PLAYER RATINGS: WOLVES 1-0 YEOVIL TOWN

Five cup wins in 12 months now. Madness…

Will Norris

As you might expect, Norris wasn’t overly tested against opponents who were coming straight off the back of an 8-2 defeat. What he did have to do was impressive; claiming crosses, sweeping up in a proactive fashion, quick distribution and plenty of communication with his defenders. If John Ruddy were to be unavailable for any reason, there should be little concern about playing Norris in a league fixture as he looks an extremely assured figure. Let’s just say he’s a significant step up from our previous biscuit handed, Toblerone-booted back up keeper.

Ryan Bennett

Signing Bennett always seemed a strange move. He’d never really managed to nail down a first team place at Norwich whichever division they were playing in and had rarely looked like a top-end option even in the Championship. His profile is certainly at odds with the majority of players we’ve brought in this season. On this showing, the best you could say is that he’s a bit of an upgrade on Richard Stearman and Ethan Ebanks-Landell. Frankly, he isn’t a particularly good footballer – he managed to control the ball straight out of play once and his range of passing is way below what we require from our defenders in this system – and while there wasn’t too much to concern him defensively in this game, he doesn’t look the quickest on the turn. He also pulled out a Stearman-style dragback which brought back some harrowing flashbacks. When Kortney Hause returns, you’d think he’d be sixth in line for three spots, which probably isn’t what he signed up for. I wouldn’t expect to see too much of him this season barring an injury crisis or some kind of Steve Bruce novel plot where all our other centre halves get kidnapped by Mossad agents for some unclear reason.

Danny Batth

A comfortable enough outing in the middle of the back three, which is surely where he has to play if he is called upon. One pass which was left a little short of Boly led to the usual moans and groans but generally he was fine in possession and dealt with the assorted hoofs forward from Yeovil in competent enough fashion. He’s simply a fairly experienced, steady enough back up option now, the kind that we’re told every squad needs.

Willy Boly

A surprise inclusion but this game won’t have taken too much out of him. Completely in cruise control from start to finish, he could still be playing now without breaking sweat. He’s a far, far better footballer than I envisaged; dealing with a 60 yard hoof forward is one thing. Cushioning it down straight to a team mate is another. Strode forward a couple of times and one crunching challenge in particular sent the message of “don’t come within five yards of me”. Should have scored in the first half – free header, 10 yards out and sent wide – which would have given the game a different complexion.

Jordan Graham

It seems that Graham has attracted criticism in some parts for his performance last night. It’s true that he didn’t often run at his full back in the fashion that we know he can, and at times he appeared to be playing within himself. Some of his set piece delivery was poor and perhaps you’d expect a little more of an impact against a League Two team from such a talented player. But on the flipside; this was his first meaningful 90 minutes for a very, very long time. He’s playing on the opposite side to where he’s accustomed to turning out, in an unfamiliar position (not that anyone who plays at wingback for us at present has to do much defending, but it’s still different from playing as part of a front three which is pretty much exclusively where he’s played for us previously). He sorted out his delivery in the end to provide yet another assist. He still has a way to go to work out his precise role in this team and to feel his way back properly into first team football, but this wasn’t anything like as bad an outing as the early reviews might indicate.

Ruben Vinagre

This was not only Vinagre’s debut for us, but his first ever game at senior level for any club. You can certainly see why we brought him in and view him as a long-term prospect. Much like Barry Douglas, his first touch is impeccable and he has the pace and engine to get up and down the left flank all game. A couple of fine deliveries sadly went unconverted and he looks well enough built to cope with first team football. The one black mark was a momentary loss of concentration which allowed Yeovil in for their one clear chance which, in fairness, really should have been converted. He’s not going to push Douglas immediately, but the more he plays, the better he’ll do. There’s certainly more than enough talent there.

Jack Price

He was Jack Price. Pretty much any of the reviews I’ve ever written of him can apply here. In truth he didn’t have much to do as Yeovil didn’t even attempt to play through midfield and he’s never going to have much of an impact going forward. He’s done well to remain in the reckoning as it seemed inevitable that he was going to leave this summer – all new Wolves managers seem to love him when they first start out – and you can see how he’ll fit into our system if we require him to play. The problem with playing him in this kind of game is that he isn’t going to make any kind of an inestimable case for inclusion. He doesn’t necessarily look any better against Yeovil than he would against Derby.

