(Image via guardian.com)
With two wins, two draws and a first home defeat in nearly 18 months, October brought about a bit of a dark cloud over Molineux and rumblings of a bad patch. It wasn’t to be the case… really. But let’s take a look at the tenth month of the year.
1.Leon Clarke can actually score!
Whether you were at the game, listening on the radio or watching via text/twitter updates, the moment Wolves took a very late lead against Leeds was a joy to see. What was more surprising was that the scorer printed on the screen, read out on the wireless and seen by the away fans was… Leon Clarke. It was more surprising to say that this was coming.
Leon had been making brief appearances off the bench in the run up to this game, playing in the ‘No.10’ role. It seemed to fit him more naturally than a lone striker. He was able to hold the ball up and link up play. Leon usually doesn’t have the tenacity like Nouha Dicko to run the channels and command a lone striker role.
Leon’s moment to shine came in the 85th minute against Leeds. Van la Parra played a neat pass to Doherty just inside the right hand side of the box. Doherty controlled the ball well, glided past the Leeds defender, passed it across goal and the keeper to free Clarke who tapped it into the open net. It wasn’t a worldly, but it was just what he needed. A goal by any means. Those in the South Bank chanted that they would run onto the pitch if Leon scored at home against Boro. Will this happen? Or will Leon score again? Time will tell.
2. The term ‘Typical Wolves’ was more than apt
65 minutes in away to Kenny Jackett’s former team Millwall. Sako scores a stunning and slightly flukey free kick to give Wolves a 3-0 lead at The New Den. A great away win was on the cards in a volatile atmosphere. Nothing could go wrong though.. right? Wrong. Once the score went to 3-1, you just sensed the writing was on the walls. Wolves new look defensive lineup, with Tommy Rowe coming in at left back and Ethan Ebanks Landell replacing Stearman at the back, seemed to buckle under a rejuvenated Millwall push. When Millwall pulled it back to 3-3 with eight minutes to go, you feared Wolves would feel the pain that we put Leicester through in our famous 4-3 comeback win in 2003.
Luckily it wasn’t to be the case as Wolves held on for a draw. Sako nearly retrieved all three points near the end with a edge of the box free-kick. But Wolves wasted a big chance to take three comfortable points and add to their goal difference. It was a day in which the phrase ‘Typical Wolves’ was as common as the house fly.
3. If you’re tall, you can bully the Wolves defence
It might have been tactics, but when it came to tall and built players this month, Wolves could not handle it. Wolves first loss of the season and for 18 months in the League at home came at the hands of Huddersfield Town. Rejuvenated under new manager Chris Powell, they hustled every Wolves player and countered at every opportunity. On loan Grant Holt had a field day against Richard Stearman. The Odin bearded English/Irishman couldn’t handle him. The same can be said for Wolves next game, a 2-2 home draw against Wigan. Again, particularly in the first half, Fortune bossed Stearman around for 45 mins, eventually leading to his goal of the day.
Stearman has since been dropped to the bench. Could it be that these performances led to his place in the starting eleven being at risk or was Kenny to blame for poor man marking decisions? Could these roles have been given to the taller and stronger Danny Batth?
4. All hail Sako!
Sako has always divided opinions. You either rate or hate him. That can be said for his performances on the pitch. A Sako on his day is unstoppable. A Sako that doesn’t turn up might aswell stay at home. But Sako’s performances over the last few games have gone from strength to strength. Now Wolves leading goalscorer, he is becoming more of an integral part of the team and how we play more than ever.
His darting runs, skill, strength and powerful shots are once again a great asset to have in the Championship. As most teams seem to see him as our biggest threat, he often gets double or even triple marked. Drawing players away to give others like Henry or Van La Parra a chance to storm down the wings. Just because Sako has been marked Intently, it doesn’t mean it’s all over. Sako usually weaves in and out of these opposition players with ease.
His form in October was summed up with his penalty against Boro at Molineux. A cheeky chip which evaded the goalkeeper. Only Sako would have the audacity to attempt it. If it went wrong, he would have been lambasted for it. But if it went right, and it did, he would continue to cement the reason why he is becoming the creative and powerful force behind the team on the field.