Zamora got a broken leg and Wolves got a reputation for foul play at the weekend. Neither was deserved.
What was fair was the result. Fulham outplayed us at Craven Cottage. A last minute winner hurts but you can accept it when you are second best. Jeers about being a disgrace to the league hurt too. Those I can’t accept.
I’m not going to argue that we have got a team of saints. The statistics show that we have the worst disciplinary record in the league at the moment and that is a cause for concern. But we’re only four games in to the season so I’m not reading too much in to it. After all, at this point the stats show Joe Cole and James Morrison as two of the dirtiest players in the league which they clearly are not.
We were 14th in the fair play league at the end of last season and we’ll probably end up around there again because there is no doubt we are committed and combative.
No saints but not sinners either
What the record doesn’t show though is what the players are doing to get themselves booked.
This detail would show that Wolves are not a team of cheats. You will not find two-footed tackles, elbows or scuffles on our list of crimes. Neither will you find diving, dissent or play acting.
What you will find is a catalogue of clumsy errors just like those that saw Christophe Berra sent off at Fulham. There will be plenty of obstructions and mistimed tackles.
Our fouls are due to our limitations though and nothing to do with our tactics.
I think this reputation claim that had commentators, pundits and fans arguing over at the weekend stems from three things that have happened this season – Zamora’s injury, the tempestuous nature of the game at Craven Cottage and Match Of The Day’s highlight reel of our tackles on Joey Barton in the Newcastle game.
Firstly, let me say that no true Wolves supporter would have wished that injury on Zamora. He’s a well-liked player across the country and on the fringe of the England squad. What happened was awful and I wish him a speedy recovery. However, it simply was not a foul. Karl Henry took the ball, their legs got tangled as they fell and Bobby landed badly. It was just bad luck. Our captain was the first person to offer his hand to his opponent and has since spoken about the remorse he feels though.
Secondly, it was a bad tempered affair at Fulham. This was as much to do with some poor refereeing decisions though. The home side should have had two penalties. Then Clint Dempsey started throwing himself on the ground at every opportunity. Tempers were starting to flair and it all got a bit nasty. We don’t want to see that but it happens in matches between all clubs from time to time.
Finally, I had to laugh when MOTD showed Barton being repeatedly knocked down but it wasn’t really fair to condense 90 minutes of mainly fair tackling in to 15 seconds of fouls and hard challenges. That game was poor for both teams in terms of discipline but that’s what happens when two combative midfields go toe-to-toe.
Today Wolves were fined for picking up seven bookings in each of their last two games so I’m sure the debate will rage on for another week. The best way we can answer it is by playing Tottenham off the field like we did twice last season. Let’s stay committed, cut out the clumsiness and keep playing good football.