Since goal ace Bakary Sako limped off in Wolves home victory against Bristol, Wolves have scored five times in 120 minutes for the first time this season since back-to-back victories against Bristol City and Birmingham in December.
The previously maligned Stephen Hunt has laid on three of those goals, but more importantly his dogged, determined approach has proved contagious and Wolves are finally doing the very thing that wins you games – working hard for each other.
Between Hunt, Ebanks-Blake and the two goal scorers yesterday, Sigurdasson and Doyle, Wolves have a front four that looks fit to ask questions of any Championship defence. Matt Doherty and Jack Robinson are also making a difference by supporting the attack at every opportunity and launching into challenges with no hesitation.
It’s all simple stuff
The players didn’t all of a sudden become terrible players overnight and they haven’t all of a sudden become good players overnight. Fundamentally, they’re working harder for each other all over the pitch. The position we look most lacking in is centre midfield; unsurprisingly where Jamie O’Hara is lumbering around looking a shadow of his former self.
In fact, Boro’s equaliser in the first half came from a momentary lapse where laziness crept into Wolves’ play, with O’Hara arguably at fault. It was yet another example of nobody wanting the ball from the throw-in in our own half and both centre midfielders being happy to hide behind their markers and watch us throw the ball away.
However, the resolve of the players really shined through. Our second goal, Sigurdasson dancing through Boro’s defence before rounding the keeper after an exquisite Ebanks-Blake back heel, was genius, but in order to score that kind of goal, players have to be moving off the ball with intent.
I don’t think that happens as much when the likes of Sako are involved. He always wants the ball to feet. Unfortunately, when you’re under the cosh and don’t have technically gifted passers, those kind of players can be a hindrance.
Nothing to lose
Since the away victory at Millwall, there has been a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality about Wolves as we have started attacking teams and not being scared of losing football matches. That’s a far cry from the cowardly first half display against Cardiff when we lined up with five defenders and allowed the league leaders to rule the roost on our home turf.
Hunt, having been booed by the fans for his performances when unfit and subsequent comments in the press, has embodied this mentality. He’s won the fans back in double quick time with three assists in two matches. The other reliable face for Saunders has been Ebanks-Blake, chipping in with goals and match-winning performances; again, a player you feel who has nothing to lose as he is assured a move to the Championship (more specifically to reunite with Mick McCarthy at Ipswich) regardless of Wolves fate.
The fact is, we’ve got everything to lose by not going out to win. Look how easily Boro scored twice against us. The fact is, we went and scored one more. Birmingham stuck four past promotion chasers Crystal Palace on Friday night, so there’s no way we should go to St. Andrews looking for a shut-out. It won’t happen. We need to keep the momentum with us and look to control the game. When we don’t do that, we really don’t know how to deal with it.