Wolves in League 1

Wolves suffered their second relegation last season from the Championship and will now be hoping to stop the slump.
Wolves
To do this they have hired Kenny Jackett and this is a fantastic appointment and although I don’t think Dean Saunders was to blame fully for their relegation he should have never got the job in the first place. But I am much more confident that Wolves will finish towards the very top of the table next season under Jackett. He did a very good job at Millwall winning 130 games and during his time their winning promotion to the Championship through the playoffs. He may not be the biggest name or even the most adventurous appointment but he is exactly what Wolves need right now, a steady and consistent manager that may not excite the fans but he will certainly get the points on the board. I was surprised to see him leave his last job but sometimes managers do need a change and I really do hope it works out for both himself and Wolves. In my opinion it would not be a surprise if at the end of the coming season Millwall get relegated and Wolves get promoted.

Jackett does not have it easy because there are still a lot of players at the club that were there in the Premier League and they will be on high wages and need to leave the club. Karl Henry, Stephen Ward, Roger Johnson and Jamie O’Hara have all been transfer listed. Looking at the players that are still at the club and will stay they should still have a good defence with Danny Batth already experienced in League 1 after a loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday and new signing Sam Ricketts a capable player that can do a job in any of the four defensive positions.

Batth has only played 15 times for Wolves

Batth has only played 15 times for Wolves


The midfield is another story though and is looking a little light of experience so they will have to look towards David Davis who has played quite a lot but has maybe not quite shown his true potential. Anthony Forde is another that will have to play to his potential next season because there could be a reliance on him to create chances. He has played 31 times in his career and I would expect him to at least double that number next season. David Edwards will also be crucial to the team if as expected he stays at the club.
Davis has got 1 career goal in 87 games

Davis has got 1 career goal in 87 games


Next season Wolves could play with a young but exciting strike force with Leigh Griffiths coming back from his loan spell at Hibernian. Griffiths should be very confident after hitting 28 goals in 40 games last season. League 1 will be a different challenge but I think he could replicate this form and fire Wolves to promotion. He could be partnered by Jake Cassidy who has played in League 1 before at Tranmere Rovers and over two loan spells scored 16 league goals in 36 games. Kevin Doyle is still at the club but it may be better for both if he left because he has not had a great time and has not lived up to expectation.
Griffiths has only played in one cup game for Wolves

Griffiths has only played in one cup game for Wolves

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How much will Wolves miss Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher?

Wolves have sold two of their star performers from last season in Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis and although the fans must have half expected it, it is still a blow.

Along with losing Michael Kightly, Wolves have lost a lot of their creativity and may now struggle to create and take chances so manager Stale Solbakken may have to dip into the transfer market once again. One thing Wolves have more than most clubs is that their finances are always very healthy and I’m sure if the manager wants to use the money gained from the transfers to buy players the board won’t have any objections. But spending the money does not always make you successful and they may have good enough options in their squad already.

Upfront Steven Fletcher may be a miss but Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle look to be first choice this season and between them they have a good pedigree in the Championship and I am expecting them to score quite a lot of goals. With Frank Nouble and Bjorn Sigurdarson backing them up, I don’t think they will have to bring in another striker or at least pursue another one. If someone becomes available and they think they can do a better job then they will have the funds to sign them so it isn’t all doom and gloom now that they have lost their star striker. But, if they do achieve their ambitions and get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking then they will need a new striker, as Fletcher got 12 goals in 34 games last year and even that didn’t keep them up so that just shows where they had problems.

Fletcher scored 24 goals in two seasons for Wolves

The bigger loss for me at the moment, is definitely winger Jarvis because he was often the spark for the team, he deserves to be in the Premier League and I don’t think he was actively looking to leave the club this summer even though he was in high demand. He has actually started the first two games at the start of the season and as we have seen with a lot of players over the years he could have refused to play and forced through a move. He will be harder to replace but, yet again, maybe they don’t need to. They have Slawomir Peszcko who impressed me on his debut against Leeds United and I think he will improve as the season goes on, and Stephen Hunt who can be very good on his day but he just hasn’t shown enough yet in a Wolves shirt. Also, waiting in the wings is the young Anthony Forde who actually started against Leeds on the opening day so they obviously have high expectations for him.

Jarvis also has one England cap

So, I can see Wolves keeping hold of their money at the moment and if they need extra reinforcements in January to push them on then we may see some movement. Or, if they get promoted then they have a little extra money to make sure they have enough quality to avoid a relegation battle in the next season.

