Special In Depth Wolves Preview

Right folks, i don't know if many of you use the forums on www.redandwhitekop.com but i do and usually have a right laugh flipping through the posts & pictures, anyways, they do a special feature before each game called "Spyin' Kop".

Basically what happens, a member of the forum offers to volunteer to do the preview, they email a website with opposition fans or ask some fans of the opposition that they already know to answer some generic questions (you can also add your own questions as i did) and then it gives the Liverpool fans a nice insight into how the opposition are feeling in the run up to kick off, who they might field, which Liverpool player they are fearing etc etc.

Without further interuption, here is my attempt, i'll also be doing a regular little match preview probably on Friday but for now... Enjoy!

So after the embarrassing 90minutes endured against Wolves at Anfield last month i think it’s safe to say no Reds are going to want a repeat performance. Anfield was supposed to be our confidence booster but we suffered terribly.

So on our trip to Molineux after a run of (L/W/L/L/D) how are we rating our chances?

Wolves are still struggling, hovering around the bottom section of the table but some encouraging performances of late, namely the win over Chelsea and pushing Man City to the wire mean that they will have some faith ready for facing the Reds again in quick succession after their historic victory at Anfield.

Liverpool currently lie in 13th with 26points whereas Wolves are in 19th on 21 points.

I asked Thomas B, Louie S & Rich G all members of Wolves Blog what they thought in the run up to the game...

How has the season been shaping up so far?

TB: Pretty much as expected for me. There was a lot of talk from some fans about us 'establishing ourselves' and not being involved in the relegation scrap, but I always thought that was ambitious. However, we did spend a lot of money in the summer so there is some disappointment that we've been in and around the bottom three pretty much all season.

LS: We've had some high and some real lows, we haven't really found any consistency yet which I'm confident we will. It started with us being accused of dirty tactics, but people are now starting to praise us for good attacking football. It's been a weird one!

RG: It’s been a strange one, but ultimately disappointing. Despite wins over Chelsea, Liverpool – two of the greatest results in my time as a fan - and also wins against top six sides Manchester City and Sunderland, we have not been able to beat the sides around us which is costing us dear. West Ham have taken four points off us, Wigan six! A rollercoaster ride would about sum it up.

What are your expectations now for this season? Have they changed from day one?

TB: Survival is all that matters and that's been my only expectation all season. If we achieve that, all fans will be fairly satisfied. Of course a win over Albion wouldn't go a miss either. It's been far too long since we overcame our fiercest rivals.

LS: Not much. At the beginning I was confident we could improve on last season' 15th place, anything could happen but I would be glad and pleased with another 15th place.

RG: They have. I honestly expected us to be fine this season and progress from last year, finishing somewhere just below mid-table, but it’s been a struggle all the way along. I honestly don’t know what to expect now. We could easily be playing Championship football next season, yet we could just as conceivably survive.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

TB: It's hard to single out one player because, without wanting to sound corny, Wolves are very much a team. Of course players like Jarvis, Milijas and Doyle all bring important qualities to our side, but nearly every member of the squad tends to chip in when we really need it. Take Stephen Ward for example, a player highly criticised by many Wolves supporters, yet he put in a man-of-the-match performance in a home win over Birmingham and then went on to bag the winner at Anfield. We get important contributions from everyone and it's vital for any success we have. 

LS: He hasn't been noticed as much as Jarvis or Doyle but since he came back into the team Nenad Milijas has been fantastic. Liverpool fans should have noticed him though, as he was our best player in our game last month. I was gutted when Matty Jarvis wasn't selected in one of the England squads, he was on fire last season and Kevin Doyle has now returned from injury and should give us a boost.

RG: Matt Jarvis has shone as the star player, but we’re more of a unit. The sum of our parts is greater than the whole as the saying goes. Nenad Milijas has been impressive, forcing his way back into the team and Stephen Hunt has made a good impression and is fast becoming a fans’ favourite.

Your worst player(s)?

TB: I wouldn't like to name a worst player. I honestly feel confident, whatever eleven Mick McCarthy puts out, we'll give a decent account of ourselves. And in 20-odd years of supporting Wolves, I've never been able to say that. There's not always a great deal of quality, but the effort is always there, which always makes it harder to knock any of the players. However, if you asked the majority of supporters, I suspect they'd say Stephen Ward.

