REPORT: City 2 Wolves 3

MeylerD

Good news: I think we saw the best team in the league tonight. Bad news: it wasn’t us.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Wolves at the start of the season. They spent a lot of money last summer on continental players and it never really worked out for them. But this time they look the real deal. It’s not just the excellent players they’ve brought in but they have a top manager in Nuno and he’s got them set up incredibly well. They’re playing a style of football that, particularly away from home in the Championship, is very brave. They played three at the back stretched out almost the width of the pitch while the two wing backs hugged the touchline high up the pitch and stretched City every time the ball went forward. In the middle exploiting the space this leaves they have clever players who can move the ball about well and, as we saw devastatingly for the opening goal, shoot from distance.

City had started well until Neves smashed one past McGregor from 25 yards after six minutes [0-1] but it was already clear that Wolves wing backs were going to be a crucial part of the game and we were already struggling to cope with them. Not for the first time this season our naive young full backs were exposed – in part by the opposition and partly by our failure to protect them up the field. That situation isn’t helped by us only playing one central midfielder. I’m not counting Markus Henriksen. He’s not a central midfielder – he has no effect on games, he doesn’t make a tackle or a forward pass.

I don’t lay the blame at the feet of the manager for our failure to match them tactically. He just doesn’t have any other fit players to work with. Sure, 4-4-2 is no counter for what is almost a 3-2-5 formation but replacing any of the first eleven with those from the bench is far worse a proposition.

We weren’t just second best on the ball, with Neves dominating for them like Tom Huddlestone at his very best, but we didn’t have their knack of drawing fouls or killing time, with Neves dominating for them like the lovechild of Cristiano Ronaldo and Rudi Voller.

After Miranda spurned the chance to double their lead as a corner was flicked on to him at the near post, we equalised pretty much from nowhere. Hector met a Donald Trump corner along with a defender and the ball was shuffled away from the far post. We took the resulting corner short, a cross was whipped past Ruddy, headed off the line and Dawson headed it back in [1-1].

That could have been the catalyst for City to push on before half time but instead, we were sloppy in possession, gave them gifts in our half and looked susceptible to a ball over the top to either wing-back. In the end, it was the little winger Enobakhare who picked up the ball on the right touchline, breezed past Hector and laid the ball on a plate for Jota to score [1-2].

Our flaws were there for all to see but fixing them was going to be difficult. We had nothing on the bench to change the game. In similar fashion to the Villa game on the opening day though, the eleven sent back out for the second half changed it themselves by getting on the ball, keeping possession and forcing Wolves to worry about us. And they looked nowhere near as effective.

McGregor made a decent, but simple, save from Bonatini’s far post header in what was suddenly a rare Wolves attack. City struggled to find a final ball after getting into key areas until just after the hour a neat move worked the ball to the edge of the area where Campbell exploded into the box, beautifully beat the last man with a neat trick and was denied by a good save from John Ruddy’s out-stretched right arm. If that was close then Hernàndez’s thumping header from Clucas’s corner smashing the post five minutes later was tantalising.

We had momentum. Even Henriksen won two excellent challenges in midfield. Then Campbell was subbed off for Diomande and the game went. Again, it’s hard to blame the manager when Campbell is clearly not yet at peak fitness but there is just nothing outside the first eleven and losing Campbell’s effervescence for Diomande’s clunky and clumsy wandering was the sign that this game was over. Worse was still to come when Hernàndez jumped to challenge for a good Grosicki cross (not many of them to the pound) and landed awkwardly. He immediately called for the physio who called for a stretcher and Abel went off with a serious looking achilles injury.

With the referee just about to announce NINE minutes of stoppage time, we made it irrelevant. Typical. Aina was caught in possession in their half and sub Nouha Dicko raced onto a ball into space to finish under McGregor [1-3]. We were awarded a seriously soft penalty eight minutes into the nine added for a foul on Diomande which David Meyler buried into the bottom left hand corner [2-3] but the game was up.

