Wolves ‘close, but not close enough’

30 Apr

Kenny Jackett led Wolves to promotion in April 2014 to cap a memorable first season in charge

Kenny Jackett led Wolves to promotion in April 2014 to cap a memorable first season in charge

Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett has admitted that setting an unwanted club record of four consecutive goalless draws at Molineux is not the ideal way to end a frustrating season.

The up-for-sale club, who are 14th in the Championship, have not scored at home since 8 March.

“We’re close, but not close enough,” he told BBC WM. “We’ve been competitive.

“We want to be playing well, creating chances and scoring goals. But four 0-0 draws is better than four defeats.”

Matt Doherty – the last man to score at Molineux

Wolves fans last saw a goal scored at Molineux by either the home or away team when defender Matt Doherty’s injury-time winner won all three points against Bristol City.

Matt Doherty<!–

Both of Matt Doherty’s goals for Wolves this season have been matchwinners

Since then, Wolves have shared the spoils at home to neighbours Birmingham City, former boss Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, ex-Villa boss Paul Lambert’s Blackburn Rovers and Neil Warnock’s Rotherham United.

Yet, at the same time, they have scored in all four away matches since, getting a last-minute equaliser at Burnley, winning 2-1 at MK Dons and going down narrowly 2-1 to both Hull City and Leeds.

“We’ve lost by the odd goal and had a lot of draws,” admitted Jackett.

Where did all the goals go?

Wolves’ problems in front of goal this season stem from the consecutive impact of losing last season’s three main goal-getters.

Bakary Sako departed in early August at the end of his contract for nothing to join Crystal Palace. Within a month, Nouha Dicko was ruled out for the season and Benik Afobe then made a £10m move to Bournemouth in January.

Michal Zyro was injured again on only his third start after his comeback from a previous injury<!–

Michal Zyro suffered a season-ending knee injury at MK Dons on only his third start after his comeback from a calf problem

On top of their combined loss, Wolves were then made to do without main January signing, Michal Zyro, one of a host of long-term injuries.

Throughout the season, Wolves have so far scored more goals on the road, 26 in 22 games, than they have at home, 24 in 22 games.

But, in the knowledge that his under-performing team will have the backing of 2,000 away fans at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Jackett denies any extra pressure at playing at Molineux. “We’ve got a very good expectant crowd,” he said. “There’s no great difference in approach and mentality.”


BBC WM’s Mike Taylor

How bad was Saturday’s latest blank?

“Had Saturday’s game been the first of the season, or even the first 0-0 in a while, it wouldn’t have seemed so bad. Wolves were the better side against predictably obstinate opponents. They weren’t terribly dangerous, but they weren’t terrible. But, after all that has gone before at Molineux this season, they needed to deliver more to avoid getting the bird.”

Is the Molineux glass half empty? Or half full?

“Wolves fans have had months to chew over the reasons for their dreary season and argue about where to apportion blame. That will continue until the first game in August, and probably beyond. If the club is not sold, it appears that there will be no significant injection of transfer funds for next season, and the going is likely to be just as hard. Equally, however, Wolves have had a particularly unlucky season for injuries, and could reasonably hope not to be hit so hard next time.”

How safe is Kenny Jackett’s job?

“Kenny Jackett chooses his words carefully in public at the best of times, and it is inevitable that he now sounds like a man on the defensive. In this observer’s opinion, however, although there have been some decisions that have seemed unusual on the surface, there is no compelling case for Jackett’s removal.

“He almost steered them to the play-offs only 12 months ago, and has been dealt a far more difficult hand this season. Probably there is a majority of supporters on social media who want him replaced, but that does not necessarily mean that a majority of all supporters think the same. Even if they do, to create further uncertainty at a club already facing the issues that a potential ownership may bring – when many of the qualities that would be sought in a new manager are those Jackett is already known for – would be a considerable risk.”

The Wolves fan’s perspective

John Bray, Bridgnorth

“Two years ago Molineux was bathed in sunshine as we basked in the relative glory of beating Rotherham 6-4 en route to the League One title. A year ago Molineux was bathed in sunshine as we kept our Championship play-off dream alive with a pulsating, memorable 4-3 win over Leeds. So to now, April 2016 – four successive 0-0 Molineux draws and an audible sense of boredom among fans despairing at this season-long test of endurance.

“Yes, Wolves can point to the loss of Afobe, Dicko and Sako – three fantastic attacking weapons. But the slickness of pass, the speed of thought, the team’s fluidity and movement, have disappeared too. Just like our chairman, Steve Morgan – and therein probably lies the problem.”


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