Weather allowing, United are back in action on Sunday. We need a win, and a bloody goal or two. Still, Magpies are best known for their Wolf taming abilities…right?! Mr Karter is on preview duty this weekend. You don’t need us to tell you it’s a good ‘un.
Back on terra firma this Sunday as we host Wolverhampton Wanderers. A 16:30 kick off in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
It’s been a weird few weeks, with 3 defeats on the bounce, all by a 2-0 scoreline. Suddenly we look a bit toothless in front of goal. Performances haven’t been poor at all, nothing like what some of the Twitter gremlins would have you believe. According to Private Frazer (no, not the stroppy bastard who’s training with the stiffs) “We’re all doomed!” Nonsense. We’re playing some good football, and as True Faith’s statto Matthew Philpotts might intimate, our XG far outweighs our actual goals tally of late.
If someone had told me we’d be sitting in 6th having been in a cup final by the first week of March, I’d have carted you off to the funny farm, so let’s not lose our shit quite yet, eh?
Looking back over those defeats, we’ve been a little sloppy defensively and most of those goals could probably have been avoided. Watch them back if you think I’m going mental. It’s the lack of potency up top that’s a little worrying. I’ll come on to that in a bit.
Wolves have hugely underperformed this season. They’ve got some exceptional footballers amongst their ranks, none better than Ruben Neves, who, I think, would look superb in the black and white stripes of Newcastle United.
Since the leadership of Nuno Espírito Santo (now managing in Saudi, ironically) they’ve had a real Portuguese bias at the club. They’ve got a backbone of quality, yet they sit in an uncomfortable 13th, on 27 points and only 5 points clear of the drop zone. With 7 victories, 6 draws and 13 defeats, they are probably one of 9 clubs who could conceivably be relegated this season. They’ve probably got too much quality to fall through the trap door, but stranger things have happened.
The formerly seen Bruno Lage was dismissed in October 2022, and The Wolves appointed Spaniard Julen Lopetegui to succeed him. He joined them with real pedigree, having managed both Real Madrid and Sevilla in La Liga. Whilst he’s not really pulled up trees, he did us a huge favour at the weekend by putting Spurs away 1-0.
Back in August, we fought out a 1-1 draw at Molineux, with Maxi’s thunderbastard goal of the month winner saving the day with almost the last kick of the game. I thought we were pretty much played off the park that day, and we’ll be looking for a much better performance this Sunday to re-ignite our chase for Europe.
How do we approach the game though? I’ve been saying it for a while. Some of our key players aren’t firing. I think it’s fair to say that Trippier’s delivery of late hasn’t been finding its mark, and Longstaff, Miggy and Wilson – previously top performers – look knackered and in desperate need of a breather. The problem is, J7 decided to get in first. He misses both this and the Forest game, having racked up his 10th booking of the season in the defeat at The Etihad last Saturday.
I’d like to see Gordon and ASM on the wings, with Willock brought back into the midfield, and, I think crucially, Alex Isak restored to the starting line up. He looks way sharper than Callum, who’s confidence and fitness look shot. I’d also like to see Matty Targett brought back in at left back to offer us more going forward.
Are we a little one dimensional at the moment? Does Eddie need to change to more of a 4-2-3-1? There’s certainly some food for thought at Benton HQ this week for the backroom staff.
As I intimated earlier, I’m less shitty pants than many on social media as I think recent performances have deserved more than the sum of their parts. Whilst I don’t think the Champions were at their best on Saturday, we had enough clear-cut chances to make it look less of a stroll in the park for them. Longstaff had one blocked by Ake, there was Callum’s rancid airshot and J7’s miss. They should all have nestled in Ederson’s net.
We have 14 games remaining to end the season on a high. A season that we never expected. A cup final and push for Europe has to be above the majority of our expectations this season. However, I’d like to caveat this with the fact that this game is big. It’s big because we need to get back on track. We need to score goals and tighten up at the back. We need the win!
I’m going for a 2-0 win this Sunday, with Isak and Willock netting the goals for us.
However…I was just chatting to the lesser seen Freeman Mag, who has has gone full Clarky and thinks we’ll get beat 0-1. Wolves are on a great run of form and look fast, furious and potent up top. The opposite of the Mags at the mo.
Keep the faith boys and girls. Let’s finish the season strongly and get into those European places. From there, we kick on in the summer.
Enjoy the game…
Paul K – @peekeekay