I’m having a slightly bent and crushed roll up in the smoke hole at the back of the Southbank. It’s the halfway point of the Wolves-Manchester United FA cup match. I’ve got my back to the wall as the crush of nicotine madness is close and sweaty. There’s an old man in front of me who has obviously had too much liquid cheer today. He’s swaying slightly and he keeps shutting his eyes as if he’s going to sleep. His cigarette he clutches with a calloused and battered hand. He sways, I think he’s going to fall over at some point. I watch the drone flying above the New stand. I look back at him. There’s a dude standing with his back to him wearing a Canada Goose coat. It’s lovely. Expensive aren’t they? He must have had it for Xmas or something. There’s a lot of new coats on show. CP Company, new Stoneys. Canada Goose bloke laughs at something his mates have said and steps back a bit. Right into the old blokes cigarette which burns a neat hole in the Goose coat. The old man doesn’t even notice he’s merked a £600 coat. The young bloke doesn’t notice either. But he will get home and notice it. Get enraged. Then it’s a £600 work coat. To be worn while slapping a bit of muck between bricks on top of some scaffolding. Some burned feathery fluff is poking out of the hole now. The old chap has wandered off somewhere.
“You’re not famous any more”
I haven’t seen a soul today that I know. All the usual suspects have ducked this FA Cup thing. I wouldn’t have been here but my mate Brett brought me a ticket for Xmas. Bless his heart. The magic of the FA cup is very dead now of course. It was meaningful when the FA Cup Champions BS (Before Sky) would get at least a new Wembley suit and a voucher for 20% off at SeaWorld Hull. Now I suppose most of the players in the top league at least think it’s another League game and don’t quite understand any of this shit. But we have the fire shooty things and a light show. The filthy massive Southbank flag has gone overhead. It’s got that much hair product smeared all over it by now that it’s getting a bit stiff. Probably got a few nits in there too. Bit of Led Zep on the tannoy, I love that. The techno bollocks they normally play makes me feel like crying. It’s not a rave ya know. Nobody wants to dance. But Jimmy Page doing the solo on Stairway to Heaven is cool. Half the doughnuts around me don’t know what day it is yet alone what’s on the Billy Wright Stereogram.
We looked knackered and United looked shit. There ya go, a seven word review of the game. There’s no glossing over the facts any more. Liverpool/Watford/Man City, the dramas, the bullshit and the physical aspects of playing so many games has knocked a bit of stuffing out of our team. They still had the shape of course…the one me and Horace watched during that night game at Sheffield Wednesday what seems like years ago now. We still had temerity to have the occasional pop too. We scored. It was disallowed. VAR again. But now instead of hostility and venom, all I have for VAR is a resigned vacuous look when it got ruled out.
Shape and temerity for sure but you could tell there was a lack of zest in Wolves, at least in the new bloods littering the field. Neto, Vinagre, MaxKill, etc. John Ruddy made a cameo too. The game would have been a good one for Nuno in many ways. He would be watching how these yungz actually respond to a match like this. Did they do well? I don’t really know to be honest. The shape we played tends to hide many ‘faults’ in individual players. It’s such a team ethic here now that if you look at the whole display then I suppose we did OK in many respects. We are playing a dying idea in Manchester United and really should have put them to the sword. But motivation was in short supply. That’s what will be interesting to Nuno. Who dug deeper? Who caused a madness? United are lost now. Kenny Miller started the slide into vapid and airy committee blatherings over plans and momentum of the United team and I would have expected Neto and company to wax some shapes in front of the Southbank for a good battering of Manchester. But no. One of their players has Jimi Hendrix hair. He was quite nifty too, I liked him. I asked the strange dude next to me who he was but I didn’t catch the name…something weird any way.
It wasn’t until Moutinho, Jonny, Adama and Jimmy came on that things started to get heated and sweaty. All three of them flying into the United half like men possessed even if Jimmy looked a bit shagged. But how can you extrapolate on lost chances when these poor bastards in Gold and Black have been dragged across the country playing matches within hours of playing the last one? How can you come up with meaningful conclusions when it looked like our team needed a lie down in the sensory room for some shut eye and laser light displays on the ceiling.
