Chasing Shadows-Wolves V West Ham United


You know the past month or two has been a crazy time at Molineux towers. The games the team have played. The Arsenal crap, people getting nightsticks over their heads in Portugal, European football in general, Benik, all that stuff. Years ago we were quite happy to just slag Dave Edwards and Lambert off a bit. Things were much simpler and much more easy to get your head around. Now of course we have a whole new complicated system to analyse. No way I can understand any of it. Somebody came up and whispered two names to me last night who Wolves are looking at in January window, I’m not going to mention either of them I’m afraid, in fact I’m going to forget that said person even mentioned them. Nothing is being said at Molineux. If the operating system says shut the fuck up, then I’m shutting up as well. I’m a Wolves fan first and a Writer after. I’ve never been one for wondering what my presents were under the Xmas tree, never peeled back the wrapping paper for a quick look. 

West Ham United. Well, I don’t feel sorry for them much. I’m well past the point where I can wax lyrics of fatness about how they are on some sort of trajectory to nothingness…or Championship football. All I was watching was this team of ours, they have transcended last season for sure but there was something more tonight, something different…

West Ham are hard at this point of the game just after the second half. Pelegrinniyman has obviously waxed lyrics of intensity to them. Now this is the West Ham we know and hate. Moving the ball with purity and idea. Moving through our midfield like shit through a Goose. The ball is recycled around their main men with speed. Declan Rice stays on his feet for once and he shows glimpses of what he is about. West Hams hard on is confusing our play for this short period, we are chasing the ball, but we have shape, we have an idea too. West Ham grow in confidence and we seem to shrink. The claggy skin of the Wolves scrotum pulls in on itself for a moment as we watch who is moving and trying to keep our shape. Now West Ham are getting a foot in the door here. Something we have seen sometimes down here at Molineux. But Moutinho is on this particular case and he is stalking. He doesn’t have the ball yet but he is waiting patiently putting himself into position to collect and to move players around, The spill will come for sure, it only has to be the slightest errant touch and he will be onto it. Lo and behold there is a knee high pass between two West Hammerites and he has it. Moutinho that is. Like a Rat at a Potato he scoops the ball and is moving. Fast. An outstretched West HamandCheese foot. Joao Moutinho is moving with the ball at a terrific speed at this point. Wrestling across the centre circle. The tackle is errant but Moutinho is alive to it. He has to be. He’s seen it all before… 

Moutinho is the Bull on the top of the hill sunning himself, chewing a bit of grass, letting out the odd sanguine and maybe content fart ripple into the air. A young Bull comes running up to him sweating and breathing heavily. Joao! Joao! Moutinho regards this young rippling muscled Bull it’s flanks dripping with sweat.

“What is the matter young Bull?” Moutinho asks.

“In the Valley, the Farmer has just released 200 Cows into our field! Lets run down there and fuck one!”

Moutinho laughs.. coughs (as a bit of grass is stuck in his throat).

“Young Bull, you are fast and you are strong and the valley is a few miles distant. If we run we may be too tired to fuck one of those Cows…so let us stretch our legs and enjoy this afternoon that is filled with beautiful sunshine and this cool breeze. We will walk down yes, and we will fuck all of them”. 

Moutinho is in the air the split second the tackle happens. Like I said he is alive. He lets his foot just trail delicately like a Japanese Cherry Blossom floating through the air. It looks like a harsh tackle. It looks like Moutinho is injured. It all looks horrible. But it is not. Joao writhes on the floor as if shot. Not too dramatic but just enough for the Referee to halt play. This takes the sting out of this great West Ham second half erection. Joao gets to his feet and you can see that limpid organ of the half time West Ham team talk shrink as we watched. Moutinho is the best player I have ever seen at Molineux. There I said it. It’s all about him. By this point the West Ham hard on is trying to sink and retreat back into it’s body cavity like a Mole in the daylight.