LS: Our weak spot has always been left back, George Elokobi has played well there recently but is suspended. Stephen Ward, who played up front and scored the winner against you will play left back. Neither are particularly bad players though. I'm happy with our squad, and there aren't really any players I want us to get rid of.

RG: I never like to single out my own players but Stephen Ward has come in for a massive amount of stick from a lot of Wolves fans. It is perhaps a bit unfair, because he ‘puts a shift in’ as Mick would say, even if he lacks the quality, and that’s why he’s pretty much first name on the team sheet.

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? If so what is your favourite moment?

TB: One recent triumph springs to mind! Has to be that post-Christmas victory at Anfield I think. I never thought I'd see the day Wolves beat Liverpool on their own ground, but that's exactly what happened and deservedly so too. We desperately needed the points having lost at home to Wigan on Boxing Day, so it made victory taste all the sweeter. A lot was made of how poor Liverpool were that day, but I thought Wolves were excellent and Mick McCarthy got his tactics spot on.

LS: In my lifetime is it easily our win at Anfield last month! Then there are the draws last year and in 2004.

RG: Funny you should say that! That meeting last month is pretty fresh in the memory, and will live there long. A truly wonderful performance and brilliant result. There have not been many meetings in my life time, and other than that meeting the only good memory I have is a last minute Kenny Miller equaliser in 2004.

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

TB: We've got quite a young-squad in general but in terms of players you might not have heard of, perhaps keep an eye out for winger Geoffrey Mujangi-Bia. We've taken him on a season-long loan, but he's hardly featured up to now. However, he came on against City last weekend and looked quite sharp so perhaps his time is coming. I should imagine he'll be on the bench Saturday, but could make an appearance.

LS: Our young winger on loan from Charleroi, Geoffrey Mujangi-Bia came on at City and tore them to bits, that was his first appearance of the season. He's quick and skillful, though I don't expect him to start this Saurday. We may still have a couple of youngsters on the bench due to injuries, so the likes of Danny Batth (centre back), Matt Doherty (right back) and David Davis (centre mid) may need to be ready in case of an emergency.

RG: In short, no. Youth rarely gets a chance these days at Molineux, but if they’re not good enough, then you can’t throw them in. That being said, we do have Zele Ismail in our ranks, once dubbed ‘the first £100 million player’, so maybe he’s one to look out for and we have signed Leigh Griffiths from Dundee as one for the future.

What sort of line-up will Mick McCarthy put out against us?

TB: It'll be 4-4-2, but the personnel will be different to the side that won at Anfield. Doyle and Fletcher will almost certainly play up front instead of Ebanks-Blake and Ward. Those are our two record signings so hopefully they'll be able to get at the Liverpool defence. Fletcher is long overdue a good performance, but he's capable of brilliance on his day.

LS: One with a game plan. We are starting to come somewhere close to our strongest eleven. Our captain Karl Henry should be back, he's an important player for us. We will probably go with two up front and two wingers so it could be an open game.

RG: I expect him to go 4-4-2, hopefully the same side that gave Man City a scare on Saturday. Karl Henry may return from injury, we’ve missed him.

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

TB: There's a few flying around. For Nenad Milijas there's the Vidic chant ending in 'He comes from Serbia, he'll f*****g murder ya' With the same tune used for local-lad Karl Henry ending with 'He comes from Ashmore Park, he'll rob you in the dark'

LS: I don't get to many games but I went to the recent ones against Chelsea and West Ham where the crowds sang 'sit down, shut up, in a cockney accent, I thought that was quite funny. I presume most teams sing that though. If you don't understand the 'Ebanks-Blake is Wanderers number nine' song it's because he hit a bouncer and was charged for it.

RG: Obviously, there’s the classics, ‘Those were the days’ and ‘Wanderers Scarf’ and it’s always nice to hear a bit of ‘Stevie Bull’s a tatter’ when it’s dusted off now and then (usually against Albion or on away days). At the moment, the Milijas chant’s a pretty good one. ‘Milijas, woah, he comes from Serbia, he’ll f***in murder ya!’

Where do you expect Wolves and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

TB: Wolves just outside the bottom three I hope. 17th will do for me. Liverpool is a tough one. I expect improvement but I've been saying that for a long time. I reckon mid-table. 10th.

LS: Wolves, 14th. Liverpool, 9th. 

