Wolves were today clinically dispatched by an excellent Fulham side at Craven Cottage. A first half brace from Pavel Pogrebnyak was added to by a Clint Dempsey double, with Pogrebnyak securing the match ball. Wolves' troubles were compounded by injury concerns to midfield duo Karl Henry and Jamie O'Hara.
When I saw the line-up, I was reasonably happy. Aside from perhaps including the fit again Sebastian Bassong, I would have played Nenad Milijaš ahead of Karl Henry in the midfield. Given that Henry limped off injured in the first half, it didn't take long to see the line-up I wanted.
Of course, this formation is not perfect, and much of Fulham's play went through the middle. I felt that Fulham's formation really gave Connor two options - he could have matched up with Fulham's midfield, or looked to take advantage of the massive holes it left defensively. If he chose to match up and play defensively, he could easily have moved Michael Kightly inside, to play just off Kevin Doyle, and moved Jamie O'Hara as a left sided shuttler to try and double up on Duff when he got the ball with Matt Jarvis moving to the right hand side to give John Arne Riise something to think about defensively. This would have given us a central midfield four to match up with Fulham's, leaving Jarvis a little freedom with which to attack.
The alternative could have been to attack Fulham, who played with little width. With Dempsey nominally in a left win position, the space to attack John Arne Riise was there, but unfortunately, Kightly couldn't take advantage. On the other flank, Duff doubled up on Jarvis preventing him from getting a clean run at Aaron Hughes - perhaps it would have been sensible to swap them. I'm also certain Riise would have been less likely to bomb forward if Jarvis was forcing him back towards goal. As it was, Terry Connor did neither, trying to play defensively despite being massively outnumbered in the middle of the park.
And talking of Connor not doing anything, he took an awful long time to make the first tactical change.2-0 down at half time, and after just five minutes in the second half it was clear that something needed to change. Given the players we had out on the pitch, in the formation we were playing, we were never going to get back into the match. The only way there was any hope was with a change, yet by the time Steven Fletcher was introduced we were 3-0 down and the game was over. I wasn't at the Newcastle game last week (nor will I be at the Blackburn match next week), so I am unsure whether it was a change by Connor that sparked the comeback or not, but today I was unimpressed by his inability to make a change when it mattered.
Saying that, today's result was not just the fault of the manager. In the first 20 minutes, there were three separate occasions when Fulham had a left win corner, and Danny Murphy played the ball short to Dembélé. On one of these, Michael Kightly went out to close them down, but it was easy to pass around him and get the cross in. Compare this to the second half where we took a short corner, and were instantly faced by two Fulham players preventing the delivery into the box. Someone in the team should have taken responsibility and made it a little harder to play the ball short.
If I was to sum up the first half performance, I would point out that at half time Mark Schwarzer came out early to warm up. Now, he could do this every match, but I suspect it was because he'd not actually had to do anything in the opening 45 minutes.
No matter how bad you read that Wolves were today, it shouldn't take away from an excellent Fulham performance. I thought they played very well at Craven Cottage last season, but today some of the link up play was absolutely superb. I missed most of the build-up to the fifth goal, but the rest of the time we couldn't get near them. It's brave playing effectively with a front-5, but today it more than paid off.
The early injury to Karl Henry and the late knock to Jamie O'Hara leave us dangerously short of numbers in the middle of the park. With David Edwards missing through injury and Adlène Guedioura banished to Nottingham Forest, this potentially leaves us with just Nenad Milijaš and Kevin Foley. Now, I'm not averse to this pairing - both are tidy passers and can use their positional sense defensively to win the ball back. But today, neither stood up to be counted for. Foley especially was anonymous, and it needed one of them to really try and lead the midfield.
Next week's Blackburn game is one of the biggest since we last faced Blackburn at home. With us conceding seven goals in Terry Connor's first two games in charge, a lot of work needs to be done over the next six days.