Jonny Otto wrestles and moves too. At one point I am seeing at least three Jonny Ottos on the pitch. Every time I look there he is. There is the ‘thunk’ of the ball off Conor Coady again as he blocks a hard nasty shot from the edge of the box. I watch Neves track a West Hammerite, Neves moves the player away from a passing or attacking position. He’s like the blokes shadow and no shit Neves tracks him away from danger over at least 40 yards and is no nearer that 5 yards away from him at any time. This bloke doesn’t even have to be physical to impart his madness on the game. It looks simple and easy and that’s why we know it’s the hardest thing to do.

Hold on let me get back to beginning. Saiss is on for Kilman. I am a big fan of Saiss and love to see him on the pitch. We need his kind of madness sometimes and today is one of the games where we need him. Adama is being Adama again. Those fat juicy rhythms he produces down the right are redolent with Nunoism. Slowly but surely West Ham are being pulled out of shape by Adama. They have no real answer to the enigma of Adama Traore. There is method in this madness and we watch a lopsided West Ham now opening up on the left. There are Adama made gaps which Jota moves into with alacrity. Crosses and pushes into the box. Birthday boy Jota jumbles and cajoles the West Ham defence into errors and miscalculated movement. Our shape tempered by Adamas speed and mind in harmony. Corner. Joao floats another tasty ball into the box. Donk, physical and immovable shrugs off the ministrations of a West Ham defender and nods the ball home. 1-0 mate. Have that. I am pleased Donk has had this goal. Now Nuno has shown him new ways to play, new thoughts about the game. Donk is alive all game. It’s like they want…no need to play for us and to play well, to make Nuno proud, to make us proud maybe.

But Rui Patricio doing swan shapes as he leapt across the face of goal to caress and softly convince a curly West Ham shot from going in for a leveller. I see you Rui Patricio. I see you all season. Don’t think you have escaped being named here in this blog. I see you and I love what you do too. Every game. I think goalkeepers like to be quite anonymous. It means they are doing there jobs properly but man he was a steal of a price wasn’t he? I’ve never seen a stop like he made. It was lovely. Shout out to men who work in the background making stuff continue to happen. At one point he’s on a one on one with Snotgrass. What a nightmare that is…not from Snotties ability but having that lump legging full pelt at you. Rui dinks the ball off him. I think Snotty got injured but to be honest I don’t blame him for pissing off early and being substituted. I bet he can’t get his head around this madness. Bye Snotty, don’t let the door bang your arse on the way out.

Adama still had things to say and wedged himself into the holes Adama had made. You can’t win against this madness surely. Jonny is through onto goal at one point and it’s all army and leggy from West Hams defence clawing at him to stop him getting a shot off. Where the hell did Jonny come from anyway? Last time I looked he was waxing duties down that end and a second later he’s barrelling towards goal. Assassin mate.

By this point in the match it’s settled down into that crazy shit we have watched for a couple of years. Wolves get their heads into the rhythm and it’s like all hell has broken loose in the West Ham half. This ends up with Cresswell losing his mind after being terrorised by Adama and he hacks Traore down. Only a yellow? Oh OK then…again. This time a floaty jazzy riff from Moutinho lands on the head of Saiss who goes just a nibble wide of the post. Nuno takes of Jimmy and Jota the two Jays, Cutrone is on and he is absolutely going crackers for the ball from the off. The hunger this lad shows scares me. It would have been easy for him to just slide into the team with barely a thought about why he was there. We see this with many teams. The Fulhams, West Hams, Villa. Players brought in from abroad who land at a club to find there is no philosophy there, no idea, no creativity. Cutrone is going mad and in an almost carbon copy of the other week Neto has the ball and this time instead of clacking the ball towards goal he must have had Nunos voice entering his head. So the ball is laid into the path of Cutrone who pokes a gentle almost sublime shot into the corner. 2-0. Cutrone is emotional. A weight off his shoulders? I don’t know. I don’t get aggravated at strikers not scoring, well not really. He deserved this though, he deserved it good.

By this point of course the West Ham fans are filing out in that trudge that reminded me of Napoleons retreat from Moscow. Desperate and trudging through the cold back to home. It was brilliant thank you. Nuno does his little thing for the Southbank and he mouths ‘For You’ as he receives the love. Thank you Nuno and bless your heart.