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 8
January is upon us. A time that is notorious for panic buys and tough deals. A period where big teams can unsettle players when we need them the most. January can be a blessing and a curse.
We own players who could command a lot of interest from larger teams such as Neves, Jota and Jimenez. As I look through my e-mails, I pray no bids come in. Every passing day brings my anxiety up to a boiling point of seemingly no return. February 1st cannot come sooner.
Although being 33, Moutinho isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He’s chipped in with 6 goals and 8 assists so far this season and averaging a 7.31 rating.
It was imperative we got him to sign a new deal, and he obliged. Fantastic news. A new one year deal that will see him to the end of the 20/21 season.
Whether or not he continues past that is something I cannot foresee, I’m just pleased he’s with us here and now. His experience and demeanour around camp is invaluable for the younger players.
With Brexit looming and a contingency of Portuguese players that amasses to seven current first teamers and an extra 3 out on loan, we have a home-grown talent issue on our hands.
With the board adamant that we sign Portuguese players, it’s become a real thorn in my side. I’m hoping to change this club culture in the coming years as we cannot sustain that.
We don’t have space to register any non home-grown talent, so our pool of players severally diminishes to a point where only a few candidates are suitable.
Ben Godfrey is a player I first start enquiring about. He’s primarily a centre-back who can play as a DM and CM. At 22 he’s highly rated at Norwich and is considered a “Star Player”.
An initial bid of £15m to test the waters is immediately thrown back at us with an asking price of £100m. Basically a polite “shuff off”. Back to the drawing board I go.
An FA Cup tie versus Brighton is up first for us in January.
Brighton 1 – 1 Wolves
A bore draw saw us pick up another FA Cup replay. Seriously not what we need. The league and Europa League is more than enough for us right now. I wish I just sent the kids out.
First Winter Signing
After a few other knockbacks from teams not wishing to part with their key men during the middle of the season, my scout brought Chris Mepham to my attention.
A current Welsh international who meets the home-grown quota. For a young lad he has fantastic mental attributes and with room to grow. We landed him for £17.75m and he will slot straight into my backline.
It’s not the most inspired signing, but given our current situation, I’m happy with the acquisition of Chris.
Our love affair with Brighton continued, but this time 3 glorious points were at stake.
A tough afternoon ensued with Brighton making us work hard for it.
Wolves 1 – 0 Brighton
Jimenez gave us the lead on 55 minutes and we managed to hang on. Chances were available at both ends through the 90. New boy Mepham came straight into the side and showed us just why we bought him.
Unfortunately, the day was dampened with an injury to our star wing-back, Doherty. A twisted ankle, he’s out again for another 4-5 weeks.
City Spending Power
In Episode 7 I eluded to chasing after Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic. A fantastic looking player that edges Mepham (but not by much) in overall ability. But as previously mentioned, an offer was not forthcoming from me due to our home-grown issue.
While I blame the home-grown issue for our inability to sign Ajer, in reality, Man City was never going to let us have him anyway.
A paltry (from City’s perspective) £38m offer was enough to land the big Norwegian and off he went. Good luck to the lad. He’s going to need it with with the likes of Laporte, Stones, Otamendi and Savic all ahead of him.
Brighton again, for the 3rd game in a row. At this point, we’re practically dating. Quite a long-distance relationship… I don’t think it will work out. Especially as we managed to beat them, again.
Wolves 2 – 0 Brighton
Young Ronan with a magical goal to kick this game into life on the 67th minute. A run from his own box, the defenders too scared to close him down. He entered Brighton’s 18-yard box and slotted home. Delightful.
But before the game was up, devastation ensued. Firstly our left wing-back Vinagre twisted his ankle – 3-4 weeks out for him. On comes Augustinsson and not long after he sprains his knee ligaments. Just my luck!
Jonny will have to be deployed in his more natural left-back position (even though he’s right-footed), and young Jack Scott who we met in Episode 7 may have to step up to the plate. I can’t rely on a 17 year old, can I?
Championship West Brom awaits us in the 4th round of the FA Cup.
Loanee To The Rescue
Turns out, I cannot rely on young Jack. He will certainly be taking his place on the bench throughout the injury layoffs, but I dived right into the loan market for some fresh blood.
As with before, a home-grown talent was needed. To my surprise, a current England International fresh from his transfer to sunny Spain was available.
With only 10 league appearances to his name in the first half of the season for Athletico Madrid, Trippier was itching for more football – and I was happy to deliver.
I don’t see him displacing Doherty once he returns, but Trippier provides excellent depth. It’s such a shame he’s on such a large wage, otherwise, I may be tempted in the summer to nab him off Athletico.
A bore draw again as we take to the field. A struggling Leicester had just hired Eusebio Di Francesco after sacking Brendan Rogers and were on the resurgence.
Leicester 0 – 0 Wolves
Jota has taken his goal drought to 10 games now. He needs to pick up his form if we are to hit our boards goal if finishing mid-table.
Out of nowhere, rumours started circulating about a potential takeover. While takeovers seem like a good thing on the surface, they can result in a managerial change. Let’s hope that never comes to fruition.
We were back facing a top 6 team, this time with us hosting Chelsea. Under new man Lampard at the helm, they have been playing expansive football and looked like a good side under him.
But we continued our reputation as self-titled giant killers as we walked away with all 3 points.
Wolves 2 – 0 Chelsea
However, it wasn’t as plain sailing as the scoreline makes it out to be. Neves had an early goal disallowed. Jota came from the bench on the 70th minute mark (due to his poor record infront of goal as of late) and hit the post straight away.
On the 87th minute, we were awarded a penalty. With Jimenez off the pitch, Moutinho celebrated his new contract by rifling home. Jota put his doubters to bed with a lovely countered goal as Chelsea desperately tried to find an equaliser in the final seconds. Experienced Patricio now up to 409 minutes without conceding.
While the FA Cup is not a priority, facing our rivals in the Black Country Derby was too good to pass up. A slightly rotated side was lined up.
West Brom certainly wasn’t the force they once were as they sat in 9th in the Championship.
West Brom 1 – 1 Wolves
But we should have won. Jota with another goal and appears to be hitting form again. We got our 3rd FA Cup reply. I’m starting to despise this competition.
Hosting Everton was the end of the January fixtures.
Wolves 1 – 1 Everton
Another 2 points lost potentially, but a draw with Everton is nothing to be scoffed at, especially after such a busy period. The new boys are settling in well and Jota has now scored 3 on the bounce.
On Track… Still
So after the end of play against Everton, we sit 9th, level on points with the Toffee’s. There are 8 points between us and next in line Sheffield United. Quite a gap!
Unbeaten in January. Granted we played Brighton 3 times and only saw one top 6 sides, I’m still pleased. We might not be scoring as many as I’d hope, but we’re also not conceding too many either.
A Cruel February
Our next lot of fixtures couldn’t be harder it seems.
We will certainly have to live up to our self-titled Giant Killers name as we host a few of the world’s elite. Wish us luck!
Until next time. Remember to follow me on Twitter: @ExtraTimeFM