This felt like a game that would let us know how good we are after a comfortable win on Saturday. In the end though, it’s probably not told us anything we didn’t already know. We’re a decent outfit with 7 or 8 quality players. Michael Hector is a classy defender. We’re at least five players short of having a squad anywhere near Wolves’s (they had actual grown-ups on the bench). We desperately need a left back. Markus Henriksen isn’t a central midfielder. Kamil Grosicki will have games where you wonder if he gives a toss.

And one new one, we desperately need Abel Hernandez to not be injured for six months. Or even six weeks.

Rick Skelton (report via Tiger Chat)

14 replies
  1. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Sums up the game pretty well, the midfield is bereft of bite, Henriksen is the invisible man and Clucas looked as though his mind was on house hunting in the Burnley area. Grosicki is a total stranger to the concept of tackling back, Aina has promise but is woefully naive and lacking experience. He and Clark were left exposed too many times and nobody covers for them when they attack. Wolves are nailed on for promotion on this showing while City are nailed on for a relegation struggle if something doesn’t change. Thanks to Ehaw’s money grubbing and profiteering the side is lacking in quality and depth, his sole aquisition was for four million pounds on a player whose minor injury has already kept him out of three games. Maybe Liverpool knew something when they sold him? Letting Tymon walk was another crime laid at the door of blunder boy and when he is done flogging off every player who has any value and pocketing the parachute money, we’ll be on the down elevator to oblivion unless three or four quality signings are made before September 1st. I’m not holding my breath on that happening!

  2. Bill Baxter
    Bill Baxter says:

    Quote:”They’re playing a style of football that, particularly away from home in the Championship, is very brave”. Unquote.

    It’s not “brave”, it’s called being positive rather than the negative “1 up front looking for a point shite” that most teams seem to play these days.
    Good on them.

    Had the mis-pleasure of listening on Viking last night, I thought I was listening to a commentary on the rugby with all the “Hull” this & “Hull” that.
    I think I only heard the main commentator use “Hull City” twice throughout the whole game.

  3. H
    H says:

    Often hear people spouting on about giving the young lads a go. At this level it just doesn’t work. Lack of options clearly and as a local Lad we clearly want to see Clark thrive but he is way off being ready. He was exposed time and again and his positional play was awful as he kept getting drawn in giving his winger acres of space. That said he had no support from Grosicki who wa useless. Clucas isn’t interested and Henrikson is not suited to the holding midfielder role. Aina seems to come in for criticism particularly from HDM but the Lad is absolute quality and a fantastic athlete. Gets away with a lot because of his pace. Clark doesn’t have that.
    We will be fine this season but will be mid table at best without significant investment.
    Listened to the Viking commentary v Villa and was fairly impressed. Can’t say I was monitoring how many times they said City, Tigers etc though!

  4. seamaster
    seamaster says:

    Is there any live TV-stream from KCOM? I watched Sky 5 conference (with Hoffenheim-Liverpool on top of the Championship fixtures), but could’t find any Hull broadcast.

  5. Chris
    Chris says:

    Much of this is fair comment, but personally I don`t agree with the criticism of Henriksen, who I thought was the pick of the midfield on the night…having said that I have read more than a few articles which also seem to disagree with my position!

    The midfield is totally unbalanced. Bowen earned a place in the team for encouraging performances pre-season as a forward and no doubt he has promise for the future. However, at present, his decision-making is too slow on the ball and he has no idea about playing deeper; he does not track back and has little awareness of either his or his opponents position. Time and again he could be seen watching the ball as he drifted back whilst Wolves best player, Neves, was unmarked not far away and Douglas found acres of space on the touchline. Grosicki appears to have little interest in the game unless he has the ball at his feet, what position is he actually playing at the moment?

    So effectively we are playing 4-2-4. Clucas is doing his best but is clear frustrated; used to having passing options but finding few on offer.
    So back to Henriksen. I`m not a fan of the data driven system of assessing performance but at the very least it can contradict some false comments. Henriksen probably cover more ground than any other City player and may well have been near the top of the pile for tackles, often simply winning the ball and tidying up giving the ball to a nearby colleague; unspectacular but vital.