Who will be the Championship’s top scorer?

Kevin Doyle may not have scored enough goals to keep Wolves in the Premier League but he will be hoping to fire them back there. The last time he played in the Championship he scored 18 goals in 42 games which is a very good record and if he can replicate that sort of form then he will surely come close to being top goal scorer. In my opinion he owes Wolves as he has only scored 21 goals in 102 games and that has not been good enough and only scoring 4 of them in the league last season is one of the reasons they got relegated.

New Cardiff City signing Heidar Helguson will also be hoping to score a lot of goals in the coming season and at least get them into the playoffs. Helguson is probably slightly frustrated that he is not still in the Premier League as he scored nine times in just 16 games for QPR last season. However, he is 34 now and his best years may be past him and the last time he was in the Championship he only scored 13 goals in 34 games. I think he will be vital to Cardiff this year but will only be an outsider for the Golden Boot trophy.

Jermaine Beckford may have only got nine league goals last year but I think he could get a lot more this season with Leicester possibly pushing for an automatic promotion place. Last season was his first full one in the Championship but he has had a full season in the Premier League so maybe he should have performed slightly better but now he has a good understanding with strike partner David Nugent he could score the same amount of goals he did in League 1.

Huddersfield Town star man Jordan Rhodes has to be a consideration because in my opinion with the way that he plays the game he will score goals at all levels. He has fantastic movement and scores all types of goals which will mean he will be a marked man but if he is given the service he will put away his chances. There are rumours that he could be leaving for Blackburn Rovers and this would only help him to score more goals but even if he stays at Huddersfield I expect him to get over 15 goals.

Finally, Craig Bellamy has to be considered an outsider because he has proved he can score goals in this division in his previous spell on loan at Cardiff City. He will be doing all he can to get his hometown club promoted and what better way to do it than score the most goals in the division. The 33 year old has never reached 20 goals but this could be the year that he does it and he will no doubt prove to be a fantastic signing but if he can add the goals to his game then he will be the signing of the season.

Can Wolves bounce straight back to the Premier League?

Wolves will be playing in the Championship next season but at least away to Swansea they gave their fans something to shout about.

When they were 4-1 down they must have thought could this season get any worse but the players have done the club proud and managed to salvage a point which seemed very unlikely after the Danny Graham goal. Out of the three goal scorers for Wolves I only expect one of them to be there next season. Steven Fletcher has got 11 goals in the Premier League this season and in a struggling side that is enough to convince someone to take a chance on him, Fletcher is one of the best in the air and a lot of teams will be interested in the summer and unfortunately for Wolves he will probably be sold quite cheaply. Matt Jarvis scored two of the goals in the game and he is another that should be in the Premier League because he has a lot of ability and can take players on, occasionally though his final delivery can let him down. The other goal scorer on the day was Dave Edwards who has actually had an ok season in my opinion although I don’t think he is that great. He has only managed to get three goals this season and maybe he should have contributed more.

But now it is time to look into the future and the team seem pretty set to challenge for promotion next year because they have a lot of players that are very good in the Championship but have been unable to show their talents in the Premier League. In goal they will have Dorus De Vries who proved at Swansea that he is very good and kept a lot of clean sheets when he was at the club, he will probably be first choice as Wayne Hennessey is injured and could even be sold in the summer. It is in front of the goalkeeper that has been the problem, they have looked awful at times and Roger Johnson is clearly not happy at the club which hasn’t helped his performances and may have even disrupted the dressing room. But Stephen Ward has performed admirably at left back and will continue in that position next season and probably be a lot more effective. In the middle of the back four though they need some changes, Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra are lucky to be Championship defenders never mind first choice in the Premier League with them playing 31 and 33 games each.

At least they have some potential in the midfield with youngster David Davis who has been quite impressive in recent weeks and should be a first team regular next season. In my opinion Jamie O’Hara and Michael Kightly should also stay as they have had injury problems and the club have stuck by them so they should show some loyalty to the club. However, loyalty goes out the window sometimes when it comes to relegation. One player I do think they should get rid of is Karl Henry because he isn’t very good and it isn’t surprising that the team has struggled every year when he is their main midfielder, he is poor on the ball and dives into stupid tackles and picks up needless bookings.

