorly prior to the sending off. GON looked tactically unprepared for a team that simply didn’t have the options to do anything else other than what they did. Teams plans and selections should have been able to cope much better with what came at them. Wolves will have time to recover from not taking points against Man City, Villa and Bournemouth but I do not see the club or supporters having time for O’Neil should a win not be secured within those three games. 


You only really know what an identity is once you have lost one. Wolves had an identity under Nuno, as clearly defined a way of playing as you are likely to come across. That has gradually been etched into the past by Lage, before recovering into an ugly and defensive one under Lopetegui. O’Neil hasn’t had much time to put his mark on the club, but he seems to have taken Lopetegui’s formation and made it worse. There are calls for a return to 5 at the back, something that appalled the Wolves fan bases just a couple of years ago, but now appears a lot more attractive. What is clear is that a change is needed. O’Neil needs to be brave and put his mark on the team. Wolves do not know what they are, are they counter attacking, are they possession based? What is plan A? Perhaps it is driven by the personnel? A return to 5 at the back means sacrificing one of the more established players or blunting Neto’s fine run of form by moving him from his current position. 3-5-2 feels attractive now but Cunha and Neto seem an unlikely forward 2 and Neto an unlikely choice at wingback. Bellegarde’s suspension opens the door for Cunha to move back to the front of a 3-man midfield perhaps allowing Neto space alongside or outside of Kalajdzic or Silva, although both strikers seem unfancied by O’Neil. That said, circumstances did not allow an attacking change in this game and his long-term view on the pair may become clearer over the next few games. Either way, the 4-3-3 has never really worked for any manager and Wolves need something new. 


The stats prior to the game already had Neto at the top of the pack for goal contributions. Yesterday’s goal, something similar to the one against Southampton away was a joy. Neto had no right to outpace and out fight the afore mentioned Journeyman defender to score a tremendous solo goal. It is the latest in a string of goals, assists and performances that have reminded us how good Neto can be and how much he has been missed. He is a lone shining light at the moment and the only one likely to create or convert any chances. Welcome back Pedro, you have been missed.      

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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