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Wolves 5-0 Rotherham

By Tom Bason
February 21 2015

Wolves today beat Rotherham 5-0, in the biggest win of the Kenny Jackett era. Wolves took an early control of the game with goals from Benik Afobe and Nouha Dicko, before wrapping things up in the second half thanks to Afobe's second, and goals from David Edwards and Bakary Sako. 

- After we lost 1-0 at Rotherham way back in August, I wrote that we'd play worse this season and win. Well, despite the excellent score line today, we played far better in defeat at New York stadium, with today's performance not being the most convincing. In fact I'd say that it was one of the worst 5-0 wins I've seen in my life, if that's a possibility. Kenny Jackett elected to play a 4-4-2 formation, with David Edwards and Kevin McDonald in central midfield, which in effect turned into a 4-2-4 formation. It was as if Jackett had decided to concede the midfield area, and gamble that our forward players had more about them than Rotherham's. Of course, he was proved right with four of the goals being supplied by these players. I do suspect though, that better teams than Rotherham would have put us to the sword. Tomasz Kuszczak made a couple of good saves, and I counted at least three other opportunities that Rotherham wasted. This game could easily have seen a repeat of last season's 6-4 score line, although I'd hesitate to predict which way it would go. 

- I say we played 4-2-4, but it was slightly different to that. In the first half, James Henry held his position reasonably wide on the right, aided by a typical buccaneering performance from Dominic Iorfa. Pretty much all of our attacks early on came down the right hand side, with Iorfa often unchecked when running from deep. His delivery into the penalty area is something that he needs to work on though; at the moment he seems to get a bit of a rush of blood to the head, although there was one almost nice low ball into the area that was cut out by goalkeeper Adam Collin. On the other flank, Sako drifted in quite a lot, playing almost as a playmaker at times. In fact, he sent two lovely balls through to send Iorfa free down the right. Sako drifting inside was balanced by Benik Afobe moving to the flanks. I think he was supposed to be playing just in behind Nouha Dicko, but spent much of his time wider. Now, Wikipedia tells me that he had been at Arsenal since 2001, and at times the positions he took up reminded me slightly of Thierry Henry, a player he must surely admire. 

- Indeed, it was from this sort of position that Afobe gave Wolves the lead. Rotherham played a slightly surprising high defensive line given our pace upfront, and we aimed to get Dicko and Afobe in behind as often as possible. The opening goal came from a delightful lofted through ball from Kevin McDonald, from inside the centre circle. Afobe had drifted to the left hand channel, lost his marker, and had the ability to control the ball and finish well. It was very noticeable that as Afobe ran to the Wolves fans to celebrate, most of our players went to McDonald to celebrate the pass, something that also happened in the win against Middlesbrough. The second goal came again because of Rotherham's high line as we looked to send Dicko through. The ball was intercepted, but picked up by Afobe who gave the ball back to Dicko on the left. Dicko cut back onto his right foot, and finished nicely into the far post. I think we had one other real chance in the first half, as a nicely worked corner saw James Henry's initial effort blocked by what seemed to be a Wolves shirt, before lashing the rebound straight at Collin in goal.

- After we went 2-0 up, we took our foot off the gas, possibly in the knowledge that we have a difficult match against Fulham on Tuesday. Rotherham came back into the game, and had a couple of half decent opportunities that were squandered. I don't think we defended particularly well, and rode our luck at times. As the first half went on, Danny Ward, playing just in behind striker Matt Derbyshire started to find those pockets of space in behind Edwards and McDonald and cause us problems. Particularly we seemed to struggle with diagonal balls into our penalty area, which were being met by midfield runners. At one point it looked like Richard Stearman was going to turn the ball into the back of his own goal, only to see the ball strike the foot of the post. 

- The second half didn't start overly well, with Rotherham looking to get back into the game. I'd say they were the better team until we scored the third, with plenty of pressure around our penalty area. We defended the edge of the area, something I don't have an issue with at all if it's controlled, but it never seemed to be today. Away at Fulham earlier in the season, we did this, but were in complete control of the game. That match, it felt like everyone knew what they doing, and it was probably the most complete team performance I'd seen from a Wolves side in years. Today, it felt like the team were split in two, with a real lack of cohesion. We tried passing the ball out from the back, often through Scott Golbourne and McDonald who invariably had no support from anyone else on the pitch. If you're going to pass the ball out, then you need options to pass the ball to. But, we didn't have that today, with Golbourne and McDonald's, two of our best players when faced with opposition pressure, often giving the ball away. I couldn't help but think that if Jack Price had been available, we would have had that extra option and passed the ball out a lot more successfully.

