Date: 23rd January 2011 at 9:39am
Written by:

After all the cyber excitement surrounding Jarvis`s future it was back to the real excitement of a trip to Molineux yesterday. And I was excited, as I considered that there would never be a better opportunity to complete the double over such an iconic team as Liverpool.

I was less bouncy on the way home, a feeling shared by the Wolves supporter I met in Warwick services. Thank goodness for Everton`s late equaliser against WHU. Listening on the car radio to Manchester United thrashing Birmingham City might have cheered me up a little if it weren`t for the fact that we are playing them in a fortnight`s time. Of course, it would be typical of our season if we were to achieve the same result as we did against Chelsea.

And the day had started so well. I had a good journey up, buoyed up by the promise that some MU supporters had made me at Warwick services that they would stuff the Blues. I parked the car at West Park at 11 am, made sure of my bearings (in my presumed euphoria four hours later I didn`t want to get lost again) and walked into town.

As I neared the stadium I sniffed the match-day odour of fried onions and was tempted. Then, the thought struck me: of all the guys I had ever seen eating a burger from a stall, I had never come across any of them again. So, with a shudder, I walked on … but not to the Moon Under Water, having been put off by the queue there on my previous visit.

The Varsity, on the other hand, had plenty of space and I was served straight away. Even better, it was a pint of Banks`s best bitter. Above my head Mick was being interviewed on Sky TV, presumably to tell us that his team were up for the match. Then, Kenny said the same thing … presumably.

Unfortunately, our players had not caught MM`s words. I suspect they had caught his virus, though, because they were leaden-footed and lethargic. Even Doyle suffered, the ball bouncing off him rather than sticking to his feet as normal. Fletcher had a better game. And, without wishing to be controversial, Jarvis did not impress either (given the furore, I did pay particular attention to him). He rarely took a man on and when he did get to the byline his crosses were often poorly flighted. Hunt, though bustling about, as ever, was no more effective.

What of Hammill? Pity about the scuffed shot in front of goal but from the little I saw of him, he looks a good prospect. We do know that he can cross the ball – the first two he hit were by far the best of the game- and that he likes step-overs.

So, we cannot say that the defence was solely responsible for the defeat, though clearly it played a part. The first goal illustrated the problem of operating an offside trap system, if the players do not check where they are in relation to the opposition. Zubar was at fault, playing Meireles on and presenting Torres with the simplest of tap-ins. He lacked his normal ‘attack`, too, poking and prodding the ball instead of heading decisively for the opposition goal. If last week`s second goal was Maradona revisited, this week`s equivalent was Varney mark 2: unstoppable. I felt sorry for Hennessey, who played well but was let down by the men in front of him.

Clearly, we are not making it easy for ourselves but I am left wondering how a team that could dominate Manchester City for virtually all of the first half could start so tamely this time. In spite of the Dalglish effect, this is not a vintage Liverpool side. Indeed, Wolves probably shaded the game territorially but we defended poorly and did not take our chances. Liverpool had several shots on goal before we even had one. Their goal, when it came, seemed inevitable.

As other bloggers have already remarked elsewhere, this has got to stop. No more bleating about being too good to go down. If we continue to play like this, we deserve to be relegated. Even MM pointed out the problems in his interview on Football First: ‘We`ve had lots of play, lots of chances, lots of crosses but we didn`t have that bit of quality to finish them off when we needed it”. That says it all really.

On a personal note, the mid-day start did allow me to return to Surrey in time for a Saturday curry, a quick getaway from the top of the stand being facilitated by the early departure of so many other disgruntled fans. At least I scored some points at home, allowing me to tell my wife that I had already bought my MU ticket. I thought it politic not to say that I was also going up to watch Blackpool and Spurs with a trip to the Emirates stadium thrown in for luck (and, boy, will we need it!).