Wolves were magnificent against Blackpool. Yes they missed Charlie Adam and yes DJ Campbell’s red card made life easier for us, but let’s not let that detract from what was an excellent performance by us.
The whole team played well with Jamie O’Hara in particular standing out in a victory that took us out of the bottom three and made our goal difference column look much stronger. There are so many individual performances I could highlight, but I want to pay particular tribute to Richard Stearman.
Stears has come on leaps and bounds this season. He took his chance to become a first-team regular when Jody Craddock was injured last year and initially, he looked a little nervous. He made some silly mistakes from time to time and many of us thought he was still too raw to hold down the position permanently.
Then came January and most Wolves fans, including me, were desperate for Mick to go out and sign a commanding central defender. He didn’t and we worried but we need not have done.
This year Stearman has been fantastic. He is fast, good in the air, brave in the tackle and has ironed out the mistakes. Jody is fit again but I don’t think Mick will want to break up the partnership of Stearman and the ever-reliable Berra.
Now I look around the centre halves that we might have signed in January – Jonathan Woodgate if he’d have fancied it, Curtis Davies if he hadn’t opted for Birmingham and others – and I don’t think any of them could have performed better than Stears.
The results have backed this up too. Since the window closed we have conceded five goals in five matches. That’s not great but consider this: three were scored by the brilliant attackers of Arsenal and Man Utd and the other two came from very costly mistakes, neither of which were by Stearman. Hennessey’s led to Albion’s goal and Zubar gave Bolton theirs.
I don’t want to go any further with this without also mentioning the left-back position.
Wolves fans were crying out for a new left-back at the start of the season and Mick got Jelle Van Damme. The Belgian got homesick and it didn’t work out so we were left with Elokobi and Ward – neither of whom had convinced us that they were the long-term solution.
January came and again we were all urging Morgan, Moxey and McCarthy to find one. They didn’t but, like in the centre-half position, the one we had got stepped up to the plate. Elokobi has been a rock since January. Despite his size, he’s remarkably mobile going forward and he times his tackles well against faster wingers. Look around the league now and ask yourself who we could have signed who would be doing a better job now.
In their latest splendid outing in the 4-0 win over Blackpool, Stearman should get particular praise for another part of his game. When DJ Campbell shoved his hands in to Stearman’s face in what had been, and afterwards continued to be, a fair and honest game, Stears didn’t over-react. He didn’t drop to the ground and writhe around as if in agony.
He held his face where he had been caught, stepped back and stayed on his feet. While the rest of the players pulled Campbell away, Stears stood his ground and waited for the referee to do his job. Other players should follow this example. Be honest, let the ref work and the correct decision will be made.
Well done Stearman, well done Wolves, and let’s keep climbing that table.
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