Quote - No matter how bad you read that Wolves were today, it shouldn't take away from an excellent Fulham performance. I thought they played very well at Craven Cottage last season, but today some of the link up play was absolutely superb. I missed most of the build-up to the fifth goal, but the rest of the time we couldn't get near them. It's brave playing effectively with a front-5, but today it more than paid off
Since the end of the match we have all been (rightly) consumed by how poor our performance was, but I do think we should also consider we were unfortunate to be playing at Craven Cottage yesterday when Fulham switched into top gear. They gave an awesome display which should not be overlooked, and there was not a weak link to be seen anywhere in their team. The 25 pass move which led to their last goal was indicative of how good they were as well as how poor we were, and the fact that two players scored 5 goals between them is stunning. Fulham are now in 8th place in the PL and in that form pose a threat to all those now around them. Full credit should be given to Martin Jol for his team's performance.
I never wanted to see McCarthey sacked, and always believed that his loyalty to 'the firm' belied the fact that he was never given the money he needed to be able to put together a team which would get us success in the PL. In the first two seasons he managed to get us some unexpected results which just helped us survive. This season that isn't happening and I don't expect us to survive.
I find it interesting that four of the five teams at the bottom share a similar trend in spending money - we don't!! Bolton and Wigan spent next to nothing in the past 12 months, Blackburn had to fund their spending, and we all know how much we have spent. Only QPR have spent meaningful amounts and it remains to be seen whether that pays off. Villa also spent very little and are struggling. Looking at West Brom, Stoke and indeed Fulham, their investments are paying off.
We are suffering as fans because the people leading our club have wasted the opportunity to invest in class in order to create a team which deserves to stay in the PL. The expectation has clearly been that our Championship winning players would become Premiership standard players, but this clearly isn't going to happen. The fact that Frimpong succumbed to injury and Bassong isn't playing shows how pathetic our January window business was - no benefit to the team at all. And now, having put all the blame on McCarthy, TC is expected to save us from relegation!! What's the point - our suffering would only continue in the very same vein next season. There is no leadership on the pitch for our team, or off the pitch for our club
Tom, when you have time can you post the passing stats for Fulham . . . and any other stat you think meaningful.
I agree, and have posted the same elsewhere, that Fulham were unplayable only to be challenged that it was a poor Wolves performance that made them look good.
Every pass, bar a few was perfectly weighted and accurate. More than that every time a pass was considered at least 4 Fulham players made them selves available to receive the ball, with another 6 looking to move into forward positions to attack.
I have also alleged that the principal reason for our low position is our low wages. That 82% of clubs relegated were also in the bottom three on wages! Do you know of a source that might have these stats? (Wages - not transfer fees!)
Am I reading this correctly - Wolves in the two seasons shown are bottom payers. But in both seasons accrued more points than those paying higher wages directly above them.
If you did a set on the basis of observed manager ability versus points accrued and compared the two sets of results that may well tell us we sacked the wrong person!
Does anyone believe MM actually controlled the rate of players pay on offer to potential signings?
Does anyone not understand the difference between transfer fees and wages when assessing 'investment' in players?
Does anyone not understand what a CEO's role is?
Does anyone not see that Moxey has shafted Morgan for not advising him adequately; shafted the manager AND the reconstruction by failing to adequately fund either of them?
Does anyone not see he has also shafted the fans through the turnstiles with all this other shafting?
Does anyone not understand the only person he has not shafted is himself. Even Dick Turpin had the manners to wear a mask before he robbed his victims!
Until we improve our pay levels for new signings we will always be beached at the bottom of the Prem. All this has been obvious to every experienced manager we have tried to sign. Why? Because they understand the related metrics of pay and league position!
On a cold, moonlit Saturday night down Brighton pier, a solitary old bean shuffles down the waterfront looking for the "bomb squad". As he turns a corner his facial expression broadens into a huge grin revealing gleaming white gnashers viewing a collection of scantily clad sailors with a "come hither look". "I see I have found the bomb squad" squealed the old boy in excitement and looking down drooling he whispered..." and I see you are primed for detonation"
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