Dave porter examines the things we learnt from wolves draw against Brentford in the fa cup
1. 2024 – The year that finally killed the FA Cup.
Mark the date. The FA Cup has been dwindling in popularity and importance for some time, but the games on Thursday and Friday Night have finally brought the curtain down on the once proud competition.
Whether we agree or not, whether we like it or not, challenges by Calvert Lewin, Joao Gomes and Mikkel Damsgaard could all have been given red cards. This is modern football. In previous years, it would have been unlikely that any of those offences would have resulted in a sending off. The outcome of the match itself and who went through to the next round, is not the important issue here, and not why the FA Cup will now be treated in the same manner as the League cup. The issue is the carrying over of suspensions for the three league games that follow. How many managers of teams either at the top or bottom of the table will have looked at their team selections this morning, and thought that the risk of playing their best players is way too much for an over zealous official to potentially derail their league season, costing their clubs hundreds of millions of pounds or a title push. If you can be sent off in the FA cup for challenges that at worst warrant a booking but at best are barely a free kick, then why would you risk your best players who you cannot afford to miss three league games. It is over, the FA Cup is dead. Unless there is a rule change that limits the carry over of suspensions to the FA Cup (and that could carry over seasons) get ready for reserve team games until the latter stages, when clubs believe they have a genuine chance to win the trophy. Inevitably this will mean that the clubs with the deepest squads, the richest clubs of course, are again handed an enormous advantage.
2. This team is becoming quite special.
What guts, what bravery. To resolve yourself from a sending off within the first ten minutes, to keep their head amongst the injustice, to go a goal down in the first half, to regroup, to dominate, to equalise and then be slightly disappointed not to win. This team has it all. Were the season to be starting now, the confidence and belief is so high, that you would think they could win the league. They just do not know when they are beaten. A group of players who look and feel so connected to each other, to the manager and to the fans. They have turned themselves into the team that no-one wants to play but draw increasing amounts of jealous and admiring glances from across the footballing world. The transformation from the position at the start of the season is nothing short of miraculous. The result here just cannot be understated, to be able to play 80 minutes away from home with ten men on a cold Friday night and come away with a replay. It is almost unheard of and lightyears away from anything that a Wolves team of recent seasons could have achieved. A replay earned that has the added bonus that if won, will limit Joao Gomes suspension to just one league game.
3. Tommy Doyle’s progress is off the charts.
Wolves will sign Doyle permanently in the summer for the agreed £4.3m. A figure that was always artificially low. A sweetener to offset the bitterness of the Nunes deal and to no doubt bypass some FFP shenanigans on the part of both clubs. It was the footnote to the major transfer of the headline Nunes deal. On first glance, Doyle looked like he had something, but you felt it was something that would likely be tapped into in the seasons to come. Doyle’s increasingly eye-catching performances are improving game on game. Let’s forget for the moment the left foot rocket from outside the area that levelled this game and focus on the fact that he was Wolves only genuine midfielder for over 80 minutes of this game, and somehow managed to emerge dominant. Such are his levels right now that Wolves have barely missed their talisman and comfortably best player over the last 12 months Mario Lemina and have pushed on. The progression and the improvement of Doyle has been staggering. The footnote has outperformed the headliner, the deal Wolves struck in the summer looks better game by game.
4. Neto has still got it.
You wouldn’t be a Wolves fan if you did not have a fear within you somewhere that Neto may struggle to recapture his electric form on his return. Any fears were blown away with a superb introduction that changed this game completely. Neto with another assist, took the game from balanced and tilted it heavily in Wolves favour. Neto looked like a man on a mission and full of confidence. He very publicly stated that he wants to be the best player in the world. He has some distance to go, but he is on the road. There is much press about suiters for Neto in the summer and Wolves fans should enjoy the remainder of the season. Neto may be coming to the end of his time with Wolves, he is like others before him, to be savoured before he leaves. One thing is for certain, when Neto does go, Wolves will be carrying an awful lot of money to the bank.
5. Momentum maintained.
Wolves are one of the in form teams in the league. A defeat here, even in the circumstances could have impacted that momentum. Even though the tie is going to require a replay to get through, Wolves will take so much impetus from this game. A game that after ten minutes looked beyond them. The circumstances didn’t break them, they galvanised the team. Another link in the chain that is bonding all aspects of this club together has been added. Confidence remains high, the team has belief that it can beat anyone, and at the moment, you would not back against them.
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.