liam berry REVIEWS WHAT WE LEARNED FROM WOLVES V FULHAM
Good to be back!
‘Toothless’ Wolves are held back by newly promoted Fulham to a goalless draw at Molineux.
With the away side missing a penalty late on, and Wolves not putting away their chances, the points were shared at Molineux.
In a not so action packed game, here are seven key points that we have learnt from the first home game of the new 2022/23 campaign.
1. JONNY NOT ON THE SPOT?
Wolves’ defence was strong throughout this game, following some question marks after the loss to Leeds on the opening day.
However, in the new system which requires quick movements and swift attacking play, Jonny was slightly underwhelming. There were times where he would take too long on the ball and didn’t seem like he was on the same wavelength as his team-mates.
Jonny hasn’t seemed to have adapted attacking-wise to the new system under Bruno Lage, and with Nelson Semedo back from injury, his place in the team could be up for grabs after two below par performances. Having said that, if he can show he can operate in this system, he may also prove a potential at left back if Rayan Ait-Nouri struggles, the position where he was so good in his early days at Molineux.
2. OLD HABITS DIE HARD
Last season, Wolves conceded 10 penalties, with nine of them being scored.
Now, in just the second game of the season, Rayan Ait-Nouri conceded the first penalty of the campaign for Wolves, which was thankfully saved by Jose Sa. This is becoming a recurring theme for the team, and lost them vital points last season. How this will be fixed? I’m not sure but somehow cutting down on rash challenges has to be a starting point. Continuing to concede penalties could prove costly as the season develops.
3. SA ON THE SPOT
The positive about the penalty however was a great save from Jose Sa. He’ll be delighted with that after failing to save that one last season and also his opening-day performance. Which was very below par for Sa! Great to pick up the first clean sheet and the keeper is going to be another key player for Wolves this season.
4. THE COLLINS & KILMAN SHOW
For five years, Wolves had predominantly used the five-at-the-back system in defence, the extra body helping make them more compact and giving a strong foundation for each game. But this season Lage made the brave decision to switch to a back four, relying heavily on Nathan Collins and Maximilian Kilman being on full concentration for the full 90.
Against Fulham, the pair accumulated 154 passes between them, whilst keeping striker Aleksander Mitrovic ‘out of the game’ with him only winning five of his 12 aerial duels.
They were vital to the team today beating the Fulham press multiple times and using their skill on the floor and technical ability to transition the ball swiftly from defence to attack. Two young centre-backs with bags of potential and a breath of fresh air for Wolves. And also good and positive characters who will hopefully fill the leadership gap following Conor Coady’s departure.
Last season, Wolves struggled to create many chances in front of goal and they scored the least goals bar the relegated teams.
Yet again on Saturday, Wolves were faced with the same old problems with scoring and creating the chances. Without a recognised out-and-out striker on the pitch, they once again suffered the consequences. The front four all possess similar and exciting attributes but probably need the focus of a ‘number nine’ to help them fully release their talent.
They need to find some variety, with an out-and-out striker in the system, an improvement that would allow players like Daniel Podence, Pedro Neto and Morgan Gibbs-White to find spaces and play in and around them. Raul Jimenez coming back will obviously make a big difference. But maybe a new face as well?
6. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
Ruben Neves, despite all the odds, and the end-of-season tears, is still at Wolves, leading the team out for their first home game of the season, and he did not disappoint. He led by example and delivered a great performance, completing five long balls and putting a real shift in defence with four tackles.
It looked for all the world like he would be leaving this summer and Wolves re-investing the transfer fee in new faces to freshen up the squad. That he hasn’t gone may have provided challenges in terms of new signings, but him staying beyond the transfer deadline is still a big positive, especially with Coady gone and Neves being one of the most experienced Wolves players in the dressing room. His leadership could be crucial.
But let’s not talk about THAT free kick…
7. NEW INCOMINGS
Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang and Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes were in attendance, soaking up the atmosphere at Molineux. Chairman Guo was particularly active and loved getting involved in ‘Hi Ho’ at the start of the game. Although I am sure he would have loved to see a Wolves win.
Their attendance could signal many things and, with the club said to be interested in bringing in more players before the deadline at the end of August, it is understood that the summer transfer window is far from over yet. With Mendes being in the city, he could be looking to bring some of more his magic down to the West Midlands!
Along with this, the club wrapped up the signing of Goncalo Guedes this week, and Mendes would also have enjoyed the opportunity to watch his client make his Wolves debut. His arrival in the second half generated plenty of excitement and while he didn’t have a great deal of opportunity to show his talent, no doubt this will come as he settles in to life at Molineux.
ARTICLE BY LIAM BERRY
I am a life long Wolves fan that is passionate for the club. I am a sixth form student who loves writing about things I love!