Soapbox: Wolves have home fans howling as easy prey gets away

With the opposition firmly ensconced at the bottom of the league, a team that had lost seven consecutive games and hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the league since August 27th, Pete Sixsmith travelled to the Stadium of Light in high spirits. Here was a great opportunity to cement that push for a top eight finish. By the end he was fantasising about non PC seventies sitcoms and the latest equivalent of Watney’s Red Barrel …


There are some games that warm the cockles of your heart on a cold day. This was, most emphatically, not one of them. It was as poor a ninety minutes as I have seen this season – a season that has so far, taken in 178 games – including every one played by Sunderland. I am on target to achieve my first ever full season and my first ever 200 games.

But I doubt I will see one as dreary as this. At one stage I was thinking about what would be preferable to this shocker. Root canal work without anaesthetic, a lock in at a pub that only served John Smiths Extra Cool Extra Smooth or an evening watching George and Mildred and On The Buses all came to mind and were all dismissed as the stultifying boredom of Sunderland v Wolverhampton Wanderers took over.

From our point of view we looked jaded, lacklustre and lacking in the confidence that ran through the team in December and January. It might make us realise what a lopsided set of players we have with no natural goalscorer and a collection of decent, if uninspiring, midfielders. O’Neill has done very well to get us to where we are.

Games like this can enable the manager to formulate his thinking for the summer and MON will have gone back to his home having a much clearer idea of what needs to be done for 2012-13.

He will have learned that neither Craig Gardner nor Jack Colback is capable of leading the midfield. Both are tidy players and both have qualities, but seizing a game by the scruff of the neck and injecting some pace into it is not their style.

Once again Gardner’s lack of pace and difficulty in seeing a clear pass let him down and he looks like the one who will drop out if Cattermole is fit next week. The captain was missed badly and it is probable that his presence might just have given us the edge in a midfield that Karl Henry found far too easy to have ascendancy over.

Both Larsson and McClean are struggling at the moment. The Irishman spurned a couple of good chances in the first half and he no longer seems to have the boundless enthusiasm that he was showing up to three weeks ago, when he destroyed QPR.

Our sole creative player is Sess and he was the one player on the park who made this game look like a Premier League clash, rather than something from the middle of the Championship.

His running and his strength caused Wolves problems and his final pass was often far too good for his team mates. He threatened to win the game for us but could just not find that little bit extra to give us the three points, that would have made this a game more fun than a six hour bus trip from Belfast to Athlone, with a hangover.

Sess apart, the other positive that can be taken is Simon Mignolet, who once again showed that he will be the first choice keeper for Sunderland and Belgium for a long time. He handled the ball well and made a stunning save from Steve Fletcher towards the end, although it is a pity about his distribution which needs to improve. I gather that Jordan Pickford, who has done well in his loan spell at Darlington, also has problems with his disposal of the ball – something for the coaching staff to work on in the summer.

Defensively we looked OK, although Turner was never completely happy against Ebanks-Blake, a player who has caused him a lot of problems in the past. Kilgallon did well enough, while Bardsley and Richardson never allowed Kightley and, later on Jarvis (the player, not Billy Longworth’s dog) to dominate.

But the overall picture is one of disappointment at an opportunity missed. Whereas last Saturday’s goalless draw was quite an interesting game, this one was anything but and it meant that we had a miserable afternoon on a bitterly cold day. Ian and Susan who sit next to us were off to Australia to visit their son, so not a great goodbye for them.

The mood wasn’t helped by the fact that Everton had blown their chances at Wembley. To lose to Liverpool was bad enough, to lose to an Andy Carroll goal was even worse, but to lose and let the Mags into Europe next season was unforgivable. I think that David Moyes should be sent back to Preston North End and Steve Bruce parachuted in to Goodison.

And finally, as Sir Trevor used to say, what of Wolves? They are a grand old club and I hope to see them back soon. They worked hard, had a couple of decent chances and, in Steve Fletcher, had a player who MON must be thinking about very strongly. Defensively though, they looked shaky and it was clear at times why they concede so many goals.

Doesn’t say much for us that we couldn’t add to that tally!!!!

4 thoughts on “Soapbox: Wolves have home fans howling as easy prey gets away”

  1. I have to confess that I spent the day with my old pal Pat Marsh an ardent Wolves supporter with whom I have in the past tricked up to SOL to watch our two respective teams fight for supremacy.

    The day for us was filled with periods of peace, suddenly filled with moments of extreme excitement as we each battled to land the victory we each longed for.

    Some might query how with such a match we could reach levels of optimism let alone excitement.

    I have to confess it was because we elected to spent the day Carp and Tench fishing taking over 60 fish

  2. I would like to also take the chance to praise the Wolves fans that came. They are going down and they all know it, but they kept up their spirits and were, at times, quite funny. Their countdown to pretending they had scored and then celebrating as if it happened was good. Particularly once they got to 3 and started chanting Easy, Easy and we want 4.
    Good luck to them

  3. This, I think, will be the way we wind down the season – scrappy games with narrow margins in the result. O’Neill has done an amazing job of papering over the cracks in the side he inherited but the wear and tear is starting to tell. It’s not so much the individual players who are tired but the team as a team is tired. The lads, most of them anyway and most of the time, have played out of their skins since MON took over.
    In one way, it’s a bum note to end on. Until you think that without O’Neill we might well be sitting where Wolves are and looking at another season in the Championship. To do what he’s done with the team is nothing short of miraculous and, as Pete says, he knows very well now what needs to be done for 2012/13.
    At risk of opening old wounds (it took a while for some of them to heal and I can still see the scars!), I finished last season both depressed and pessimistic. By comparison now, I’m on Cloud 9 and optimistic about what’s to come. Whatever we do in the last four games, we’ll finish very respectably and with no cause whatsoever to hang our heads.
    Reluctant as I am to say this, fair play to the Mags. When they started the season better than expected, I read somewhere that sooner or later they’d get found out. And I guess they have been. I just wish it had been in a different way. They’ve got a good squad and a good manager and they’ve had an unexpectedly stellar season. But I still say Sunderland’s achievement has been greater. And we’ll kick them off the park next season!

  4. The bloke who was sitting in front of me is emigrating to Australia on Wednesday. Not the greatest game to remember as your last before moving to the other side of the globe. My brother took his 7 year old grandson to his first ever game at the Stadium of Light. He’s going to the Bolton game too. Let’s hope he sees more excitement then otherwise he’ll be wanting to spend his weekends on the naughty step.

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