Was Defeat Against Bolton the First Nail in Wolves’ Coffin?
After 92 minutes at the Reebok Stadium, Wolves were looking set to earn themselves a creditable draw. After 93 minutes Bolton had nicked a goal and had escaped with all three points, condemning Wolves to their 15th defeat in 24 games.
The point earned from the 0-0 draw was beginning to look like a necessity on a night when all around them were picking up points. West Ham were winning at Blackpool, Birmingham were holding Manchester City and West Brom and Wigan played out a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
What will worry Mick McCarthy and Wolves fans the most is their apparent willingness to reach for the self destruct button and settle for a loss when holding on for a point looks like the easier option. Ronald Zubar’s absent minded back-pass meant that last night was the ninth game this season that Wolves have conceded in the last 10 minutes.
As with most of their games this season, Wolves held their own and put in a performance which was far from abject. But a defeat seemed well and truly on the cards after Kevin Doyle hit the post inside the last ten minutes of the game. Wolves don’t create many chances, so when they do its imperative that they take them. So after Jussi Jaaskelainen was saved by his upright I just had the feeling that Wolves would pay for missing that chance – a hunch which proved to be correct…if only I’d put money on it. The only positive that Wolves can take form last night was the impressive full debut of Adam Hammill.
Wolves’ next two fixtures see them face Manchester United and Arsenal – things don’t get any easier. The only glimmer of light that can emerge form the prospect of facing the teams currently lying first and second in the league is that Wolves’ best displays have undoubtedly come against the top sides this season. John Terry said that Wolves were as good a team as they’d played all season home and away, they were within minutes of hanging on for a draw at Old Trafford and wins against Manchester City and Liverpool show that Wolves really aren’t a bad side when they put their minds to it.
But the biggest and most prominent reasons why Wolves find themselves bottom is their simply awful record against the teams around them. Wolves have only picked up eight points against the teams currently in the bottom half of the league and have already lost home and away to Wigan. Needless to say a team can’t rely on beating sides in the top six to stay up.
After Wednesday night I can’t help but feel that Bolton have hammered the first nail in the Wolves coffin, and Manchester United and Arsenal could have knocked in numbers two and three by 5.00pm next Saturday. However, every time I resign myself to Wolves being relegated they go and do something crazy like winning at Anfield and when I cast my mind back to last season I remember that it was their form in March and April which secured their safety.
Wolves have the talent to stay up, but what remains to be seen is whether they have the concentration and genuine drive to do so. Wolves’ final 12 games are all what you class as ‘winnable’, but whether they will or not is anyone’s guess.