RG: As mentioned above I really don’t know with us, anywhere between 16th and bottom. With Liverpool, I expect them to pick up plenty of points at Anfield, but not many away. King Kenny might see some improvement. I’ll say 10th.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

TB: Got to be Torres. I'm positive he'll start turning up for games again this season and if he's firing on the day, we're in trouble. A truly world class striker. Hasn't looked bothered this year for some reason.

LS: Even out of form, Torres is someone I will always worry about. Kuyt is another too, as he just keeps trying.

RG: Well, with Stevie Gerrard suspended, the only player I fear is Fernando Torres. He looked back ‘at it’ again against Everton, despite not scoring, he was back in the thick of the action. And with Torres, he only needs one chance.

With Kevin Foley unavailable how big of an effect do you think this will have on your chances?

TB: He's done a good job anchoring the midfield in Karl Henry's absence and is a useful player to have around. Let's not forget he's a full-back by trade but his versatility makes him a vital squad player for us. However, we've got Henry back now as well as David Jones and Nenad Milijas, so there are options for Mick McCarthy in midfield. Put it this way, if we lose, I doubt anyone will be saying 'if only we'd had Foley'.

LS: He's our Mr.Consistent and is a great footballer, but he won't be missed hugely. He has performed well in centre midfield but that's not his natural position and Karl Henry will come in for him.

RG: Strangely, a positive one in my opinion. Now, Kevin Foley is a fine footballer and has been a consistent performer since joining the club, but he’s better deployed in his natural position at right-back (where Ronnie Zubar is currently keeping out with some brilliant performances), rather than central midfield. His absence allows for a more attacking midfield.

Matt Jarvis has been talked up a lot recently and almost managed to get himself a place in the England squad in the latter half of last year.  Are you pleased one of your most talented players is finally getting the recognition he deserves?

TB: Well, he hasn't had an England call-up yet so I'd argue he probably isn't getting the recognition he deserves. The fact of the matter is, he's an exceptionally quick winger who I think offers something different to the likes of Lennon, Young, Walcott, etc. He operates best down the left and dribbles with the ball on his back foot, making it incredibly difficult to dispossess him. He's not the finished article by any stretch of the imagination and for me lacks a killer instinct, particularly when shooting, which is a weak part of his game. But he should be given a chance at international level. He's more than capable.

LS: As I said before, I was gutted he didn't make the England squad and I thought it was a bit of a joke. His form hasn't been as good since, but he has been injured too. He fully deserves the praise and recognition, being linked with Liverpool and Everton shows he's doing well. (But no way will you get him for the £4m I heard he was valued at)

RG: Obviously it’s pleasing, no Wolves player has played for England since Bully. I do feel he might have missed the boat though after missing out in the friendly against France. If Capello was going to give him a chance, I think it would have been then. But it is great to finally here some recognition for Jarvo. Let’s just hope the vultures stay away.

Mick McCarthy is a massive character and appears to be what we here at Liverpool refer to as a “fan-splitter” (Rafael Benitez being the key example.) What are your thoughts on your boss?

TB: I can't say a bad word about Mick. Yes, he often infuriates me with his tactics and team selections, but what manager doesn't? He took over when the club was in disarray, rebuilt the team, took us up to the Premier League as champions and has so far done a solid enough job of keeping us there. Victories over the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs were things we could only dream of a few years back and now we almost expect them. That's credit for the job he's done. In terms of his personality, I actually like the fact that he doesn't just come out and give mundane, boring interviews. He's great to watch and is obviously well respected within the game.

LS: I love him for what he has done for this club, and believe he can make us into a big club once again. There are others, that think this is as far as he can take us. I'd keep him at the club just for his interviews though!

RG: Ah, the $64million question. Mick McCarthy has done a superb job since day one, but fans have started to question whether he can manage at this level. He can be stubborn at times, and isn’t the greatest in the transfer market. Where fellow West Midlands strugglers West Brom and Birmingham are targeting the likes of Bentley, Keane and Carew, we seem only to look to the Championship and Scotland. But I would stick with him, I still think he can keep us up.

Speaking of managers what were your thoughts on Roy Hodgson and his start to the season with Liverpool? And do you feel the Dalglish factor adds a new threat for Wolves this time out?

