Contrary to popular belief snow is pretty rubbish in my eyes. Yeah it can take a good picture here and there but it eventually ends up causing no end of misery and chaos due to this country’s inability to deal with anything remotely difficult. I don’t fancy pushing cars stuck on the ice. The one thing I absolutely cannot accept when it comes to snow is its interference with football. It had already put paid to my Sunday morning jaunt around Bentley and I was sincerely hoping it wouldn’t have the same impact on my Saturday afternoon indulgence. I personally have answered the call for assistance on snowy days prior to matchdays before and I’d like to give a shout-out to those hardy souls who worked from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon to ensure my safe passage around Home. Which is where we met Sunderland.
Now we can have a little empathy for Sunderland and their fans. They’ve had to endure for a lot longer than us, but parallels can be drawn. We both decided to go Welsh in order to get us out of our rut as well. Although the less said about the Wolves perspective the better. Chris Coleman has a bit of credit in the bank based on his exploits with Gareth Bale FC but then he failed to beat the worst Ireland team in living memory. So how this will go is anybody’s guess.
When I looked at the Sunderland line-up I felt as if I was stuck in some odd Premier League Years time vortex from about 8 years ago. O’Shea, Cattermole, Wilson, Gibson. I half expected us to be lining up with Christophe Berra at the back, Marcus Hahnemann in goal and Segundo Castillo anchoring midfield. Then Ruben Neves recalibrated me with a lovely zing of a volleyed pass to Doherty. I can’t use the words I was thinking of describing some of the touches Neves produced with.
It was immediately obvious that Coleman had decided to match up our formation. What wasn’t so obvious was how deep and how negative Sunderland would be. As frustrating as it was to watch, they are well within their rights to do that. I have begun to accept the apocalyptic nature of football these days and the fact that relegation means job losses. You have to do what you have to do to survive and there’s no shame in doing that. Perhaps we could have taken a leaf out of this book in that dreadful trip to League One. Sunderland set their stall out and it was there for us to overcome that. I actually found it refreshing to see a team take that approach. Has anyone ever shown a Wolves team so much respect?
We’d better get used to it. We came up against a defence so deep they may as well have been sat in the front row of the North Bank, although they weren’t nearly as passive as the actual incumbents of those seats. One thing apparent with 3-4-3 is that when we get matched up it needs a bit of magic to unlock a defence. Barring that we’ve been able to get ahead in games with set piece goals. That obviously brings defences out of their shell but without an early goal Sunderland were able to remain impenetrable. And these aren’t bad players to have defending your goal. O’Shea may not be able to move but he can head things away from a fixed position. Marc Wilson was reared as a defender in the Tony Pulis Academy. It needed more, we needed even more intricacy than normal and definitely more pace in the movement of the ball. Neves was doing his level best but Bennett and Boly saw as much of the ball as anyone. As good as they are on the ball, tempo is not something they dictate. It needs a one-two, a three-four (OH-WAY-OH). I honestly believe Coleman will not turn them into a good side because he’s not a very good manager. But he’ll revel in his point away at the Championship’s finest.
There wasn’t too much to enjoy about the game. It’s difficult coming up against a defence so deep they’re submerged in their own crapness. As a result Leo Bonatini was barely visible and when the thread that stitches our attacks together isn’t having an influence then we weren’t going to get much joy. One moment of joy for me was the sight of Lee Cattermole getting sent off. Cattermole is the stubborn excrement on the bottom of the toilet bowl, he’s a prowling traffic warden, he’s a the dunked biscuit breaking and dropping into your tea. I’m still at a loss as to how he’s carved out a career in the top division for so long and he even did his best to throw this away for Sunderland. No thanks to Lewis Grabban either who was possibly the laziest striker I’ve seen at Molineux and I saw Yannick Sagbo.
I see many of us have allowed our frustrations from yesterday to boil over on social media but we need to keep our sense of perspective. 19 points from the last 21 available to us. We head into the Christmas slog proudly perched atop the tree, with Santo Claus (credit to Wolves Fancast) promising gifts in January no doubt. It’s still the most progressive Wolves side we’ve ever had. We’ll just put yesterday down to the cold then shall we?
I’ll leave you with a feature of my matchday ever since I can remember following Wolves. My Grandmother has been in the City since the late 1950s. She’s lived and raised her family in the shadow of Molineux in Whitmore Reans and the legacy of that is the family trip to the Golden Palace every other week. Her limited literacy skills mean she’s never been able to get a great grasp of English – when she does speak it she sounds like she’s from Jamaica – but upon our return from games she always asks what the score is. The extent to which one man is synonymous with the club can be summed up by how she refers to Wolves. Simply as ‘Bully’. We walk through the door to be greeted by her saying in Punjabi ‘How did Bully get on today?’ Win, lose or draw it always brings a bit of a smile to my face.