Being smart is a strange thing…I don’t mean ‘smart’ as in clever, I’ve never been that…but smart in terms of appearance. I wonder as I bump shoulders with Jeff Shi and Laurie Garglypimple in the catacoombs of the Billy Wright whether that particular zeitgeist is a thing. The team look very smart and so do I. The new infrastructure in the Billy Quiet is also smart. The glasses in the Executive thing where we ate Corporate food is crystal. It ‘tings’ beautifully as we clink glasses like Kings drinking 30 squid bottles of wine. Can I extrapolate my penchant for Motorhead T-shirts with holes in I was wearing most of the week with our fortunes? I’m not even going to try. But there is a bloke dressed as a Gas Boiler walking around the Hawthorns and I’m watching Mouthino warming up. Patricio looking all shades of awesome. What is a Villa Real? A team. A bloke is walking around West Birminghams ground dressed as a fucking Gas Boiler…I will let that sink in.
Sitting in the Billy I was struck by the amount of kids in there with their new Wolves Tops, also the amount of people in there who didn’t really have an idea of what they were actually watching. The kids gave me a glow of happiness, the future mate. I also notice a lot of bald men too. Does success make your hair fall out? I watch Nuno for a bit. He’s shouting something at Moutinho and motioning with his hand. Moutinho moves position, immediately he collects the ball and is in space. Nuno is conducting this symphony mate, Nuno is doing his Wizard shit already. That’s why he stands on the touchline. He’s smelling the football, analysing it, he’s a player himself, he is coaching but fighting for every ball, making decisions, a shout here, a word of warning there, a slap on the back for a player, soft words and hard words. Beautiful to watch and to be a part of.
Of course itching in these clothes was offset by the spectacle itself, and it was a spectacle in spite of the whole thing being a Pre-Season Friendly. Villa Real not Villa Fake. Beautiful footballing team absolutely oodles away from those Witton bastards and Duffel bag head Steve Bruce we had to contend with last season. Nuno I suspect had put out his inked in squad and how he expected them to play when Everton pour down from the North next week. So we see Neves and Joe Moutinho in midfield. What’s Joe like? Well he was deffo quality. Minor teething problems for sure as Ruben and Joe hassled for the same space a few times and there was a bit of Ying Yang going on as they found each others bumpy bits a few times. But the quality of Joe Moutinho was apparent. Some of his area management was gorgeous to watch as he tracked players and moved the ball around. Was it an upgrade on Saiss and Big ‘Olf? Ar it was for sure. Big Alf got a nice hand when he came on. Have we upgraded on him yet? I’m not sure. Maybe an Alf type player will be coming in. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday are going to be mad. Shopping possibly, I dunno. I like Jonny.
Saiss in defence? Ah well theres a problem at the moment and of course you can’t lump a player like Saiss into that hotbed of madness without some lubrication. Villa Real started putting some slicing balls across the back three. Those balls had a slight clockwise spin on them which automatically lead Boly, Conor and Saiss to hesitate a little, they are split and the Villa Real pacey bloke who’s name I forget dinks one over Patricio and boom. 1-0 down ahk. Teething aggravations. First half madness. But it was all there. Jota doing his Wolf thing. Tenacious and aggravating movements that plucked the ball out of no-chance periods into all of a sudden a movement and a chance. Everything of course was defined by that ‘friendly’ aspect and fair enough the contact between the two sides was muted for sure. Legs being pulled out of tackles and contact minimal and soft. But our shape was lovely. Our position high up the pitch unleashed pressure. This Spanish team were put on the back foot a few times. Lovely to see and better with a four course meal inside you…have I mentioned I was in corporate? Suits man, everywhere. Decent shoes, clean collars, moist handshakes with the lizards of the Billy. Crazy. I watch Coady for a bit. That makes me happy always. People have been giving him neck…that’s … just like…your opinion man. So Coady positions a beautiful cross field pass to Jota forty yards away. I clap and shout. People look at me. Billy Quiet. I’m not sorry. I look great in my new Burton sales outfit but I’ve got odd socks on and my pant holes could strangulate a bollock if I’m not careful. Shape is good. Saiss isn’t understanding the Coady and Boly thing. Apparently there is a Cheeseboard and wine at halftime. Instead of a roll up by the Grit Bin. I fancy a roll up to be fair. A chat with some lunatics. Some dude is shaking my hand and he thinks I am someone else called Darren. I laugh. Cheese at halftime. Darren FFS.
