So it begins. The time for slick videos, weird lighting effects in those videos, players grabbing the badge, roar for the cameras. Wolf Pack jiving….has finished. We can even forget about Fan Focus groups, Yu Shi and the brand boys, season ticket prices. It’s the War now isn’t it? The slog towards May that sometimes makes Napoleons march to Moscow seem like a stroll around the Mander Centre. It begins in Leicester, again and again we win the match by losing it. What a shit hole Leicester is. I mean I’m waxing about it but I’m not there which is weird. The last time I was at their ground I was having an argument with one of their fans in the ground and the dudes willy fell out of his shorts and his son buried his head in his hands at embarrassment. Team Lineker. Team Crispshaggers. East Midland weirdness. Our fans look beautiful in the sun, they are loud and totally Wolves. I am proud.
In the post match interview Bruno says more about his team than Nuno did over all his years here. He communicates. He shows his displeasure. He has things he needs to say and do. A man of action but measured action. He knows we lack something here and this time it’s not about players and new additions. He knows it’s something else. I think he knows the players don’t have anything to fight for yet. It is still an abstract project. Nobody really knows each other again. No battles, nothing to believe in yet. But still there is something there. Something buried deep in this squad that needs to come out.
As per usual the Leicester fans are quiet and reserved again. That’s what happens when you encourage the new football fans into seats they should not be sat in. Alas. This is a good picture of how Molineux will sound in a few years time. A bit quiet. Munching on a hot dog, waving your limp foam hand wondering what you are doing there. Poor Leicester. Wolves are happy to watch what Leicester are doing for the first bits of the half. So dodgy balls slung into our box are meat and potato for Saiss and Hoever who are wanging clearances out of the box. All balls looking for Vardy who is hard on Coady looking for the errant slip, the split second of day dreaming that he needs to latch onto a ball and shoot. Top class Striker Vardy is even if his Missus is a grass and he looks like a documentary on weird genetic problems. But I’m not seeing anything scary, anything to be alarmed about and yet in the days before this game I was still looking at the footage of the Crisp Shaggers training and popping steezy balls around like it was fun and joyful. Fast balls too, movement. And of course I take it all in and worry. Will Wolves be up to it? Will they know how to deal with it? Well yes. Marcal is my new Spirit animal. He’s nibbling everything. He laughs and chats to a Leicester player he has stud raked across the neck. He laughs as the Ref calls him over to ask him not to kill people today. Marcal laughs. The Laughing Assassin. He scares me and I am glad he is on our side. I hope he doesn’t break soon and we see more of him. I think he will have much to say about this fixture when we play them again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go through Vardy for sure. Marcal kept looking at him. Smiling. But never got the opportunity to get close and slip the knife between his ribs. But it will come.
Dodgy as fuck trying to extrapolate any real ideas about how this team will fare from the first half. There are chances of course. Jimmy still has the ‘Clutch’ when it comes to getting in there and killing it. There is still some residual injury griefs apart from what he and the staff say about his recovery. But this game will really cement his mind into that groove he had before his injury. It will happen but it’s very early for him still. But we defend stoically and hard despite that Leicester movement. We defend and we fight and there is something Wolvish there for sure, glimmers of Wolverhampton and our team. Digging in, getting a foot in, shutting them down fast, breaking play up as best they can. Moutinho still moving a lot of players out of position, getting in the right places and making the crisp shaggers move into wrong places. Mountinho doesn’t really need legs to be truthful. It’s not about yards it’s about seeing in your minds eye where the ball will be in a second. Telepathic experience, knowledge from all those other games he played throughout his career. Mountinho is moving and many can’t see what he is doing. Alas. He threads a ball through the defence and Traore is onto it. It’s a goal it has to be. A one on one chance. He must surely score but…..no. Past the post the shot goes. The ball is recycled and yes the Crisp Shaggers score. Vardy fools Coady into errant movement and a split second to deflect the ball into the back of the net. Vardy is very good. World class. I don’t think Coady or Sa would have done much to stop that thing. I hang my head simply because it seems like the past few seasons events are happening again. A dysfunctional first half. Coady will get hella shit on the Socials now but he doesn’t read them. I don’t blame him but Coady can’t defend by himself and he tends to try and do that. He covers everyone and is too much of a nice bloke to explain to his fellow defenders that THEY HAVE TO DO A BIT AS WELL! On your feet shouting at the Traore chance and slump back for the Vardy goal and it’s half time and it can fuck off. But Marcal has made me happy and I enjoy it all despite the fact Leicester make me want to run outside and vandalise something. Fuck off.
