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Watford 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (26/12/2014) 27/12/2014

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

1- Some games are memorable for the drama.  The unscripted theatre, the two hours of adrenaline that knackers your calf muscles by suspending you on the edge of your seat.  Some are memorable for the context… OK, it wasn’t a great spectacle but it was significant in itself…  you often don’t remember much of these games themselves, just a few key details and probably as much about how you got to the game and how bad you felt the next morning (Burnley in the 2003 FA Cup falls into this category).  Some games will be remembered for one incident only, one detail.  How much can you remember about that win over QPR in 2009  except Lloyd’s goal?  Some games are filler.  Unremarkable.  So-so draws, humdrum wins and take-on-the-chin defeats against superior sides.

Other games are just a waste of time and effort, leaving you feeling bitterly resentful about the decision to spend/go overdrawn on brownie points particularly, say, during the Christmas break.  Often conducted in the pissing, freezing rain and cold on a day when they couldn’t even get bloody Z-cars right on the tannoy.  Like listening to nails being scraped down a blackboard.  For two hours.  (Kids… that used to be a really annoying noise).  Guess which sort of game this one was.

2- The first half was a car crash.  Wolves were bigger, faster, sharper, cleverer than us and should have been several goals up at half time.  There’s detail in there…  quite which player punched a shot narrowly wide, who belted one top corner until Heurelho Gomes clawed it over and so on and so on, but that doesn’t really add anything to your understanding of events in any interesting way and certainly doesn’t accelerate the process of me getting through the purgatory of this joyless report.  We got away with it, in short, albeit that Gomes was given a shot-stopper’s dream half in being afforded a number of snap-shots to save without having much in the way of conscious decisions to make and flourished as a consequence.  Meanwhile we made everything look awfully difficult, seeming to struggle more with the conditions insisting on that extra touch that was completely inconsistent with a snappy passing game aimed at exposing an opponent’s high defensive line.

3- Wolves weren’t anything special, but they were more than good enough to merit a win against another perfunctory effort from far too many of those in yellow.  Debates in previous years have challenged, not unreasonably, the tradition of such a high stock being placed in mere effort… but effort, or rather spirit buys such a lot of goodwill (seasonal or otherwise) and there was precious little spirit about this performance.  Contrast with the performance of Wolves’ centre-half Danny Batth, whose brutal, one-dimensional and thoroughly effective approach to the central defender’s art saw him take precisely one touch of the ball (and as much collateral damage as required) to deal with each incident that he was involved in.  Other of Wolves’ tactics, such as their taking advantage of the officials’ tolerance of timewasting, kicking the ball away and so on were altogether less charming, but a(nother) irritant rather than something that affected the course of events.

4- Actually we came out looking a lot better at the start of the second half;  Slav has tended to improve situations with the changes he’s made all things considered, so it was a bit unfortunate (if far from undeserved on the balance of the game) that the vastly more potent-looking 4-3-3 that lead to us genuinely getting on top of the game for the first time resulted in, finally, a goal for the visitors as the generally industrious Abdi let his man go past him and square for Dicko to finish. Thereafter…  we had chances, certainly, spells of possession which might have seen us grab a point.  As with the changes in formation, the introductions of Forestieri, Ighalo and Guedioura all made us more potent, we might have nicked something.  But we didn’t.  Altogether… underwhelming, as if I hadn’t made that clear enough.  The challenging Christmas schedule ought to be a period when our deep squad delivers us that competitive advantage.  Losing the first game probably wasn’t part of the plan. 

5- Meanwhile.  Twenty years ago, BSaD first took to the web in the wake of an inconsequential but less fist-chewingly awful win over Portsmouth.  In the interim we’ve reflected on a few games like this.  It doesn’t get any more fun.  But the benefit of hindsight does at least suggest that there’ll be a better game around the corner.  Let’s hope it’s Cardiff.  In the meantime, happy birthday us…


1. Stevie D - 27/12/2014

Couple of points from a Wolves fans perspective. Yeah, we were far superior through the first half and Gomes saved you. Frankly, I was pinching myself at halftime at the quality from my team although Watford seemed really lethargic.After the goal, it was more 50/50 until your subs came on, then we were a bit under the cosh. But it ended up being all about commitment. We had it and your guys didn’t. Not enough anyway.
Can’t agree about the time wasting though. It depends whether it’s your team that’s winning I guess.

2. john Parslow - 27/12/2014

Firstly happy birthday – I think I was absent for the first 2 years of BSaD but have loved the balance you and Ian provide vs various other media/forums/twitter rants – including my own !!

This game however has led me to one conclusion…Either this squad / team are just not good enough or the manager isn’t.

