Well, we got beat soundly at the weekend but I don’t think we should be reading too much in to that. Chelsea haven’t been at their best in recent weeks but they are still Chelsea. Instead I want to look at what I think is a new thing at Wolves – possession football.
Barcelona and Spain are the masters of keeping the ball. They never hoof it forward but instead keep playing to feet at a slow pace until they find an opening. It’s devastatingly effective and I think a few English clubs have taken a look at it and tried to adapt the way they play.
Manchester United have certainly changed their tactics in recent seasons in a bid to re-capture European glory. And a lot of other teams are abandoning the traditional system of 4-4-2, a big man and a little man up front and two wingers. Is Mick McCarthy trying to do the same with Wolves?
Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that he’s trying to get us playing like Barcelona. I love O’Hara and Fletcher but they’re no Xavi and Messi. But perhaps Mick, like a lot of managers, thinks keeping the ball in a European style may be more effective than the traditional English high-tempo game.
Unfortunately I can’t find the official stats for passing because I would be really interested to see how many Karl Henry in particular is making in each game this season compared to last. He seems to be dropping back and offering himself as an option to the back five every time we get possession.
I’m certain that last season Hennessey was booting the ball forward much more regularly than he has been recently. It seems like there is a conscious effort to keep the ball to feet in our own half and play it out by finding space.
This is fine by me but I think it’s going wrong in the opposition half. Here we’re still relying on the wingers to beat a man and get a cross in. The possession game is going out of the window. To be fair, I don’t think our players have the ball skills to consistently open up defences with movement and skill. When attacking we need to rely on pace and strength.
I’m not sure if the possession game at the back is helping or hindering us really but it is slowing the game down and perhaps that’s not ideal when we rely on speed in the attacking third.