Looking Forward

 

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS  (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 15th May 2004

With relegation confirmed for the Old Gold club.  Therefore, the last game of the season will see the pressure lifted and the desire to go out with a bang.  With Tottenham having won their last home game, it could be a tight game and much will depend on how Spurs can pitch in against what will be a determined Wolves team.

Dave Jones' team have had a good home record and have had some good results against some of the top sides.  Not that Tottenham are one of the top sides these days.  But the Midlanders play a pacy game with the ball got out side early ... like the Wolves sides of the 1950s.  Spurs midfielders will have to work hard to nip out the supply and Pleat, in his last game in charge of the side, will need to pick a team that can stem the tide.

Wolverhampton have replaced Michael Oakes in goal with Paul Jones, formerly of SCBC.  Oakes has always struck me as a sound keeper, but the idea of David Jones to bring the goalie of the same name he knew him from his time at the New Dell was to try and keep the Wanderers up in the Premier League.  It hasn't worked, but it has had little to do with the keepers.

The ageing ex-Man U man Denis Irwin has been a regular with 28 matches played at left back  and his experience has helped out, but after suffering the drop, he will be retiring after this game.  Sunderland sold Paul Butler and Jody Craddock to Wolves when they went down and the centre half pairing have great height at the back and going forward for dead ball situations.  In contrast, former Gooner Oleg Luzhny has featured only four times this season for the Molineux team.  He might have to play on Saturday, as regular right back Lee Naylor has a knee injury, but is recovering fast.

In midfield, the side have had their most consistent player in Alex Rae, who rumours might suggest will be on his way to Glasgow Rangers.  He is a tough-tackling ball winner and has shown this season that when he concentrates on his football, he can be a good passer and finisher.  The same goes for Paul Ince, who is considering another season with the club, despite his disappointment of not captaining the side to safety.  Another aggressive midfielder, but perhaps his best days are behind him, although he still shows the desire to drive the team forward.  Scot Colin Cameron has shown that he has the ability to move the ball quickly and to run with the ball himself, while Shaun Newton has continued to show the busy midfield work he always demonstrated with Charlton.  Both could cause problems running at the Tottenham defence, with Cameron more likely to operate centrally, with Newton on the flank.  That is also where you will find Irishman Mark Kennedy, who has got pace and a trick to see him around markers, but he has lacked consistency in his delivery, causing frustration with team-mates and fans alike.   One bright spot for the club has been Henri Camara's integration into the side after a slow start.  The Senegal international has scored some cracking goals and his all-round contribution to the side has impressed.  It will be important to Wolves if he stays next season to help them retain their Premiership position.

Kenny Miller has found it hard to replicate his goals scored last season in the First Division.  Two in seventeen is not the return that Dave Jones was expecting from him, but he still is a good forward, with the ability to find space away from his marker in the box.  Signing Carl Cort from Newcastle came a little too late for Wolves, as he has slotted in well and has scored five goals in eleven matches.  Tall, rangy and able to hold up the ball well, Cort had an injury ridden time at St. James' Park, so was looking for a good run in the Wolves team and that is what he has had and proved his danger in the last third.  Steffen Iversen is another injury hit player and it is no surprise to Tottenham supporters to play only 11 games.  What has been a surprise is that he has scored four goals in those few games.  I suppose he will play and score ... although I said that in the first game against Wolves this season and he didn't play ... as he was injured !!

With Spurs hoping to get something from this match to pull away a little further from the bottom, the side might well be playing for a place at the club under the new manager ... whoever he will be and whenever he arrives.  They have failed to respond to Pleat's promptings and the end of the season can't come quick enough for them.  However, as they showed against Blackburn, they can put together a decent performance and one more this season would not go amiss for the travelling support, who have suffered so much this season.

PREDICTION : -   Wolverhampton Wanderers   1    Tottenham Hostpur   2

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

What do you think of Wolves' performances this season ?
I know that most people would expect me to say disappointing, and it's certainly been that - but my overall impression is that we've been too inconsistent and have been prone to lapses of concentration.  There's been too many "if onlys"....

Who do you think is your best player has been this season ?
Probably Alex Rae, although there's been a strong late challenge from Camara.  Rae's shown the kind of battling energy and belief that goes down well at most English clubs.  Its a shame that Alex is off to Rangers, and you can expect a grand send off for him and Irwin, who will play his last competitive match on Saturday.

Which player didn't live up to expectations ?
Without a doubt Silas - a 1 million Portuguese import who looked impressive in pre-season friendlies and then rubbish in real competition.  Don't expect to see him on Saturday (or in the First Division).