Evidence points to the former but I still suspect we dont have the right manager to gel the components into a winning mentality.Our results vs top half teams is 7 points – we are at best mid-table mediocrity when it comes to rolling up our sleeves.

On yesterday in these games we are still desperately missing a Hogg / Eustace and even a Battochio never say die attitude.

Bizarrely yesterday i felt we should have kept Guedeioura in for Munari (who I love) – he can be that enforcer – and given his performance vs Reading – he deserved it.

But my main gripe was that it was only when Forestieri came in from the wing that he made an impact and shape wise – when up against it we need to find a way to push him into the centre.

Onwards and upwards – i am looking forward to a payback performance from the team on Sunday – PLEASE !

3. Harefield Hornet - 27/12/2014

I have always resisted taking my daughter to football and have read with interest as No 1 and No 2 daughter respectively have made their debut at the Vic. A friend having two spare tickets together yesterday forced my hand and I decided to take my 8 year old to her first game. Decent crowd and a decent chance of a win were the things I gambled on making it an enjoyable first experience – how wrong could I have been! Despite this and getting soaked before and after the game the first thing I was asked when we got home was when can I go again Daddy? Don’t you just love them!

Matt Rowson - 27/12/2014

Good work. Feels like a terrible gamble, but sounds like you got away with it…

4. Sequel - 27/12/2014

On other, less well informed, sites, people seem to be universally criticising Doyley for his poor showing yesterday. LD is, and always has been, a pretty useful right back in this division, nothing more, nothing less, so it’s grossly unfair to point the finger at him when he’s played out on the left and expected to support the attack. It’s been a standing joke for years now that Lloyd gets a nose bleed when he crosses the halfway line, so it’s a bit harsh to moan when he fails where other more esteemed colleagues have also tripped up.

NickB - 27/12/2014

Lloyd comes into his own when we’re under siege and he can do his dogged ‘staying on his feet showing the attacker wide’ thing, although he did a pretty fair impression of a statue at the back post when Wolves scored last night. Where he’s a total liability is when he’s involved in attempts to get attacks moving quickly; he struggles both to control and pass the ball with the speed and movement required of a professional footballer. Good luck to the lad, but it really is time to move on. But you’re quite right to say that many, if not all of the others were also dismal; I’m amazed Paredes wasn’t taken off after half an hour, he was so completely useless.
Congrats on 20 years Matt and ig and thanks for all your splendid work.

Matt Rowson - 27/12/2014

Don’t agree that Lloyds days are numbered. He’s a proficient defender with experience who will work hard and not kick up a fuss about being a regular sub. He counts towards the home grown quota. No brainier.

Mark - 28/12/2014

I agree that Lloyd is not always the most dynamic player going forward, but (despite his ungainly appearance) he can still offer a surprising amount. Go back and watch his Cruyff-turn layoff to Ighalo for the shot the cannoned off the bar! Lloyd’s always just been held back by the impression that is given by his slightly unusual gait (ie- that he’s constantly on the verge of falling over…).

Goldenboy60 - 27/12/2014

REALLY AGREE with this statement. Given that we went to a back 4 in the 2nd half why didn’t he put Pudil in at left back and play Doyley on the right? Strange decision to me. Paredes needs to work on his defending for sure, and quite honestly didn’t deserve to stay on after HT.

I cannot believe that a group of players who had played with so much grit in the last 3 weeks turned up as if they were on holiday. Is this a continental thing? If so they had better learn fast. Premiership players….REALLY They need to finally learn and VERY quickly.

Peter - 28/12/2014

I could not agree more – it was amazing that Paredes made it past halftime let alone lasted the 90 minutes. The pace of Wolves’ right back was nullifying Anya and switching him to the right with Pudil on for Paredes looked like a great change to make.
This was the first game I have left early in as long as I can remember, and I see no sign that Jokanovic is improving the team. Deeney is only playing when he feels like it, usually when a member of the opposition has annoyed him. No wonder Vydra is fed up with constantly being substituted (not that he ought to have made his displeasure quite so clear). And how Abdi was the only midfielder not to get subbed I have no idea – he may have been integral to the run to the playoff final, but that was in a more attacking role – seems to me he is being asked to play deeper and the defensive responsibilities do not hang well on his shoulders.
I was looking forward to Chelsea – perhaps we could take advantage of the full week’s rest – but not after this. Unless all the Chelsea players watched it, in which case they ought to be wonderfully overconfident! (Hope springs eternal.)

JohnM - 27/12/2014

Yes, saw those Doyley comments from people not only criticising Doyley, but some taking it to extremes by stating, quite seriously, that the entire poor performance of the side was due to the inclusion of Doyley. I know he didn’t have a good game, partially down to the way he was played, but some of the comments made—well!

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