Wolves must make progressBy: DJ | February 1st, 2013
As we move into February with the transfer window over and a bleak season more than half way through, Wolves fans will be looking for some reasons to be cheerful and optimistic in the remainder of the 2012/13 season. Far from the hoped for bounce back into the Premier League that optimistic supporters would have been hoping for, its been a season that the prophets of doom will have been more accurate about as Wolves sit just three places above the relegation trap door and home wins for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend would mean Wolves would be only one place above a nightmare second successive relegation.
And the transfer window did little to erase that fear as youngster Lee Evans was the only new face to join the club in January. The 18 year old from Newport County is thought to be a good prospect but it is unlikely he will be asked to contribute to the first team cause this season. Meanwhile we have seen Zubar and Mouyokolo move on and Stearman has joined Ipswich on loan as the need to reduce the wage bill saw its first moves. There is still the option for further movement in and out as there is still a loan window between 8th February and 24th March. Further departures during that time look to be on the cards and Wolves will be looking for any decent Premier League youngsters that could come in and give the club a boost in the way Frimpong did for a short time last season.
What did give more cause for optimism was a decent display at Leicester on Thursday. Wolves matched their opponents for large parts of the game and were worth a draw and only disappointing defending from breakaways caused the defeat. The fact that Wolves achieved 50% possession during the game showed how even it was and represented a big improvement on the last time Wolves travelled to promotion hopefuls when they only got 34% possession at Palace under Solbakken’s leadership. Danny Batth had a decent overdue debut and Foley looked much more comfortable at right back than in midfield.
The one positive legacy of the Solbakken era may well prove to be some good transfer additions. Although having invested over £10m at this level you would hope that would be the case. Sako has been the clubs outstanding player this season and Doumbia was the star man in the promising early season form. He became disillusioned with the management style of Solbakken but seems to have been brought back into the fold by Saunders and had a good game at Leicester and can be an important player for the remainder of the season. Sigurdarson and Peszko have shown fleeting glimpses of ability and we will have to wait to see if there is more to come. And we have hardly seen Boukari and Magreitter so the jury is still out there, but Boukari is at least now approaching fitness and should join the first team squad soon, and he came with a good reputation.
Saunders did well to prepare the team for a good performance on Thursday while there was so much speculation about transfers in the air. Doyle, Ebanks Blake, Ward, Berra, Johnson and Ward were all possible exits in the last couple of days of the window and that must have been unsettling for all concerned. But they remain on the books now and Saunders will be able to focus on getting the best out of what he has and on climbing the table, not only to ease the fears about relegation but to put back some optimism into the club as we wonder whether the outlook can be changed enough for a challenge at the right end of the table next season.
It will probably be a very different looking Wolves squad by next August with Berra and Ebanks Blake out of contract in the summer and almost certain to move on and some of the others that were linked with January moves also likely to be targeted again. And given the impact he is making it would be no surprise if Sako were the subject of some sizeable offers. But the priority now has to be to get some of the lesser players off the payroll to get the squad down to manageable numbers and to allow some new faces in as Saunders starts to develop a team in the style he wants.
The manager made rapid strides at Wrexham and Doncaster in his second seasons with them and they will be looking for him to do the same at Molineux. But first the team need some results this season and the next game will be in front of a noisy stadium when Leeds visit Wolverhampton on February 9th. That would be an ideal time to start making some steps in the right direction and lift the gloom that has been hanging over the club for far too long now.