It seems I was a little unfair on Richard Stearman last week. Leave him out of the team, and we’re still shambolically unfocussed at the back.
This was Wolves’s heaviest defeat of the season and not one of our best performances to boot but, in truth not so very different to last week. This will go down as the worst result this term so far, and was certainly one of the most disappointing. However, but for some very good goalkeeping, we’d most likely be looking at a narrower margin, but the most important statistic would still be three goals against.
The most consistent characteristic of the team throughout the season, especially noticeable after the injury to Jody Craddock, has been the inadequacy of our defence, and never was that more evident than today. We won last week because of some good finishing in spite of some shaky defending. We lost today because our slightly off-colour attack, in the face of a top form Paul Robinson, could not make up for some shocking defending.
For a team who’s biggest asset is probably their never-say-die attitude, Wolves are regularly unacceptably casual in defending. We started so promisingly, hitting the post twice in the first five minutes, but Blackburn worked their way into the game until, just before the half hour mark, David Dunn, surrounded by Wolves players, was allowed unchallenged to head the ball into the net from inside the six yard area.
Worse was to follow. The marking was equally non-existent in the 44rd minute when Emerton swept home Rovers’ second, and again when Nelsen was allowed free reign to help Pederson’s free kick into the net. Both decent finishes from Blackburn, but they really had no need to be – Wolves seemed determined to give the opposition as many goals as they wanted.
Robinson saved well from Elokobi and then twice from Hunt in the last 10 minutes but the game was already beyond us by that point.
Where from here?
We have been unlucky with injuries this season, with David Jones the latest casualty this week, joining Edwards, Craddock, Henry and Kightly in the treatment room, taking the place only just vacated by Ronald Zubar. We have, however, also found it too difficult to get a settled line up. Where did Ward in midfield come from? Having felt Hunt was not quite ready in the games he’d played up to last week, I thought he looked sharper against Sunderland, and picked up a good poachers goal to prove it. Yet somehow Foley ended up shifted wide to accommodate Ward in the centre with Hunt on the bench.
I’ve regularly championed our attacking play in recent weeks and although we weren’t on top form anywhere on the field today, we probably would have got at least a goal on another day. But it doesn’t need me to point out that when you let in 2-3 most games you’re rarely going to score enough to make up for that. Plenty will call for Mick’s head again today, but they’re wrong. He needs to get the defence sorted out and concentrating throughout the match and, in the absence of a certain Mr Craddock, that probably means a new defender in January. Sacking your manager now is a mug’s game however (official World Wide Wolfie fact). We need Mick to try and dig us out of this, and I believe he has the character and the team to do it.
But they need to *&!*%* concentrate at the back.