Well that’s it then isn’t it? Crisis averted. We are nothing if not an emotional bunch, us Wolves fans and despite what people might tell you, this victory was very, very welcome for our hearts, minds and non-grey hairs.
I’m a fully paid-up member of the ‘Keep Calm and Trust In Nuno’ club. We wear our Wolf Gang shirts with pride. We pay homage to the great man on a weekly basis, but even the most ardent of Nuno fan-clubbers would have cast the slightest shadow of doubt over goings-on over the past couple of weeks. Chance creation has reduced, culminating in two defeats. I was never at any point worried, but I’d be lying if I said I never furrowed my brow over what I was watching.
Who better to face up than our old friend Mick McCarthy then? Mick painted up as this pure spoiler of a character, the kind that would whinge about the selection of alcohol available to him at a free bar, the guy from the apartment below constantly knocking the ceiling, telling you to turn the music down. It’s a shame to see him come to this. He’s a man who brought us some thrilling football. As a Champtionship side we were always there or thereabouts and he’ll always be at home on a shoestring. He’s also exactly the kind of man you don’t want to come across when you’re not quite feeling at your best, which Wolves clearly weren’t. Until the Vitamin D kicked in.
If that’s all it takes to get the attacking, creative juices going, I’ll pop down to Holland and Barrett tomorrow and send a squad’s worth of Vitamin D tablets down to Compton. There was a distinct increase in productivity from our now fluid front three, even if it wasn’t reflected in goals. We got the all important one that mattered though, which owed a lot to the changes that Nuno had decided to make.
Whether Alfred N’Diaye’s appearance in the starting line-up was due to Romain Saiss’ injury, or if it was a pre-planned tactical decision, he certainly adds a different dynamic to the midfield. This was demonstrated in the goal. Watching Romain Saiss try and break beyond feels a little like he’s been fitted with a tracking device by the opposition. Either that or his general lack of mobility doesn’t allow for Wolves to take advantage of those kind of runs. N’Diaye’s physical power was too much for any tracking runner, but what impressed was his composure to not take on the shot and appreciate the run of Barry Douglas who crossed to our very own Ivat Doherleiro to nod home. It was an excellent goal, which made a mockery of our lack of incision in recent weeks. It was poignant that the two men so chastised for their performance against Forest combined to score the opener.
The fluid front three clearly worked a treat as well. Good players will make things work and whether any of them can be considered a striker is irrelevant. The way they dovetail is symptomatic of a shared level of understanding – and footballing upbringing. It’s clearly one of the advantages of our Portuguese influx. The outcome was glorious, were it not for Ipswich’s keeper – 16 shots with 10 on target. To see a scoreline of 1-0 with that kind of effective attacking can only be described as ‘football’. It’s that kind of game. Bartosz Bialkowski holds hero-like status at Ipswich and it’s no wonder after this kind of performance.
Whilst Alfred N’Diaye and Romain Saiss didn’t impress in their single opportunity together against Blues, whoever slots in alongside Ruben Neves looks like a world-beater, which is testament to the class of the man. The other key factor in the game was the timing of the goal, something which proves so important in any game. It allowed us to have more freedom on the break and a few players looked to have rediscovered some mojo. Diogo Jota and Leo Bonatini, without scoring, looked decidedly more dangerous.
We can only empathise with the Ipswich fans, whose derisory cheers greeted McCarthy’s belated triple substitution to stem the tide. Fortunately for us, those days are behind us and we can revel in the presence of our decisive, assured manager who once again proved his credentials to any of the naysayers. All is rosy in the garden again, and promotion can only be a matter of weeks away.