And we’re off the mark! Wolves’ first win of the season against a lacklustre Southampton won’t win any ‘Match of the Season’ awards. But having three points on the board will lead to a huge sigh of relief from Bruno Lage and his players, some of who looked rejuvenated following the full time whistle.
Here are the ratings:
Truth be told, there wasn’t much for Sa to do during yesterday’s match. According to sofascore, he was forced into making just the one save and spent most of his game playing the ball out. A return to the long balls out that strangely went missing against Bournemouth was mostly successful although he was possibly fortunate Che Adams made such a mess of the disallowed goal.
Jonny switched back over to right back for Southampton and was much improved on last week. Solid defensively and an occasional menace going forward, it was a decent display from the Spaniard.
A few stray passes caused one or two sharp intakes of breath but, on the whole, it was much of the same from the former Burnley man. Southampton’s forwards looked toothless for most of the game and that was largely down to the defensive work of Collins and Kilman.
Speaking of Kilman, he looks more and more comfortable as part of a back four with every passing week. Imperious in the air and largely unflustered on the ball, it was another very solid performance. Yes, he lost possession a few times but more often than not was the first to win the ball back. With Mings and Maguire frozen out of their respective club line-ups, could there be a late push for an England call up?
A return to the starting line-up was rewarded by his best performance so far this season. In the first half, his link up play with Podence down the left side of the pitch caused the Saints defensive palpitations. He also looked mostly solid at the back.
A quieter game for Neves – although with a man of his talents, this still means a very good performance. Comfortable on the ball and mostly playing deeper than his two midfield partners, he didn’t offer another spectacular moment like his goal against Newcastle. Still when he’s this good, he can afford a low-profile game once in a while.
Those at the Southampton match got a first real glimpse at what Nunes brings to this team. A fantastic assist in the first half was followed by some of those now-infamous dribbles forward in the second. A real shame Wolves played strikerless in the second half as the team went more defensively minded.
I was a bit surprised to see him start against Southampton and it certainly didn’t lead to a vintage Moutinho performance. He didn’t do anything wrong per se, but there’s a small part of me wondering if starting Podence in a central attacking midfield role might be the missing piece this Wolves team needs.
The goal scorer made a real statement of intent yesterday afternoon. Wolves look more exciting and frankly better with him on the pitch. Lost a bit of momentum in the second half when required to essentially play up front but, overall, a great game for Podence.
There’s a small part of me that thinks Pedro Neto is trying a bit too hard. Wolves perhaps don’t have a better player at carrying the ball forward down the wing but yesterday saw some poor decision making from the Portuguese international. Too often than not, he tried taking on one too many players or made the wrong pass.
A surprising start for our new striker was ruined slightly by his withdrawal at half time. It was clear the Southampton defence didn’t know how to handle the two metre man and, from what we did see, his positioning and link up play look promising. His recently announced ACL injury is a terrible shame.
Gonçalo Guedes (Kalajdzic 45’)
Guedes was brought on at half time and moved into the left-hand side of the Wolves attack. Similar to Neto, there’s sometimes a sense of frustration with Guedes’ play. Not much to report but the work ethic is there.
Hwang Hee-chan (Podence 82’)
I shall subtitle this section ‘In Defence of Hwang Hee-chan’. Look, he’s had a couple of howlers in the last few weeks, but if you boo a player before he even enters the field it’s going to do nothing for his confidence or his performances. Hwang came on and chased down players and got stuck in which is all you can ask from an 80th minute substitute. Fans might not rate him (this author included) but to boo one of our own players leaves a real sour taste in the mouth
Adama Traoré (Neto 81’)
In fact if there was a player who I felt had little interest being on the pitch, it was Adama Traore. We all know his contract situation and, in fairness, coming on for ten minutes week after week must be a hard thing to stomach. But there was little of the old Traore on display and that’s a crying shame.