Wolves start has been anything but what anyone expected. Joe Hill takes a look to explain it event by event.
Wolves fans were left slightly disappointed after missing out on the play offs on goal difference but on the whole amazed on how well we’d done and left Wolves fans believing that the 2016 season could mean promotion to the Premier League again.
But before a ball was we had to wave farewell to by far the most talented player I’ve seen a Wolves shirt. Bakary Sako. His pace, power, goal-scoring and his general love for the club made him a cult hero at Wolves. With his growing wish to play Premier League football, it was only fair we let him go and pursue his dream but left a hole that need filling which our chief executive Jez Moxey promised would be top priority. But with only 18 year old Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo coming in to fill Sako’s void, Wolves fans were left frustrated with no recognised replacement for our most pivotal players.
The summer transfer window was one of disappointment overall with Wolves fans hoping for players to push for promotion. As said before the left Midfield needed attention and really didn’t get enough. Another priority was reinforcements to central defence and got worse after the shock departure of Richard Stearman.
However we’ve improved our options up top with wolves adding Adam Le Fondre to the already proven Nouha Dicko and Benik Afobe to make an exciting and dangerous attack force, and the addition of Conor Coady looks a solid signing and Emiliano Martinez grows in confidence now he’s settled in.
Wolves fans went into the first game against Blackburn full of confidence after a fairly good pre season, but only just did enough to win 2-1 with goals from Benik Afobe and a blatant hand ball from Dave Edwards which was luckily missed by officials. Wolves then defeated to Newport county in the Capital One cup drew at home to Hull.
Then the turning point, QPR at home. Wolves threw a 2 goal lead away to lose 3-2 in which the goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had a nightmare letting the 2nd and 3rd in very cheaply, but the whole team were switched completely off after our 2nd even though we had been some of our best football for a long time. This left fans frustrated that we’d let 3 points go at home against a team who wolves hope to at top with.
This led into the Cardiff away game in which Wolves went back for Carl Ikeme after dropping him against Hull and QPR, but a mix up with defence and Ikeme cost us a goal on the stroke of half time and another from Sammy Ameobi meant wolves lost 2-0 but having no shots on goal sums up what sort of afternoon it was.
Next up was Barnet at home in 2nd round of the cup where Kenny gave minutes to some of the fringe players and youngsters where wolves as expected dominated the game but could only manage a 2-1 with with Bright Enobakhare and Sheyi Ojo getting the goals for wolves.
Then came the visit of Charlton at Molineux in which Wolves fans left mystified hearing that ever present Richard Stearman had been dropped from the team and to find out he was about to be sold to Fulham for a rumoured fee of £2 million. Nevertheless Wolves came from behind to win 2-1 but game was shadowed by this strange decision.
A man who’d been here since the Mick McCarthy promotion days and stayed through the relegations and had started every game of this season was to be sold so close to the deadline leaving Wolves with 3 centre backs until club captain Danny Batth was back. Also wolves were struck with the blow that Nouha Dicko was out for rest of the season with a knee ligament injury, leaving wolves looking for a striker before transfer window shuts.
It looked like Wolves would be busy with Dicko & Stearman needing replacing. Yet only right wing back Nathan Byrne was signed, who does look a great addition but just not fans wanted at that time.
After international break Wolves travelled to Bolton where yet again they didn’t turn up and lost 2-1. This was starting to concern fans more and more as performances were getting worse not better. The once strong defence looked shaky and with no Dicko and Sako, Afobe was struggling to get chances and was basically creating for himself.
Going up against table-topping Brighton, wolves fans weren’t exactly optimistic. But defence played a lot better and with only real mistake being made was by Scott Golbourne which led to a penalty which was saved by Martinez who has now established himself as the Wolves number 1. The red card came for Conor Coady which was debatable but probably fair which meant Wolves had to focus on defending which meant an bore draw really but most fans would have taken that before the game.
Wolves then faced Middlesbrough away in the cup and with a wholesale changes made they were blown away in a comfortable 3-0 win for the hosts with 1 or 2 fringe players possibly playing their final games as they’d failed to show up on too many occasions.
Onto Preston away when despite the referee doing everything to help us win (for a change) Wolves only managed a last gasp equaliser through Kevin McDonald on the back of signing a new contract. It was also the first game of the season for club captain Danny Batth which made a massive difference as there was a leader on the pitch to organise the young back four.
Then on the Monday following Wolves fans were met with the news that owner Steve Morgan had put the club up for sale after 8 years. He brought the club from club legend Sir Jack Hayward for £10 with the promise he’d invest £30 million into the club. In Steve’s time we’d seen our promotion to the Premier League before crashing disastrously crashing into league 1 which left unsavoury scenes on the final home game with fans invading the pitch calling for him to leave there. But he stayed and saw us get back to the Championship and go so close to the playoffs last season, this was great news for most fans who’d never liked him as it was known that he’d had already tried to buy his boyhood club Liverpool and some thought he used wolves as second option and to make money.
This as expected overshadowed the game at Fulham but seemingly spurred players on to finally to start playing the football fans had come accustom to last season with a easy 3-0 win with Adam Le Fondre, Sheyi Ojo & a James Henry free kick scoring which left fans shocked as Fulham had come off the back of 4-0 win to QPR.
In the most recent game, Wolves faced bogey side Huddersfield who they hadn’t beat at home since 1988, but they managed to break the curse with a comfortable 3-0 which flattered Huddersfield as it could have been 4 or 5 quite easily with goals coming from Kevin McDonald and a Benik Afobe brace which ended a small goal drought of his.
It’s no doubt that Danny Batth and Jack Price being back in the team and Kevin McDonald being back on form has changed wolves fortunes no end and hopefully (for wolves fans anyway) to push forward and get back on target towards promotion