Molineux Soapbox: how not to keep Wolves from the door

Pete Sixsmith digs himself out of the snow – and chucks snowballs at the underachievers who ruined his Saturday …

My Chambers Dictionary defines a yardstick as “n, any standard of measurement (fig)”. The fig means figuratively, but after Saturday it could also mean Figgin awful defending.

The yardstick by which we measure our progress is not by drawing with or beating the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. It is by how we do against the sides who are not (on paper at least) as gifted as we are.

On the surface, we are doing well this season. We have lost fewer games than Chelsea and, up until yesterday, Arsenal and have produced, arguably, the display of the season at Stamford Bridge. But scratch away at the surface and see who we have lost to: two sides who came up from the Championship and one who have rarely been out of the bottom six in the season and a half they have been in the Premier League.

On Saturday, after a first half so dismal that it would have been jeered on a Northern League ground, the game exploded into action and became an exciting match.

Excitement does not mean quality – I have been excited by games between the likes of Crook Town and Thornaby – and of the two sides on show, we showed the most quality in a 15-minute spell, during which we scored twice and had other chances.

While we may have had the quality, what we didn’t have was what Wolves had in abundance – spirit and determination.

These are qualities synonymous with Mick McCarthy Even in the dark days of 2005-06, the likes of Whitehead, Elliott and Kyle never gave up. Wolves have better players than the aforementioned and they have the attitude that the hard-headed Yorkshireman demands.

When we went 2-1 up, I was absolutely convinced that we would go on and win by 3 or 4–1.

The forward line was moving well, with all three of them causing Wolves problems and the midfield was on top. It was such a measure of our dominance, that even Kieran Richardson began to find his own players with his passes.

We took our goals in the manner of a team ready to move up a level: a crisp finish from Bent and a good, downward header from Welbeck after a superb cross from Wee Shuggie McBardsley.

A third goal would have wrapped it up. The home crowd were edgy and had we scored again, the resignation and misery associated with the West Midlands would have kicked in and the moans would have started.

But we didn’t build on it. Instead, after looking comfortable in defence, we imploded. We stopped doing the things we had done well. We no longer marked up in the box. We allowed Milijas to move the ball around. We stood and admired Sylvan Ebanks-Blake as he thrashed home the winner.

Why? Did we feel that we had it won? Was there a hint of arrogance from our players? Did the substitution of Mensah allow the impetus to slide towards Wolves?

For the second game in succession, we were unable to close a game at 2-1. Had it not been for Beckford’s shocking miss we would have lost both of them 3-2. In both games we had no Titus Bramble. For this one we lost Michael Turner. The indications are that their replacements cannot hack it.

Anton Ferdinand did really well for 80 minutes. So did John Mensah. Neither were ever really threatened by a one man Wolves forward line aka as Kevin Doyle. When Mensah went off, the onus was on Ferdinand to take control and help Onuoha through the last seven minutes and claim a point. Between them they allowed Ebanks-Blake the freedom of Molineux to score the winner.

I left the ground immediately after the goal, spluttering and fuming on the way back to the coach, knowing there was no chance of an equaliser. I spoke to the nice man at The Observer after gathering my thoughts and trying to be positive. As we travelled home (to the accompaniment of Carry On Loving) I thought I had been far too positive to The Observer. What I should have said was”

“This was a performance that sums up Sunderland AFC. Just when you think that things are going well, along comes a show like this that shows how bloody fragile we are. Why do I spend time and money on this? What have I learned over 47 years of being a Sunderland fan? The answers are; because I am mad and absolutely bugger all. Wolves are willing plodders and we are nowhere near as good as we think we are.”

I now face a week without football as The Big Freeze takes over. Good. It means I don’t have to talk to anyone about this bitterly disappointing and oh, so typical Sunderland performance. We had better beat West Ham next week or I may explode in apoplexy …

6 thoughts on “Molineux Soapbox: how not to keep Wolves from the door”

  1. Onuoha: quick and strong right back, should never be played at centre-half – especially not when there was one on the bench.

  2. I see that Gordon is back to palming the ball on to the opposing strikers feet. There is an easy and obvious answer to that one.

  3. I am not and have never been a fan of Ferdinand he is a mistake waiting to happen and the idiocy of running into Mensah when the man is recovering from a dislocated shoulder seemed to me to be yet another of those typically ludicrous mistakes.

    I would go so far as to question whether, despite his obvious ability, which he displays only too often, his lack of concentration or perhaps his inability to recognise danger, he is a luxury we can afford.

    Mensah for all his frailty was magnificent and really does have a nose for danger he watches and reads a game as well as anyone in our club. Richardson too is looking good and the close ball control of Steeeeeeeeed still mesmerises the opposition, even if like Arca used to, he occasionally runs himself into a cul de sac.

    Bent performed one of his groundhog day goals, a picture postcard of the one before and the mirror image of a similar one before that, taken with such aplomb that it could have been an action replay. How the free kick stayed out we will never know, a millimetre to the right and it would have been one of the best free kicks of the season.

    Welbeck’s header would be hard to better, so why didn’t we win? There is no killer instinct, we need the rampancy of the Chelsea game against the minnows of the Premiership, instead we seem to think we can win as of right and they really ought to give up. Well to quote a parrot breed from China they Foo King don’t and we should have learned that lesson by now that if we cannot beat the lower teams we are simply a bunch of posers and I believe that this team, even the one we fielded on Saturday are better than that.

    At Chelsea, Bruce played a key stroke in moving Richardson to harry, shepherd and finally break the spirit and game of one of the more fleet of foot opponents. He then entirely failed to do the same thing in the match against Everton when their left wing ran rampant. In my opinion he failed to do so again by underestimating the opposition.

    Perhaps we need more research regarding the speed of some opposing players but I was not disheartened, the game could have gone either way but the truth to tell it should have only gone one way.

    With one half of the pitch still frozen they might have done better to have put some heating under my seat instead of under the pitch even though I was sitting in the Wolves Stand to the right of our lads.

    One sour note was the fact someone in Sunderland’s group threw a missile into the Wolves supporters and the fact that it flew back did not mirror what was an entertaining game.

  4. It’s sad – but it was almost a certainty that Wolves would beat us just as Cahill would score against us
    It’s been a mixed bag of results for everyone this season – let’s not let this result spoil what has been a very good season so far . I’d have to say though after the Everton game I thought Henderson looked burned out – and it’s time to start a few different players – we have some class acts on the bench – let’s give them a shot

  5. I think there is a formal agreement between SAFC and the Egyptian FA that Elmohamady plays a proportion of every game, since it would look odd for all his compatriots to be voting him man of the match on the official club site, in quite the numbers they do, if he wasn’t on the pitch for at least a couple of minutes.

  6. Amongst the many questions I have asked myself since Saturday is “When the inevitable occurred and Mensah had to go off, with Da Silva on the bench, why was his replacement Elmohamady?”

    Other questions such as “Have you ever seen a squonk’s tears?” and “Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?” created less confusion in my mind!

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