After Tuesday’s Carling Cup results saw West Bromwich Albion progress and Wolverhampton Wanderers lose out, Greg
In what is fast becoming something of a recurring theme this season; Wolves lost and West Brom won. Wolves – for the second time in four days – can at least cite the quality of the opposition as a mitigating factor for their defeat. Manchester United, despite fielding an under-strength team, can boast star players aplenty.
That being said, Wolves were impressive throughout; they took their two goals well and had genuine chances to win the game – Stephen Hunt squandered two Matt Jarvis cutbacks while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was inches away from giving the away side a late lead. As is so often implied by the vast majority of Premier League managers, Cup success would have been an enjoyable distraction, but it is league form that is the true touchstone of a manager’s value. Victory against Manchester City on Saturday and the pain of yet another late defeat will soon be forgotten. Wolves can at least take solace in the fact that not many teams pick up anything at Old Trafford.
Such consolation is, however, somewhat scant in light of their great rivals West Bromwich Albion’s notable point against the Red Devils just ten days ago. The momentum that the Baggies have drawn from their inspirational start to the season was in evidence again last night, as their second string routed Leicester 4-1. Roberto Di Matteo’s reticence to change a winning side has meant the last season’s star player Graeme Dorrans has found himself on the periphery at the Hawthorns this season. The Scotsman, the subject of several derisory bids from West Ham in the summer, lined up in midfield next to summer signings Somen Tchoyi and Steven Reid, with the ever-enigmatic Giles Barnes completing the quartet.
The midfield foursome were superb at the Walkers stadium; one struggles to recall a newly promoted team in Premier League history with better depth in the middle of the pitch. Indeed, speaking in the aftermath of the victory, Assistant Manager Eddie Newton paid homage to the depth of the squad, saying that: “competition within the club inspires everyone to perform at their maximum and hopefully when your team is performing at their maximum you can get the results you need.”
Di Matteo faces the paradoxically unenviable task on Monday of selecting a starting eleven to face Blackpool. With twenty two players staking genuine claims for a first-team berth, the Italian must choose which winning team to stick with.