A Step Forwards (Palace V Wolves)


To be honest I can’t say any more denigrating faintly humorous stuff about Roy Hodgson, or Zaha to be honest. I’ve not run out of things to say about them but I think I’ll leave it to one side a minute.

So, this game was important on a metaphysical level rather than an empirical point scoring one. It was a point on our travels fair enough. But how did the team do in a wet Croydon again?

Well Diogo Jota levelled in the last minute. A bloody deserved leveller too. Of course I was watching it on the electronic square thing and to be fair I nearly kicked the screen in with delight. Not for the team of course, or the result, just that it would send those Palace fans back home with a right itchy angst bone, the poor bastards. Last minute levellers mate, lovely, I could taste the blood in my mouth as it went in, not because it was bleeding at the time but if I was there I would have definitely got an elbow in the mouth or a head in the limbnal mosh that occurred as Jota smashed it into the top of the net.

Who are we? I think over the past few weeks we have kind of forgotten. I remarked to some canal pisshead that these rough weeks would either galvanise the squad to some level of beauty we had last season or send us spiralling into some whirlpool of nothingness. You see I was also emotional and I didn’t know who I was most of the last couple of weeks. I think it is a Wolverhampton thing, maybe a change in the weather, end of summer all that shite. Was it four straight losses we would have had if the scores would have remained the same? I’m not sure as I don’t really dwell on negative things, but I don’t bury my head in the sand either.

But the amount of trust I put in Nuno is more than I have ever given another Manager, and I can say Nuno stands with John Barnwell and Graham Turner in that respect and that’s a small club for someone that’s supported Wolves for…bloody hell 47 years nearly. Watching Nuno (as I do a lot) I can tell that the whole subject of why we aren’t killing teams off is bothering him. On the touchline he’s doing the old moustache licking again and his legs and arms are exploding shapes. Not in a theatrical sense but emotionally. Maybe this crazy journey is his too, maybe he doesn’t quite understand where he is some times.

When Saissy got sent to the stands I was in two minds. One of them was having a go at Saissy for stepping on Zahas foot. The little Gremlin of a Referee Atwell (remember him) had no doubts and boshed the card out that fast it nearly caught fire. But in the other mind I could see how it affected Saiss. He was gutted but stoical for sure. He went a bit pale and he knew he had made a guff somewhere, I mean Zaha wasn’t actually going anywhere but when you have a player with the fire of Saiss there are bound to be moments when he just wants the ball back regardless of where it is. I suppose it was his hunger to get the ball that lead to the foul. That’s ok, I want players who want the ball. Palace weren’t really doing anything constructive in that ‘Palace’ way they have when they wonder if playing football there has any point at all. Maybe there was no need, maybe there was every need? Even Boly had some moments when things could have gone weird again. I suspect he’s been told to enlarge his personal space on the pitch and he is just getting to grips with what that actually means. You see Nuno and his staff have a central tenet and that is ‘we must always improve’. Now that isn’t just a throw away line to these dudes. It means day in and day out they have to be better than they were yesterday. You try that with anything you do in your life. See what discipline actually is.

Indeed we threw our own shapes into the mix but Guaita and McArthur were doing things for Palace in the goal mouth. Half chances, full chances…but chances nonetheless and for the love of Nuno they nearly went in too we were that close and still struggling with that identity crisis. We were better than Palace, not brilliant but better riding the lip of the groove threatening to slip fully into it and rip some holes. Jota of course hadn’t read this identification problem and was the same Diogo he always is. Probing, moving the ball, looking for space. How such a little dude shakes off the hundredweight sack of spuds Palace call their defence I haven’t got a clue mate. But he does doesn’t he? Then he is off on another fruitless run. I know people like Jota who never give up and they scare me.

The first 45 minutes was Wolves looking a bit like Wolves again but there was the odd moment where a pass was 100mph knee height bollocks, a couple of passes going North and moments when our defence looked like they had been dragged through a hedge backwards…then forwards. But on the whole we kept Zaha and Ayew quite quiet and reseved apart from some barrelling runs they made and we forgot who we were again. I sat thinking is it a lack of beautiful Kwan for Wolves or have they got an identity crisis? Second half is started with a dodgy deflection again and boom into the goal regardless of Rui Patricios stretching and shaping. He wasn’t far from getting a leg on it to be honest. It was that unlucky Kwanless feeling again. I want that Kwan back desperately. 