The Southbank was full of fucking plastics again. Didn’t know the words to the songs. Looking at you disgusted when you abuse the local Manchester United fans in the bottom of the New Stand. It wasn’t all plastics though. There was a lot of ‘back in the day’ nutcases there who couldn’t normally get a ticket. So it was a weird as fuck night to be honest. I don’t care about the FA cup either. I just wanted to see us batter the Yaniteds for a giggle. I wanted to see us expound the beauty of our play onto their poor heads. I wanted Ashley Young to bury his head in the turf like an Ostrich. I wanted Olly Bummer Solidskars to get that condemned man look groove going where he looks likes he’s lost his wallet and somebody finds it…but it’s not his. There’s a woman a few rows in front of me covering up her kids ears as the sweary songs come out. She has an expensive hair do and looks a bit snotty. She looks uncomfortable. Her kids loving it. He flicks the V’s at the United fans at one point and she grabs his arm hard and gives him a bollocking. He looks like he wants to throw coins, he must be nine or ten. Little sod hahahahahaha.
I’m hoping this week has given my team a chance to consolidate again after this period of madness. I hope they can again start to understand what they are here to do and what Nuno wants. I knew some of them would be going. Wave to Patrick Cutrone everybody. I found out from the BBC News website he was going. I always read BBC News because it’s hilarious and makes me laugh that people would swallow their shit. Their ‘sports’ hack writes that Florence is a much more beautiful place than Wolverhampton and Cutrone would much rather walk through the Uffizi gallery than Wolverhampton canals. I just thought ‘what a twat’ then laughed. That’s what the BBC is now to me, just a comedy website. Their football analysis is beyond poor, their news is made up, their stories as interesting as a chip shop menu…ok not as interesting. But the Patrick deal is tied up with so many hooks and traps it’s stupid. Fosun have wired the guy into that many endnotes and contractual bindings I laughed again. It will do him some good going to Fiorentina…we can grab him back when we want to, get some sell on money too. Win-Win situation. He’s a driven motherfucker our Pat, who likes Pizza and Pasta but he wasn’t very magic was he? Couple of touches here and there that shone, but overall I think he wasn’t quite up to speed with what Nuno and his team require from a player. Most of that aggravation I think came from the fact Cutrone never looked like he quite fitted into the dynamic and the narrative that Nuno espouses from his squad. Yet any way. I’m not quite rubbing him out of my notes.
This transfer window is going to be interesting for sure. I haven’t leaked any names I’ve been told because it’s silly getting involved and I don’t need clicks and I’m not selling anything. All I’m going to say is that the names I’ve got here in front of me are off the radar characters, highly motivated and hard workers who for one reason or another are finding it very hard to move established stars out of their current team for them to play. Politically hard in the one case and that took some weird hours trying to work out what the fuck they were going on about on a ‘foreign’ message board for team fans. Nuno will have the last word on any transfers of course. He will look at these players and talk to them before decisions are made. I am of the mind Kevin Thelwell has been quite forensic in selecting possible players for Nuno to look at. I will be honest and say that Thelwell has been very possibly one of the most important cogs in the great machine of Wolves after the past few years of our success. I might even go as far to say we are bloody lucky to have him, but that’s a story (or argument) for the pub. Thelwell holds the cards up, Nuno picks them, then Nuno holds them in his hand flicking them about like a Gin Rummy hand until he has something he is happy with. Of course some of the hand will be chucked on the pile and another card picked up. We say goodbye to Jesus and Patrick, another card gets picked up off the pile. But like in a game of Gin Rummy you want cards that will be versatile and handy. The players Nuno will bring in will have that in Spades (geddit). None of the players will have that one string violin groove going on but will have many strings. So a defensive midfielder will also play defence quite well. Maybe that attacking midfielder can operate as a striker or maybe has a feeling for defence too. But overall they have to have the capacity to learn and listen. I think Patrick Cutrone is too raw yet, too stoical to accept that he can learn some new things at Wolves under Nuno. Typical striker really. One eye always on the prize. On the end goal. Great when things are working out and you get those golden chances but not too good when Nuno wants you to drop back a bit, pick the ball up deep and attack the final third when all he wants to do is drop off a shoulder and cannon towards goal. Ah I dunno, what do I know? I know theres not a fucking cat in hells chance I’m travelling up to Old Trafford to watch the replay. Fifty odd squid a ticket? Piss off. They should scrap replays. Go to penalties instead. But I see you Thelwell, I like the cut of your jib.
I’m looking forward to new additions, new shapes. As I walk back down the Canal down the rear of The Boat in Wednesfield I am laughing at all the shit the Southbank gave Ashley Young and that moment Young looked up at the magnificence of our Stand with a face like he had discovered a parking ticket on his car. Fucking hilarious. I laughed and scared a Swan. Nuno eh? Love him.