Up front with the expected departure of Steven Fletcher they may struggle especially if Kevin Doyle also gets a move away but he is another that I think should show some loyalty as hasn’t really shown his best during his time at Molineux only scoring 21 goals in 102 games. One positive is that Sylvan Ebanks-Blake can score goals in the Championship and will perform a lot better than he has done in recent seasons. He only has one goal in the Premier League this year but has scored a lot of goals in the division below.

I believe whoever the manager is next year, I think they do need more experience than Terry Connor but he could still do a decent job, needs to bring in a few players especially in key areas such as centre back and centre forward but other than that I expect Wolves to be knocking on the door of the Premier League at this stage next year.

Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

The battle at the bottom is going to be one of the best ever with five teams all struggling to string together a set of results that will pull them away from the danger zone.

Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, QPR and Wolves are the five teams and it will probably go to the last day to decide who is going to play Championship football next season. With only four points separating them, it could even be decided by goal difference. So who is the most likely to stay up.

Let’s start with bottom of the table Wigan. Out of the five teams they are the favourites to go down because they are the smallest club and have always struggled in the Premier League. However, this could work to their advantage as some teams may not take them as seriously as they should. They also have some good players and have been in this situation before and survived, it was only a few seasons ago they stayed up on the last day which shows when it comes down to it they can hold their nerve. They have a good goalkeeper in Ali Al-Habsi and he should be playing for a better team as he has performed brilliantly for the club and it wouldn’t surprise me if he left in the summer even if they did stay up. Wigan play some good football and probably only need a proven goal scorer but these are difficult to find. Hugo Rodallega is a decent player but he will not score enough goals, Victor Moses, another very good player but he will not be a consistent goal scorer.

Blackburn have just beaten Wolves and this shows that when it comes down to it, they are up for the fight. Their manager Steve Kean has been written off multiple times this season but the players seem to be playing for him and are very much behind him. They also have some very good players and what maybe the other teams don’t have is a proven goal scorer. Yakubu has arguably been the signing of the season and if they stay up he should receive a lot of praise. They also have Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett in their midfield and these two can change a game in the blink of an eye, they both have fantastic technique and have also got a few goals in them.

Bolton also secured a massive three points when they beat QPR with a very late goal from Ivan Klasnic. They shouldn’t really be in this position but most teams in the league will struggle when they have their two best players out injured for most of the season. Lee Chung Yong and Stuart Holden give the team so much quality and it would be difficult to replace them especially when they don’t have the biggest budgets. However, they do have Nigel Reo Coker and Mark Davies in their midfield and if Bolton go down then surely these two will still be Premier League players after the summer because they can control a game from the middle of the park.

Wolves are in real danger in my opinion because they have given Terry Connor the responsibility of guiding the club away from the danger zone. I am not slating him but in a situation like this you want a manger with experience. Also, putting in the assistant to me is a bad choice because it is like the old regime is still in the club and maybe something new would have given everyone a lift. Steven Fletcher has had a good season for the club but he has lacked the support, Kevin Doyle works hard but has not scored enough goals, and Sylvain Ebanks Blake is not a Premier League striker at all. The problem with Wolves is that they cannot defend and concede some very sloppy goals, Wayne Hennessey deserves praise this season because he has gained the team points and also kept the score lines down which could prove vital at the end of the season.

QPR have a good team, a good manger and the backing of the board so it seems that everything should be going well at the club but for some reason it hasn’t actually worked out. If QPR do go down there will be a lot of what ifs asked, for example what if Warnock stayed in charge would we have stayed up? The signings they made in January should have kept them up safely with Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora coming in to provide some much needed firepower. The defence is still a worry though as Clint Hill is still first choice, and he is not a Premier League defender. In the Bolton game they didn’t have much luck but you don’t get much at the bottom anyway.

I am not sure on who will go down and my opinion will change now on a weekly basis, but looking at QPR’s fixture list they seem to be in a lot of trouble but football is a strange game and anything can happen so it will be enjoyable for all the neutrals but for the fans involved it will be agony.

Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland looking good for Euro 2012

Sunderland’s James McClean has been rewarded for his brilliant form at club level with a call up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their forthcoming game against Czech Republic.

Trapattoni must have been impressed with the way he has took to the Premier League instantaneously after being pushed into the starting line up by new Black Cats manager Martin O’Neill. The winger will be hoping his good form continues as he looks to secure a place in the squad for Euro 2012. This may have been slightly surprising as the Italian manager had stated that he will stick with the squad that qualified for the tournament in the summer but when a player is on form, he has to be given a chance. Maybe some former England managers should have followed his lead as they have constantly picked players that are their favourites rather than giving someone else a chance.

