Do we not love him? I do I’m afraid…love a funny word really. I love my dogs, I love getting on my bike but how do I equate ‘loving a player’? I think it’s football love. He’s a fantastic Captain of our team, he is a rock in defense, a constant ‘face’ in the team and I am much happier when he is there and I scan the pregame blurbs for his name on the team sheet. Thing is dear readers…
When I was in Wales this Summer I would park the bike up on a mountain somewhere and think about the season to come. There were names mentioned and they were signed, there was excitement and madness. But I would always think of what Conor Coady would do this season. I was always thinking how he would do among this influx of delicious footballing dudeness. I wasn’t afraid he would get dropped of course, well, a little bit. But I did have a hope that he would excel at moving among these sexy players and he would indeed find himself lining up with them on the first game of the season and know deep within his heart that he had a right to be there and in his humility never think he would end up a giant among them. I mean the whole idea of this blog was initially ten thousand words I wrote about Coady during last Summer. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. I just felt the need to pontificate on his football for a few hours and then when I did look up from the keyboard the day had turned into night and my back ached. Where would I put these words for others to see? Wolves blog, and here it is in all it’s grotty glory, Southbank Resistance. It’s Coadys fault, all of it, blame him.
Nuno must have played a significant role in the process of Coady-development since he came to Compton, maybe in the organisation of his training and maybe even the guarantee of enjoying the total experience the player gained during the process of moving from the static un-dynamic situations he found himself under other coaches. The development of Conor is a whole process of maybe constant renewal of one’s experience in the team I suppose. Probably the idea of his interaction between the football he plays and objective of learning must have been emphasised on some level or another by Nuno. But I suspect that Conor looked at Nuno on that first day and he knew deep within his heart that here was a man he could work and develop with. Maybe Nuno looked at the DVDs of the games before he arrived and looked at Coady and thought here is a base I can build upon
We played Preston and there was Coady easing an attack away from Ruddy and all the time he was shouting to his comrades to move into dangerous spaces, shut down this player, shut down that one. Arms going ten to the dozen, lunacy, intent and desire to win. You could see everybody else doing exactly what he wanted. I’ll tell you why. It’s all in the way he speaks and processes information. He talks fast and thinks fast, more importantly too, he can physically drive himself into spaces and incidents while he is processing the information he sees in front of him. He doesn’t have to think about what his body is doing. He just does it. That is the mark of a great footballer. Eye to brain to the physical, a process for him that takes a split second.
Of course as I’m picking a decent couple of Avocados in Aldi these thoughts about Coady drift through my mind. Conor isn’t even ripe yet. That head of his will still be developing into the total footballer he is about to become (if Nuno stops slapping it). I can’t for the life of me think why he was moved on by other clubs he had been with. I mean I’m a bit jealous to see he has flirted with them, had his photo took in their shirts etc. I regard him as ours pretty much. I’m possessive about it. But he was stuck in a defensive midfield role. A stopper. What a strange choice. What did other Coaches think of him to put him there? I am sure that when he came here I would have said stick him in the back four. I was ignorant and lacked the skills to see what a player he is. Tall, rangy, typical back four player. I could punch myself in the balls for being so stupid.
But then we had a back four. That Stoic typical English approach to building an impenetrable wall against attack. The back four was always an anathema to me. It just reeked of bad building work, the mortar oozing out between the bricks. It was always about tackling and snotting, Gary Mastic Sunday football bollocks. Of course Conor would have curled up and dried out in a back four. I mean he pretty much curled up when he played in midfield for us. I don’t think it was the fact he was playing midfield that took the glow off his game but the fact that we were playing with a midfield that lacked any guile and skill, any real idea of how a midfield should play. You could tell in many games he played there that that lack of inspirational football must have played on his mind a little, made him not want to understand it. Of course he played there with a 100% dedication regardless of the dullness of it. He wasn’t being driven to consume the role he was given and I think the space was mentally confined and narrow. The role was part understudy and part patching the holes we had in previous seasons.
The back three espoused by Nuno has given Conor a role he can fill out. Colour in the edges and sit back, comfortable that he does have space to define his own ideas and creativity. He can play the ball out of the danger area with skill he picked up from untangling attacks, grabbing the ball back when he played midfield. But as well as that the back three gives him an intellectual challenge too. It’s the area where he can operate his formidable mind into defusing attacks, rapidly appraising opposition players so that he pretty much knows what to expect from the tactics employed by many of the Championship teams we will face this season. Watching him play gives me a pleasure that I haven’t felt for a long time watching a particular player at Wolves. But why pleasure?
