This was the perfect away performance…from Brighton. Concede possession and territory. Soak up plenty of pressure. Hear your supporters drowned out by oppositions fans and sneak a goal on the break. On the whole this was a very positive display and the majority in attendance would agree that the result didn’t reflect the 90 minutes preceding it. But this is football.
We’ve now played 5 games away from home and we are yet to witness what can be described as a sub-par performance. There was a sense of déjà vu with a few of the away performances we’ve seen. The extremely tranquil home crowd resembled that at Old Trafford, which was extremely disappointing considering it was their record attendance at The Amex. Part of the allure of an away day is the ‘banter’ with the home fans and this has been particularly absent thus far this season. Fans leaving after 80 minutes was also a scene witnessed at The Theatre of Dreams and was a startling sight with Brighton in the lead. Whether they were showing their disdain for a lack of a performance from the home side or they had a make up artist booked for the Halloween festivities is neither here or there. But this will always be a contentious topic, particularly between the Molineux regulars. The performance on the pitch was also interchangeable with that at The King Power Stadium. Rui Patricio had nothing to do but pick the ball out of his net. Plenty of pressure from our boys and the second half was played almost exclusively in the opposition half. But once the home team gained the lead we couldn’t break them down.
For the first time since Nuno took charge I was disappointed with his team selection. I think Adama Traore exhibited why Nuno has been so hesitant to give him any extended time on the pitch. He simply doesn’t comprehend the system we’ve so successfully adopted. This is understandable; he was part of the most basic system last season under Tony Pulis and it will take time to learn. The intricacies of our front three was one of our main strengths last season and when one isn’t pulling his weight it looks very disorganised. I’d be surprised to see him start again before the FA Cup 3rd round. With that being said he did produce our only shot on target in the first half. Nuno did try something different to disorientate the Brighton players. When we held possession for a period of time Jonny would push forward as part of the front three and Traore would move into the wing back position. The ideology was admirable but in reality the long switch to the wing backs we’ve become famous for were never on to Traore and we never isolated anyone on their right side. The switch to Doherty was our most potent strategy in the first half but it became very predictable. Nevertheless the was still a good first half away from home. We restricted them to one corner and there was little room for complaint.
The big difference in the Premier League is the need to stay focussed for the entirety of the game. Two weeks running we’ve witnessed opposition punish us with devastating effect. Last week it took just one minute for the game to be taken away from us and we started slowly in the 2nd half on Saturday. There was no attacking strategy that I could see from Brighton. Their goal came from a blind cross from Glenn Murray that should have been dealt with. Traore should have been goal side of Bruno and they get a bit lucky with his scuffed shot. But that momentary lapse was all it took to lose this game. Brighton gained confidence after the goal and started to play a bit without really threatening. We picked up again as soon as Jota and Cavaleiro entered the game. There was a clear synergy with the front three in the last 30 minutes and we became far more efficient. The last third of the game was like a training session of attack v defence and we all know who came out on top. Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy are the very definition of ‘Giant’. I watched them sandwich Wily Boly on a corner and made him look small! All it would have taken was a little deflection on one of the many opportunities we fashioned and there would be an entirely different outlook on things. Although I’m not a great believer in it, there does seem to have been a lack of ‘good luck’ for us this season bar the goal against Man City. We’re still to get a penalty this season, despite our consistent pressure in games. I’m convinced we will play worse than that and win as we already have this season.
There have been a few dissenting voices after two losses and it still amazes me how Wolves fans have this pathological desire to be on the edge of catastrophe all the time. Perhaps these people are being intentionally provocative but this does raise the point of staying calm. Even if we are to lose our next two games – which is very possible – there would still be no need to panic. Of course most people will argue that we need a goal scorer to remedy our shyness in front of goal but this has only become an issue because our wide forwards aren’t contributing as they did last season. Of the 82 league goals we scored last season. Only 18 were scored by what would be considered our traditional centre forwards (Bonatini and Afobe). For what it’s worth I think Jimenez is a perfect fit for our system but his performances have dipped in the last two games. Once the wide forwards gain a bit of form things will be rosy once again.
So we should be looking forward. I feel our players have the capabilities to get results in our next two games and for the first time in a while we will be the underdog. The reduced pressure of a result will hopefully work in our favour and Molineux should be rocking with our first Premier League game under the floodlights for years. Nuno will be working furiously behind the scenes and I’m confident he will find the solutions.