Wolves season starting amidst massive changesBy: DJ | August 14th, 2012
I guess it was always going to be a summer of change at Molineux and that will all come to a head between now and the transfer deadline day of September 3rd. The new manager has already demonstrated a change in playing style. I am sure the training ground feels different under him and his sidekick Johan Lange, there are players coming, going and wanting out and coming up are the highly important opening games in the Championship season.
It is difficult to know how to compare against the McCarthy era. Do we look at three years of struggling to keep the heads above water in the Premier League, that were emphatcially ended as soon as Connor was appointed as manager, or do we compare against the team that McCarthy managed to win the Championship with in some style three years ago. A repeat of a season as exciting as that one would go down a treat but in reality what Wolves fans really want is to see their team go up and be ready to be more than just a survival team in the top flight, and maybe a wholesale change of approach is needed for that. And a significant change in style and in personnel is certainly what Wolves are going to get in the coming weeks.
We were used to seeing two wingers in the McCarthy set up, and in the Championship we saw two strikers as well, although that often became one in the Premier League as they struggled in vain to stem the goals against. All the signs are that Solbakken is looking for a much more solid midfield that will see Wolves harder to break down and take the pressure off the back line. In the latest pre season games including the League Cup game on Saturday, we saw Henry and Davis, who are predominately defensive midfeild players, both in the team. And we saw new man Tongo Doumbia playing behind them to link from defence in a similar way the Yaya Toure does for Man City. The Mali midfield player (photoed) certainly provided the highpoint of Saturday’s League Cup game with an impressive debut. That does present a solid centre and maybe when the likes of Jamie O’Hara or new man Slawomir Peszko are added there will be some creativity too. It will also be interesting to see Sigurdarsen and whether he is preferred to Doyle or SEB as one of the front pairing.
Defensively it looks like Zubar and Ward are the most suited of the current squad to the full back roles that are used to provide some width to the midfield as well as their defensive duties. While in the centre of defence there is currently a choice of 2 from 4 in Johnson, Stearman, Berra and Batth. Solbakken went for the first two on Saturday, and I have to say they would be my 3rd and 4th choices but a new centre back appears to be top of the agenda in terms of further signings this month. Pedro Goromel from Solbakken’s former club Koln was a target but he will evidently be going to Spain instead. so we wait to see if there is another one lined up. Two more signings are being targetted before the window closes.
There is also a growing queue at the exit door. Wolves are trying to get as much as possible for their main assets Fletcher and Jarvis. It looks like Sunderland are within £1m of Wolves valuation of Fletcher now so that should go through soon. While Jarvis has expressed his interest in signing for West Ham who are also close to meeting the asking price although Wolves want the money up front rather than the staged payments the Hammers are proposing. De Vries looks like he is on his way to Liverpool who have offered half a million but Wolves want double that. And Berra, Hamill and Milijas have all been told they can leave. So lots of changes still to happen in the coming three weeks.
The appointment of Solbakken was always a gamble. He is Wolves first foreign manager, he was always going to be very different to his predecessor and he was always going to want to do things differently. There is a massive will for him to be successful but there is also a fear that it could get worse before it gets better, especially given all the changes that are going on in such a short period of time. So no matter how well or badly results are in the opening weeks, I think it will be three months in to the season before we have a real feel for whether he is the man to take the club forward and how long it might take him to do that.
Between now and the close of the transfer window, Wolves will play their first four matches of the Championship season. Two difficult looking away fixtures at Leeds on Saturday 12:45 and Cardiff on September 2nd, and between those there are two home games against Barnsley on August 21st and Derby on the 25th. With all the upheavel going on I think it will be a mighty relief to all concerned if Wolves have banked 6 league points in that period.