Have you seen Steffen Iversen in action at all this season ?
Yes, and he's been okay.  He seemed to be committed and he said all the right things.  Unfortunately he looked like a panic buy/loan - not because he's no good, but because he doesn't fit into our style of play.  I don't think that he's been injured (much) all season which you may be surprised to learn.

With a season back in the First Division coming up after the summer, so you think the club will be able to keep the side together or even add to it ?
As long as we don't lose Camara I hope that we'll be okay.  We are already losing Rae, Irwin and possibly a few other important players (Blake, Gudjonsson  and possibly Ince, Butler, Okoronkwo, Ganea and Ndah), but we
should be able to hold our team together better than Leicester or Leeds.

Best match of the season for you ?
I'm tempted to say Walsall's win over W*** Brom, but probably our 1-0 win against Man Utd. But I also remember the 1-0 win over Man City - it was our first Premiership win and the atmosphere was brilliant.  And who could forget the 4-3 win against Leicester when we were 3-0 down?  Not good for my heart ... 

Best away trip ?
Most fans would probably say the draw with Bolton, but I enjoyed the 1-1 draw with Fulham as we played well.  I enjoyed parts of our match against Spurs and I think White Hart Lane is a magnificent stadium, but I did feel very disappointed after that match.

What is the line-up expected to be ?
Jones
Irwin, Okoronkwo, Butler, Naylor (if fit)
Newton, Ince, Cameron, Kennedy
Cort, Camara

Which Spurs player do you think will give you most problems ?
Keano?  Whatever happens he'll be the one who breaks the most hearts (because he's not playing for us).

What do you reckon the score will be ?
2-1 - I really hope we win and get the extra million for finishing third from bottom.  No offence intended...

Thanks to
Carl at Wolves Stats ...
 
http://
www.wolves.stats.btinternet.co.uk

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS :  Dean Sturridge (hamstring); Nathan Blake (neck); Matt Murray (broken foot); Joleon Lescott (knee); George Ndah (knee)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Rob Burch (ankle); Darren Anderton (Achilles); Mauricio Taricco (calf); Stephen Carr (ankle); Simon Davies (shin)

COVERAGE : 
TV :  
Radio :  
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers   0     Tottenham Hotspur   2     (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League
Saturday 15th May 2004
Venue : -  Molineux
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Hot, sunny
Crowd : -  29,389
Referee : -  S. Bennett (Orpington)
Teams : -  
Wolverhampton Wanderers : -  Jones; Irwin (Craddock 90), Okoronkwo, Butler, Naylor (Rae 72); Newton (Ganea 61), Ince, Cameron, Kennedy; Camara, Cort
Unused subs: Oakes, Iversen

Tottenham Hotspur : -  Keller; Ziege, Gardner, King, Kelly; Yeates, Brown, Redknapp (c), Ricketts (Kanoute 72); Defoe, Keane (Poyet 88)
Unused subs: Hirschfeld, Mabizela, Doherty

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Wolverhampton Wanderers Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Wolverhampton Wanderers  -  
 None

Tottenham Hotspur -  Keane 34, Defoe 57

Cards : -  
Wolverhampton Wanderers  -      Ince (diving) 28,      Ince (foul - second    ) 68

Tottenham Hotspur -      Redknapp (kicking ball away) 78

With two opportunistic goals, Tottenham recorded their fourth away win over the season and ended up sending Wolves, who were reduced to ten men, to the bottom of the final Premier League table of the season.

Wolves came out like a team determined to prove a point after their relegation was confirmed last week.  In the first few seconds, Ince lobbed a high ball in for Keller to tip over the top, Kasey caught a mis-hit shot by Camara in the second minute, as Wolves pushed on.  It was the lively Rohan Ricketts who got Tottenham back moving in the right direction, when he drove a shot over the top in the third minute.

It was a spell around the tenth minute that almost caught Spurs out, but some fine saves by Kasey Keller kept Tottenham in it.  His first dive was to push away a towering Cort header away, then Keller managed to touch another Cort header onto the bar, which King then cleared away, and then a 15th minute Irwin free-kick hit the outside of the post, although the Spurs keeper looked to have it covered, if it had sneaked six inches the other way.

Free-kicks were coming thick and fast.  Ziege curled one that Jones took without too much trouble and then with Ince trying to get a penalty by throwing himself in the area, Tottenham got the free-kick and Ince got a yellow card for his trouble.  Another dead ball situation saw Redknapp hammer a shot straight down Jones' throat.

On the half hour Ricketts hit a sweet volley that Paul Jones had to do well to turn over the top, before Yeates slipped a great pass through to Robbie Keane who took the ball into the box, had his first shot saved and then went past Jones to knock it in for another goal this season against his old club.  However, the home side struck back with Kennedy firing in a long range shot that Keller took comfortably and then in injury time, Ince powered a Newton cross with his head goalwards, but Kasey didn't have to move to take the ball.  

