By Joe Hill – TFN Columnist and Wolves season ticket holder.
So Wolves’ start has been anything but what anyone expected, I look to explain it event by event.
So at end of last season Wolves were slightly disappointed after missing out on the Championship Play-Offs on goal difference but on the whole amazed at how well we done and left Wolves fans hopeful that the new season would provide a fresh assault on reaching the promised lands of the Premier League once again.
But before this we had to wave farewell to by far the most talented player I’ve seen a Wolves shirt. Bakary Sako, as he joined Crystal Palace during the summer. His pace, power, awesome goal-scoring ability and his general love for the club made him a cult hero at Wolves. But with his growing wish to play top fight football, it was only fair we let him go and peruse his dream leaving behind a hole that needed filling which our chief executive Jez Moxey promised would happen. But with only 18 year old Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo coming in, who with all fairness to him is never going to fill Sako’s void ever, left wolves fans frustrated with no recognised replacement for our most pivotal players.
The summer transfer window was one of disappointment overall with Wolves fans hoping for quality players to help a push for promotion. As said before the Left Midfield needed attention and really didn’t get enough. Also fans would of liked another central defender brought in which never happened and got worse after the shock departure of Richard Stearman to Fulham which I’ll come to later. However we’ve improved our options up top with Wolves adding Adam Le Fondre to the already proven Nouha Dicko and Benik Afobe to make an exciting and dangerous attack force, and the addition of Conor Coady looks a good deal and Emiliano Martinez grows in confidence now he’s settled following his loan move from Arsenal
Wolves fans went into the first game against Blackburn full of confidence after a fairly good pre season, but only just did enough to win 2-1 with goals from Benik Afobe and a blatant hand ball from Dave Edwards which was luckily missed by officials but that’s football. After that wolves went on to Newport County in the Capital One Cup in a tie that saw Wolves’ quality just about shine through in a 2-1 win with many still hoping for a there to be more to come.
Wolves then faced Hull in front of the Sky cameras in a very level affair which ended 1-1 where yet again Wolves could of considered themselves fortuitous with Allan McGregor spilling the ball for James Henry to head home but on balance of play it was probably a deserved point.
Then for the turning point for me. QPR at home. Where Wolves threw a two goal lead away to lose 3-2 in which the goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had a nightmare letting the 2nd and 3rd in very cheaply, but the whole team were switched completely off after our second, even though we had played some of our best football for a long time. This left fans frustrated that we’d let 3 points go at home against a team who Wolves hope to be competing with at the top.
This led into the Cardiff away game in which Wolves went back for Carl Ikeme after dropping him against Hull and QPR, but a mix up with defence and Ikeme cost us a goal on the stroke of half time and another from Sammy Ameobi meant Wolves lost 2-0 but having no shots on goal sums up what sort of afternoon it was.
Next up was Barnet at home in second round of the cup where Kenny gave minutes to some of the fringe players and youngsters where Wolves, as expected, dominated the game but could only manage
a 2-1 scoreline with Bright Enobakhare and Sheyi Ojo getting the goals for wolves.
Then it was Charlton at Molineux in which Wolves fans left mystified hearing that ever present Richard Stearman had been dropped from the team in which later fans were to find out he was about to be sold to Fulham for a rumoured fee of £2 million. Nevertheless Wolves came from behind to win 2-1 but game was shadowed by this strange decision. A man who’d been there since the Mick McCarthy promotion days and stayed through the relegations and had started every game of this season was to be sold so close to the deadline leaving Wolves with only three centre backs until club captain Danny Batth was back. Also Wolves were struck with the blow that Nouha Dicko was out for rest of the season with a knee ligament injury which left Wolves looking for a striker before the transfer window shut.
So it looked like Wolves would be busy with Dicko & Stearman needing replacing in some way but only right wing back Nathan Byrne who does look a great addition but just not fans wanted at that time.
After international break Wolves traveled to Bolton where yet again they didn’t turn up and lost 2-1, this was starting to concern fans more and more as performances were getting worse not better. The once strong defence looked shaky to say the least and with no Dicko and Sako, Afobe was struggling to get chances and was basically creating for himself.
So going up against table-topping Brighton, Wolves fans weren’t exactly optimistic, but the defence played a lot better and with the only real mistake being made was by left back Scott Golbourne which led to a penalty which was saved by Martinez who has now established himself as the Wolves number 1. Then the red card came for Conor Coady which was debatable but probably fair meant Wolves had to focus on defending meaning an bore draw was the outcome but most fans would have taken that before the game.
Wolves then faced Middlesbrough away in the cup and with a wholesale changes made we were blown away in a comfortable 3-0 win for the hosts with 1 or 2 fringe players possibly playing there final games as they’d failed to show up on too many occasions in my opinion.
Onto Preston away when despite the ref doing everything to help us win (for a change!) including sending Joe Garner and Bailey Wright off, Wolves only managed a last gasp equaliser through Kevin McDonald on the back of signing a new contract after saying he wasn’t happy with his contract and rumoured to have move Fulham blocked by club. It was also the first game back for club captain Danny Batth which made a massive difference as there was a leader on the pitch which was missing before that.
Then on the following Monday Wolves fans came home from work, college and school to see that owner Steve Morgan had put the club up for sale after eight years at the helm. He brought the club from recently deceased club legend Sir Jack Hayward for £10 million with the promise he’d invest £30 million into the club. In Steve’s time we’d seen our promotion to the Premiership were we spent three seasons before crashing disastrously into League 1 which left unsavoury scenes on the final home game with fans invading the pitch calling for him to leave there, but he stayed and saw us get back to Championship and go close to consecutive promotions last season. this was great news for most fans who’d never
liked him as it known that he’d had already tried to buy his boyhood club Liverpool and some fans thought he used Wolves as second option and to make money.
This as expected overshadowed the game at Fulham but seemingly spurred players on to finally to start playing the football fans had come a custom to last season with a easy 3-0 win with Adam Le Fondre, Sheyi Ojo & a James Henry free kick scoring which left fans shocked as Fulham had come off the back of 4-0 win over QPR.
Now for most recent game in which Wolves faced bogey side Huddersfield who they hadn’t beat at home since 1988, but they managed to break the curse with a comfortable 3-0 which flattered Huddersfield as it could have been four or five quite easily with goals coming from Kevin McDonald and a Benik Afobe brace which ended a small goal drought of his. It’s no doubt that Danny Batth and Jack Price being back in the team and Kevin McDonald being back on form has changed Wolves’ fortunes and hopefully (for Wolves fans anyway) to push forward and get back on target towards promotion.