But back to Ireland and the rest of their squad is pretty similar to what we are used to and the only other inclusion which may have raised a few eyebrows is Derby County midfielder Paul Green. Green, scored on his first international start and will be hoping to add to this against the Czechs and give the manager more selection headaches.

The rest of the team is as you would expect, Shay Given the undoubted number one is in there being backed up by Kieran Westwood and David Forde who have both played quite well this season when called upon but unfortunately for them, Given has remained as consistent as ever and will definitely start the Euros in goal unless there is an injury. In the defence, they are missing Richard Dunne who could be a big loss as he is a leader at the back and has been one of the best defenders and possibly most underrated in the Premier League. Shane Duffy has been called up as a possible replacement after looking solid for Everton in the five games he has played this season. So, the only problem is whether he is experienced enough to cope at international level. But, they do still have John O’Shea who has had a new lease of life at Sunderland and is benefiting from playing every week.

The midfield is looking exciting with quick direct wingers in McClean, McGeady and to a lesser extent Damien Duff, but in fairness to Duff in recent seasons he has adapted his game and is still causing opposition defences problems. Also Seamus Coleman is able to play on the wing and when he is on form he is most definitely an Irish version of Gareth Bale as he has the pace to beat players and can produce moments of real magic when his team need it.

Robbie Keane is still in the squad and during his loan spell at Aston Villa he has proved that playing in America has not made him a worse player and his career is not coming to an end. He scored some fantastic goals and his movement is still fantastic and he seems to have a good partnership with Kevin Doyle at international level and could be key not only in the upcoming friendly but the tournament itself. Jon Walters is another underrated player in the Premier League as he does a very good job at Stoke and works his socks off every game so the two upfront know that he will be waiting to take their place. Also the West Brom pair of Shane Long and Simon Cox are decent strikers that have scored quite a few goals in the Premier League between them this season.

Ireland are shaping up nicely for the Euros with a hardworking and organised squad combined with their little bit of flair and skill they could just spring a surprise this summer and give some of the bigger teams a shock. It wouldn’t shock me if they got further in the competition than England.

The end of the road for Mick McCarthy at Wolves?

So I decided to watch the Wolves Birmingham game instead of the Real Madrid Barcelona game which in itself seems like such a stupid decision but if I am honest I prefer watching English games because there is always a lot of commitment and desire in every game and I cannot stand watching European football with the constant diving, although I am the first to admit the quality is a lot better in Spain than in our country. Probably because they develop players footballing abilities whereas it seems in our country youth coaches are more focused on getting the players fit and competitive. This is a major reason why England are getting left behind in world football.

So, anyway onto Wolves and yet again they are battling relegation, I honestly thought this year that they would push on slightly and not exactly trouble the top half of the table but survive more comfortably than usual. But when you look at their team they have too many players that look good in the Championship but struggle in the Premier League.

If you just look at their strikers that started against Birmingham it shows they are lacking real quality up front to partner Steven Fletcher who has been their one bright spot in an otherwise dull season. Kevin Doyle works hard enough for the team which I do like about him and I will always defend him because he never lets the defenders rest and he will always give 100% however he needs to score goals if Wolves want to stay up and he only has three goals so far this season which is not good enough. Alongside him was Sylvain Ebanks Blake who I have never rated as a Premier League striker but he can score in the Championship and Wolves should maybe look to getting rid of him in the transfer window unless they are already preparing for life in the Championship.

The midfield is slightly stronger but when you have Karl Henry as one of your main men you are most definitely going to struggle, he always seems more intent on fouling the opposition players or when on the ball play a sideways pass and not look to go forward. He is far too negative. Adam Hammill is yet another player in the same bracket as Ebanks Blake, he can rip teams apart in the Championship but put him in the Premier League and he can’t take anyone on, his crosses hit the first man and he struggles to impose himself on the games.

Maybe I am being slightly harsh on Wolves as they were missing key players like suggested before Steven Fletcher makes a big difference to the side and can score goals but only having one striker that can score is a dangerous game to play. In midfield they have Stephen Hunt who is a very energetic player and can add a little bit of quality to the side. But their biggest worry is where does the creativity come, they can look to Matt Jarvis and Jamie O’Hara who are both a class above the rest of the squad but they can also be inconsistent but when they don’t play Wolves look worse than ordinary.

Should Mick McCarthy stay in charge or do they need someone else to come in and try to save their season?