A thick golden/orange cloud shrouded the coach. It was cinematic. It’s a rare thing to feel like you are witnessing history in the making. Most of the time you only realise in the fullness of time the significance of an event, but this felt like a day that will go down in Wolves legend.
It certainly wasn’t due to the match. We’ve become accustomed to routine victory during this run-in but our form since we played Aston Villa is nothing short of astonishing, considering the pressure we were apparently under. That’s now 5 clean sheets in a row, with four wins and a draw. At the business end of the season, that’s seriously commendable especially having been perched at the top of the league for such a long time.
I actually thought Sheffield Wednesday were decent value for a point. While they hardly threatened our goal (let’s face it though, who does?) they were tidy and economical in possession and kept the ball away from us enough for us not to create a glut of chances.
We were still quite threatening when we did turnover possession, as you would expect with the front three that we fielded. Afobe, Jota and Costa all got themselves into decent positions, but either failed to apply the right finish, hesitated to shoot or couldn’t find the right execution of pass. Ruben Neves also found the ideal opportunity to give his worst performance of the season, with very little going right for him. Nuno is clearly trying to give Leo Bonatini every chance to re-prove himself to the fans, but he seems to operate further away from goal with every appearance.
It was all inconsequential of course, aside from trying to break the club’s official highest points tally over a season. That will remain with Kenny Jackett and I guess there’s something quite right about Kenny retaining a place in the club’s history. He is the man who dragged us up from our bootstraps, dusted us down and made us all feel a little bit prettier and more loved again. Without his work, Fosun likely wouldn’t have batted an eyelid our way and we’d never have witnessed the advent of this genuinely great Wolves side.
And so thoughts turn to the future. The next time we’re back in full league season mode at Molineux, it will be for a Premier League fixture. The spotlight will be on us. It has been for a while now, for all the wrong reasons, but the scrutiny will only be magnified amongst the glitz and the glamour of the Premier League. They will find us at Molineux, in our droves. As much as the pre-match activity was to welcome the players and offer up our thanks to them it felt like the beginning of a journey. Our starting point is Molineux, our destination? Anfield, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and beyond.
When Punjabis get married, the groom’s family depart their home and arrive at the wedding as a wall of noise and colour. It’s an announcement of their arrival and a statement to the bride’s family that they are here for a good time. While we won’t be as welcome, there were shades of that at Molineux on Saturday lunchtime. Here we stand, together, ready to take on the world with a Spartan attitude. We’ll have to bash the doors down. They won’t be looking forward to seeing us there, at the top table, amongst the elite. Our table etiquette isn’t quite up to scratch and we tuck our napkins into our collars so as to minimise the damage. No doubt there will be questions about our presence. We’ve already had some try to knock us out of our stride, but this train isn’t for stopping.
Seeing the players finally cut loose and really soak in what they have achieved was a joy to behold, but it seems as if it’s been soured by the apparent lack of interaction with the fans. Many have taken to social media to voice their concerns and the club have clearly felt strongly enough about it to issue an apology. I have a concern about the fanbase and the way it is going. I feel we’re starting to suffer from what I like to call ‘Liverpoolism’. Anything anti-Wolves is hounded like a rabid pack of, well, Wolves. If we do anything remotely positive we feel the need to shove it right in people’s faces. There’s a narcissistic side to it as well, most evident in the reaction to the lifting of the trophy and subsequent on-pitch celebrations. To this I say: let the football do the talking. The media will do as the media does. It’s not for changing. They will forever have their elite team bias and call into question anything that threatens the order of things. Our team is of the requisite quality to earn justifiable praise and they will do so in spades when people see this for themselves.
I would also err on the side of caution when questioning the manner of the players’ celebrations on Saturday. Football is a short career and the likes of Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves have gambled massively on our club. They have given us more than we can give them for the next few seasons. We have had the privilege of a 46-game season with a Premier League quality team. To then call them out on not doing a full lap of honour on the final home game seems rather unreasonable. I understand that we’re a passionate fanbase and we are the lifeblood of this football club, but to then insist on the thanks of the players who have poured their blood, sweat and tears into this campaign is akin to asking your child to say thank you for bringing them up. This is our football club. Come rain or shine, we will be there for it. The players won’t. So be grateful for the great ones when they’re here. And if you honestly believe that the support of the team is absolutely intrinsically linked to the performances on the field, then accept your part in our demise over recent years as well as your part in our success.
Managers, players will come and go. Be thankful for the memories these ones have provided us. A Golden Hue descends on the Premier League…we’re back.