MATCH PREVIEW: BLACKBURN ROVERS VS WOLVES

Rob Edwards in temporary charge for visit to strugglers

Preamble

The post-Walter Zenga era begins at Ewood Park; reaction to his time in charge and departure is here and while most of us were well disposed towards the man, it’s time to move on and look to pull us out of the run which ultimately cost him his job. Under any circumstances this would be viewed as a clear target for three points given the travails of the home team; in our current situation of having picked up one point from the last five games and tumbling down the table, already seven points off the top six, we’re almost entering the territory of a must win game. The likes of Aston Villa and Cardiff have recently reaped the benefits of a managerial change – both similarly ditching someone only appointed in the summer – and we must hope that we can do similar. Getting into positions where you’re looking at a 10+ point deficit to the playoff spots and trying to convince yourself that ‘if we can put a run together, we can still make it’ is much more often than not a forlorn hope.

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Of course some idiots pledge to push for the playoffs and end up relegating a team. But I digress.

The team

To date, Rob Edwards has only taken charge of the U18 team at Wolves so it’s difficult to pick up many clues how he may set Saturday’s team up. Having progressed quickly through the club structure to be involved at first team level less than two years after starting his coaching career, he is clearly highly thought of at Molineux and will doubtless have his own ideas on how to get the best out of this set of players. With this in mind, he may well depart from the default 4-1-2-3 shape favoured by Zenga, especially with us struggling of late to find goals. It would seem an ideal opportunity to revert to the 4-2-3-1 setup often seen when we were playing some of our best football under Kenny Jackett and in turn to see what Joao Teixeira can do as a genuine number 10; this appears to my eyes at least to be the position best suited to his skills as he can be marginalised when playing in a nominally wider role, while previous attempts to include him as a central midfielder have fallen flat.

Having kept only one clean sheet in our last eleven league games, personnel changes are also possible at the back. Unfortunate own goal aside, Silvio had an accomplished game against Leeds and should have done enough to retain his spot at right back. On the other side it is surely time for Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to make a return to the team after being oddly absent since the last international break while Dominic Iorfa may be in contention for a recall after Kortney Hause had an uneven display last Saturday, although personally I would give the latter another game in the hope that he replicates the display at Villa Park on his return to the team (that probably being the best individual performance from any of our centre halves this season).

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Good Kortney on Saturday please, not Bad Kortney.

Joe Mason will be unavailable for the next month due to a hernia problem and Lee Evans is unlikely to be considered having yet to play any reserve team football since his return to training.

Carl Ikeme

Silvio – Danny Batth – Kortney Hause – Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Dave Edwards – Romain Saiss

Helder Costa – Joao Teixeira – Ivan Cavaleiro

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson

Subs: Andy Lonergan, Dominic Iorfa, Richard Stearman, Conor Coady, Jack Price, Prince Oniangue, Nouha Dicko.

The opposition

While we try to find a new manager and sift through the inevitable raft of terrible, terrible candidates – and apropos of nothing I’d like to thank Paul Ince in particular for his application at this stage, don’t call us, we’ll call you – imagine if we appointed someone who’d relegated a local rival and left another after gross underperfomance in a six month spell. Who has since managed in the USA to absolutely no distinction. For that is the position that Blackburn fans found themselves in this summer.

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And they’ve had the misfortune to suffer him in the past as well.

Owen Coyle made a bright start to his managerial career, getting Burnley promoted in 2009 (albeit through vastly inflating the wage bill and running up huge financial losses in the process) and impressing sufficiently in the Premier League to attract the attention of Bolton. He initially prospered in Horwich but a disastrous 5-0 capitulation at the hands of Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2011 was the catalyst for a nosedive in fortunes from which Coyle’s career has never recovered. Bolton lost the final five league fixtures of the 2010/11 season and began the following campaign in similarly appalling form, with the first 16 games producing the astonishingly poor return of two wins and 14 defeats. Coyle lasted the full season as Bolton were relegated along with Wolves and he was sacked in October 2012 after further poor results. After thankfully for us missing out on the Wolves job in the summer of 2013 – whatever Express & Star polls tell you, he unequivocally was not the ‘fans favourite’ – his subsequent spell at much fancied Wigan was cut short after just 23 games as the expected promotion challenge failed to materialise (successor Uwe Rösler later taking the Latics into the playoffs). This chequered history, along with tales of lax training methods, an insistence on playing himself in training drills and an evangelical self-belief at odds with his actual results served to make Coyle an extremely unpopular appointment. An appointment sadly in keeping with the Venkys track record since they bought the club in December 2010, an ongoing situation that is better summed up than I can do justice in this excellent piece.

