Wolves 0-0 MK Dons
By Tom Bason
November 28 2015
Wolves poor run of form today extended to one win in eight games, with a dour 0-0 with MK Dons. While Wolves had a number of good opportunities, they were unable to be converted into goals.
- Kenny Jackett played a 4-2-3-1 formation today, with Jordan Graham continuing to play on the left wing. Jack Price partnered Kevin McDonald in the middle of the park, with James Henry on the right hand side. David Edwards was handed the number 10 role, pretty much in the absence of any other options, with Benik Afobe as the lone striker.
- First of all, let's be clear; MK Dons were very poor. In fact, they were as bad a side as I've seen this season, including some pretty dire Wolves performances. Sometimes, a team can play poorly because the opposition forces them to. But today wasn't like this; I get the feeling MK Dons would have been poor had there been no opposition players. The two teams spent about five minutes sizing each other at the start of the game, at which point we should have realised that this game was there for the taking. MK Dons had no real attacking threat; even on the odd occasion we had players caught up field, they were too slow on the counter attack to really ever threaten.
- On the other hand, sometimes a team can play well because the opposition let them. This, I felt, was the case today. We didn't have an attacking threat because of good Wolves play, we had an attacking threat because MK Dons were so poor. They were generally happy to let us have the ball, and pick our passes. Perhaps because we had so much time, there was no real intensity about the way we played today. I've been critical in the past about the way that Conor Coady slows the game down, but today Jack Price was equally guilty of that. MK Dons had a packed defence, and we needed to move the ball quicker to draw their players out of position.
- The only times we had real intensity were when the wingers got the ball, or McDonald made one of his driving runs through the middle. On the right hand side, I thought James Henry had one of his better games, showing good energy, and with his crosses threatening. One thing that Henry does that annoys me is not make himself as available as he could do. Quite often with Dominic Iorfa had the ball in the second half, he looked up, and the pass to Henry was blocked off. This wasn't just Henry, it felt like it was symptomatic of the entire side, with a general lack of movement.
- On the other flank was youngster Jordan Graham, a player I first saw about a year ago and liked the look of. I didn't make the trip to Ipswich (I was extremely hung-over, and just making it to my sofa was difficult enough last Saturday), but felt he was massively out of position for Ipswich's first goal. Everyone had shuffled over to the right, leaving a gaping hole on our left, which he was nowhere near close to filling. Further, I spoke to my friend, @Comptonstars, who had seen Graham a lot more than I have, who thought Graham would have no issues going forward, but might struggle with the defensive side of his game. So, it was interesting to see him have an in depth discussion with Scott Golbourne right before kick off, with Golbourne clearly giving him defensive instructions. Quite why this was left to a minute before kick off I'm not sure; I'd have thought that Graham's defensive responsibilities were something that was worked on during training this week.
- But, Graham was not tested defensively in the slightest, and as a result could pretty much just focus on his attacking. The last time I saw him, he pretty much only used his right foot, and so when he cut back onto his right the first time he got the ball, I thought that would be the way he played for the entire match. It was obvious MK Dons had done some homework on him, that first time, they offered him the space to go down the line, and he didn't. But I was heartened to see that after that, each time he got the ball he was prepared to go onto his left. This makes a winger so difficult to defend against, with the defender not able to show them onto either foot. Indeed, the first time he shifted it onto his left and attacked the byline, his low cross was flicked just wide of the far post by Henry. After that, his crossing on his left, but this is something that can be developed. Think Matt Jarvis - when he first arrived, he'd attack down the left, but his crossing would be poor. But he worked on it (he used to stay behind after training to practise it with Terry Connor) and it developed into a potent weapon. I thought Graham was very impressive today, to the extent that MK Dons only tactic to stop him was to kick him. Considering how deliberate it was, I was disappointed that the referee did not try to clamp down on it more.
- Given that I was interested to see how often Graham used his left foot, I thought I'd make a note on on how often the rest of the team used their weaker foot. Now, these are only the ones that I noticed, so it's likely that I missed some:
Graham 1 clearance, 3 crosses
Edwards 3 passes
Henry 1 pass, 1 shot, 1 cross
Afobe 3 shots
Price 1 pass, 1 tackle
McDonald 1 shot, 1 pass
Iorfa 2 passes
Ikeme 1 clearance
Ojo 1 cross
- Given Graham's performance, it was a little surprising to see him taken off after 64 minutes, to a resounding chorus of boos. I guess that as fans, we don't know exactly what his situation is; this level is a step up to the level he's played before, and we can't be sure of his fitness levels. I was slightly disappointed to see Nathan Byrne being left on the bench; I thought he played well against Birmingham City, and it was a little surprising to see Sheyi Ojo come on ahead of him. I think that Ojo is potentially a player who could be used in these situations, as an impact player for 20 minutes or so, but he was poor today, with one cross/shot his only contribution of note.
- I also wasn't convinced of the decision to bring on Adam le Fondre. Yes, le Fondre will work hard, and he has a good goalscoring at this level until last year, but he hasn't established any sort of partnership with Afobe yet. I'd have been tempted to have brought Coady on at this point, and pushed Kevin McDonald a lot further forward. In the past, I've not always been a fan of pushing McDonald forward, but I think he is one player who is on the same wavelength as Afobe and could perhaps break down a packed MK Dons midfield.
The other change I'd have made would be to bring on Byrne at fullback. MK Dons had very little attacking threat in the second half and so having Byrne at fullback wouldn't have overly weakened us defensively. He played regularly as a wing back for Swindon, and could have offered an extra dimension in our attacking player. Neither Iorfa or Golbourne are our most potent attacking players, and I thought that Byrne could have contribute from deep, providing width and allowing Henry or Ojo to provide an extra body through the middle.
- There's a Fans Parliament meeting on Tuesday, so if you have any issues you want raised, list them below. I've struggled to get to meetings this year; since I started, I've moved away from the Black Country, and am effectively doing two full time jobs (you'll have noticed a distinct lack of away reports over the last year or so). Getting to meetings relies on me being able to leave work slightly earlier than normal; fingers crossed that I will be able to this week.
- Finally, any disappointment at the lack of pace and intensity today was more than made up by the Murray brothers' success in the Davis Cup this afternoon. This weekend definitely has the potential to push into my five favourite sporting moments of all time.pqs: qs:
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:12:06:10:08:59 by Badge32.