Wolves facing relegation trap doorBy: DJ | February 18th, 2013
Wolves go into Tuesday night’s away game at Barnsley knowing that defeat would leave them in a relegation position with only 13 games remaining to rectify that situation. It’s an uncomfortable position for a team that have developed a long habit of losing games, forgotten how to win and all the other cliches that apply to a team in danger of a second successive relegation.
A full year has passed now since Mick McCarthy was sacked as manager. At the time he was sacked Wolves were 18th in the Premier League, on the same points as QPR in 16th, and above Wigan. 45 League games have passed since and Wolves have won just 9 of those with 12 draws and 24 defeats. With Connor and Solbakken having failed to arrest the slide and Saunders still waiting for his first win as Wolves manager, there are many who felt that the time had come for McCarthy to go who are now reflecting ‘be careful what you wish for’.
Right now Wolves have not won any of their last ten games and have scored a total of 6 times in those matches. So no matter how many people that believe they are too good to go down there is nothing in the stats to suggest all will be ok. And yet the performance in the last few games have been quite promising and signs are there that results can improved. But until that turns to wins then its more hope than a comfort.
Things have certainly been looking up for Tuesday’s opponents Barnsley. David Flitcroft was appointed as their manager on December 29th and the first two games with him at the helm ended in defeat. But they have won 7 and drawn 1 of the eight games since in a remarkable upturn that Wolves fans will be very jealous of. As well as being only one point from climbing out of the relegation zone, they are through to the quarter finals of the FA Cup where they have a trip to Man City to look forward to. Wolves have won the last 8 games against Barnsley at Molineux but the last 4 games at Oakwell have seen three 1-0 Barnsley wins and a 1-1 draw.
The encouragement from Saturday’s draw at Derby was a clean sheet to coincide with the debut of Kaspar Gorkss. He formed a solid no nonsense partnership with Danny Batth at the centre of defence and there appears to be no possibility of a return to the team on Tuesday for Roger Johnson after the completion of his three game suspension. Foley and Ward seem secure in their full back positions partly because they both did fine at the weekend and partly cause there seems little alternative in the squad although a new loan signing has now been made with young Liverpool full back Jack Robinson coming in to provide competition to Ward. He has made 11 first team appearances for the Reds having been their youngest ever first team player when he made his debut as a 16 year old.
In midfield Wolves will rely on O’Hara and Sako to provide the creativity and Henry and Edwards were the other choices on Saturday. David Davis had another impressive appearance as a substitute on Saturday and is looking an increasingly feasible alternative to Henry. While Doumbia missed Saturday’s game as he was unfit. Peszko represents an alternative to Edwards on the right of midfield.
Up front it seems certain now that Doyle will be rested as his loss of form continued at the weekend. So it is likely Ebanks Blake will be recalled alongside Sigurdarson who had a promising game at Derby. Although there is some attraction to giving another chance to Jake Cassidy who may well turn out to be Wolves best source of goals before the season is over.
I am of the view that a 4-2-3-1 formation would give Wolves the best balanced starting line up and although unlikely to be the managers choice I would give a chance to a line up of something like;
Foley, Batth, Gorkss, Ward
Sigurdarson, O’Hara, Sako
But there are a few thousand budding football managers out there that have their views on what Saunders needs to do to get Wolves back on track although he is only a thin line away from getting some wins if the last few games are a guide.
On Sunday Wolves are at home to top of the league Cardiff, and then the following Friday face Watford who have now moved up to third. So its not going to get any easier in the coming weeks and a result at Barnsley does look pretty crucial. On current form a home win for Barnsley looks very much on the cards, but with crunch time coming maybe Wolves will finally find a way to turn things around.