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If I ever publish an illustrated dictionary, expect this picture to appear alongside ‘chancer’.

Coyle failed to win any of his first six league games for Blackburn and while they have since managed to pick up victories against fellow strugglers Rotherham, Nottingham Forest and Derby, they will begin Saturday’s fixture in the bottom three. Rovers have failed to score in four of their last five games and have kept just one clean sheet all season, that coming against shot shy Ipswich. Of late Coyle has preferred a fairly basic 4-4-2 shape spearheaded by loanees Marvin Emnes and Sam Gallagher, with Craig Conway and Ben Marshall providing the width. Former Wolves man Charlie Mulgrew made the move to Ewood Park in the summer and despite fitness concerns, may be in line to start at left back in the absence of Derrick Williams. Ex-Wolves loan man Danny Graham is unlikely to be fit , but the ever frustrating Anthony Stokes may be in line to play some part after a recent absence.

Last line-up (vs Bristol City, 22.10.16, L 0-1): Steele; Lowe, Lenihan, Hoban, Williams; Marshall, Guthrie, Evans, Conway; Emnes, Gallagher

Form: WLLDWL

Top scorers: Sam Gallagher (5), Marvin Emnes (3)

Top assists: Craig Conway (3), Marvin Emnes (3), Corry Evans (3)

Last meeting

Saturday 9 April 2016: Wolves 0-0 Blackburn

Sigh. Another 0-0 to recount. We’d drawn 0-0 against Ipswich the previous week at Molineux and had taken 72 minutes to record our first shot on target. We proceeded to take 77 minutes on this occasion to test Jason Steele. On this occasion we were fortunate to escape with the stalemate as we relied on Carl Ikeme to keep us in the game with a couple of excellent late stops. Once again though, this was tepid stuff with little of value to recount, though for once Kenny Jackett did actually use all three substitutes and gave youngsters in the form of Conor Hunte and Bright Enobakhare a run out. Our chosen midfield four for this game were an illustration of just how ponderous our overall play was during these drab months.

Team: Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty; Henry, Coady, Price, Saville (Hunte 58); Mason (Enobakhare 58); Le Fondre (Sigurdarson 74). Unused subs: Martinez, Deslandes, Helan, Edwards.

Past meetings

2015/16: D 0-0 (H), W 2-1 (A)

2014/15: W 3-1 (H), W 1-0 (A)

2012/13: D 1-1 (H), W 1-0 (A)

2011/12: L 0-2 (H), W 2-1 (A)

2010/11: L 2-3 (H), L 0-3 (A)

2009/10: D 1-1 (H), L 1-3 (A)

2003/4: D 2-2 (H), L 1-5 (A)

2000/1: D 0-0 (H), L 0-1 (A)

1999/0: W 2-1 (H), D 1-1 (A)

Prediction

Blackburn 0-1 Wolves (Costa)

Ewood Park has been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years and I’ll back us to win this one, hoping that Rob Edwards can provide a little more clarity to the players after a head spinning final few weeks under Zenga.

ARRIVEDERCI, WALTER

Head Coach departs after 87 days in charge

There’s very little that’s ‘normal’ about Walter Zenga, even in the context of the often absurd world of football. His CV is varied to the point of being borderline outlandish, his demeanour and persona are a world away from his straitened predecessor at Molineux. It was an unconventional appointment to start with and the reign has been cut short after less than three months, all of which it has to be says, is in keeping with his managerial career over nearly two decades. Given that so many of the articles I have written so far have centred around him in some way (understandably), it’s only right that I try to round up his time in charge.

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We won’t dwell on the fact that he was yet another manager put under the Dave Edwards spell. Derren Brown has nothing on those mind tricks.

What went right?

As any cursory examination of the “last meeting” section of the previews on this blog will reveal, last season was one of absolute purgatory for Wolves fans. Entertainment values were completely absent and we showed no signs towards the end of the campaign of being anywhere near a coherent attacking plan. Zenga did, at least to start with, take steps to greatly increase our goal threat. His tactics were fairly basic, but revolved around pressing high up the park with an emphasis on breaking quickly and in numbers when we won the ball. This was demonstrated perfectly in the second half of the 3-1 win at St Andrews where we looked an extremely well drilled outfit, completely taking apart a team who have since lost just two further league games. The return of eight points from our opening four games was very encouraging and further impressive victories against Newcastle and Brentford further showcased the potential in our squad.

