As we are about to exit 2015, David Evans shares his thoughts on what we found out about Wolves in the last month of the year.
Just like the generic plot line of any good adventure film, Wolves’ month started promising, went into despair before fighting their way out of trouble and riding out into the sunset with the leading lady.
‘Out of the darkness, cometh light’ seems apt.
What did we learn about Wolves in the last month of 2015? Here we go…
1. Gone in 30 minutes
Wolves gained 10 out of a possible 18 points in this month. Not a bad return on paper.
However, three games in the form of Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday were points dropped and highlighted a possible physiological frailty in the side.
Up to the thirty minute mark in each game, Wolves were in control. The team of last season were back with a commanding and fierce prescience. Bouncing the ball about like a Barcelona team moved to the Black Country.
Initial goals would follow, but the team’s inability to turn this dominance to kill off the game became their downfall.
Once the opposition had a whiff of getting back into the game, Wolves heads suddenly dropped and their confidence seemed zapped like the NBA stars out of Space Jam.
All three games were odd to watch. Two different teams appeared in gold and black in the space of seconds.
Reading showed signs of this continuing despite Wolves pulling off an unlikely win. Another win against Charlton followed but, as they were a team down in a relegation fight, 2016 will show if this mental strength has been restored.
2. Defending the indefensible?
Most of December has thrown up the ongoing saga in Wolves season. The defence.
Ever since the controversial sale of Richard Stearman in September, if something goes wrong, the default setting is to point to the defence.
After on loan Mike Williamson was recalled to Newcastle United, the pairing of Danny Batth and Ethan Ebanks Landell have been reunited.
Despite reservations coming into December, the pair enjoyed a good partnership in a 2-1 away win to Rotherham.
After Ebanks-Landell landed his first goal of the season against Forest, the duo started to falter.
After Ebanks-Landell poorly marked Blackstock for Forest’s equaliser, their very early foundations started to crumble.
Games against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday produced amateur mistakes, even as far as borderline embarrassing with the pair’s decision making and awareness of each other being questioned.
Should we be concerned about Batth and EBL?
‘Why?’ I hear you cry. Well, remember Batth and EBL are still learning. Both have been thrown together with little Championship experience.
Whether KJ believed they were ready or not, they are still finding their feet. Without any immediate alternatives, they are all Wolves have at the moment.
Both need an experienced head next to them. Williamson proved that Wolves can be disciplined at the back with a General at the helm. This type of player as their guide can slowly help this duo to develop their craft.
Even captain Danny Batth is probably at the ‘Post university first full time job’ phase of his footballing career.
Ebanks-Landell just needs further loan time. First team experience at a lower level to help expand his footballing education.
Both players show promise and the list of defenders our academy has produced can only evidence this.
Will they make the grade in the future? Time will tell, but they’re Wolves players. Don’t be afraid to break the social media mould and show them your support.
Former Swindon Town manager Martin Ling once said “You never know what might happen when you try to get people thinking better about themselves.”
3. Another bowl of Golden Graham’s
Goodbye Bakary Sako. Hello Jordan Graham.
The former Aston Villa winger has continued his impressive first team start by cementing his position in the squad.
If December had shadow cast over it, Graham provides the light.
His control of the ball, pace and passion is clear to see from the starting whistle.
He seems naturally unfazed by taking on defenders and being thrust into the first team. Showing no fear for who he is facing.
It is a refreshing sight to see in a side which has not lived up to the expectations that many still hold for this season.
Is Graham the chosen one? He might be. Let’s hope his good form continues.
4. Bjorn Again?
After his return to action for Wolves in the Under 21’s last month, Fancast favourite Bjorn Sigudarson made a surprise return to the bench against Reading and Charlton.
I, like a few out there, believes that Siggy has what it takes to be a success at Molineux if given a run of games.
He has the attributes to be one of two strikers up top. He may not naturally fit with Afobe but he has enough in his locker to produce the goods.
With his contract expiring next summer, can the Icelandic striker earn a new deal?
Honestly, probably not. Kenny doesn’t seem to have been a fan of Bjorn since day one. His numerous loans spells (unless home sickness is part to play) is an evident factor.
As Wolves struggle with options up front, Kenny may feel that he might as well utilise the Solbakken signing for the rest of the season before the Scandinavian bids farewell on his short lived Wolves career.
Don’t rule out a January exit either but here’s hoping Siggy can finally do what we all think he can. In Siggy we trust.
5. Apply some pressure
As noted in earlier blogs, November and December have never been kind to Kenny Jackett. 2015 has been no different.
After collapses to Forest and Leeds, a spanking from Sheffield Wednesday broke the camels back for many.
Not even before the final whistle, Twitter was flooded with criticisms of Jackett’s reign and many calling for his head.
If it was a portrait, tweets would have been the flame, attached to a selfie stick and paraded as a 21st century pitchfork as fans stood outside Molineux in their droves, calling to send Jackett and co to be burned at the steak.
Has social media helped to create an easily influenced amplified negative view of Jackett and the club in its darkest days? That’s a piece for another time. Shh, spoilers.
Kenny has made some questionable decisions this month. A lack of substitutions when players seem obviously tired for one. Not selecting or dropping certain players the other.
Whether tactical or not, Jackett has continued to try to find the perfect formula. Wins and clean sheets against Reading and Charlton might show this has been found.
However, it is obvious that a better team would have put Wolves to bed even before Wolves got out of first gear.
Whether you are now fond of Jackett or not, the clubs faith in him is a promising sign in a world where two or three defeats can axe the highest calibre of managers.
One of Jackett’s saving graces is the current ownership situation.
Until a new owner is found, the club isn’t the most attractive prospect for a new manager and the standard that Wolves could attract starts to dwindle.
As I’ve said before, Wolves future is better with than without Kenny Jackett. I still have faith in KJ and I hope he can start to turn things around in 2016.
Is there anything else we learned about Wolves in December? Comment below and share your thoughts.