Wolves have done a good job of the executive groove inside the Billy. Air conditioning. Staff running around everywhere. Jeff Shi pops up every five minutes and he’s running around like a blue arsed fly with his Joey right by his elbow. We are given excellent service as the waiting staff rapidly suss out that we are normal. Of course we get great service as we are laughing and yamming. It was A’La Carte? Something like that? Big plates and the food scrunched into the middle all sexy looking. Not enough mash….sorry fondued potato or something. Not two ladles of mashed tata with a chunk of butter and a splosh of milk. No Sir. I asked the Waitress if some of the food had fell off. She laughed. Some tables didn’t eat their cheeseboard so we nicked it and ate it as ours was all gone. I probably wont be in there again this season. It was a Spring onion that confused me. And a little weedy carrot on the plate. I know this is fancy food because I’ve only just started eating and it’s gone. I nicked two lemon tarts nobody ate at the last Wolves dinner and shoved them in my suit pocket for later. I eat everything here. Nothing left. There was a little mini Shepherds pie the size of a fifty pence piece. Mad mate.
Second half came Ryan Bennett. OK we knew that was going to happen. Strange how he was denigrated by Norwich fans and yet five minutes on the pitch and Coady-Boly look a much happier unit. Those slicey dicey balls are cut out by Ryan. He is assured and solid. Weird thing is that I never wrote much about him last season but now…yeah Ryan Bennett. I see you, I see your presence mate. Shape in defence is now stoic and solid. Perhaps Coady can now take his eye off the ball and watchdog what’s happening in front of him. That’s what happens. He’s confident in Bennett to his right and can channel his thoughts elsewhere, which he does filtering out attacks on the box. That sliced cross box ball for their rapid nine to chase onto? Gone now. Coady is out of his head shutting off the route. Closing shit down. Trusting Bennett. Coady does nothing wrong for me, ever, we are lucky to have him.
Jimmy Jimenez I liked. He looked hungry as fuck to be honest but still needs a bit of that communication love between him and Jota-Costa. But he was physical and fast. His movements were lovely, he got a beautiful tap in for our second goal that was moistened by the temerity and full metal jacket lunacy of Costa on the touchline goofing his feet everywhere in order to pop that ball out of the melee he was involved in to get the ball onto the feet of Jota who was pegging into a crossing position for the cross Jimmy would tap in. Helder bloody Costa you marvel. That’s what I want to see. It’s our ball, and no, you can’t have a fucking kick of it. Piss off.
Strange thing…watching our potential subs warm up. Fucking hell. Quality subs. Blokes you would actually play from the start in your first team. Three blokes with the physics and the ability to change a game. Quality. First the cheese selection at halftime and now the insanity of these beautiful players warming up right below us.
Everything looks good and I sit in the Billy quite happy with the way things are going. We press high, play the ball from the back. Press and consolidate our shape onto the game. Watch the opposition try to ameliorate the passion and speed of our football. They counter with some excellent football of our own and for a moment I’m transported to Barnsley or Preston last season. The cold and the rain. The awful quasi-football of lacklustre shameful teams we faced. It’s getting hotter but I think we can impinge some idea on this season to come. We look good, we don’t change shape over the game, we force change on the opposition, we make our ideas much stronger than theirs. Nuno is shouting. Substitutions. Morgan Gibbs White who I keep calling Mowgli. Cavaleiro, how I love watching him play. I keep looking over to the South Bank to see who is in my seat. One of the Wolves staff recognises me and says ‘Not like the Southbank is it?’.
Nah it’s not, but it’s the same really. Somebody is castigating Neves as ‘useless’ behind me. I laugh. Maybe it is different being in another stand maybe it isn’t maybe it’s just me struggling to keep pace with everything that’s going on and trying to form some sort of consensus in my own mind as to what’s happening. The last fifteen minutes are post coital. Light a cigarette football full of endorphins and lazy cocktails. I can’t wait to get back into my own stand. The cheeseboard is nice. The Cheesecake was powey and nom. I could eat another one mate. It’s all funky and gorgeous, beautiful and sexy, same as the football. Everton next. What is an Everton?