- It wasn't just these players who struggled to pass the ball out, with Danny Batth being also culpable and horrendously gave the ball away at one point in the second half. That, coupled with a weird continued appeal for offside, even though Iorfa was covering behind him meant he had a poor second half. I think Danny Batth is a player who is making the most of his ability, and should be applauded for this. I don't think his key strengths necessarily fit into how Jackets wants the game to be played, and he could potentially play at a higher level in a team that defend deeply and don't particularly pass the ball. I have seen it written that Batth gets an easy ride because he's a local lad, but I'm not sure that particularly stands up. One of the first things I ever wrote for this site was about the lack of youngsters in the team, citing the speed at which Wolves fans get on their backs as a potential reason for very few coming through at that stage

- But, on those occasions we did get the ball out, we were dangerous on the counter attack. Firstly, we had a three on two situation, but Afobe chose the wrong option of Dicko when Henry outside him seemed the better pass. But Afobe atoned for this, again taking advantage of Rotherham's ridiculously high line to collect Henry's slipped through pass, dribble round the keeper with ease, and roll the ball into the empty net. Rotherham would have been kicking themselves at this point, as I think had they managed to get a goal back at 2-0, they'd have really pressed on. But going 3-0 seemed to deflate them, and 10 minutes later we went 4-0 up, with Dave Edwards' flashing header from a Bakary Sako inswinging corner being strangely reminiscent of Didier Drogba's in the 2012 Champions League final (never thought I'd compare Edwards and Drogba). In this time, Rajiv van La Parra and Kevin Doyle had been introduced for Dicko and Afobe, presumably with an eye on Tuesday's game.

- It's interesting that Doyle has been given another chance - when I saw he was on the bench, I assumed he was taking the Michael Jacobs role of making up the numbers on the bench without ever having a chance of actually coming on (before realising that Michael Jacobs actually had the Michael Jacobs role of making up the numbers on the bench without having a chance of actually coming on), so I was surprised when I saw him getting ready to come on. Those of you who have been reading these for a while know of my total and undying love for Doyler, and it seems that he's one of the players we want rid of that we're actually going to utilise. Whatever your thoughts on Doyler, he gives us another option. We're surely better off having him involved than not.  

- Doyle's fellow substitute van La Parra had a key role in the fifth goal, running half the length of the pitch, before slipping the ball through to Sako who finished nicely with his right foot. Three of our five goals came from players played in on goal by through balls, which gives an indication of how poor Rotherham's defending was. Taking of poor, I thought van La Parra was awful when he came on, save for the run for the fifth goal. He's not a player I particularly rate, and struggle to see how he continually gets opportunities when someone like Jacobs cannot get a kick. Talking of players I tend to bang on again, I thought Edwards had a decent game today, although he had a tendency to drift too much. I don't have a problem with Edwards as a central midfielder; it's when he plays further forward that I don't think he's worth a place in the team. He horribly gave the ball away in the first half, leading to a chance from which Rotherham should have scored, but otherwise did ok. He did have a tendency to drift too much, often popping up out wide and leaving a huge hole in the middle but his energy was important against Rotherham's three midfielders. 

- Finally, the mere fact that we had to play Edwards in central midfield, and without another option on the bench is slightly worrying. Had McDonald or Edwards picked up a knock then I assume we'd have had to play someone like Matt Doherty in central midfield (I actually think Doherty has the tools to do a decent job there) - even I wouldn't advocate playing Jacobs in a two man central midfield. Given the lack of options, on the bench, it was inevitable that McDonald and Edwards would play 90 minutes, which perhaps isn't ideal with another game on Tuesday, against a Fulham side who play narrowly and will force our midfielders to do a lot of running. One player who wasn't on the bench was Sam Ricketts, which I thought was interesting as I'm sure he was on the pitch during the warm-up. Firstly he did some passing drills with Danny Batth and Richard Stearman, before doing some one touch passing with Dave Edwards. Is Sam being groomed for a coaching role? I certainly think he'd be a popular appointment; I struggle to think of many Wolves players who have had such a positive impact on the club in such a short period of time. 

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Wolves 5-0 Rotherham
Wolves (IP Logged)
21/02/2015 19:34
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:04:11:19:00:10 by toomb.

 
Re: Wolves 5-0 Rotherham
petewolf (IP Logged)
22/02/2015 00:02
well said tom, i agree its great to see doyle back and your right its the midfield we have the big problem with

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