That seemed like an age. This winless start. A desert really. But still everything looked good and dynamic, chances here and there and all the standard phrases started getting bandied about. Lack of end product, more clinical, more this and more that. All good stuff if a bit stale. But we knew Watford would be the one didn’t we? We expected something and not the annual trampling of our midfield by those giants they always seem to have playing for them. What a fucking horrible place Watford is, I am glad in some ways I am not there. Even the suit jacket their Coach is wearing annoys me. Where did he buy it from? Matalan? Why the fuck is he wearing a suit any way? There’s Windy Ben gurning away in the stands. Hello Windy Ben! You prick. He makes me laugh though, he loves the banter.
Last time I was at Watford I was seriously thinking about ramming a replica FA cup on the head of one of their fans outside the ground. There was real grief over the Wembley game but I guess some of that angst wasn’t really about the Eltons at all. It’s always been about Wolves for every Wolves fan. The Eltons were just the turd in the shit sandwich of those times.
I’m not even going to write about the game here, it’s not a match report. You know how the game went and how we ground out a win. You know who did what and when. My take? Always metaphysical. Always the feels.
Ruben Neves is walking around the pitch before the game wearing his expensive new Wolves tat. His eyebrows are furrowed and he is just looking. He walks to midfield, the centre circle and while the rest of the players take video or fuck about with their phones laughing, he isn’t. He is looking at the pitch letting his mind see where the battles will be and where they will be fought. He looks at the architecture of the ground. You see he will be moving that ball to his team mates while there is noise and madness, players getting a foot in, players moving in. Pressure and aggravation. So he looks up and in his mind he is looking at every advertising board, every point of the pitch, the stands, the dug out then extrapolating that information to his mind so that when he is under pressure and when he is being tackled a glimpse, a split second, he will know where he is. Full spectrum Ruben.
His football this season has been phenomenal already. My own grief about the lack of signings was puerile and knee jerk when we already had the best player, the bestest player we could have had right there in the team. So he moves through the Eltons midfield like it was pure butter and he was pulled and kicked, shoved and aggravated. But this Neves moves forwards. This Neves has a belief in himself that Bruno has perhaps reignited. We never know how much a partner abuses us until we are out of the relationship and with someone new. Is it like this with Bruno? Can we now look back and think that perhaps Nuno wasn’t the best man to take us forwards? I was watching the Palace-Spuds game beforehand and you can see Nunoism in full effect there. Reticent to attack, to defend at all costs, and Nuno plods away from that shithole to some new griefs to deal with. How can you have Neves deep when he shows us this madness. So Bruno shows Ruben what he would like him to do, in a nutshell to be Ruben Neves, that’s it, it’s simple. Let the mind of Neves expand and fill the pitch. Then give the rest of the team the same operating manual. Be yourselves but be a team as well. Two concepts that Bruno has mixed and prepared for our delight. So we see Traore in dangerous positions and seemingly also reinvented. We see Kilman growing into something most of us knew he was capable of, a well rounded skilful player with a mind of his own, a brain. Where tactical requirements are just the basic plan and the players minds are allowed to expand again into their own roles and how they see their own development and their own ideas about how to play football come to the fore. There was a moment when Kilman took the ball and let it glance off his left foot while he scanned the pitch in front of him. Never looked at the ball once. He killed momentum of the ball and then passed it to Neves who as well, collected, never looked at the ball once and then slid it beautifully into the path of Trink.
Trincao collects and is off towards the Eltons box and he glides my friends. This young man moves so beautifully so eloquently it blows my small shrivelled mind to bits. Because here in him is something too and we have only seen small parts of it. This player is one that is to be nurtured and cared for this season because there is something in him that is great also, Here is where we will see Bruno work some magic I hope. Here is where we will see how Bruno manages minds as well as players. Trink is everywhere it seems and when he isn’t exactly ‘there’ then he isn’t far away. He has to learn about cadence and patience. The rhythm of the play and his part in that great Wolves song.
These players are some of the best players in Europe, they have something about them. Raul needs nurturing too but his play, dropping deep, darting forwards, holding the ball up, doing a shift is everything to me. He occupies defenders, his work is unseen most of the time as he pulls the Eltons defence in and out of shape allowing Trink and Adama to push into spaces. Raul although not scoring goals is instigating goals and that my friends is what it’s all about. Pressure and intent led to that own goal and the ideas of Bruno were simple. To attack and when not in possession of the ball….attack again. Find the ball, get the ball back because ‘attack’ is everything and to a sportsman, a pro footballer aggression and offence is a mantra we can all agree on. We even see it in defence too. Saiss and Marcal targeted by the Eltons tactical gurus. But how do you attack when being attacked? Saiss is a constant source of grief for the Eltons forays down the pitch. They slide the ball past Marcal a few times but he is already in their heads. That smile is a killers smile. They slide past him yes, but he is right behind them niggling away, a shove, a prod, a shoulder to unbalance. Saiss the same, putting them off with a foot, an ankle, tread on a toe, tug of a shirt. A nastiness that starts to grow in the oppositions heads as the game flows on. Watch Marcal at the Eltons free kicks and corners. He is that close to the Eltons strike force he is like their new shirt and he prods, smiles, grapples, laughs and I think I love his madness.
The Hwang goal was beautiful and like a fairy tale. I wanted him to have this, so he knows that he can do it. A Premier League goal. His legs are coiled and heavily muscled, he is wide and physical, a box grappler, a body that is hard to move. Someone that is quite happy to involve himself in the physicality of the box, a man with the foresight to get himself on the goal line just in case. It was there for him, this golden goal and all he had to do was prod the thing over the line. There was some Steve Bull in that goal for sure because he was mad for it, he wanted it, which is fucking everything in football. His play for the other bits of the game was strong and purposeful. He was getting into space and causing grief. Shoving and treading on people but also being delicate and soft when oozing himself between Eltons defenders, shifting himself quietly, drifting almost into positions of danger. I don’t think we need to work on Hwang at all. He has all the attributes to become a legend here. More importantly now his team understand where he will be. There will be balls coming in low into the box, fast balls just for him and the great picture continues to be filled in by Bruno.
I dearly hope we can keep this momentum through the season but looking at the subs bench before the game I see quality and depth but more importantly I can see different options and ideas that Bruno can utilise easily when needed. I think that maybe Bruno might have the tools at his disposal to actually make a good crack at winning something this year.
It’s still fresh this whole Bruno thing but it feels correct and right for who we are. No grief aimed at Gremlin Jeff, no shit thrown at the Marketing reptiles. A win makes them redundant and everything is the team again where it should be and what it should be. Here at the Eltons we see football, real football while at Old Trafford they have just theatre and pantomime and for that I feel blessed to be honest. The Wolves away crowd are in fine voice, it is all you can hear on the dodgy stream I have. The gonks at Sky even turn the volume down while Wolves sing about Albion shagging their sisters everywhere they go. At the Albion ground Gonks are throwing punches at Millwall gonks and it’s all Gonky and a bit daft. Championship level crap. But I’m thinking about Ruben Neves again walking around that pitch pre game, looking and playing the match in his head. I think the fact we kept hold of him this season may be one of the biggest and best things that could have happened this transfer window. Ruben Neves is a Wolf. Wolverhampton Wanderers are pure Premier League quality. Blessed this weekend.