The first month of 2016 is over (that was quick) and it’s been a typical topsy turvy thirty one days for the Molineux men.
Two wins, one defeat and one draw, including the annual FA Cup third round exit, saw Wolves go from crisis to revival and crisis again.
What did we learn about Wolves in January 2016? Here are some thoughts.
1. World’s Greatest Dutchman
Rajiv Van La Parra’s New Years resolution could have been ‘New Year, New Me’.
The Dutchman’s form has been no more than scintillating following his return to the first team squad after a short loan spell to Brighton.
VLP’s desire to win the ball, his pace and commitment have been amplified since his return to a old gold shirt in Wolves 3-2 win against Fulham. Rajiv indeed looks like a different player.
Playing a more central role given the recent striker shortage, it may be that Rajiv has found his best role and is thriving in it. With rumoured interest in Huddersfield, you could argue that VLP was putting himself in the shop window after two or three supposed loan bids before Brighton fell through late last year. Did he still think his future was at Wolves?
Or, Rajiv could have come back to the club looking for a fresh start and force his way back into Jackett’s plans. At the moment, it certainly looks that way.
Rajiv should be changing fans perceptions and now with a rumoured new deal (@reluctantnicko ) , everything is coming up Van La Parra.
2. Shaky defence
Talking of changed opinions, Batth and Ebanks Landell have endured a mixed month.
It seemed the duo were starting to create a solid partnership at the back after a run of clean sheets and cultivated in a man of the match winning performance from Landell against Brighton.
However, 6 goals conceded in three games have opened up the same doubts about the pair. The promise is there but both players still require more experience.
Batth is the face of the club. The local boy, the Terry Butcher bandage over his head, academy grown captain. Whether you like him or not, he will be at the club for some time. For you wrestling fans, compare him as the Roman Reigns of the club.
Ebanks-Landell has shown promise but he will be the one who is sacrificed for the incoming Mike Williamson.
Wolves looked more in control with Williamson at the back. His experience and mentoring will be valuable for both Batth and Ebanks-Landells development.
The book isn’t closed on Ebanks-Landell but as I’ve mentioned in this blog series before, Ethan may just benefit from loan time elsewhere to continue his footballing education.
3. The never ending story
Wolves continuing search for a striker has been as re-occurring as an episode of Friends on Comedy Central.
As Afobe made his eventual exit to Bournemouth this month for a rumoured £10 million, the question was asked as to whether Wolves had a replacement lined up.
The answer… well, no.
For a club who are forever keeping ahead of things, having no clear replacement lined up and in the squad shortly after Afobe’s exit is disappointing to see. The Afobe exit was always coming so having no swift replacement actually causes concerns about whether the appeal of ‘Wolves’ as a club is there?
If we were to play Devil’s Advocate though, there is no reason to suggest that behind the scenes the club could have actually had someone lined up.
We don’t know what happens behind the scenes at a club or very few of us are lucky enough to be a fly on the wall. Let alone be in a position to reveal those secrets and for the masses to take your word before your labelled an attention seeking ‘ITK’.
The longer a search continues, the more doubt and speculation we can all create as to how hard Wolves are working. On paper we all have equal evidence to suggest that Wolves have been unlucky as much as perhaps lazy in their recruitment drive.
Many are in upheaval again for the lack of success Wolves have displayed in this the most difficult transfer window to buy in. Would the signing of a last day striker, good or bad, have resolved any concerns you have about Wolves this season?
The search for a striker is once again ongoing but my note is that perhaps everything isn’t always how we would like to perceive it is.
4. Get out the bubble wrap
Four injuries this month. Why don’t the football gods like us?
The glorious return of Bjorn Sigurdarson against Brighton was what we hoped to be the start of a wonderful Icleandic revolution.
However a potential serious back injury against West Ham in the FA Cup shattered all of our hearts. Luckily our fears were eased and Siggy has recently returned to first team training. This short term blip did once again highlight the lack of depth up front but although Siggy is now back, we better keep an eye on him.
After Siggy’s initial injury, they all started to drop like flies.
The breakout star Jordan Graham suffered a torn ACL in the 3-1 defeat to Cardiff. Zyro suffered a calf injury in the build up to QPR and Edwards broke his metetarsal at Loftus Road.
Wolves have a serious lack of depth at the moment so to lose your breakout star, new signing, experienced pro and cult icon pushes heavy on your heart.
Zyro should return by the start of March, Edwards could squeeze in a very late end of season cameo whilst sadly Graham will need to wait until early 2017 to again run havok around Molineux.
The majority of the time injuries can’t be helped but look at it like this, Kenny Jackett has done a heck of a job with the current squad he has at his disposal to gain our current league position.
5. Resilient Kenny Jackett
I always seem to make comment or dedicate a section to Kenny in these series of blogs. So, why not continue to trend.
As I’ve mentioned above if you take a few minutes to look at the current scenario at Wolves. The players we have, the league position and current ownership situation, you will realise what a good job Kenny is doing under the circumstances.
Injuries come along and Kenny and the team still find a way to grind out a result. At the time of writing this Wolves are eight points off the playoffs. The Championship is a tight affair but Wolves are still in the fight.
You can’t help but feel in your gut that behind the scenes Jackett is working under difficult circumstances. No owner, perhaps very tight finances and a wage parity to keep whilst trying to attract quality additions.
With all the obstacles that Kenny has been thrown into, he has presented himself in a dignified and professional manner without making any subtle rebellious decisions against those higher up.
So here is my prediction for 2016. Don’t be surprised if Kenny Jackett bows out of Molineux at the end of this season. Not by the club but by his own decision. He will leave quietly, respectfully and find a new challenge where he can build on what many managers dream, to reach the Premier League.
That’s what I thought we learned. Did I miss anything? Comment below and share your thoughts.