In essence you have to know the darker and more shadowy parts of your personality to grow as a person. You have to know those darker aspects intimately of course in order to fully understand the whole of your psyche, you have to know it to develop fully.
Walking through the park next to Craven Cottage yesterday there was a darkness I suppose. It was where they filmed parts of the ‘Omen’Trilogy of films, Bishops Park? I don’t know, but it certainly added to the pathos of the whole moment. I was shocked at the amount of Police around. These Hipster Fulham fans are a thing then? Do they batter people with their Clappers or something? Maybe run up behind visiting fans and style their hair with Goat musk gel before running off? Beautiful pubs though. We waxed in a few of them. Builders arms, great pub. Neck Oil IPA. tasty beer. There was money in that place. You could see it dripping out of the funky pretend decor of the pubs you could see it in the £80 rounds locals were buying. All surface, all patina, all fake…or most of it. But the only thing that wasn’t fake were us within them. The Black Cab driver said people from the Black Country were some of the best he had met. This was weird because the discussions in it were about the best swords to use in a gang fight, blah.
I have said in past postings when I have denigrated the opposing teams, that when teams play against us they play snotball and we don’t know how to play against them. Like we don’t have any idea to play against he absence of creative dynamic blah…you know how it goes, you’ve read it enough. But…today here we had a Fulham team that did have ideas and did indeed lather them all over the pitch as we stuttered and farted around like we didn’t have anything ourselves…Fulham were pretty but they didn’t really have anything to say with their footy. Only two goals and some pretty effortless dinking around our players.
I don’t know why this happened and to be honest it wasn’t the loss that bothered me so much but probably the sadness of why it happened at all. Isn’t this our party? Don’t we get all the presents and the love, it’s our time surely? But no. There always comes a time when you have a moment or two when somebody has to spoil it. When we start to throw a wobbler and stamp our feet, have a tantrum. Chuck something. Have a good moan and blame some poor bastard for your woes.
We can easily find a villain to blame too because thats the fucking knee jerk reaction isn’t it? So the voices that lilted around the stadium after the game had a variety of names. Ruddy, Costa, Coady, N’Diaye, Saiss, Bennett, Doherty, and Douglas were the most regular names to pop up. So now we have to ‘sell’ those fuckers, drop them or do something that denigrates the team even more after this defeat as if they don’t suffer enough walking out of there with a total demolition job done on them. But we have to look at the facts here, get some of the more fantastic reasons out of the way.
We have played three tough games in a week. I know, other teams have too. We have lost our midfield magician to a suspension. We have a Jota that looks a bit like a shadow at the moment too, nothing seems to be going right for him at all over the past few games. Cavaleiro still charges around like a man possessed. Costa looks like he’s still getting into the groove too, fumbly sometimes, not really wanting to take on his man, not really physical enough to grab hold of a move and get past a few players to put a cross in. In the second half yesterday as Coady got pushed up into midfield Conor put the two best crosses into the box I saw all game. That was interesting for sure. I remarked that in the last few games it seemed like Douglas and Doherty were being put under pressure and forced deeper and deeper into our own half. Add to that mix (over the last few games at least) we have had opposition teams putting pressure on our midfield too. Neves of course couldn’t give a shit, he’s a ghost to these teams. He’s here and there, every push forward all dangerous ball to the feet come from him. We have missed him today for sure. There was a lack of anything that moved with the surefooted excitement of many games this season. There was a lack of anything really. We just looked tired as fuck. Tough last three games and I think the memory of that sunlit mid Winter break is started to dissipate just like our hopes did as we fended off the shitty arsed little Hitler Stewards that swarmed over anybody they didn’t like. By halftime I could hear the Omen soundtrack playing through my mind as Saiss fluffed another ball to a Fulham player. It was going to be one of those fucking days again.
There were meltdowns of course. You could feel and hear it at halftime. A Steward told me to put my cigarette out and I told him to fuck off. He said he would have me removed if I didn’t and I didn’t really care as the stage had been set really. I knew Afobe would be on at some point and I didn’t really want to watch him. I didn’t want to watch any of it. But you do don’t you? You have to stay, but I did finish my roll up in front of two Cops who were giving me the hairy eyeball.
But I’m not panicking. Yes, there should have been a reaction after Preston and Norwich. Yes we should have taken the game to Fulham from the off. Yes, this reaction should have galvanised our support. But you can’t always get what you want the Rolling Stones once sang. We were half a yard behind everything. Our defense started making errors from the off. All of a sudden this ‘in form’ Fulham side had an extra second on the ball to define what they wanted to do with it, without any real input from our midfield. Half a fucking yard that’s all. We did move the ball around well. If we had taken our chances we could have been 3 or 4 goals in front. But players arriving late ‘half a yard late’ or the ball bobbling luckily onto the foot of a Fulham defender. For Ruddy it wasn’t half a yard it was more like half a foot as the ball swung past him for their second goal. We just weren’t there. It was like we were knackered or something.