TB: I don't want to offend anyone here, but I thought the treatment of Hodgson was abysmal. He inherited a very average side and was given little time or money to improve it. Wholesale changes are needed if you want to get back to the very top and Rome wasn't built in a day. Obviously, results were poor. Even with the squad you have available, you should be occupying a position in the top-half so I can understand fans frustration. I just think Roy should have been given more time. With Dalglish in charge, there's obviously the threat he'll get the players motivated better than Hodgson was able to, which would see an upturn in your results. However, I don't for one second believe Dalglish is a superior coach to Hodgson so I wouldn't expect a drastic improvement in the short term.

LS: It's given the club a lift, but I 'm not sure it has had that much of an effect on the performances. You are playing slightly better though, but not as much as some Liverpool fans may make out.

RG: It’s a difficult one. Hodgson never really had a chance. He took over a poor side in my opinion on the back of a poor season last year, and he didn’t get the chance to shape his side the way he’d have liked. But on the flip side, he didn’t help himself with his post-match comments and negative approach away from home. It quite simply wasn’t working. The return of King Kenny will add something, but that didn’t stop Blackpool beating them last week, so I remain confident.

The match at Anfield was a sorry affair for Liverpool fans but as Wolves supporters you must have been elated with how well your boys played? What were your expectations before kick off and did the team meet them?

TB: I thought we'd play well, give a good account of ourselves but ultimately lose. That was pretty much the pattern for all away fixtures up to that point, so it was fantastic to get the win. Despite Liverpool's predicament, your record at Anfield remains impressive, so victory was a huge achievement. Elation doesn't come close to how good I felt at full-time.

LS: I wasn't expecting anything, in fact I feared a beating after your recent home results. But we put in a great hard-working performance and got the points we deserved.

RG: There weren’t any expectations before kick-off really, just hope that you go into every game with. But the boys did us proud that night. A superb performance, shackling Liverpool’s attacking chances to a bare minimum. One of the greatest nights as a Wolves fan.

If you had a £10 free bet ,who would you have a punt on for first goalscorer?

TB: Kevin Doyle. Only has 2 goals so far this season in the league and he's a far better player than that.

LS: Kevin Doyle. Got a goal at Man City, and is fit and back to his superhuman best. Then again, you do have Torres.

RG: Could be anyone really... Stephen Hunt.

Wolves are a side rich in history and original founder members of the football league, do you see a point in the near future where you can begin to go back to the glory days?

TB: Probably not. The top five have resources we simply can't compete with so unless something drastic happens, it'll be near-impossible to challenge for honours. A cup win isn't out of the question though, particularly with the big boys seemingly less and less interested in them every year. However, we've got an ambitious owner, plans for a redevelopment of Molineux (which could start at the end of the season) and supposedly a bit of cash in the bank to improve the squad. I reckon if we stay up this season, the next couple of years could be successful ones for us.

LS: Yes, but not for a while. The 3 Ms (McCarthy, Morgan, Moxey), are all building the club slowly and in the right way. We have a strict wage structure, and some good young honest players who will never give up. if we can stay up this year, we will start to establish ourselves.

RG: Well that was supposed to be now under Steve Morgan. A steady progression complete with a new 50,000 capacity stadium. Relegation would well and truly throw those plans into disarray. The next four months are the most vital in Wolves’ recent history in getting back to those glory days, because if we did go down, I wouldn’t anticipate a quick return.

Score prediction?

TB: Given your away record, I'm hoping for a win, but it's got to turn sometime for Liverpool and I'm wary of that. I'll sit on the fence and say a draw. 1-1.

LS: I think it will be tight, and I could go either way but i'll go for a 2-1 win for Wolves. Doyle and Hunt for us, Torres late on for you.

RG: Our decent home form coupled with Liverpool’s atrocious away form... 1-0 Wolves.

And finally, if you were faced with a choice of a romping of Liverpool at Molineux or a 1-0 win over the Baggies at The Hawthorns, which one would you choose?

TB: A 1-0 win over Albion every single day of the week. Nothing could possibly be as good as that and I don't just mean in football.

LS: Now that is a tough question! I'm really not sure. I think I'll go for an away win at West Br*m, as it would not only be a derby win (we have a VERY poor derby record under Mick) but also a win in a six pointer over relegation rivals. Unless Liverpool count as that too...

RG: The easiest question; Hawthorns victory every day of the week. They don’t come along very often!

Top lads those three (one of which is me fella haha) and i’m sure you will all join me in thanking them for taking the time out to answer the set of questions and provide a top read.

Thanks again for the help, now roll on Saturday!