    Of course I could be completely wrong. I will re-watch the whole 90 minutes and if he was as “invisible” as others have claimed I will admit my mistake.

    Chris

  6. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    H. You listened to Viking commentary v. Villa? I was told that there was no commentary because the line was down. Did I get that wrong? Quite possible that I did,as I was in Villa Park and so not listening anyway.
    The point about Aina is that he is tactically naive, a great player technically, but slips up in his number one role of defender because he leaves his position too often.

  7. Matt
    Matt says:

    I suspect it was a typo by H, as there was no commentary for the Villa game. I listened to the Wolves game, however, and it was strong, partisan stuff, as you would hope for. Bill is right, too much ‘Hull’ but I’m sure that’ll be alleviated; plenty of mentions of ‘Hull City’ throughout too, however, which is crucial.

  8. haltemprice tiger
    haltemprice tiger says:

    Aina is a useless defender, but looks dangerous going forward. If we ever get to the stage where we have enough players to play 3 5 2, he would do a decent job as wing back.

  9. John Carmichael
    John Carmichael says:

    Snodgrass is available for loan or sale once more, worth a punt for his dead ball ability alone?

  10. WSM
    WSM says:

    Yes, I’d say so. Snodgrass played well for City and I for one would welcome him back. I’d also say that he’d be good for morale, and we’re going to need that.

  11. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Wolves fans are reported as saying that we are the best team they’ve played. Perhaps not such doom and gloom as some like wallowing in! However, the loss of Abel and Henriksen for considerable time is a big blow. If nothing else, it does illustrate how more signings are needed. As to the comment about the manager, I’m afraid that I have to disagree, and that playing Wolves with the same set up was a big mistake. Midfield was over run and the defensive frailties of the full backs exposed. Also disagreeing with a post above, we could have gone 3 at the back as we had our new cb sitting on the bench, and as posted above the wing back role would have helped out in midfield. Clucas/Henricksen combo alone in mf was not a great idea. Think we’ll lose v QPR as they look better this season…unless the Slut drops some of his preconceived notions about formation and tactics. Grosicki is a luxury item it seems… We need to find 11 ninety minute workers out on the pitch!
    Apart from the sale of Clucas on the horizon, the silence on the transfer situation…coupled with injuries!…is quite alarming! Looks like another season of missed opportunity…

  12. Bill Baxter
    Bill Baxter says:

    Quote gjhdurham:-
    “Wolves fans are reported as saying that we are the best team they’ve played. Perhaps not such doom and gloom as some like wallowing in”!
    Unquote.

    Bloody hell, they’ve only played 3 fucking teams!
    Get a sense of perspective will you, if other clubs supporters are still saying that come Christmas time it might actually mean something

  13. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Any “doom and gloom” has been engendered by the owners, they obviously have nothing but distain and contempt for the supporters who love their club and who have followed Hull City faithfully, many of them for most of their lives. They have no concept of what it means to support your team through good times and bad. Initially they were a force mostly for good, taking over at a bad time and undoubtedly saving the club from Administration and an almost certain slide into oblivion. Assem Allam backed Steve Bruce with cash and we made our first appearance in the FA cup final at Wembley and gained promotion to the Premier League. Once Ehab Allam took over the reins however things have rapidly gone downhill, Steve Bruce oversaw another return to the PL despite the boy blunders interference and yet here we are at the beginning of another season in the Championship with a bare bones squad, most of the best players sold off, 80,000,000 pounds due over the next two seasons in parachute money and virtually nothing spent on signings. It wouldn’t have taken more than a paltry 20 million to have built another strong team worthy of promotion but here we are with less than two weeks of the transfer window left and Slutsky is scratching around to field a decent side with a bench mostly full of untried rookies. I think that even the ‘Slut’ must be feeling a little gloomy by now!

  14. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Clucas not in the squad and surely being sold as “supermarket” sale continues, Stewart finally started but didn’t last ten minutes and has limped off as has Fraizer Campbell.

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