As we look forward to Saturday’s game against Wolves, we caught up with a fan and season ticket holder, Phil
As we look forward to Saturday’s game against Wolves, last week we caught up with a fan and season ticket holder, Phil Bradley (@wolvesbradders). We ask Phil about Wolves’ great start and mid season dip, the great job Kenny Jackett has done, the Reading player he secretly admires, among other topics.
1. What were your expectations before the season started?
I think when I wrote this piece for the game at the Madjeski I said mid-table security would be a good target for this season. After 2 awful seasons, followed by a record breaking season in Division 3, then just a return to a bit of stability would be a good start. I just didn’t want to get dragged into a relegation fight. With so many young players coming through and players stepping up to the Championship for the first time it could have been a big challenge.
2. You have had a very good start to the season, but tailed off since then. You still find yourselves around the play-off mix though, what chance do you think you have of making it?
I’d say it’s a 50/50 chance from here. We’re within touching distance of it as I type. Keeping Sako in the transfer window is a must for us. Afobe certainly looks a player with potential and adds some much needed options up front. Sadly our young strikers and Leon Clarke haven’t really taken the chances when they’ve had them.
3. The job that Kenny Jackett has done with Wolves is very good and often goes under the radar. How would you assess his performance this season and were there any question marks about him in your bad run?
When KJ was appointed, I’ll admit, I was underwhelmed and thought the club had made yet another bad appointment after the utter disasters of Connor, Solbakken and Dean bloody Saunders. But he’s done a wonderful job, not just with the first team but behind the scenes from the youth team upwards. He’s given quite a few kids a chance in the last 2 years. Some have taken the chance and are looking class – Jack Price, Dominic Iorfa and Kortney Hause in particular. He’s (mostly) not afraid to drop players when he thinks it’s needed. Sam Ricketts was outstanding last year but barely played this year. Yet when we had McCarthy certain players were kept in the team no matter how poor they played, and that was ultimately his and our demise.
In the ‘bad run’, he dropped Stearman for a bit and gave one of our young kids a run, Ebanks-Landell. It didn’t really work out. Stears came back and has been MOTM in pretty much every match since. And we’ve gone from conceding 16 in 5 games to 3 in the last 7 league games.
4. What did you make of your business in the recent transfer window? Would you have brought any more in?
I’m writing this with a few days to go… It looks like we’ll keep Sako, he’s been a big loss during the ACON. Though I’m not too gutted to see Mali dumped out by the unique method of losing in the drawing of lots!! As I say above, Afobe is a great addition. I’d have liked to see a top class central midfielder come in. McDonald has gone off the boil. And Edwards blows hot and cold.
We lack a wise old head at times in my opinion, and that could prove telling in the run-in. Wolves fans don’t really need reminding of what happened in 2002 when we famously collapsed. We added Ince and Irwin to that squad and, well, you guys know what happened the following year! Ince and Rae in central midfield that season made all the difference. I feel we could really do with that modern day Ince or Rae for the run-in.
5. Which Wolves player(s) are really excelling so far this season?
There’s been a few! Ikeme has continued his excellent form in goal. Sako has been unplayable at times. As I mentioned above, 3 young kids have really stepped up – Price, Iorfa and Hause. Dicko also contributes a lot to the team and the way we play. If we’re missing Sako and/or Dicko our play performances usually dip. So if you see them missing on Saturday then have a bet on Reading to win or draw 🙂
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
To be honest, I’ve not seen a massive amount of you this year. I’ve always liked the look of Pearce, think he would be a good player alongside Stearman.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Jackett on Saturday?
I would expect we’ll start with our fairly familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Ikeme; Golbourne (if fit again), Stearman, Batth and Iorfa along the back. Price and McDonald just in front of them. Then Sako, Edwards and Henry pushing on. With Dicko alone up front. Although with the signing of Afobe there’s a few fans looking for a change to 4-4-2 with Afobe coming in for Edwards. But with Price and McDonald sitting so deep we’d need to get one of them pushing forward, so maybe Price would be dropped for the more attacking Edwards.
8. Prediction for the game?
If Sako & Dicko are fit, then a 2-0 win for Wolves. If they aren’t, then 1-1. Enjoy the game those of your fans who are coming up. Hope you have a good day out, but not TOO enjoyable between 3 and 5pm!!