For one he represents the old order even if he has only been here a short time. He definitely represents the flow or continuation from past teams over the past two years into this all singing all dancing group of players we have in the squad now. But more importantly for me, he has showed that progression and ability to transcend the politics and changing opinions of past Coaches at Wolves for sure. He has never let his head drop in any game I have watched him. Even in the defeats we have suffered this season he was directing and cajoling his team mates until the final whistle. I stood on the Southbank a few times and all I could hear was his voice echoing off the steel shuttering at the sides and the back. I could feel my fears evaporate, I could feel myself believing we could get something out of the game through him. Is he not the filter between the team and us? I think he is. The lubricant between the lofty ideals and screaming pistons of Nunoism and the crankcase sweat and snot of the crowd. The thing that keeps the whole Wolves machine turning.
At Liverpool last season he basically won us the game. Now I’m not arguing with anybody at this point in this post. I’m not listening to you. Conor won us that game and I think discovered within himself a rich vein of footballing ability I don’t think he knew he had, or he was unaware of it. Colossal in defense? I would say so. He negated attacks with aplomb, dicing the ball up in the midst of Liverpool attacks. Same at Manchester this season. He faced the most formidable team in Europe at the moment. He made them look negated and blank. He looked as if he belonged there. He looked as if he had always played against such teams.
May we say he has a ‘hunger to improve’? I think that’s like saying the Titanic got sunk by some frozen water. I think the whole process of Conor becoming probably one of the greatest players to pull on a Wolves shirt is far more complicated and metaphysical than that. I think that Conor needed the intellectual hunger to become one of our best players and I think Nuno provided that arena for the footballing brain of Coady to thrive. The environment is more important than useless words and platitudes, whiteboards and rants. I suspect the holistic environment Nuno has placed at Compton has allowed players like Doherty and Coady to thrive. But I think Conor has responded to this environment a lot better than others and it’s going back to the whole idea that Coady is the consummate footballing intellectual. As much as I can wax lyrical at the madmen of a team galvanising the play on the pitch I also think that this intellectual and academic basis of Coady also has a place within that particular meme.
What will we see in the future for him? He will grow into his role in that back three, I can see it, feel it and taste it. Every game he has he stores that game away in his head and uses it as an operating system for his game and every time he plays he is becoming a stronger and more intelligent player, you can see it. Positions and blocking, moving the ball from defense to midfield. The attacking ethos we have instilled in our team has given Coady the tools to base his game on the very ideas and memes that constitute a ‘whole’ footballer. As Captain too (of Wolves) he finds himself in a position where he can spread out and disseminate his own philosophy on how a footballer grows and develops aided and abetted by possibly one of the greatest coaches we have seen at the Wolves in Nuno. I would be inclined to give Conor the Captaincy of our team right now, officialy. That’s not denigrating Danny Batth at all. But I think Conor espouses the new groove within the team now and if we are building for the future we have to not only keep hold of the players we have developed but give them the intellectual framework and responsibilities they need to be that whole footballer to be that solid but effervescent personality we need to progress. I suspect handing him the Captains armband will do that. I think Coady is the leader we have craved for a long time and I think also he will be an integral part of this team in many years to come.
The greatest thing about blogging your views is that they are exactly that. My views. But my view on Coady is made from watching him play when more exciting things were happening elsewhere. I know a team is based on it’s core strength and that strength is deep and ‘inside’. Conor Coady is the missing piece of the jigsaw for us. I believe that with all my heart and this piece should be seen in that light. I love watching Coady play. I loved watching him play since the first time he pulled on a Wolves shirt and I’m sorry but I wont listen to anything negative said about him after people read this. I’m not going to engage in debate about it simply because when he plays I can feel it in my heart and it has become a metaphysical thing. It may be relative and subjective but I don’t really care to be honest. Am I skilled at such lofty announcements? Well I predicted the Manchester City game to be a draw. I should be able to make money out of betting on games really but no. Coady will become one of the greatest players ever to pull on a Wolves shirt, trust me.