Dave Edwards

Two outings so far for Dave and on both occasions, his first contribution has been to lamp a “pass” wildly into touch. Nothing like making a good first impression, eh. Nuno showed some decent tactical awareness from the outset here by not merely expecting Dave to play like Ruben Neves – which would be a little like asking Cheryl Cole to sing like Liam Gallagher (or indeed, sing at all ) – instead pushing him further on and with a brief to run beyond the forwards. In terms of movement, he didn’t do too badly. His runs in the first half in particular were definitely dragging the Yeovil defenders out of position and creating space, although he did pointlessly run offside a number of times which really shouldn’t be the case from someone so experienced. The problem, as ever, came when he was expected to do anything with the ball. And there’s little anyone is going to be able to do about that at this point. It’s also why he surely isn’t going to play much of a part this season.

Connor Ronan

Showcased again what a talented player he is. Not everything came off for him last night; he’ll be disappointed that he didn’t make a better fist of a couple of long range shots and while his passing (both short and long) early on was excellent, he did drop off a little in this respect as the game went on. He was understandably eager to impress and perhaps tried to be a bit too ambitious on occasion, but there were enough signs to suggest that he’ll develop into someone we can slot into our midfield in time. As ever, showed strength at times that belies the fact that he looks like he belongs in Grange Hill or whatever the 2010s equivalent is.

Nouha Dicko

We saw on Saturday that he’s going to struggle to make the grade as a central striker simply because of what we require from the occupant of that position in the style which Nuno wants us to play. He was shifted further to the left of the notional front three last night…and again it didn’t really work. Struggled to get into the game and went lengthy spells without touching the ball. Moved into the centre for the final 20 minutes or so and immediately looked more at home. Put a shot narrowly over the bar and then guided home a nice header into the corner from Graham’s corner. The goal itself seemed to perk him up and there was a bit more of the familiar Dicko snap about his game. There are still plenty of question marks over his future, especially when we inevitably add to our attacking resources.

Leo Bonatini

Being so short of football going into the season and out of necessity being immediately thrown into the team, this was a fitness exercise for Leo more than anything. There weren’t many opportunities for him – a header over the bar in the first half was about it – and his contribution was largely limited to a handful of nice layoffs. It’s another 70 minutes under his belt and that’s the most important thing.

Bright Enobakhare

While we controlled the game throughout, what we were perhaps lacking was a bit of a direct threat. Bright definitely gave us that, showing off his mad skillz and it was his run which earned us the corner from which we scored the only goal. Perhaps it is as an impact sub where he might be best employed for the time being.

Diogo Jota

The drizzle was falling, the temperature hovered around 13 degrees…and wouldn’t you know it, Jota was still able to play. Showed some early signs of a good link up with Vinagre in particular and it won’t be long before he gets off the mark for us.

Romain Saiss

Brought on with 10 to go to see out the game and make sure any threat was snuffed out. Which he’s really rather good at.

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PLAYER RATINGS: WOLVES 1-0 MIDDLESBROUGH

Faintly unreal to see us playing like this…

John Ruddy

A top keeper earns you points over a season and Ruddy certainly got himself off the mark in that respect yesterday. Two big saves from Britt Assombalonga and that is what we have been lacking ever since Wayne Hennessey got injured over five years ago; someone between the sticks who will make saves that you don’t expect him to make. Commanding and proactive throughout. I wasn’t totally enthused when we signed him as it seemed he’d been on the wane for a while at Norwich, but perhaps a fresh start elsewhere is what he needed.

Roderick Miranda

Great to have a defender who is that comfortable on the ball. It’s also key that whoever we pick on the outside of the back three is at ease if they get pulled into the channels and Miranda definitely doesn’t lack for mobility. There are still aspects of his game that need work as he adjusts to English football; the booking he eventually picked up was a sham as he pulled out of the tackle, but referees won’t allow you to commit multiple fouls inside the opening half an hour and let you get away with it.

Conor Coady

Continued his encouraging start in the centre of defence, even having time to spray a pinpoint ball out to the wing. Eat your heart out, David Luiz. There is an Achilles heel to his game and that is a ball that’s dropped over his head – whether it’s a case of not being aware of what’s around him or simply lacking ability in the air, who can say. It’s something that needs addressing as we can’t always rely on the keeper bailing us out. Or indeed Coady getting back on the line.

Willy Boly

An absolute man mountain. Someone of that size is always going to look a bit ungainly on the ball, but in possession he’s generally fine rather than being a Mamadou Sakho tribute act. As you would expect, wasn’t troubled physically in the slightest but if I could make one request, it would be for him not to try backheading the ball towards our own goal when we’re 1-0 up with two minutes to go. My blood pressure has already taken a battering from watching Richard Stearman for years, I thought those kind of scares were gone.

