Can they survive?
So out of curiosity, I wanted to see if Wolves could actually beat the drop. I went into pre-season knowing the team had average players all around them. So they needed some cover. With 25m it was a challenge developing a squad. Relying entirely on my scouts I went out and got
the players they recommended. So we went and brought these players into the team. 2 Keepers, 2 Strikers, 2 defenders and 2 attacking midfielders. The goal this time was to use a more adventurous 4312, to try and beat the drop. This would have been a very interesting test. I don’t expect people to play a 4312 well out of the block, it requires a fair bit of work to get the right mix of players and one mistake can make it collapse like a pack of cards.
In terms of comparison, how does this team stack up against the rest of the league: Defensively they are one of the worst, Ranking 15th in Tackling, 14th in Marking and 17th in Positioning. This defence needs a solid screen ahead of them. The midfielders on the other hand, are better at tackling and marking but are the slowest in the league. In terms of mental attributes like teamwork and work-rate they don’t stack well either, with work-rate being 18th in the league. Let’s not even discuss their technical attributes, they are just too embarrassing to provide.
For the majority of the season the Ass Man played with the 3 in midfield in the wrong configuration. He played them specifically based on the roles. I have expectations that the side midfielders would perform a great deal of grunt work. So you would be expecting to use players who can tackle. Instead my ass man decided in his infinite wisdom to use both my AMCs each time. So instead of rotating Mason and Jozabed in the AMC slot, he ended up using Jozabed in the critical MC screen. This would have serious consequences. I do not expect the screen to do well, and with an wingback on attack on the left flank, it’s certainly a disastrous move. Nearly each time they conceded, it was a left flank issue.
To make things even worse, I was so immersed into the transfer drama in pre-season, I completely forgot to arrange friendlies. By the time I noticed it we were 6 days away from our first league match. So off I go to arrange our first friendly, which I didn’t bother attending. This I was certain would make our chances of survival remote. I fully expected to come back to the save unemployed, my experiment over, because I had been careless.
Well, the boys certainly got the bad start out of the way, and then strung out 4 wins in 5 games that sent them catapulting up the table to as high as 13th. Between December and 1st of January , they played 8 matches, won 1 and drew the rest. Not a bad performance in December. They even made it all the way to the FA Cup Semi-finals! Bloody hell, this Ass Man should be a full time manager elsewhere.
If I accept the fact that the Ass Man totally screwed up the midfield screen selections, it does make studying the stats a bit easier. Romain who only played 28 matches in my preferred position had almost 9 interceptions per game. Jozabed who ended up playing in Romains position
only had 5 per game. Jack Price, another one of my first choices who only saw 12 appearances and 27 as a sub did a total of 127 interceptions. I would say that the Ass Man blundered the midfield screen.
Overall though I would say that Wolves did well in terms of making themselves hard to beat. They had the most passes in the game, and the highest possession, but they still conceded a fair amount of goals at 58, its a high number when you consider that Utd who finished second only conceded 22.
Wolves only just survived, if one of those wins was converted into a loss, then, Wolves could very well have been relegated. What’s interesting about this experiment, is that even with an overtly attacking look 4312, Wolves still dominated possession. I do believe they survived in large part, because they played to keep the ball. They made other sides work hard to beat them with the limited possession they had. If you take a look at one typical game against a bigger opponent, they did well in controlling key areas of the pitch. They had the most number of drawn games in the league 15. They lost as many games as Southampton who finished 5th on the table.
Their performance seems to suggest that it is possible to use the Counter Press, even with sides that are way low on the totem of power in a league table. This is a team that is categorically poor at defending and is below average in attacking, and with the Ass Man in charge they managed to make it hard for sides like Manchester City and United to beat them. They managed to keep their heads above water by beating the relegation battlers and forcing enough draws against bigger
opposition, and this was done by an Ass Man who had a manager who was more intent at looking at his fish-bowl experiements. Well I hope you enjoyed this little aside into Counter Pressing, it seems that one thing is clear to me, I need to bring this Assistant Manager over to Torino! So for all you out there struggling with your saves, go hire Bobby Mimms,