It gets no better for Solbakken’s WolvesBy: DJ | December 29th, 2012
Three days after an appalling Boxing Day show at Molineux, Wolves produced an encore of comparable standard as they sunk to another defeat and once again supplied an afternoon of abysmal entertainment for their paying public. As on Wednesday the opposing keeper did not have a serious shot to save as Wolves went through the motions of the Solbakken strategy which seems to be to bore their supporters so much that as many as possible are driven out of the ground before the end of the games. It surely cannot get much worse than this, but as it typifies what the fans have had to watch for most of the season, its difficult to bet against more bore fests being offered in the buy one get one free seat sales that will hit Molineux in the new year.
Solbakken made two changes from Boxing Day with Sigurdarson and Davis coming in to replace Pennant and Doumbia;
Foley, Johnson. Berra, Ward
Ebanks Blake, Doyle
McCarthy got generous applause from the home fans as he entered the arena but then they settled down to support their own team. The team formation that Wolves fans are now getting used to is to see a back 4 with two defensive midfield players ahead of them for protection (except they don’t) and two wide midfield players that tuck in (so they don’t find any space), and two strikers (that play with their back to the opponents goal cause the ball is rarely played in front of them).
Wolves actually had a decent penalty appeal from their first attack and maybe what followed would have been different had it been given. Doyle and Chambers tangled as they chased a ball into the area and the striker was sent tumbling. Ipswich then had their first threat when the impressive Martin shot and Ikeme saved at the second attempt with the ball made slippy from heavy rain. The biggest crowd of the season were quiet as the game continued at a slow pace but Wolves were to have their best spell of the game midway through the half.
Davis had started well and set up Sako who shot just wide. Wolves then had a series of corners with Ward pushing forward effectively and SEB linking well with him. It was better from Wolves at this stage but they were still not seriously looking like scoring and after 33 minutes their opponents showed them how it is done. After a Foley clearance went straight to an Ipswich player, Wolves had at least three more opportunities to clear their lines and failed to do so and Cresswell ran through a static defence to pick up a lay off from Murphy and curl the ball into the net.
The goal took the stuffing out of Wolves and for the rest of the half their passing fell apart with all the defenders guilty of poor clearances and Ward in particular struggling to pass to anyone in Old Gold. We then had the familiar sound of the team being booed off at the half time break.
The second half was no brighter from Wolves and Ipswich came close when a cross just eluded the onrushing attackers. The passing from defence was getting no better and the game became a dull affair with no goalmouth action. Completely out of the blue Ipswich added a second midway through the half when a forward header by Chambers saw DJ Campbell make a run between the two Wolves centre backs to find himself clear through on goal with only Ikeme to beat and he made no mistake.
Almost immediately Solbakken decided to make all three substitutions together with Doumbia, O’Hara and Pennant replacing Henry, Davis and Doyle. In the first real show of dissatisfaction towards Solbakken, there was plenty of criticism for him replacing Doyle with Pennant. The subs made no difference whatsoever to the pattern of the game to reinforce the view that its the tactics not the players that are holding Wolves back. Nobody would pretend the players are doing well but the formation of the team is just not working. Its a formation, however, that Solbakken has stuck with since his Copenhagen days despite the fact that if we look at his record at Koln and Wolves he has now got only 16 wins in the last 63 games. And Ipswich should have made this another three goal defeat in injury time when Chopra shot wide from a clear chance.
Ikeme – not that busy an afternoon and no chance with the goals
Foley – looking a shadow of the player that was player of the season last time Wolves were at this level
Johnson – steady enough but caught napping for the second goal
Berra – steady for most of the game before his passing fell apart like most of the team
Ward – made some good overlaps in Wolves best spell in the first half but gave the ball away continually thereafter
Sigurdarson – had a bright start to the game before fading once Ipswich went ahead
Henry – does what he does, which does not include the creativity lacking in Wolves midfield
Davis – opened the game well but his passing deteriorated as the game wore on
Sako – came closest to a Wolves goal with a first half shot but generally disappointing
Doyle – manager not popular when he took him off but had a poor game
SEB – never stopped trying to make something happen and I made him Wolves best player despite him getting very little supply or support
Doumbia, O’Hara and Pennant came on for the last 20 minutes but nothing really changed.
On the back of three wins in four games it looked like the two xmas home games against teams below them in the league presented a great chance to make a step into the top half of the league. To lose on an aggregate of 5 goals to nil and to not bring a serious save out of either keeper in 180 minutes was an immense let down and its now 3 wins in 15 games. When a manager has had only 25 games in charge it seems wrong to question if he should stay any longer but performances have been so poor that it has to now be raised as an issue.
Is it the players or is the problem the manager? Personally I think this group of players are capable of much better at this level and the manager is clearly not getting the best out of them. McCarthy took over an Ipswich team bottom of the league presumably low on confidence, and has now got 16 points from the last 7 games. Bruce, the manager Wolves fans didn’t want has Hull City in second place. And Zola another manager in his first season who has completely changed the Watford style of play and has them in 6th. Wolves cannot be said to have improved in any respect under Solbakken. One thing he was expected to bring was a better passing game and a team better at holding possession. Against his predecessor labelled a huff and puff style manager, Wolves had only 43% possession.
Patience is a virtue, but how much do Wolves supporters and the Wolves board have. And after half a season of the most boring football seen from a Wolves team in living memory, is patience warranted?