Date: 30th November 2014 at 11:49am
Written by:

If we won the equivalent fixture last year 3-0, how come we lost yesterday by four clear goals? Seven of the eleven players who completely outplayed Brentford in February started the game and an eighth, if one includes Dave Edwards, a sub then.

While Brentford are currently lying in 3rd. place with the same number of points as MM`s Ipswich above them, we are seven points behind in 12th. place and in free-fall. Something is dreadfully wrong at Molineux. Were we complacent in the summer, failing to improve our squad while Brentford and all the other Championship sides strengthened theirs? Clearly, we did not take advantage of the head-start we had in the transfer market.

And, I was so looking forward to this match because I really thought that the recent run of defeats would have concentrated minds and that KJ would have done something to halt the slide. Perhaps he would pick either Iorfa or Hause (or both of them) in the centre of the defence and Price to stiffen up our midfield … some hopes!

I didn`t expect to be at the match but last Sunday a WW friend of mine phoned to ask me if I wanted to go. As it`s just across the river and I could dodge the wife for a few hours, I agreed. However, he could not obtain away tickets on Monday and did not want to sit among the home fans when I suggested contacting a Brentford friend of mine. So, I went alone.

I was so excited I left the house an hour earlier than intended and arrived at Griffin Park just before 1.30 p.m. With a pub at each corner, there`s no better ground to spend an hour or so. I had a pint in three of them, ending up with a Naked Lady at the New Inn.

Unlike other grounds – and even the MUW in Wolverhampton- fans from both sides mingled freely and amicably. Indeed, the blokes who sat either side of me in the New Road Stand started chatting to me. The atmosphere was very relaxed and it got better – from the Brentford perspective- as the goals mounted up.

I know that I shouldn`t hark back to the past but as a 70 year old I find it difficult to see us playing in the same league as Brentford and Bournemouth, even though I was in the front row of the South Bank when Bournemouth beat us in the 4th. round of the FA Cup and their winger brought the goalpost down. Perhaps that`s our trouble. Too much history, not enough present.

If I have spent so much time on the build-up to the game, it`s because that was the only pleasant part of the trip. The event itself was a disaster. I left in the 88th. minute in order to avoid the rush for the train – my daughter had suddenly announced on Friday that she was coming round for dinner the next day – and the roar told me that Brentford had scored a 4th. At least I caught the train, even if I found myself sitting next to another despondent WW fan … and four others standing nearby who had also had enough.

The actual report is going to be sketchy because I did not take notes, protecting my disguise as a neutral soccer fan working locally. Even so, I suspect the fact that I did not jump up, shout and wave my arms in the air whenever Brentford scored gave the game away.

No-one came out of this game with his reputation intact except, perhaps, Golbourne but why did he not come out after half time: injured again? Even Ikeme was at fault for at least one of the goals. If Evans was responsible for the first goal, the ease with which Brentford carved us open at the back for the other three was down to bad positioning and sloppy, ineffectual tackling. For the 3rd. goal Grey turned one player and outflanked several more before firing in a shot beyond Ikeme. The 4th. , which I only heard from outside the ground, was just as bad.

We did have our moments. Indeed, had Graham converted VLP`s well-flighted cross at the back post early on, it could have given us the confidence we so desperately need. In the second half Edwards might have scored from a pull-back but the chance, once raised, instantly went.

Of course, it`s not the fault of the defence alone because Brentford simply stormed through our midfield. So, Judge converted a harder chance that Edwards missed. In centre midfield we need a complementary pair: McDonald or Evans with a gritty, holding player alongside. Presumably, Saville played that role yesterday but he was totally ineffective. Price has to come back.

Of the wide men, I thought that VLP had a better game than Sako. His speed is a great asset and he can round his man and provide decent crosses, as noted above. He still tried to do too much and is rather selfish, in the same way that Sako used to be. However, he will learn and improve. He`ll have to because we are not going to be able to keep Sako at the club beyond January.

Upfront, we are toothless without Dicko, never mind the job he does keeping the opposition occupied with his movement and general belligerence. Graham isn`t the answer, though it`s a thankless job operating as the lone striker in a team providing you with little or no service. We`re no longer working the ball forward at speed and to feet (or even to head). We gave it away so many times that I lost count.

And, we often resorted to the hoofed ball upfield. Ever a dodgy tactic, the ball generally eluded Graham and was easily swatted away by a defender. I recall how much better Doyle was under the high ball, even though he is slighter in build. Perhaps, we should think of playing him up-front again, that is, if we intend to persevere with the same ploy. I hope not.

Jackett thought we equalled Brentford in the first half. Surprisingly, the guy sitting next to me thought that we had edged it and were unlucky to go in at the break a goal down. I disagree. Brentford were far sharper on the ball, passed more crisply and were more threatening in the final third. We had one corner while they had umpteen.

In the second half we fell apart, the puzzle being why we did not ship a 2nd. goal until the 72nd. minute. And, as we strove [if that`s the right word] to get back in the game, gaps opened up in our defence, which Brentford were able to exploit. We were given a real footballing lesson on how to play the game. Recalling how grudging Warburton was when we won the match in February, I could have done without his smug comments on the Football Show.

So, what do we do now? Surely, the players who worked so well at the beginning of the season, playing an attractive, effective passing game, have not become poor overnight? Is it merely a question of confidence? I don`t think so. Teams have sussed us out and we have not evolved a Plan B. If KJ does not work out a solution over the course of the next few games, we are heading into the relegation zone and with it his own future at the club.

It`s not as if the January window is the answer to our problems. Apart from the uncertainty of prising enough money out of SM`s purse, would players of the requisite quality want to come to WW? Moreover, if we refused to pay the going rate in the summer, the price has been jacked up since then.

Eventually, our Academy might provide the answer and already several of the graduates are on the verge of making their League debut. On the one hand, Iorfa and Hause surely are playing as well as our current central defenders but, on the other, is it fair to pitchfork them into such a shambolic team?

Troubled times at Molineux.