04/05: Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers
by Wolves fan Lee Barnes
What happened last season?
Well, after our ‘Magnificent Day’ (DVD and video available from club shop) against Sheffield United in the Play-off Final, the players, management, directors and background staff all went on a well deserved holiday. Unfortunately, by the time we came back they seem to have forgotten that the play-off was worth an estimated £30million and people could actually buy players in the close season. So our summer signings included the ridiculously named Nigerian international Isaac Okoronkwo on a free, Arsenal donkey Oleg Luzhny on a free, Portuguese midfielder Silas (who had claimed the only reason he didn’t play for Portugal was because the National manager seemed to think he was Brazilian), Jody Craddock (a defender from the worst Premiership defence in the previous season), Henri Camara (from a club relegated from the French First division the previous season) and Steffan Iversen who was that bad he had been released by Tottenham. Our pre-season was a joke, including a near first string side getting thumped by 5 at Morecambe. Despite Dave Jones' best efforts in passing it off as a fitness exercise we knew things weren’t going well. And then they got worse. Our player of the season Joleon Lescott had a knee op in the summer and never made an appearance in the team for the whole season. Matt Murray, our under 21 England goalkeeper became injured after one game and we never saw him again. I don’t recall Luzhny making more than 1 appearance and Okoronkwo was deemed ‘not ready’ by the management for the first 35 games.
There were a few bright spots – being 3-0 down at home to Leicester at half time allowed us to stage the most remarkable comeback in Molineux history to win 4-3. Beating Manchester United should have been the highlight, but quite a few teams managed that last season. And towards the end of the season we had started to get the hang of what we had to do to get results. We were still in with a fighting chance of staying up in the last six or seven games, but an amazing sequence of poor refereeing decisions cost us dear (thank you Mr Rennie). But it wasn’t to be and we finished off the season in last place but with renewed hope for bouncing back the following season if we could make some shrewd acquisitions during the Summer, and keep the front strike pair of Camara and Cort fit .
What's going to happen next season?
Well, we haven’t learned a thing from our mistakes of the previous season. We have lost half the squad including the player who should have been player of the year, Alex Rae, and the player who actually won it in an attempt by the fans to make him stay at the club, Camara, who decided he would rather not turn up for pre-season training despite ‘loving the fans’. He is on the verge of a £1.5 million move to Celtic in a year long loan with £5.7 million payable if they don’t realise that he can’t actually score goals when they matter. We've also lost Silas & Luzhny (but we won’t lose sleep over that) and captain Paul Butler. We have added two players in Olifinjana (He’s meant to be the new Nigerian Viera but no-one has seen him play yet) and Rob Edwards (Aston Villa defender who has been injured for the last few seasons so should fit in well).
We’ll probably start off ok for the first few games then the injuries will kick in and we’ll realise the squad isn’t strong enough and then there aren’t any decent players left and Dave Jones will start putting players ridiculously out of position (thank God we didn’t sign Heskey – he’d be our new left back under Jones). Around Christmas we’ll be lingering outside the play-off zone and fans will be calling for Jones' head. But we’ll scrape a lucky 3rd round FA Cup win against Darlington which will buy Jones a bit more time and we’ll get our act together again and end up in the play-offs where we will lose to Leicester/Sheffield Utd/Nottingham/West Ham* (delete as applicable), opening the door to a return to the Black Country derby when West Brom get relegated.
Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)
"Aberystwyth Town-Best team in wales don't ya know"
"The street-lights in my street are currently broken"
"Do not trust a club, who has either an elephant or a suspicious looking reindeer as their club mascot" (For heaven's sake, it's a MOOSE. Obvious, surely? - ed)