Wolves disastrous defeat the final straw for SolbakkenBy: DJ | January 5th, 2013
Wolves suffered the ultimate ignominy of going out of the FA Cup to Non League opposition and cannot have many complaints as they certainly did not look superior to their opponents on the day as their disappointing season took a massive step towards a disaster with this result. The fact that they played better than in recent league games and still did not deserve to beat their Blue Square Premier opponents just serves to show how low the standards have fallen for the club this season. And the result meant that Solbakken was sacked from his post as manager later in the evening.
There was an expectation that this might be the day for some of the fringe players and youngsters to get a game but such was the nervousness of the club about losing the game that it was the strongest team available that were sent out to try to assert their superiority over their opponents who started the game 59 places below them in the league ladder;
Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward
Forde, Henry, O’Hara, Sako
Doyle, Ebanks Blake
Wolves were playing in their Teal Green away strip and a sign was there a few seconds into the game that it might not be their day when O’Hara teed the ball up to knock it left footed downfield but the ball bounced off his right foot and went out for a throw. The game started at a good pace and there was soon a chance for both sides. First Johnson completely missed a defensive header but O’Donnell shot over. Then when SEB won a flick on Doyle shot across goal and just wide but should have done better.
There was a clash of heads after 20 minutes which resulted in Stephen Ward and Luton striker Ward needing to wear white bandages on their heads for the rest of the game. We then saw some encouragement from O’Hara who hit a 50 yard cross field pass directly to the feet of Sako but his cross came to nothing. But Luton were the better team at this stage and Ikeme saved from Gray who from the next attack cuts inside and shoots over from a good position. Finally in the last ten minutes of the first half Wolves started to dictate the game and there were a series of corners all taken by Sako. From one to the near post Doyle flicked on a shot that the keeper did brilliantly to tip on to the bar. And then when another cross was only half cleared it fell to Sako whose goalbound shot was blocked.
If Wolves ended the first half well they started the second half disastrously. Foley was returning to his former club and got a good reception from their fans. And he paid them back here. He didn’t have a good first half and when he and Johnson were trying to play themselves out of the corner Foley’s attempt to play the ball upfield was miscued and scooped up in the air and landed in the Wolves area. The ball was cleared to the edge of the box where Lawless hit a firm volley into the bottom corner of the net. Wolves tried to hit back and Berra’s header bounced off the top of the bar.
Wolves replaced Forde and Doyle with Peszko and debutant Jake Cassidy back from his successful loan at Tranmere. And Peszko’s first involvement sees him booked and a kick from him caught O’Donnell in the face and he needed long treatment before being stretchered off. Davis replaced O’Hara and he gave the ball away to Gray but he was crowded out. Gray had been a real handful for Wolves all afternoon with his tireless running and he received a standing ovation as he went off as the time reached 90 minutes. But after the long injury delay there was still 9 minutes to play but it was another day when Wolves were not creating clear scoring chances even against this opposition and although they were dominating the game late on they rarely looked like getting the equaliser.
Ikeme – not much gone right for Wolves this season but they have now got another good keeper
Foley – had a poor first half with many misplaced passes and also at fault for the goal
Ward – played the last hour with a bandaged head and did ok
Johnson – generally good with the occasional lack of concentration
Berra – again the best of the back line but had a lively opponent in Gray
Forde – another game where he never quite imposed himself
Henry – no great impact other than retaining possession with sideways and backwards passes
O’Hara – one or two good passes but the deep role doesn’t really make the most of his ability
Sako – not happening for him at the moment but some good corners delivered
Doyle – looks really low on confidence and one of those that were totally unsuited and maybe unmotivated by Solbakken’s management
SEB – a number of occasions where poor control stopped him taking advantage of good positions
Peszko – no real impact other than kicking a Luton player on the head – not maliciously I add
Cassidy – battled hard. Proved at Tranmere he has goals in him and adds height and strength to the front line. Promising.
Davis – a mixed bag of ball winning and poor passing
So a nightmare result and the biggest insult to Wolves is probably that I and many other Wolves supporters were not unduly surprised after some of the recent performances.
Now Solbakken and his backroom staff are gone. He just was not able to turn his bright ideas into reality on the field and by all accounts had lost the dressing room. He may well be most remembered for some of the most boring performances from a Wolves team in recent memory.
We must hope now that the Board have learned their lesson from the disastrous recruitment process that followed McCarthy’s sacking last February. My expectation is that the next man will already have been identified and will be in post by Fridays game against Blackburn. I know a lot of people think the squad of players let Solbakken down and are not good enough. I think they are more than good enough for this level and I expect any half decent manager to prove that between now and May.