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When you're out you're out

By Tom Bason
August 27 2012

Ståle Solbakken's reign at Wolves has coincided with one of the most turbulent times that the club has known in recent years; certainly he has been part of the biggest sea change since the summer of 2006. Generally, he has done well so far. While four points from three games isn't perhaps the blistering start a number of fans were hoping for, most will recognise the losses of Michael Kightly, Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis have removed the attacking spark from an already downbeat squad.

But what of the players who are still of the club?

I have never understood why Harry Redknapp's "man management" skills are so vaunted in the English press. I'm sure he's a wonderful manager to play for, as long as you're one of his favoured players. But, if he doesn't fancy you as a player, chances are you're not going to get a look in. Look at the way that Redknapp treated players like Alan Hutton, Steven Pienaar, Darren Bent, Giovanni dos Santos, David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar in his time at Spurs. Perhaps they aren't the best players in the world, but all were on an upward trajectory before coming across Mr Redknapp. A possible reason for Tottenham falling away at the tail end of last season is that Redknapp has a core number of first team players who were knackered by the end of the season. Redknapp showed very little faith in those players around the fringe.

I worry that the same thing is slowly starting to happen at Wolves. The team seems split into three camps; those who want to leave, those who the club want to leave, and those who both parties want to stay. Interestingly, only one of those camps has been disregarded from the first team - those players who the club want to leave. Both Matt Jarvis and Christophe Berra have started matches, despite both asking to leave the club. Yet, the players who aren't seen as part of the first team are seemingly banished from the first team squad.

Going into the Derby County game, I was slightly worried about the lack of options on the wing, especially once Matt Jarvis had departed. Anthony Forde started the season away at Leeds United before being hauled off at half time, and was virtually anonymous in his second half cameo against Derby. To compound this, Forde was the third unsuccessful option on the flank, as David Edwards started there, before David Davis moved out there after just half an hour. Neither Edwards or Davis have impressed in any of their outings yet this season, putting a lot of pressure on new boys Slawomir Peszko and Tongo Doumbia.

Yet, there are potential replacements in the squad, who have been deemed not needed by the new management team. While Stephen Hunt, Nenad Milijaš and Adam Hammill may not be everyone's cup of tea, would they have fared any worse than those players who have featured so far? I wrote after the Barnsley game that Milijaš would have been an ideal player to come in and help keep the ball, and I couldn't help thinking the same against Derby. When we were crying out for someone to put their foot on the ball and calm the game down, one of the few players n the squad with the ability to do this wasn't even considered. Instead, due to Doumbia's apparent current inability to finish a match, we've finished the last two matches with four different central midfielders; a youngster with only eight Wolves starts under his belt, a Welsh headless chicken, an Irish left back and an Icelandic £100k signing from Hearts with four starts in nine months. No matter how much you believe Milijaš is too slow and ponderous, don't tell me he's not better than at least two of those.

Similarly, on the flank, would Adam Hammill or Stephen Hunt have been any worse than Forde, Davis or Edwards? Hunt has been poor since he arrived and appears to have completely forgotten how to put one foot in front of the other, let alone kick a football accurately, but he is an experienced player in that position, and would certainly have contributed more defensively. Similarly Adam Hammill is a player who has at times flattered to deceive, but has played numerous times as a winger in the Championship. Surely, Hammill as the best crosser of a ball in the squad could have added something offensively to the team.

I can understand that perhaps the club is worried that these players may pick up an injury that prohibits a move away. But the flip side of that is that a couple of good performances may increase their demand and contribute to their sale. And what happens if they are still Wolves players this time next week? Are they still going to be exorcised from the first team? Are we really going to be paying their wages through until January for them not to play? And if they are suddenly brought back into the first team when they're not sold, who could blame them if they aren't as committed as many would want them to be?

This is the first criticism of any kind that I've had for Stale Solbakken, hopefully he has the man management skills to welcome these players back into the fold as necessary.

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When you're out you're out
Wolves (IP Logged)
27/08/2012 12:01
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2012:10:20:20:31:01 by toomb.

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