I think this was the crux of the whole result. Fulham on top, they have a hard on for the game, the division leaders, Wolves, everybody hates us. I don’t know why we don’t sing about it like Millwall. That half a yard we lacked was slack taken up by a Fulham team that didn’t exactly believe their own ideas but had a good idea of ours. They knew we liked to play, they knew we liked to pass the ball through the box in pretty little short passes until we poked the ball past the goal line. It was football we shouldn’t have played here. It’s just too pretty and when we lacked that energy to grab back that half a yard we really should have gone back to the basics. Saiss fluffed a shot twenty yards over the bar and he hit it like he really didn’t believe in himself which is a great shame. Get the ball any where near the edge of the box and somebody should have been there to toe bunt the fucking thing towards goal and there were maybe 8 or 9 chances in the game where I suspect we would have scored a goal that would have changed the game. We lack the energy to dictate beautiful football in midfield then bypass it. Put the ball over the midfield maybe, negate it. Get Afobe running off the shoulder of their last man. Get a chance or two in. Grab a sleeve or two maybe….ah fuck I dunno. I’d just like us to whack a few low angled fast shots towards goal through a knot of players some times…it works for them, why not for us?
I do know that this season seems to be a fucking long one. That training session and pre season warm up in the Swiss Alps seems like twenty years ago to me. Jota the poor little sod has been kicked all over the grounds of the English Championships for months. There was definitely less of that yesterday and fair play to Fulham for not going down that route. But I think it’s starting to effect him maybe. I think mentally he is shattered and wary. His almost telepathic ability to communicate with Neves was laid bare yesterday as everything he did when he came on was dark and had that Omen groove to it. Costa dillied and dallied over a simple ball, lost possession and disconsolately crept back to play. But I’m not losing hope.
We will only become a force in football by analysing these games philosophically. We do have to have moments like this to grow. We have to have the pain of it to know how we will repair and grow ourselves for the next game. The dark shadow team. That was what I saw yesterday, the team that had no idea and no hope either but that can also be positive. They will be bitter and angry. Nuno looked pissed off and angry too. The darkness is something we should experience because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We weren’t killed off by Fulham by any means but our ideas were certainly dragged out into the cold streets around Craven Cottage and given a good fucking kicking. Now we have the ability to know pain and in a certain way agony too. I think we need this, I think it was good it happened. Positivity can lead to a sense of invulnerability for sure and I think the games we have had over the last few months and at times been to beautiful to watch and I at least have fallen into the trap of believing my own propaganda where everything was sunny and Portuguese, beach days, blue sky and flat stomachs, cocktails, promotion parties etc.
I think it still will be that if I’m honest. This result (I hope) will pull our players and staff together more firmly as their is nothing stronger for pulling together a family than adversity. This is it folks. This is the turning point of the season for me and I know it’s fucking late on. This is the time when we have to pull ourselves in and link arms, stop over analysing this mistake and that one. Stop naming names as to who was to blame and who needs to be fucked off. We have Reading to come, they will smell blood. They will have a hard on for us. We must link arms…
At the train station after the game a group of lads tried to bully a Wolves fan. In seconds there were a group of us pushing them back. Wolves, in a pack, where we find our strength. The errant opposition melted away. This is the dogma of Wolves, in adversity the strength really is in the pack not just the 11 players on the pitch but everybody. I know that ‘strength in the pack’ is an oft used phrase but it still is the most important tenet that runs through the whole ethos of this football club but here’s another one ‘Trust in the pack’ and that means planting your feet on the concourse and not giving an inch and if you get battered then regrouping and come back fucking stronger. It’s knowing that somebody somewhere will have your back. I think we will do this, I don’t think battles like yesterday will stop. Every game for the rest of this season will see the same battling, the same weird half chances, the same dysfunctionality as our players force their tired bodies and brains towards the final hurdles and the end of the season. We must stand with them, we must support 100% during this war. Make decisions and castigate at the end of it when the smoke clears but now, here, on those dark roads outside these shitholes as we make our ways back to Wolvo we must embrace the pain and the shadows. We can do this, you just have to trust.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Horace, Greeny and Carl for looking after me yesterday. I would also like to thank Neil and Kate for their company too as well as all the Wolves fans who came up to me to offer their support and explain how they enjoy this blog. I would also like to thank Rikky Roth who came all the way from Germany to watch the Wolves. Rikky you are a delight I’m sorry we lost but I hope the laughs we had will last in your heart for a while at least.
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