Image via eurosport.co.uk
As I write this, Wily Boly has just turned into Thierry Henry and slotted home Wolves’ first proper win in Europe for over 40 years. An away victory in Turkey against Besiktas and I am buzzing!
That victory helped me to justify this piece even more, because…
Europe is not going to ruin out season!
By that I mean the Europa League, not Brexit. This trope around being in the Europa League and playing Thursday/Sunday wrecking our league performance is so boring to me I’d rather discuss the dreaded ‘B’ word instead…maybe.
The season has barely begun, Tottenham are in free-fall, Watford are down (insert your own Troy Deeney joke here), Liverpool are the champions and Wolves’ season is worse for being in Europe. Well guess what? None of those things are definitely true or set to happen, except maybe Watford. Good.
We are seven games in, and we currently sit 13th and a cursory look up the table shows teams in positions most of us do not think they will be in come 31 games time.
Hands up who thinks West Ham will stay 5th? I don’t see many articles or twitter rumours that The Hammers have cracked it this season. So why because we have ground out a few draws and thankfully now one win, does that mean our season is going to be a write-off?
Here’s a reminder to all those Wolves fans who have suffered decades of abject averageness (if that’s a word). We are a club going places, we are actually good. Not Mick McCarthy good, like, legitimately good.
Our squad is littered with players who are used to this ‘grind’ of European and club matches. The rest of the team are used to the high intensity of the Championship.
I grant you the level of football demanded on the latter is certainly new but what I believe it shows is that physically and mentally all of the players in our squad are more than capable of adapting to this new schedule.
Adapt and survive
That for me is the key word, adapt.
We are early into the season and a season that started in the summer against Crusaders.
Let’s bear with the team and backroom staff as we settle into this year’s campaigns. Just because Burnley struggled, does not mean we will.
Guess what? We are bigger, better and more capable than Burnley. We also have a manager with European competition experience and flipping João Moutinho!
Granted, this season hasn’t exactly started with a bang, but what it has done is started with us picking up points in games we didn’t look like getting.
Not to mention losing some to VAR, another topic to bore yourself to sleep with for the insomniacs out there.
Look at it objectively with your head and not with your heart. If those very same players were in a Chelsea shirt or an Arsenal one, I can guarantee not one person would be saying forget the Europa League.
But that is our level now though, if we don’t believe that, we will fall away and stagnate.
If we don’t believe that, then all the success last year must have been a fluke and it did not seem like one to me.
It could be argued we overachieved last year, finishing 7th, getting into Europe and beating the teams we did. That does not mean that we should aim lower this year. Surely we should just re calibrate and take stock.
Saying things such as ‘let’s get out of Europe’ or ‘just play the kids, forget it’ is a negative mindset. The kind of mindset that got Stoke relegated.
This kind of mindset that saw us stagnate and go down the last time we were in the Premier League.
Times they’re a changin…
I believe there needs to a mentality shift in our perception of this club. This is not the club of nearly men. This is not a club living on its past reputation.
Let’s embrace this new challenge. When you are worried do me one favour.
Remember we have flipping JOÃO MOUTINHO!