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We’ll always have this day.

Again in a contrast to the dying embers of the Kenny Jackett era, Zenga showed a willingness to make changes early and decisively when required, both in terms of personnel and formation. Another positive which brought the fans onto his side – despite the many and varied concerns regarding his installation – was his personality; no-one could doubt his desire to bring success to the club and there was a freshness and openness to his dealings with the media, which had long since been absent while Jackett remained firmly on the defensive and guarded in his troubled final season. His interviews were always engaging, especially when considering they were conducted in a language where he had by his own admission, little formal grounding.

What went wrong?

At the risk of stating the obvious, Walter has paid with his job for the current poor league position. 18th place with this set of players and the investment made in the summer is completely unacceptable. There are a number of issues which will have contributed to the board ultimately deciding that it was time to cut his time short:

  • We frequently started games extremely poorly. In seven of our fourteen league games, we conceded before the 25th minute and Burton also missed a penalty in that timeframe in their game at Molineux. Regularly having to chase a game is no recipe for long term success in the Championship and we seemed to make no steps in improving these sluggish starts as we moved into autumn.

  • In the early part of the season, there were far too many personnel changes from week to week. The opening seven games saw constant changes to the back four and midfield which meant that partnerships were not allowed to develop and there was a continuing uncertainty as to who would be in the starting line up. Even though this lessened to an extent after the victory at Newcastle, there were still sufficient alterations to mean that the tag of tinkering never went away (Dominic Iorfa for instance has been regularly shunted between right back and centre half, which cannot be healthy for his long term development). There is mitigation in this aspect as Zenga was denied a pre-season to get to know his players and was in charge of a squad subject to major change as the transfer window came to a close, but nevertheless a good portion of the changes seemed unnecessary and counter-intuitive.

    tinkerman1
    Yep, that’s a new leader in my own ‘obscure image’ stakes.
  • Tactically, Zenga increasingly seemed lacking. We started every game bar last weekend’s fixture against Leeds in a 4-1-2-3 shape, which is perfectly acceptable and reasonably standard in modern football, but instruction in certain areas seemed either lacking or flawed. The two advanced central midfielders never seemed to have any particular brief; they weren’t asked to help us control possession, they weren’t asked to push wide at any point, there seemed little by way of instruction in telling them to support the front three and as a result anyone selected in that area was more often than not ineffectual. This lack of clarity has certainly contributed to the limited impact of Prince Oniangue since his arrival from Reims. Elsewhere, the front three largely remained narrow, which is fine in of itself, but the full backs were seemingly told to stay back and refrain from overlapping. This caused us to have very few options out wide when in possession, the central areas becoming more congested and us struggling for chance creation as time went on. Furthermore, if you are going to start Matt Doherty in every single league game (as Zenga did), you should know that his strength is very much as an attacking full back, asking him to concentrate purely on defensive duties will inevitably lead to disasters such as his display on Saturday. It’s also very much a black mark against Zenga that he could find no place in his regular starting line up for either of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson or Ivan Cavaleiro, both of whom are surely better options than anything that has been preferred to them in the last few weeks.

    cav1
    At this stage, we can’t be spending £7m on a player and not using him.
  • In large part due to the structural shortcomings detailed above, our goal output has begun to decline alarmingly. In our last eight league games we have scored eight goals; this includes a penalty, an own goal, a free kick from out wide which went straight in and a breakaway in injury time against Brentford when we were left with a three-on-one situation as they chased an equaliser. As we did not strengthen our back four to a sufficient degree in the summer – not a charge that can be levelled at Zenga himself as recruitment was almost entirely out of his hands – we can not afford to be struggling so much for goals and creativity at the other end.

Was Zenga unlucky?

Although “luck” is a nebulous concept in sport, there is certainly an argument to be made that Zenga didn’t enjoy the greatest fortune in his time here, albeit one balanced out by the fact that he was fortunate to get the job in the first place given his background and historical performance. Firstly, any manager will argue that 14 games is insufficient to demonstrate their competence either way, and in Zenga’s case this is amplified by having next to no preparation time with the squad, inheriting a group of players who were fit for nothing more than a bottom half grind at best, having a rapid influx of players and being completely new to English football and the demands of a 46 game league season.