In the early minutes of the second half, Robbie Keane almost seized on another chance, but Jones came out to smother the ball and took Keano as well, leaving him on the floor for a few moments, while Irwin (playing the last match of his career) cleared to safety. 

Cort was being dangerous at both ends.  He knocked on a free-kick and Newton got in on it, but snatched at his shot that ended up wide.  It was Carl Cort's woeful back-pass which was never going to reach Paul Jones that saw Jermain Defoe nipping in to intercept and take it skillfully around Jones to put the ball into an empty net for 2-0.

Ince showed a typically "Guv'nor" type attitude in getting sent off for being entangled with Redknapp and kicking out at him, thus earning a second yellow card.  He displayed even more attitude when it took some of his own team-mates to shepherd him off the pitch after he wanted to give the ref a piece of his mind.

Strangely, Wolves pushed forward after Ince's dismissal ... perhaps knowing of Tottenham's inability to play against short-handed sides.  Substitute Ganea slipped the ball into the box and just as Cort liked like he might pounce, Stephen Kelly nipped into take the ball away.  The Romanian nearly made his own mark in the 74th minute, when he hit a 35 yard volley that dropped with relief on the top of Keller's net, as he back-pedaled to get there.

Jamie got needlessly booked for kicking the ball away, before Fredi got into the game after replacing Ricketts, who was quieter in the second half.  Michael Brown, who did a lot of the dirty work in midfield, put Kanoute in, but he didn't get a clean contact on it and Jones fielded it easily.  The Wolves goalie had to move a bit sharper to get to Fredi's next effort.  Yeates produced a perceptive pass to the Malian striker and his drive got a flick off Butler and Jones managed to fall and stop it with his feet.

Two late substitutions saw players given the chance to take the cheers of the crowd.  Denis Irwin finished a fine career as he went off a few minutes from the end and Gus Poyet was given a last few minutes in a Spurs shirt, coming on for Robbie Keane.  Of course, Christian Ziege also made his last appearance for the club, but he was afforded the whole 90 on this occasion.  The real story should be about Mark Yeates who made an accomplished debut alongside his more well-known team-mates, showing some lively work and some good passing ... something everyone who has seen him in the reserves will know about.

Another substitute Rae for Wolves warmed Keller's hands with a long range effort.  There was just enough time for one more go at goal, as Tottenham played keep ball and then Poyet and Ziege linked up for the final time to set up Defoe to fire in a low drive that Jones just managed to get a touch onto and direct it onto the goalpost before the match official called time on Wolverhampton Wanderers stay in the Premier League.  Although it was a brief one, I, for one, hope they come back soon, as they have a great stadium and excellent fans.  It's just shame about the local constabulary. 

The noise on the day was tremendous, from both sets of fans and although there was the unnecessary escorting of fans to the station after the match, which spoiled what had been a good away trip, I hope to witness more of the score-line on our trips next season, once a manager is installed who can get us to be more resilient away from home.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ROBBIE KEANE

Aidensby Quernhow

 

RELIEF

 

Relief that it is allover for another (poor) season.

But it will all start again soon enough, but who will be in charge and who will wear the shirt next season ?

As usual, we will be the last to know.

Purcell Cole

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

2 Leicester City 1 Saturday
Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Fulham 2 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 2 SCBC 1 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Leeds United 0 Saturday
Liverpool 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Manchester City 5 Everton 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 5 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 38 26 12 0 73 26 90 +47
2 Chelsea 38 24 7 7 67 30 79 +37
3 Manchester United 38 23 6 9 64 35 75 +29
4 Liverpool 38 16 12 10 55 37 60 +18
5 Newcastle United 38 13 17 8 52 40 56 +12
6 Aston Villa 38 15 11 12 48 44 56 +4
7 Charlton Athletic 38 14 11 13 51 54 53 -3
8 Bolton Wanderers 38 14 11 13 48 56 53 -8
9 Fulham 38 14 10 14 52 46 52 +6
10 Birmingham City 38 12 14 12 43 48 50 -5
11 Middlesbrough 38 13 9 16 44 52 48 -8
12 SCBC 38 12 11 15 44 45 47 -1
13 Portsmouth 38 12 9 17 47 54 45 -7
14 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 38 13 6 19 47 57 45 -10
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 12 8 18 51 59 44 -8
16 Manchester City 38 9 14 15 55 54 41 +1
17 Everton 38 9 12 17 45 57 39 -12
18 Leicester City 38 6 15 17 48 65 33 -17
19 Leeds United 38 8 9 21 40 79 33 -39
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 7 12 19 38 77 33 -39

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