Missed the squad report in our first episode? Head over to Episode 1 “The Dawn of a New Story – Squad Report” to catch up
Season 1, Episode 4
After a mixed bag of results in August, we had to step it up in the next few matches. However my optimism wasn’t very high due to Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City (TWICE) scheduled for this month.
But before I get into the matches, let’s take a look at the Europa League draw. We were placed 3rd seeds so our chances of getting some top opponants were quite high.
Sevilla, FK Astana and Rosenborg were pulled out of the bag. At first glance, it’s a winnable group. Sevilla are obviously a great team who won it three times on the bounce between 2014 & 2016.
We are tasked with reaching the quarter finals of the Europa League. A “requirement” as the board politely put it. Looking at the teams in the competition, I can see why. Roma, Man Utd, Arsenal are all teams I’d like to avoid, but I am quietly confident of going on a good run. But let’s not run before we learn to walk.
A Set of Unbelieveable Results
After our 2-0 loss away to Everton last time out in the Premier League we thoroughly needed a win. Any other time, I would be pretty fearful of a Leciester side in recent years, but after 1 point from 3 games from the Foxes‘ in their opening games, I felt a little better going into it.
Experienced Rui Patricio bruised his ankle leading up to the game so he was out. In came John Ruddy. Then this happened…
An absolute belter for any neutral watching. While not many goals, there was just drama coming out of every orifice. An early (9′) two-footed challenge from Ndidi sent him packing. 10 minutes later, Jimenez converted from the spot to give us the lead. Neves rounded off a nicely worked move to give us a 2 goal cushion. A routine win should be on the cards, right?
Just before half time, Willy Boly managed to grab an own goal to make the game be played on a knife’s edge. I expect better from the experienced Frenchman. Wes Morgan decided to follow Ndidi’s footsteps and saw red for a second bookable offence. Disaster for Leicester.
The ground nearly swollowed me up as Dennis Praet scored an 88th minute equaliser for 9 men Leicester. 9 men! I couldn’t watch. A few moments later, VAR came to the rescue and chaulked off the goal. The crowd elated and we went home with 3 points in the bag.
Chelsea up next. Even against 9 men Leicester, we still wern’t playing with the real conviction I was hoping for. Something had to change.
Out goes possession based football. In comes counter attacking urgency that will leave the opponants little time on the ball. A CM has been pushed into AMC as I feel we were overcrowding ourselves with our previous lineups. Van de Beek will generally play there, but Neves picked up a knock before the Chelsea match.
We nearly snuck all 3 points but Captain America stole them away as he hit us on the counter with a 86th minute equaliser. I can’t be too sad about the result. We played very well in the new system and nearly grabbed an away win at the notoriously hard Stamford Bridge. Onwards and upwards!
Our first match of the Europa League group stage was at home to Rosenborg. They are not gifted with the greatest of talent, so I expected a win from the boys.
After 21 shots to their 2, we came home with a 0-0 draw. Their keeper Andre Hansen played a blinder and recieved the Man of the Match. Disappointing but we cannot dwell on the result.
Manchester City up next, away at the Etihad. The team sheets came in and I noticed Ederson & Bravo were no where to be seen. Veteran Scott Carson took his place between the sticks. Do we honestly have a chance now?
Magical Jota opened up the scoring on 13 mintues with a delightful solo goal where he ran from his own half straight down the throat of City’s defence and slot it past Carson. Our new direct style of play was in full swing.
We were brought back down to earth as Willy Boly yet again scored an own goal on the 78th minute. Not even a minute later, Matt ‘reliable’ Doherty grabbed a second yellow card and off he went. I thought the floodgates had just been open and poor Patricio was about to get a beating.
Thankfully we stemmed the tide pretty quickly and a point was on the cards. I was proud of the boys. A draw at the Etihad, I would have taken that at the start of the match any day the week. Just as I started to walk over to Pep Guardiola to shake his hand, Jota lauched a counter-attack. Was it meant to be? 1-on-1 with Scott Carson. He cooly slots it past him. The travelling support erupts in euphoria. We’d done it!
Three days on from our famous victory, we faced them again. The League Cup 3rd Round awaited us, and with City ready in the wings for revenge.
I wasn’t too fussed about the League Cup. The Premiership and Europa League were far more important, so an all rotated side (bar one), took to the field. City, clearly with a point to prove fielded a decent team that donned the likes of De Bruyne, Mahrez, Jesus, Laporte and Walker. They clearly meaned business.
In truth, it was a meek affair – until the 81st minute that is. Prior to that, Foden had put them 1-0 up on 33 minutes. A great goal. I was generally happy with how the team played. But we were awarded a penalty on the 81st minute. New boy Cutrone stepped up in Jimenez’s absence and slotted home. Could it happen? Could we really beat City in their own back yard twice in 3 days?
The 90th minute fast approched. Jota had come on earlier, but I was fearing extra time due to how many matches we had already played this season. But just like 3 days ago, Jota roared through the City defence. Sliced them open with a single move and slotted home the winner. We have actually done it! Pep was fuming, and rightly so.
Brexit Means Brexit
Investment in home-grown talent was always on the cards when I first walked into the Wolves job. Even more so now that the UK is leaving the EU which changes the Premier League rules slightly.
A 17 foreign player limit will be set upon us. Scouts are now busy at work in their local villages.
We capped off the month we a home league game against Watford. A team more our size. Step up Jimenez to score a hattrick to propel us up to 9th in the table. That’s 9 goals for the season for the Mexican.
Another Man of the Match performance from our opposition Goalkeeper. In a 4-1 defeat, nabbing Man of the Match takes some doing, so all the plaudits go to Ben Foster.
Manager’s Player of the Month
There can only be one winner this month, and that’s Diogo Jota.
The young Portuguese grabbed two late winners against one of the toughest sides on the planet. The composure shown here proves to me he’s got a great career ahead of him.
He even managed up pick up his first International cap AND goal this month. I hope of more of the same in the coming games.
So up next we continue our Europa League campaign, as well as another double header in the form of a Premier League game and a League Cup game against Arsenal.
The games are coming thick and fast and I’d like to keep this momentum going.
With all that said, I hope to see you next time. Thanks for reading. Remember to follow me on Twitter: @ExtraTimeFM