There were also instances within his 14 game tenure where the result could on another day have turned in our favour; Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s missed penalty against Ipswich, a wonder save from Danny Ward which preserved Huddersfield’s victory, a Burton equaliser deep into injury time (and following on from which, we really should have scored a further last gasp goal of our own), a dominant second half at Villa Park where we did everything but score and were victims of some incredibly poor refereeing. Small moments could have led to our league position being greatly improved from its current state.

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For your attention, Mr David Coote, if that is your real name.

The recent poor run has been characterised by individual errors and one could argue that there is little that Zenga, or any manager, can do about them. Danny Batth made a clear, basic mistake in both the Wigan and Norwich games which led directly to a goal. Carl Ikeme’s attempt at saving Brighton’s goal was comically poor. Matt Doherty’s efforts for Leeds’ goal last Saturday wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Wolverhampton Sunday League while the otherwise impressive Helder Costa should surely have buried his late chance in the same game to salvage a point. So while Zenga had faults of his own and undoubtedly his failings have been a major factor in the unsatisfactory overall progress in the opening third of this season, he rarely had the rub of the green which could easily have gone in his favour.

Was the timing right?

For all that sacking managers after such a short time in charge will inevitably attract labels of ‘panicking’ and ‘crazy ownership’, in this instance I feel Fosun have got it right. The decision has been made after a run of one point in five games which is clearly untenable. There have been few signs over the last month of sufficient improvement as results have remained poor and as detailed earlier, our attacking threat has dwindled. If Zenga knew he was under pressure going into the Leeds game – as we have to assume would be the case – then the response he provided was nothing like good enough. After conceding we degenerated into a disorganised mess, with the substitutions made only serving to give us no shape or coherence whatsoever. While many were keen to see Nouha Dicko and Bodvarsson partnered, they were set up with the Icelandic frontman positioned in a slightly deeper role in which he appeared to be highly uncomfortable and there appeared to have been little work done on the training ground to make this shift in formation work. The issues with the team remained unfixed and we were becoming an increasingly easy team to play against.

Going right back to the days of Graham Turner, there is a case for saying that every single manager employed by Wolves over the last 30 years has ultimately been given too much time, as whichever board was in situ at the time dithered and allowed a desperate situation to fester (in Turner’s case, he was probably here for at least two years too long). In all these cases, this has resulted in at least one season being deeply and irreversibly compromised; Fosun have acted quickly here to ensure that all is not lost for 2016/17.

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There are some idiots you could easily have sacked after two games.

The current position is poor and we urgently need results to propel us back up the table, but with so many games left to play there is still definite scope for the right man to at least have us challenging for the top six this season. Hanging on to Zenga for another month or two, presumably out of blind faith or trying not to be seen as trigger happy, would only have served to condemn us to another year of promotion hopes being written off pre-Christmas. It must be reiterated – Fosun have not bought Wolves to muddle around the middle reaches of the Championship for years on end. Promotion is the immediate aim and one which they want to be achieved in the shortest possible amount of time. Wasting seasons is not on the agenda at all.

To conclude

Walter Zenga will not be considered a hate figure amongst Wolves fans as the likes of Dean Saunders and Glenn Hoddle are. He genuinely did care about the club, he stepped in at a point where our first choice of managerial candidate in Julen Lopetegui had left us desperately scrambling for an answer on the eve of the season and picked up an early return of points that Kenny Jackett would surely have failed to match. He was open with the fans and he showed small glimpses that there could have been something to work with, perhaps under different circumstances. Ultimately though, this wasn’t enough. After the last few weeks we all knew it wasn’t going to work out in the end, there was just too much that was going wrong and nothing like enough evidence in any sense that he was able to fix it. Ti saluto, Walter – I’d have liked it to have worked out, but it was always on the cards that it would end this way sooner rather than later.

