Wolves – a Football Manager story: Chapter Five – October 2016

Danny Batth Wolves

If September brought around a minor revival of sorts for Wolverhampton Wanderers, October requires, at the very least, something a little more galvanising.

While the previous month had its positive results – the 1-1 draw at St James Park was a particular highlight – it had been up and down.

In some games we’d performed exceptionally, only to let ourselves down. In others we’d played with remarkable mediocrity and still ground out victories.

October, then, needs both performances and wins. We are crying for consistency.

Off the back of two straight wins, we enter the third month of the campaign in buoyant mood.

Much to the misfortune of Norwich City.

The Canaries travel to Molineux in fine fettle, topping the table and boasting a noteworthy goals-for column.

Nonetheless, we go in with the intention to attack, matching Norwich’s 4-2-3-1. Injuries have struck the squad and in the absence of David Edwards and the indomitable Hélder Costa, youngster Bright Enobakhare and the out-of-favour (because he’s been terrible) Ben Marshall start.

Wolves vs Norwich 2016 line up

We begin well, Marshall proving me wrong inside seven minutes by teeing up Jón Daði Böðvarsson with a delightfully precise cross.

After the break, Yanic Wildschut equalises as the visitors begin to push on. We go into a more counter attacking style, with Norwich maintaining possession well, and it pays off.

18 year-old Enobakhare stabs home from close range after an incisive break and we hold on tight to make it three on the bounce.

Wolves 2-1 Norwich 2016

A local derby then awaits – Aston Villa away. On paper it’s a tough match but the host’s form has been patchy at best.

Danny Batth, who, it’s worth mentioning, has been by far our most consistent performer so far this season, misses out, and 21 year-old Kourtney Hause steps in to replace him.

However, we’re blessed by the return of Hélder Costa and decide to take the game to Villa. In general, they line up quite defensively, even at home, and so it’d seem counter-intuitive to do the same.

And, as the game begins to settle, it seems a sensible plan. We dominate possession and begin to carve open the home defence. Before long, David Edwards has put us in front with a fine header.

At half time, the Villains change tack and stick three up top. We revert to a more defensive formation in response, tucking Jack Price behind two deeper-lying central midfielders.

It’s designed to stifle Aston Villa and on the whole it works. They show brief glances of their innate talent but, ultimately, the second half flies by with little in the way of action. It’s now four wins in a row and the Wolves faithful are delighted.

Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves 2016

We perform with equal verve against a steely Brighton and Hove Albion side, who sit just below us in the table. Glenn Murray gives the Seagulls an early lead but we take the game to them in response.

We’re thankful to two set-pieces as we fight back to win 2-1, Ruben Gabrielsen scoring in extra time. It’s all coming together nicely.

Leeds United at home follows, a tricky tie against a side who are, again, only a place below us in the table.

Leeds play quite openly away from home so we decide to attack from the off in a high-tempo, direct manner. Within 10 minutes we have the lead.

On 22 minutes we double our advantage, finally showing the clinical edge that has been absent all season. Given our dominance I leave things as they are, even as the away side make a number of tactical tweaks to steer themselves back into the match.

One such tweak appears to be a far more physical approach. Eventually, with the referee throwing yellow cards around left, right and centre, Liam Bridcutt gets sent off and hands us victory on a plate. 3-1, and six straight wins, we sit pretty in fourth place.

Wolves 3-1 Leeds October 2016

Of course it all comes unstuck when you least expect it. We round off the month with a visit to Ewood Park, where mid table Blackburn Rovers have been performing above expectations in a fancy 5-3-2 formation.

Their first choice right wing back is out injured and a young Ryan Nyambe gets the nod – I opt to exploit the left flank, believing a mixture of Hélder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro will give him hell.

They don’t and we come massively unstuck. Indecisive about whether to attack or counter, I make some sloppy tactical decisions and we fall to a graceless 1-0 defeat.

The run is over. And so is October.October 2016 results

Our superb run of form – Blackburn aside – leaves Wolves in a comfortable play-off spot, three points off the top.

Wolves league table October 2016

Read Chapter Four

Read Chapter Six

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