Matt Doherty

This was a pretty atypical Doherty performance in as much as he defended pretty well (yes, really) but didn’t do a huge amount going forward. This is a concern in the longer term; the wingback roles in this team, particularly while we’re playing at this level, are attacking ones. While Doherty does have some qualities as an orthodox attacking full back supporting a winger, if all the emphasis is on him to create from the right hand side…he simply isn’t good enough to do that. He seems to have given up on crossing the ball (this is possibly instruction, although it would seem odd if that were the case) and he’s never going to beat a man. He does look fitter, and he definitely put more effort in, and by no means would you say he had a bad game. Nor did he wear gloves. Now that’s fulsome praise coming from me. Cherish it, Matt.

Barry Douglas

It’s very, very strange to me that Douglas has had such an esoteric career to date because a player of that quality should not have spent the last four years playing in the Polish and Turkish leagues. His first touch is impeccable, his delivery excellent (although the set pieces weren’t quite on the mark yesterday) and he’s the right profile in an athletic sense to play that wingback role. Looks an absolute snip at around £1m.

Ruben Neves

Where to even start? This guy is just ridiculous. As I said after the Leicester game last week, his knack of finding space marks him out as a truly special player and when it’s allied to that range of passing – one pass in particular out to Doherty was as good as you’ll ever see – then the comparisons to Paul Scholes don’t seem so far fetched. Unlike Scholes, he can actually tackle too and there seems little prospect of him being intimidated physically. Maarten de Roon is a quality midfielder but he was comprehensively outshone by Neves yesterday. Shame on The Guardian for publishing an article with the headline “Is Ruben Neves really suited to the Championship?” on Friday. Er, yeah. He’s a seriously good player. The grass is still green, the ball is still round. Of course he is.

Romain Saiss

More good progress from a man who has always had the ability without it being clear whether he had the mentality or consistency to succeed here. It does make you wonder why both Walter Zenga and Paul Lambert played him so deep because he is definitely way more effective when he’s playing 20-30 yards further up the pitch. Broke up play well, quality in possession and again, totally played his opposite number in Jonny Howson off the park.

Bright Enobakhare

Disappointing to hear him getting a fair amount of stick from the stands because a) he’s a very talented young player who was making just his 10th league start of his career yesterday and b) he didn’t have a bad game at all. Yes, he can be frustrating at times and that decision making in the final third is still his weakness. But as an outlet on the right hand side he did very well, his running at the defence was always threatening, he forced a good save from Darren Randolph early in the second half and we should have been awarded a penalty shortly afterwards when Adam Clayton chopped him down (insert your own lame U2-based pun here). He might even drop out of the team next week when Ivan Cavaleiro is available following his suspension. He’ll definitely struggle to get much gametime in that role when Helder Costa is fit. But he is an asset to us.

Diogo Jota

There will be many games I’m sure where Jota has far more of an impact in an attacking sense for us. This was a fairly quiet game for him, which must of course be caveated by the fact that we were up against one of the best teams (and certainly one of the best defences) that we will face all season. What was noticeable was the amount of times that he dug in and did his defensive bit; one passage of play in particular where he won the ball in our left back area, carried it 40 yards and was hacked down on halfway. It’s that kind of work which shows up the “these Portuguese lads won’t fancy it in the Championship” trope for the drivel it is. Nuno has brought these players in for their character as well as their talent – if they couldn’t hack it then they wouldn’t be here.

Leo Bonatini

It was asking a lot for Leo to play against Ben Gibson and Dani Ayala having only been in the country for four days or so and having had no pre-season action to speak of. He did a manful job, another one who has an impressive physical presence and the fabled Good Touch For A Big Man (which I believe Niall Quinn copyrighted in around 1993). He was gifted his goal to an extent – I have no idea what Ayala was thinking to play a square ball like that – but it still needed finishing off. Could you have seen Joe Mason or Jon Dadi Bodvarsson sticking it away? Not really. Clearly gassed after an hour and will improve as he builds his fitness up.

Nouha Dicko

The problem we face with Dicko is that his strength is (and always has been) running the channels and thriving on the ball over the top. But we don’t play like that any more. We need our central striker to hold the ball up and be a focal point for everything going on around him, and sadly Nouha didn’t look capable of doing that yesterday. One of the second half chances that Middlesbrough had came directly from him miscontrolling the ball and it was telling that our control of the game dropped dramatically when he came on. We’re all willing him to come good, but it’s possible that his time here is coming to an end as he simply doesn’t fit what we want to do.

Dave Edwards

This was confusing all round. His introduction led to Dicko shifting to the right of the front three and Dave playing centrally, almost as a false nine. Which is not a role I ever saw him playing. He didn’t do it well either. His first contribution was to lamp the ball out of play and beyond being caught offside a couple of times in a Jeremy Helan style and running around a bit, he didn’t do much at all. Another one where you struggle to see how and where he can feature in this system.

Jordan Graham

Only ten minutes or so, still had time for a couple of runs which earned us much-needed breathing space and killed off time towards the end of the game. There’ll be a role for him to play this season.