MATCH PREVIEW: WOLVES VS LEEDS UNITED

Pressure on Zenga after four winless games

Preamble

It’s been a while since I wrote anything for the site (a variety of reasons, not worth going into now, everything’s broadly speaking fine, etc) and during that hiatus we haven’t won any of the games I’ve neglected. So it seems as good a time as any to start again. Make no mistake, Walter Zenga is under pressure now; although no-one wants us to enter a cycle of hiring and firing managers after a third of a season, picking up eight points from nine games and sitting in 16th place is not the kind of return that Fosun will deem acceptable for any length of time. We now enter a run of fixtures that should, theoretically, provide the opportunity to reverse that recent trend and make a concerted push for the top six between now and Christmas. Should we fail to be making sufficient progress in that respect, it would become increasingly likely that the Italian would be spending Christmas in Dubai rather than Dunstall.

zenga8
I’m sure it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

At this stage it would be fair to say that he largely retains the support of the fans, his engaging personality and immediate affinity to the club and supporters is a positive trait. We have, at times, looked like a very good team at this level, no less so than in last Saturday’s game at Villa Park; sadly, this only resulted in a solitary point being taken away and at some point all of the promising signs have to manifest themselves into a concerted run of promotion challenging form. Running at well under a point-and-a-half a game won’t do. Not putting away four of the current bottom seven in the division (three draws and a defeat) won’t do. Being closer to the relegation zone than the final playoff berth won’t do. It’s a harsh reality but the new owners are here for success, they have little to no interest in having us bounce around the middle regions of the Championship for very long and while we might not be looking for an appointment in the Steve Bruce mold (significantly less lumpy than six months ago, it must be said – maybe toning himself up for an appearance at the Booker Awards), there would be an abundance of coaches accustomed to working in the continental model who would be more than willing to work with this current squad. He has to start getting results and it has to start now. There cannot be any more excuses. The squad has been in place for a number of weeks, we are not hampered by injuries to any significant degree, all of the first team players should be physically fit and ready to play Championship football, we should be nailing down a footballing identity and given the quality and options available, anything other than a serious playoff challenge would be fundamentally unacceptable. So none of this is a call for him to go at this stage, but a reiteration that Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2016 and beyond cannot and will not tolerate mediocrity. The landscape has changed and results have to start reflecting that.

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Ok Walt, I’ve stopped lecturing you now.

The team

Thus far, Zenga has shown no inclination to divert from his starting shape of 4-1-2-3. This would seem to preclude the prospect of playing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Nouha Dicko in a genuine strike partnership, as appetising as many would find that. At this stage, it would seem futile to set up any mooted team in any formation other than that we’ve deployed in every single game this season, although it could well be that particularly at home, this is one last chance for us to set up this way. We are slightly lacking in goals at Molineux – three of our seven scored so far came in one game against Brentford – and it’s debatable how long we can persist with tactics that seem ostensibly balanced but are yet to provide much in the way of tangible, reliable results or prolonged attacking threat.

One experiment that should be at an end is the deployment of Prince Oniangue on the left of the front three; he has tried manfully in that role in each of the last two games but simply isn’t equipped to play out there, and it seems entirely perverse that we would persist with playing him wildly out of position when we have our club record signing, a specialist in that position, sat on the bench. When played centrally, Oniangue has frequently struggled to impose himself on games, perhaps hamstrung by instructions to the central midfielders that seem confused at times – while the holding player (Romain Saiss since he attained fitness) has a clear brief, the two midfielders ahead of him don’t seem to be told to retain possession, push forward or provide additional defensive protection, they appear to be left to their own devices with perhaps understandably confused results. We had some joy in the home game against Norwich when Conor Coady was brought on for Oniangue and sat alongside Saiss, allowing Dave Edwards to push forwards and provide a genuine goal threat. While Edwards is no long term option whatsoever, if we give him the clear instruction to play as an attacking midfielder, he is perhaps at this stage more equipped to make an impact on games than the Congolese newcomer. He has certainly improved his pressing in high areas, no longer aimlessly charging around between centre halves and defensive midfielder, but actually winning the ball and putting us immediately on the attack in the final third.

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Dave clearly delighted that I’ve said something positive about him for about the third time since 2008.

The full back positions are the other area where a rethink is perhaps required. While Matt Doherty has improved immeasurably since around February of this year, playing him at left back limits us greatly in an attacking sense as there is rarely any prospect of him overlapping in any meaningful way. On the other side, Dominic Iorfa has endured two difficult games in a row and could benefit from a break from the starting line up. It seems odd that after largely accomplished outings, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has been missing from the matchday squad since the international break and at some point it would be good to see what Silvio – a full Portuguese international as recently as 2013, lest we forget – can do at this level with his undoubted quality.

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Plus it’s been a long time since we’ve had a bona fide housewives’ favourite in the team.

