Wolves – a Football Manager story: Chapter Six – November and December 2016

Nouha Dicko Wolves

Only three points from the automatic promotion spaces and in a rich run of form, we enter the winter months with confidence and enthusiasm.

Granted, the defeat to Blackburn Rovers was a punch to the gut, ending a six-game winning streak, but my Wolves side have become a team with a settled style and a penchant for gutsy performances.

Still, optimism isn’t enough to see us through our opening November game as we play out a fairly dull 0-0 draw at home to Derby.

Preston North End away follows, a side battling not-so-bravely against the drop.

Their defence is a bulky setup – strong, physically imposing but certainly not blessed with pace – and so we decide to change things up and welcome Nouha Dicko into the first team.

He’s missed the whole campaign through injury so far but has impressed in the reserves over recent weeks. It’s hoped his speed will cause problems as we try a less direct style.

Dicko performs awfully, though, and it takes a deft finish from Magnus Wolff Eikrem to edge a cagey game 1-0.

Preston North End

A similarly tight game unfolds next as we beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 before entering December with the challenge of Queens Park Rangers away.

With the Dicko experiment failing miserably – it was hoped his return would mean we can change our style for different teams, but his two early performances suggest it just isn’t working yet – Jón Daði Böðvarsson returns to lead the line.

QPR v Wolves line up

It’s become clear of late, as we eek through 1-0 victory after 1-0 victory, that, yes, we’re doing well, but we’re not dominating to the extent that a true promotion contender should.

As such, I choose to attack QPR from the off with a high-tempo, pressing setup. Böðvarsson puts in an excellent shift, bagging a brace in a free-flowing, 2-1 victory.

Fulham at home follows and an offensive display sees another 2-1 win before we face Cardiff City away.

The Welsh side play with such attacking intent that I decide to change tack and drop into our more familiar counter attacking manner. It proves a clever move as we ease past Cardiff 3-0, Böðvarsson again impressing.

Cardiff city 0-3 Wolves

Whether it’s the colder months that have stirred the striker into shape, or simply the threat of Dicko behind him, the Icelandic forward is beginning to show the traits of a truly powerful target man.

As always, though, it’s when you’re at your best that you start to get complacent and, eyeing up a sixth straight win at Nottingham Forest, we come undone.

An aggressive setup designed to unsettle the hosts works, to an extent, but a mixture of terrible finishing, superb goalkeeping and a smidgen of misfortune means we fall 2-1.

Nottingham Forest 2-1 Wolves

It’s an upsetting fall from grace – not least because we would have penetrated the top two with only a draw – and Böðvarsson puts in his worst performance of the season by far. Ivan Cavaleiro misses a penalty, too.

The knock dents our confidence and we see out the month with two drab draws, leaving us five points from automatic promotion.

Results November December 2016

Off the field, Ben Marshall asks to leave after a lack of first team opportunities. I say, quite fairly, that it will be difficult to break into a first team currently boasting both Cavaleiro and Hélder Costa, but he’s having none of it.

The next day, he doesn’t turn up to training and is immediately transfer listed. The sheer triviality of his role in our recent success means, in truth, I’m not in the slightest bit troubled as Norwich City immediately eye up his services.

With January about to begin we start to search the market for new talent but the hunt is not desperate – this is a team that, in spite of outside wobbles, has a certain steely undercoat.

Things are looking up for Wolves.

Championship league table December 2016

Read Chapter Five

Read Chapter Seven

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