After their first domestic pre-season win this summer against Burton Albion, David Evans was at hand to share his five thoughts from the game.
To help me warm up for my monthly ‘What I learned’ pieces, I thought I would wrap up some of the key points from Wolves 1-0 away win v Burton Albion.
The ‘Brewers’ were first up in Wolves domestic pre-season schedule. I was lucky enough to gain press access for the game to cover Twitter commentary for Wolves Fancast.
I was right by the touchline. So I had no excuse to learn a thing or two. So, here’s five things instead…
1. Rowe’s got skills
Back to full fitness, this was a time for Wolves midfielder Tommy Rowe to shine.
Playing on the left of a midfield three, Tommy showed a potential we rarely had a glimpse to catch last season. Comfortable on the ball, strong and a great defensive awareness, Rowe was, in my opinion, the most impressive player for Wolves on the day.
What impressed me most was his control of the ball. He was, at ease, able to hold off an opponent, hold the ball and control it either into space for him to run onto or in the path of a teammate.
It was a set of skills that you would be impressed to do on Fifa.
Where Tommy fits or even if he starts in a first team XI, I’m unsure. But it was an impressive domestic return for Mr Rowe.
2. Narrowing the field
It was reported in the week that Jackett would try a ‘narrow’ formation next season. On Saturday, we got the first taste of it.
With Ikeme in goal, we had a standard back line of Iorfa, Stearman, Hause and Golbourne. In front, a defensive pairing of Coady and Evans. Then a midfield three of Rowe, Afobe and Jacobs. Followed by Dicko up front on his own.
There was no VLP or Henry on the bench. The Dutchman was later reported to have a knock. The latter was not included but has been subject to growing speculation of a bid from Championship rivals Charlton Athletic.
Despite being on the wing, Rowe and Jacobs mainly cut inside. It was either Dicko or Afobe that would run the channels to try a cross. Most times, the ball was repeatedly played back into the middle of the park.
Wolves have had many flair wingers in previous years. From Kightly and Jarvis to VLP and Sako. Seeing this narrow style of play was very odd to watch to say the least.
Jackett has been criticsed for a lack of a ‘Plan B’. He won’t want Wolves to be found out next season.
It’s not to say that this style can’t work. Especially in games where pitches are narrow. But get ready, you may not like what you see when this is used at Molineux in the weeks to come.
3. Ben 10
Afobe took on the ‘no.10’ role against the Brewers.
He played behind Dicko but had more freedom on the pitch. He even played deep to help Wolves to get the ball moving in Burton’s half.
Afobe did well to drive the ball forward and lay off Dicko for chances on goal.
It could be an idea Jackett is looking at. With no third choice striker in the distance, Kenny could be looking at replacing a ‘no.10’ striker with a likewise midfielder to rest a key player and keep the formation flowing.
4. The future’s ‘Bright’
A domestic run out for youngster Bright Enobakhare on Saturday. The striker came on late on in the second half in replacement of Nouha Dicko.
Bright seems to embody what Jackett wants in a striker. Pacey, strong and comfortable on the ball. Well, apart from scoring goals of course.
There was no goal opportunities from Bright this time after his winning goal v Chambly FC, but he held his own against the newly promoted League One side.
He’s probably not the next Robbie Keane yet, but keep an eye out for this Nigerian hot shot.
5. Coady or MacDonald?
Kevin MacDonald is in the mist of a contract battle at the moment. Could the emergence of Conor Coady be giving him sleepless nights though?
The former Huddersfield Town midfielder was Wolves second summer recruit for a rumoured £2 million.
Partnering with Evans in the defensive midfielder role, not only did he look at home, but vastly superior to the Welshman.
Again comfortable on the ball and a strong tackler, Coady mopped up play and got Wolves moving again. He marked out his target, regained possession and moved the ball forwards towards Jacobs or Rowe.
The early signs are positive for Coady. Once K-Mac’s contract situation is hopefully sorted, the question might be where does Coady, or even Kevin, fit into Jackett’s plans?
Did you spot something different in the game? Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts.