Wolves prepare for busy holidaysBy: DJ | December 20th, 2012
While the majority of us are focused on food, drink and gifts, the football league teams are preparing for the busiest time of the season with each of them set for 4 league games in the next week and a half. For Wolves that means trips to Blackpool on Friday evening followed by home matches against Peterborough on Boxing Day, and Ipswich on the Saturday and then an away game at Crystal Palace on New Years Day.
The Blackpool game represents the halfway stage in the season and even a defeat would see Wolves be no lower than 18th in the table at that stage. But a win could see them climb by up to 5 places and put a healthier spin on the opening half. And by the end of New Years Day the second half of the season will already be three matches in and if a late bid for a play off push is to be made then a couple of wins would be helpful over the next 10 days.
Blackpool will go into Friday’s game in 11th and in good form having won 3 and drawn 5 of their last 8 games. So they seem to moving in the right direction under new manager Michael Appleton although may be hampered in January when Paul Ince’s son Thomas looks set to move back to Liverpool for around £6m having gone in the opposite direction for a nominal fee only 17 months ago. The two teams have met in 16 league matches since 1970 and Blackpool have only won once with Wolves getting 11 wins and 4 draws in that time.
Wolves injury problems have been starting to ease with Peszko and O’Hara returning to training although this game is likely to be too soon for both of them. And on the downside it looks like Bjorn Sigurdarson will be missing for a game or two. That seems to present a chance for Jermaine Pennant who has been a disappointment on his loan from Stoke. He is clearly talented and more than good enough for this level but maybe not suited to the tucked in role that Solbakken asks of his wide midfield players. This could represent a final chance for him to earn an extended loan if that is what he wants.
Otherwise it is likely to be an unchanged team following the wins over Bristol and Birmingham and the unlucky defeat at Middlesbrough where a draw seemed on the cards until the late award of an unjust penalty. But the run of games over the holiday period will certainly require some squad rotation and that will not be easy considering the number of injuries and some uninspiring showings from some of the back up players so far this season. But the likes of Batth, Stearman, Davis, Forde and Nouble could get chances at some stage to prove their worth.
There may be a new face or two introduced in the January transfer window and then hopefully the encouragement of a climb up the table. Solbakken has made it clear that neither Berra or Ebanks Blake will be sold in January and as I believe Berra is the most reliable defender at the club it is encouraging that new contract talks have belatedly started. Jake Cassidy who has scored 11 vital goals to take Tranmere to the top of League One will be returning to Molineux in the new year. And Wolves are again being linked with a loan move for Emmanuel Frimpong who has gained match fitness with Charlton over the last month. With Peszko and O’Hara adding to the squad and Boukari also at a later date there must be some hope of a better second half to the season.
But first its that 4 game holiday period and it would be a boost for the team, manager and supporters if 2 or 3 wins can be found in that time. And for an investment to be made in players in the window it could be that signs of continued improvement after the last 3 games will be necessary to encourage the opening of the cheque book. So its a holiday time that could have a significant bearing on the rest of the season with Solbakken needing to gain the faith of the Molineux masses that his methods will take Wolves in the right direction.