But hey! I like the way Bruno throws shapes in the technical area. I watch him when I can and it makes me feel better. He looks like he understands the game. He is shuffling the team on the pitch. It’s no longer a case of making your ideas stronger than theirs it’s about making your ideas more adaptable, more flexible. He demands his players to be multi skilled which is why you wont see Coady removed from the side and you will see Kilman and Hoever cememnting their roles within the squad as they gain experience. And this was all about experience. Such a young Wolves side but still having it, still dishing it out. Second half and Trincao is establishing space and his own rythym after a quiet first half. Now he and Moutinho have something moving some element of understanding and slick passing, pressure and intent is moving Leicester back into their own half and they start to make little mistakes allowing Wolves to consolidate their movement and tactics. Gaps open up, players are being ragged around by Marcal. They are avoiding him. But we are prevalent and chances start to fall at our feet. But that’s it, chances and golden chances. Events transpire to complicate every simple chance. We cry for players to make the pass but they shoot. We see everything wrong. They see nothing. They are playing fast football which requires fast reflexes, faster movement, faster decision making and throwing off the yoke of Nunoism for a new Brunoism. But that Brunology will take time to acquiesce to solidify in the players minds. It’s ‘twirly’ to make decisions on anything but the Philosophy of Bruno Lage and to my eyes the Philosophy is sound. To keep the ball, to demand movement from players to attack and to score.
How many chances we had was mad. None converted some close, some screaming moments. Adama to Raul the one in my mind. Perhaps Adama is playing for a move. Less an assist and more scoring a goal. I see Jota passing that ball to Raul and a goal but hey. Adama is an enigma. Even I don’t understand what he is and why. You will never see a player at the Wolves that makes you grip the edge of your seat when he has the ball, when he jinks and moves and finally flails around on the floor when he trips up. You want to know my opinion? As poor as it is? I think Traore pulls this team out of balance and I think he has been doing it for a few years. I suspect that with him removed and another attacker put in position you would see more goals. I dunno. I’m not a fan of players who don’t want to play for us. Sign your contract Adama, I bet it is a good juicy one and you won’t find a better club than this to placate your fragility. Stop teasing and start producing.
But Brunology is an exacting science. It has adaptabilty where Nunoism was stolid and unmoving. It has dynamism where Nuno tended to be academic and stoic. It will take time before everything has clicked into place but watching the team yesterday I was generally happy with the way we played and fought. We instigated Rodgers into changes, into moving his own squad around in response to our movement and Brendan will be glad this game is over and his side scraped a win.
It will bode us well this 90 odd minutes of football against a good side. Players will have learned much about Brunology and Bruno will have learned something about his team too which is slowly shaking off the shackles of Nunos lack of imagination and loyalty to players and starting to realise that positions are there for the taking and players must start grabbing the opportunities presented to them. But it looks OK to me, it looks exciting and real. There is a Kwan here but at the moment we just can’t get our hands around it or our heads but it will come. Nuno is coming home next week. Before the whistle we must show him our love and what he did for us. He will always be a brick in the foundations of this new Wolves thing and an important brick. But when that whistle goes he is a bald headed bastard. He is the enemy. Do not forget this. We may not know Bruno yet but we will, as soon as a few more of these battles are fought. See you next week. Molineux. Make it a cauldron of madness. Let Nuno remember who we are and what we are. Let Yu Shi and the brand boys know who we are too and delay the Leicesterfication of our home as long as we can.