Five cup wins in 12 months now. Madness…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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