Carl Ikeme

Silvio – Danny Batth – Kortney Hause – Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Romain Saiss

Conor Coady – Dave Edwards

Helder Costa – Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – Ivan Cavaleiro

Subs: Andy Lonergan, Matt Doherty, Dominic Iorfa, Jack Price, Joao Teixeira, Prince Oniangue, Nouha Dicko.

The opposition

6, 6, 33, 12 and 38: thus reads the number of competitive games that each permanent manager has lasted at Elland Road since Massimo Cellino took over in 2014. As such, at 16 games, Garry Monk is potentially close to outstaying his welcome. The former Swansea man should fare a little better than his predecessors with a fairly healthy reputation within the game and after a poor start of four points from his opening six league games, has steadied the ship and has Leeds sat a point and two places above Wolves at this stage.

Massimo Cellino
A contender for King of the cretinous football owners. Even allowing for the strong competition.

In what has become familiar territory for (relatively) long suffering Leeds fans in recent years, Academy products Sam Byram and Lewis Cook have this year joined the long list of talented youngsters to leave the club. It will have been less of a concern for those fans that relics of Cellino’s doomed policy to snap up Serie B also-rans in Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci and Tommaso Bianchi were also amongst the list of summer departures. In their stead (amongst others) have come long-standing purveyor of diabolical kicking Rob Green, former Swansea and Valencia playmaker Pablo Hernandez, Bristol City defender Luke Ayling and the impressive Swedish centre half Pontus Jansson.

Monk has his team set up in a predominantly 4-2-3-1 shape with former West Brom and long-term Kenny Jackett target Chris Wood leading the attack. The New Zealander has started the season in solid form with six goals from his 12 league starts so far. Another ex-Swansea man, Kyle Bartley partners Jansson at the heart of the defence while the exciting Kemar Roofe, so impressive for Oxford in League Two last season, was handed his first start since August in the midweek draw at home to Wigan. The highly rated Alex Mowatt has struggled to make an impact so far this season but has the capability to score and create from midfield, as showcased with his long range effort at Molineux in the 4-3 thriller in April 2015.

Last line up (vs Wigan, 18.10.16, D 1-1): Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor; Phillips, O’Kane; Roofe, Hernandez, Sacko; Wood

Form: WWLWLD

Top scorers: Chris Wood (6), Kyle Bartley (2), Pablo Hernandez (2)

Top assists: Hadi Sacko (3), Alex Mowatt (2)

Last meeting

Tuesday 19 April 2016: Leeds 2-1 Wolves

This was when most Wolves fans were just willing a tortuous season to end; with nothing to play for and yet no prospect of invention or experimentation from Kenny Jackett, Leeds picked up their first double over Wanderers since 1973/74. Having witnessed Danny Dichio, Iain Dowie and James Scowcroft unleash inexplicable scorching efforts against us in years past, it comes as no surprise these days when another authentically terrible player hammers home the goal of their career and this came to pass when comedy’s Sol Bamba thundered home a 25 yard belter on the hour mark. Toumani Diagouraga doubled the lead inside five minutes and though George Saville pulled a goal back with 13 minutes to go, it was a deserved victory for Steve Evans’ team. A familiar nod here for all regular readers of this section as we once again saw possibly the least threatening front three in Western Europe sent out by Ken. Amazing really that goals were at a premium for a few months.

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Beaten twice in a season by this man. The sheer indignity of it.

Team: Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty; Edwards, Price, Saville; Henry, Sigurdarson (Mason 73), Helan (Le Fondre 55). Unused subs: Martinez, Deslandes, Coady, Hunte, Enobakhare.

Past meetings

2015/16: L 2-3 (H), L 1-2 (A)

2014/15: W 4-3 (H), W 2-1 (A)

2012/13: D 2-2 (H), L 0-1 (A)

2006/7: W 1-0 (H), W 1-0 (A)

2005/6: W 1-0 (H), L 0-2 (A)

2004/5: D 0-0 (H), D 1-1 (A)

2003/4: W 3-1 (H), L 1-4 (A)

1997/8: W 1-0 (A, FAC)

Prediction

Wolves 2-1 Leeds (Costa, Cavaleiro)

We need a win and on this occasion I’ll back us to get it. It might not be especially pretty, it almost certainly won’t be particularly comfortable, but we have to make our quality pay in home games such as this and we can use this as the catalyst to start moving up the table.