Time for new look Wolves to move forwardBy: DJ | September 1st, 2012
So the transfer window is now closed for the summer and we know the players that Wolves will be looking towards bringing them a successful 2012/13 season with the next step in Cardiff on Sunday. It has been a summer of significant change at the club and the first team squad already looks barely recognisable from the one that was relegated back in May. I guess we all knew that Solbakken would be very different to McCarthy and that there were going to be many changes but its still been a bit of a whirlwind over the summer that takes them into September with a very different look.
Out from the first team squad have gone Fletcher to Sunderland, Jarvis to West Ham, Kightly to Stoke, Guedioura to Nottingham Forest, Vokes to Burnley, Hamill on loan to Huddersfield, and Milijas whose contract was terminated to enable him to move back to Red Star Belgrade three years after leaving them to join Wolves. In have come Bjorn Sigurdarsen from Lillestrom, Boukary Sako (photoed) from St Etienne, Razak Boukari from Rennes, Slawomir Peszko from Koln, Georg Margreitter from Rapid Vienna, Frank Nouble from West Ham, Tongo Doumbia on a season long loan with a view to a permanent transfer from Rennes, plus a couple of youngsters in James Tank from Walsall and Tim Jacobsson from Frej in Sweden. The net financial gain from the transfer dealings is the best part of £20m to leave Wolves in a healthy financial position despite relegation.
Over the coming weeks we will get to learn more about the footballing style that Solbakken wants to bring to the club. The early indications of the summer from the pre season games were that we might see a more solid formation with a narrower midfield and maybe lacking a little flair. Well those indications have proven to be very misleading because it is now looking like a team with plenty of flair and a squad that can offer a variety of formations and approaches to games. And although the downside of relegation proved to be the inevitable sales of Fletcher and Jarvis, the cash they raked in for those has meant that Kightly apart the remainder of the better elements of the squad has been retained and although there is a general acceptance that it might take time for the new manager to get together a promotion team, there is a growing belief that the new group of players he has at his disposal will mean Wolves will likely be not far away come the end of the season.
The 3-1 League Cup success over Northampton on Thursday included some sparkling football that even against lower rated opposition continues to raise the optimism about the season. It was good to see Danny Batth get 90 minutes including his first goal for the club and although he may yet go out on loan again he does look like he could yet make the step up to the first team. Frank Nouble would probably be considered 4th in line of Wolves strikers for a starting position but he scored a few in pre season and got another in the Northampton game and goals are no better advert for a striker to warrant consideration. But it was the clinching late goal from Sako that will be remembered from the game as he smashed in a low shot from 25 yards for a debut goal. The next round will see a trip to Champions League winners Chelsea at the end of September.
Boukari and Peszko will offer a different style of wide play to Kightly and Jarvis with the former Rennes player Boukari looking powerful and skilful running with the ball and Peszko offering quality deliveries into the box, and he was behind a lot of the assists for Podolski to score the goals which have led him to be a German international and now a big money signing for Arsenal. Sigurdarsen has just completed a full season in Norway so is being introduced slowly into the squad but has shown glimpses of real talent while Magreitter offers much needed competition for places in the defence.
But it is the signings of Doumbia and Sako that have really caught the imagination. Both look to be every inch capable of being Premier League players. Both have come from highly rated top flight French teams and show clearly that shopping abroad provides much better value for money than the inflated English market. As good as Fletcher and Jarvis are it has been a surprise to many that Wolves have recouped well over £20m for them and yet players that may turn out to be as good if not better have been brought in for a small fraction of that price.
The team changes may not have ended yet because there is a loan window between September 8th and November 25th where more players can come and go. And many Championship teams in the past have benefitted by taking on young loanees from the top Premier League clubs. And some of the Wolves youngsters together with the likes of Hunt, Jonsson and Batth may be loaned out at that time although Christophe Berra may have resurrected his Wolves career following his recent first team recall. And we can also remember that Wayne Hennessey and Jamie O’Hara should be fit to start playing again in November to give a healthy boost to the squad.
For now we wait to see what team Solbakken selects for the trip to Cardiff on Sunday at 14:00. The likes of Henry and Foley remain unavailable through injury so I would take a guess at this starting line up;
Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward
Peszko, Doumbia, Bako, Boukari
Doyle, Ebanks Blake
Cardiff signed proven Championship goalscorer Nicky Maynard from West Ham on transfer deadline day but will be without the injured Craig Bellamy on Sunday. Matches between the sides have been pretty equal in recent years with 4 wins for each side over the last decade and 3 draws. These are games that tend to produce plenty of goals. If you go back over the last 39 games between the teams over the last 60 years there have been 141 goals. And some of Wolves biggest ever wins have been over the Welsh team with a 7-1 home success in 1966 and the great Wolves team of the 50s once won 9-1 in Cardiff.
Can’t imagine anything like that this weekend but an exciting game does look on the cards from this new look Wolves team and it will be good to get a positive result in the last game before a two week break for Internationals that will allow the dust to settle on the hectic summer and give time for all the new faces time to get used to life in Wolverhampton. 4 points from 3 games so far has been a decent start and Wolves will be keen to keep above a point a game this weekend to stay in the top half of the table.