Wolves 0-4 Burnley : The Debrief

As bad days go this was right up there.

Scorelines often mask the reality of a game. A good performance punctuated by a couple of mistakes can lead to a 3-0 or 4-1 reverse with the statistics not offering a true representation of events. 

On this balmy April afternoon the score echoed every inch of a one-sided drubbing. It probably should’ve been more. Heads dropped early, quality players hid in large shadows that loomed across the pitch. Obscured from view, hoping to avoid scrutiny, too many went missing at all the vital moments.

Picking Wolves and Burnley as a BBC game may have led to disgruntled subscribers demanding an end to the license fee. At least one team arrived looking to ramp up the entertainment factor. 

Burnley, a rigid four-four-two grinder of a side, built in the hard working image of their manager, turned on the style and punished their hosts who spent most of the afternoon resembling a League Two outfit. 


Watching Wolves isn’t fun anymore


For years the rise to prominence has been so sweet. But as the oddest of seasons rumbles on it’s all beginning to get a little bitter.

Problems? There are many. For starters, there’s nothing on the bench to shake up the chosen 11, or make opponents feel the slightest concern.

Even at 2-0, when there was still a little hope of a comeback, who could jog down from the stands, work themselves loose and enter the fray to strike fear into the opposition? Would Vitinha or Morgan Gibbs-White, tidy technicians that they are, offer an increased threat to Burnley’s comfortable back line? 

Familiar and functional, the line-up offered few surprises. Tarkowski and his band of blockers would not have to deal with the bizarre “threat” of Owen Otasowie in a False 9.

Often as effective as Otasowie in forward positions, last week’s hero Willian Jose began pretty strongly. For the first five minutes at least. Holding up play, swinging a beautifully weighted pass across the pitch to Semedo, it all looked so promising. 

For the remainder of the half he resembled a bag of cement – only less mobile. It’s clearly a case of wrong place, wrong time for the big Brazilian who is now entering Tomasz Frankowski territory. At least Jose got that goal.


Is Nuno losing the dressing room?


To be blunt, Wolves played like a team looking to get rid of their manager. Maybe the manager himself would be better off with a move away. Appearing genuinely sad on the sidelines, a far cry from the super-motivated, ferocious figure of the Championship blitz, Nuno could do little to stem the tide from the increasing heat of his dugout.

Adama Traore showed a bit of fight. The wrong kind of fight though, and he was lucky to escape a red after a needless palm swipe at Jack Cork. Familiarity breeds contempt and Wolves feel like a team of individuals who can’t stand the sight of each other right now.

Scoring against Burnley is tough enough at the best of times. Trying to find five goals would be near impossible. One of the most frustrating parts is that the home side’s defensive frailties were not the result of boundless abandon or attacking endeavour. It was a stale, lifeless beating. Leaky at one end, worthless at the other. 

Aside from a few catches from corners, Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope was largely untroubled. The visitors were professional, streetwise, well organised. They knew when to defend, when to whisk forward with surprising ease and when to hit the deck and roll around.

The men in Gold and Black were the opposite. Weak in the tackle, slow to close down the wide players and their threatening crosses; stumbling underneath long punts and giving away the ball with alarming regularity – and that was all just the first half. Losing the second half 1-0 seemed like an improvement.


Too many players had an off day


Even with five minutes to go Wolves’ defenders were still providing “what the hell are you doing?!” moments as Saiss wandered into a corner of trouble. He was swiftly dispossessed and his team swiftly punished.

Anyone rubbing hands at the prospect of Wolves hammering the final nail in to the Albion coffin next week need to look elsewhere. Right now, there’s no guarantee of three points from any fixture.

This squad requires a huge overhaul in the summer. The playing staff, the tactics, the personnel, maybe even the manager all need to be intensely scrutinised. Let’s see if Fosun have the stomach to whip out the cheque book and sort things out. 

Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here