Rockin’ The Robins

Well it’s been a while since we’ve been here. Despite the fact we were still a distance ahead of the chasing pack, this 1st vs 2nd clash had a big-game feel. It felt like a game of definition. Victory or even a draw would cement our position as the playground bully, but a loss would have left us with a bloody nose and perhaps a slightly bruised ego. Lee Johnson certainly billed it as such, claiming he needed to do the entire league a favour by beating us – way to put us on a pedestal, Lee.

There was a bigger picture here of course. City were clearly trying to drag us down to their level with the pre-match talk but the fact remained a point would be a perfectly good result in this game, quietly shushing this noisy bunch in second place and concentrating on marching towards the title for the remainder of the campaign. As things unfolded, a point began to look like a very good result…

How do you solve a problem like Danny Batth? Nuno’s inclusion of out club captain was with the best of intentions, for we had walked into the land of the Giants, a Tony Pulis tribute act, and Danny’s blood and thunder was required to combat this. Except he got a bit too bloody and thundery. Leadership – what is it? The challenge that lead to Danny being sent off smacked of a man trying to stamp his authority on the match, a man who wanted to remind everyone what he was about and to regain his place in the team. It backfired spectacularly, although I still think it was a harsh sending off. Given that it was the first challenge of any kind in the match it was clear that this was the referee trying to stamp his own authority on the game. When you put Batth’s tackle up against Marc Roberts’ challenge on Diogo Jota, it pales in comparison. Incidentally we looked more comfortable with 10 men than we did with 11, and Bristol City looked bereft of any clues on how to unlock our defence. The move to implement Big Aden Flint as a striker smacked of desperation and a ‘ruffling of feathers’ approach that comes from a place of insecurity. Bristol City didn’t believe they could break us down, despite their man advantage. The second place shoes are a little uncomfortable on them and they’re clearly only being hired from the shop. Funnily enough their goal was a good move, but Barry Douglas’ involvement in it had me cursing him. Not for long.I’ve spoken a number of times about the importance of set pieces to our success so far this season. We’ve actually defended them excellently for the most part but the importance of Douglas’ left foot cannot be underestimated. I remember seeing Mark Kennedy stand over free kicks and corners, just waiting for them to hit the first man. Now we have genuine anticipation around dead ball opportunities and it’s winning us games. Douglas and Doherty as wing backs complement each other brilliantly and while Douglas contributions were welcome, Doherty’s incision turned the game in our favour. 10 versus 10 was no contest at all.There were two other key performers individually: Ivan Cavaleiro and Romain Saiss. I’ve spoken previously about Cavaleiro and his ability to combine with his teammates and it was this approach which helped Wolves in an attacking sense. Whereas Costa played the way he felt: isolated, helpless and laboured, Cavaleiro set about his business of lubricating our possession of the ball, adding fluency and excellent movement. He seemed to have the ball twice as much as Costa in half the time. What he needed was a little help from midfield and this came in the shape of Romain Saiss, my man of the match. It takes a very good player to adapt his game to the situation he faces. His usual discipline and doggedness was required for the first hour of the game, but once the teams were equally numbered he became a man possessed, popping up beyond the furthest forward player to almost score and cause havoc, resulting in him winning the free kick that lead to the winner. My favourite moment from his performance was the disdain with which he treated Marlon Pack once he’d won the free kick, sweeping his legs from underneath him. I’ve referred to Saiss as Neves’ bodyguard and when the team needs to muck in and make challenges, he’s usually at the forefront of it all. He remarkably resembles a top class footballer and someone who joined the professional game late all at once and I wouldn’t swap him for anyone.That just leaves the circumstances of the victory to be addressed. Wow. One thing that has been missing from the season so far has been a euphoric victory. There was the late, last gasp win versus Barnsley and the epic 120 minutes versus Man City, but one ended in defeat and the other just felt like we shouldn’t have been in a position to drop points anyway. Everything seemed to be set up against us this time though. City were coming in off the back of beating Man United recently, they had whipped up their support to a frenzy, the referee decided he needed to handicap us and send our manager off and still we prevailed. There’s a famous line from The Shawshank Redemption which feels apt. I may be exaggerating a little, but it goes like this:Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.That was Wolves last night. Lesser teams would have wilted. Witness the way City fell apart after Frank Fielding was sent his marching orders. We went into battle without our Lieutenant and Captain. And we still possessed the wherewithal, the spirit, the absolute sense of belonging that only Champions can call upon. Let me tell you, it was ‘Limbs All Over The Living Room’ when the winning goal was scored. I didn’t even realise it was Ryan Bennett for about 5 minutes. My brother complained of a headache he’d celebrated so hard. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like in the away end, but I have memories of winning 3-2 away at Derby the last time we won the league which may resemble these feelings. This result will echo throughout memories of this campaign. You cannot bring us down no matter how you try. These moments are worth the last 3 seasons of crap we’ve been served. This is worth 10 times an existence of supporting a successful team from a 100 miles away from the comfort of your armchair. This is why we do it. Champions, simply Champions.Gully

2 thoughts on “Rockin’ The Robins

  1. First HAPPY NEW YEAR As always Gully your writing is brilliant, I hope you do decide to post on You Tube as well ( I realise time will be an issue ).
    I have been pinching myself regularly this season thinking I am in a wonderful dream.
    The Bristol game was the proverbial six pointer, from looking like the lead would be 5 points over Bristol to 11 points in the dying seconds.This game had it all sending off’s and loads of Drama ( I wonder if this defeat will shatter Bristol City’s promotion challenge ? ) Wolves should be indebted to Lee Johnson for his remarks, they backfired on him and the rest of the league now have Bristol and second place in their sights.
    All joking apart, teams have tried to bully, kick and managers even tried mind games and this Wolves team under Nuno find answers.

    I believe that teams coming to Molineux for the remainder of the season will come to park the bus and frustrate and try for a point, this is where Wolves will rely on set pieces for openings.

    So the Transfer Window has opened three loan signings sure to become permanent ( Jota, Boly and Bonatini ) and I believe maybe 2 loan signings to come in…..Wonder what rabbit’s Nuno, Fosun and Uncle Mendes pull out the hat.

    Does Nuno have a split personality ? in interviews he is very soft spoken very calm….The passion showed in the Directors Box at Ashton Gate….WOW loved it but I hope it does not backfire on him with the FA hearings on his sending off.

    I believe 34 points from the remaining 21 games ( 92 points in total 2 point per game average ) will be enough for promotion….Finally February 16 will be the Chinese New Year…..The Year Of the Dog….

    Liked by 2 people

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