Molineux is a picture under floodlights, although I’m thinking more Hieronymus Bosch than Rembrandt.
Two replay screens that don’t actually show replays and an elongated away section that appears to have been specifically designed to prevent the creation of any atmosphere make it one of my least favourite away grounds and getting thoroughly soaked both on arrival and departure did little to enhance the experience.
Part of my antipathy may be due to the fact that I haven’t seen too much City success there over the years, but it was certainly a garden of earthly delights (one for the art buffs there) for City on Saturday, notwithstanding the nerve jangling finale to a game that the Canaries should in truth have won at a canter.
City’s first half dominance should have yielded more than the solitary goal, and a less jaded Jacob Murphy would surely have buried his chance, but there were warning signs towards half-time that their wealth of possession, and the relative ease with which it was regained when lost, was breeding a degree of complacency resulting in some sloppy passing.
Wolves looked uncertain at the back and that wasn’t helped by their tendency to overdo the concept of playing out from the back to a ridiculous degree.
However, their pace up front was always likely to cause problems if their midfield could establish a foothold in the game, and with a vociferous crowd behind them, the home side built up a head of steam which seemed to have been quenched by Robbie Brady’s stunning finish, only for Dave Edwards’ free header to leave us on the edge of our seats for 15 long minutes.
While Alex Neil will be disappointed that City didn’t make the most of their earlier dominance, Molineux is never an easy place to visit and Wolves have some quality players who, if they gel as a team as the season progresses, will cause problems for a lot of sides. It was never going to be straightforward but City made it harder than it needed to be.
Nevertheless, we enter the international break with City averaging over two points a game and looking in very good shape despite rarely having hit anything like top form.
What we learnt from our previous visit to the Championship is that there is no such thing as an easy game, but whereas in 2014/15 City were dropping points when they weren’t at their best (remember that awful run in October and November that went a long way towards sealing Neil Adams’ fate) this time around they are finding ways to win which are, while not always convincing or particularly comfortable, pretty effective.
Whatever slight issues City currently have we can take comfort from the fact that we’re not Aston Villa, whose struggles at Preston were greeted with delight by the West Brom fans that we met in our usual Birmingham pit stop, the Vine.
Having seen Villa go down they were keen that we should encourage City to “stuff the Dingles” later.
Glad we could oblige.
Roberto di Matteo was always going to be under threat after that result and it will be interesting to see who wants to be next to grab the poisoned chalice (go on Mick McCarthy, you know you want to!) , but the fact that Dr Tony clearly has very little patience should give any potential candidates considerable pause for thought.
Villa clearly have quality in their squad and its hard to see why they are doing so poorly, although it’s interesting that there were rumours at Fulham to the effect that a certain Mr McCormack was an awkward character to have around when things weren’t going his way, and the continued immaturity of Jack Grealish can’t be helping to maintain dressing room equilibrium.
Time will tell if a new manager can find a way to get more from the squad, but I suspect that an already disgruntled fan base will be unwilling to offer much of a honeymoon period to the new incumbent.
However, I’m more interested in the start of the Premier League managerial merry go round, simply because I don’t believe that Rafa Benitez will feel any loyalty to Mike Ashley if a decent job in the top tier presents itself, and its only a matter of time before one does.
To me Newcastle and City are the two teams to beat in this season’s Championship and the managers are a big factor in that, so if Benitez is tempted away that can only be good news for City.
While Swansea surprisingly opted to go stateside, with Slaven Bilic under pressure there may be another attractive position to be filled before too long.
Stability is a big factor in footballing success, and now that the “sack everyone” brigade have quietened down that’s something that City have in spades.
More to the point, what happens when you stabilise with those who only know how to fail?
This is really getting tedious, Jeff (1). The current squad do not only know how to fail. A good number have experienced at least one if not two promotions from the championship and a few from League 1 as well. As one of the writers suggested recently – if you have so much to say that you think is relevant write it up properly and submit it.
Stewart Lewis says
Jeff (1) – Due respect, but I really don’t think this is the place to discuss Jeremy Corbyn.
On a serious note, Robin clearly & calmly describes why we’ve reason to be comfortable – though far from complacent – about where we are. What a contrast to Villa where (from what I’ve heard) I’d guess the presence of Ross McCormack may not be helping.
We’ll have a new and big challenge if we get back to the Premier League, of course. But that’s not the issue for now.
Ŕob B says
Jeff – you don’t seem to know when you are well off!
Robin Sainty says
To be honest Jeff, I think your point is self defeating given that your “failures” are currently second in the league and receiving plenty of plaudits. As Stewart rightly says, the Premier League is another issue, but I think it would be hard to currently argue that the present set up is well equipped to get us back there.
Well written piece but have to disagree about the Rafa point. I think it’s too optimistic to think we can finish ahead of Newcastle because their manager might leave. I don’t think he’d be tempted by the aforementioned job as Newcastle, when things are done properly, are a top 8 Premier League side. Let’s wait and see but I do think it’ll be between ourselves and the toon army for top spot.
Gary Field says
One point in Alex Neil’s favour next summer, irrespective of which league we find ourselves in, is the number of senior players out of contract – 15 by my reckoning, ignoring options – n comparison to just 2 senior players at the end of last season. This should assist with the “moving on” and squad rebuilding process.
Is it any coincidence that clubs who go with managerial stability generally performance better than those which endure managerial turmoil?
I appreciate there are exceptions to every rule of course. Watford, promoted to the Premier League after four changes during the same season, while our nearest and dearest seem to be heading towards sixteen years in the Championship; Ipswich Town, because they’re not very good.
Jeff, please offer a longer critique in the manner that all the MFW writers on here do, opening their words and thoughts up to debate and, on occasion, criticism.
It seems clear that you find a lot wrong with or at the club at the moment, so seems reasonable to expect you might offer a longer and more considered perspective to further explain those concerns and which, in turn, will encourage debate.
That is why we are here and writing for the site.
Stability is vital within a football club. Look at Man U ‘ s struggles post Fergeson & Arsenal continued succès with Wenger. I have been one of Alex Neil’s hardest critics this season , particularly over recruitment , tactics & substitutions.
but do believe he should be percevered with in the hope that he will learn quickly enough so we are not marooned with those down the road in the Championship once the parachute payments dry up. Having said that I do not believe that the promised land of the PL is vital to the well being of our club. The seasons in the lower leagues with Lambert were a more enjoyable experience for me than the recent struggles in the PL. If the present owners & management can keep us there or there about , with the real possibility of promotion & the odd cup run , thrown in , I will be a happy SUPPORTER OTBC