But the interesting thing about this Wolves team is that they have adopted this crazy fight until the end philosophy from Jota I’m sure of it. They just never give up, carry on having a pop at them, see if anything pops up. Get the rhythm going again, feeling the vibe out, busting another defence splitting pass. Traore (who is awesome all game) keeps trying it on too. Last season he had moments when he was Seagull or Moon watching. He still has those moments but they are getting rarer and rarer for me. But everybody fought hard, everybody got involved. Even when Nuno started throwing on subs early doors here was a statement. They had obviously seen a need for change and why not do it as soon as the problem was identified? They did, boom, players on and there was a new sense of urgency going on as we started to press and press. Started to be ourselves again really. This is what we do. Palace players looked fucked twenty minutes from the end and we looked like we could have played another 20 minutes. 

Moutinho bothers me. Why does he play for us? How does he play for us? This bloke for me is pound for pound the best player to ever play in a Wolves shirt. He is absolutely divine, sublime and he shines. Beautiful weighted passes here and there, movement is to all first impressions languid and understated until you look at the wider aspects of the play and you watch how he moves around into the BEST places when he doesn’t have the ball. His brain, his footballing brain is taking up the slack from a body that is getting maybe a little slower so he thinks more about what he is doing. Those movements bring him into dangerous areas where he can collect, breathe, and send the ball off to the foot of somebody more able to attack. But he waits and he moves again without the ball, into another area, he will collect again and another chance another run at the Palace defence. Gobsmacked mate to be honest. God knows what our other players are slowly learning off him but I hope this osmosis of talent is slowly leaking into heads around him. I know Adama should watch how he moves, I know Neves is. 

For sure that 3-4-3 groove is looking tasty. I’m not sure whether we have totally got to grips with it yet. Jota left side, Jimmy in the middle, Adama on the right. One of these days that system will click and it will be chaos in opposition defences again but it’s a string to the bow. A tactic, not a plan B. I don’t believe Nuno even offers a thought to having Wolves play to the vagaries of an opposition Mangers plans. It’s not his way. But I think Nuno picks tactics more to do with how the team looks that week. Who is vibing off who, what looks effective for that side he wants to pick. For the previous two games we looked like the gap between Moutinho and our attack was an abyss. There was no link, no real connectivity and no one wanted to exploit that gap and push forwards into the final third. That left Jota and Jimmy twiddling their thumbs a lot. This is also (maybe) an identity issue, we lack a lunatic who grabs the ball and trundles off to attack. Big Alf used to do that job and to be honest I think we may have missed him a little. But who knows eh. 

All I know is Traore slices in a ball at the death of the match and Jota is Jota not giving much of a thought to anything but whacking that ball in the top of the net. Is it a change in our fortunes? I hope so. All I want now is for our defensive line up to suss out what’s going on in front of them. I’m not going to write of Jesus Vallejo yet despite watching him fluff some moves out, I think he has the ability to come good in the Benno role, I also think Benno himself can come good again in the Benno role, hopefully. That trio has to start clicking again. Coady for me is  trying to cover up for the dysfunction around him, I think he is that good a footballer there’s no place in his head for a drop of form, it has to be things happening around him. Attackers sense there is something fractured in the way we defend lately and are concentrating on forcing errors rather than directly attacking our defence which I suppose is a positive thing. I have a headache with all of it to be fair. Learning curves, I’ve never thought so deeply about the intricacies of playing football, never looked at it forensically like I do now and I’m learning too. Because I want to be able to understand what the hell is going on when our Citys team walk out onto the pitch. 

It’s a good result to be honest. I’m not losing my hair worrying too much about how things are going to pan out over the season. Trusting the Coach is a new thing for me, I’ve never had so much confidence in anybody connected with our team before. If anybody can sort out this negative zeitgeist it’s him and his backroom team. It’s a good foundation to build on though. Watford on Saturday will be very interesting and very fraught seeing as at this early point in the season we are bobbling around in the nether regions of the Premier League and that gives me horrible feeling to be honest. But watching Cutrone hugging Jota after Diogo scored gave me hope. Here is a team that will go beyond what is acceptable to win matches and fight until the very last kick. I like that, it gives me a bit of hope when things seem a little dark. 

Any way I’ve scaffed a ticket off the Lurpak kid so I’m going to see the young lads play against Reading, hahahahaha remember them?