Wolves boss Ståle Solbakken today called for no repeats of the recent second half fade-outs in Saturday’s Midlands derby with Birmingham City (5.20pm).
In three of the last four home games Wolves have struggled to match their second half performances with the first, the exception being the 3-3 draw with Brighton when despite being down to ten men they eked out a dramatic share of the spoils.
Ahead of returning to home soil after last weekend’s excellent win at Bristol City, the boss admits there has been no tactical changes called for in second halves and finds the drop in quality difficult to explain.
“I have no explanation for three or four really bad second halves,” says the boss.
“We can’t go out and play badly in the first half - we have to go from the first minute and try to maintain it, instead of thinking: ‘We’ve played another good first half so it will be difficult again’, because if we think like that, it will go all wrong.
“We have to make sure we’re tough.
“I have no explanation for it because I remember what I said to the players at half-time against Charlton after we’d played an OK first half.
“I said we hadn’t been brilliant, but I wanted them to raise the tempo, and then it was as if we just waited for the final whistle thinking we could control it.
“We also have to learn to be mentally stronger, because as I told the players, in the first half of a game, everyone is ready and has their gameplan so teams are much more organised in the first half than the second.
“We have played through teams, behind them and around them, and with flair and at a much higher tempo and confidence.
“Then we go in at the break having never been behind at half-time at Molineux this season.
“It’s easy to say small things have gone against us.
“Now we have to prove we can play another good game and go out in front of our own fans and be strong and really believe we can play.
“We don’t have to play 90 minutes, or 75, like we did at Bristol, we just have to be stable for 90 minutes. That’s the challenge.”
The boss also finds it difficult to understand that in certain second halves, when games are traditionally more open as players tire, Wolves have found it a struggle to fashion chances.
He added: “That’s why it’s a mystery to me why we can’t reproduce or at least have a decent 20 minutes because the game becomes more open with more space, so it’s easier for good individual players to find space and it should be easier to create chances because it’s more open and players get more tired.
“In every league in the whole world I think, there are more chances created and more goals scored in the second half of games.
“But we’re not following the trend!
“I think it’s also strange that we haven’t done it in the second half when you consider some of the players we have.
“That’s very difficult to answer.”
But he is confident the players have it within their experience to come through any difficult spells in games and regain the initiative.
“That’s the challenge for the players who have been in those situations like this before – it’s a case of ‘OK, we’ve had five, six or seven bad minutes, what do we do to get out of it?’” he added.