Under-18 head coach Steve Davis was disappointed in the sub-standard ending to 2020 from his young Wolves side following what had been an impressive start to the season.
A defeat to Norwich City in the FA Youth Cup on Friday night had followed a first loss in six in the league against Manchester United the previous weekend, bringing an end to a winning run of five consecutive matches.
Davis’ side now have a break until 9th January when they will be hosting Newcastle United at Compton Park, where they will be aiming to get their season back on track.
On ending a positive 2020 in defeat
“It was really disappointing. I said to them in the changing room that they’ve let their standards drop. They’ve had a good first half of the season, but when it matters, in the Youth Cup, I thought they let their standards drop.
“We spoke at half-time that they [Norwich] did the basics well, but we didn’t. Competing, tackling, positioning, transitions – we didn’t react, and we looked well short of that, but they looked good at it, and that was the difference.
“They capitalised on our errors in the first-half. You can’t make those sorts of mistakes and expect to win a game, so I was disappointed because I expected more from this group.”
On incorporating the younger players from the under-23s
“They’ve all played together previously, whether that was last season when a lot of these players were with the under-18s, but we play the same system, so there’s no excuses.
“I don’t think the issues were about how we played and what we were trying to achieve in the game. We’d looked at that and worked on it, so we knew how to conquer that.
“It was the individual errors, the back passes, the dribbling it out and then getting caught on the break, the transitions, and not being able to cope one-v-one all over the pitch. I thought their front four were lively and our back five couldn’t deal with that.”
On areas to improve on
“We talk about the objectives of the game and what we’re going to try and do against them, but it goes out the window when you make mistakes like that kind.
“It’s very hard to recover from those situations. At 3-1 we thought we might be able to edge back and get something out of the game if we get an early goal in the second-half, but the fourth goal was a killer.
“Again, we were three against one coming in wide and we didn’t close he cross down, and he got a free header in the middle of the box. Three crosses and three goals for the forward.
“I was disappointed with that as well because I don’t think we blocked the crosses or defended the crosses very well either, so there’s lots of things that came out from this game, and we’ve got to learn from it as a young group.”
On the experience for his youngest players
“That’s what we’re about. We’re trying to keep pushing these young players through who we think are ready and it’s good to get Ethan [McLeod] on, and if we would’ve been allowed another substitution, we would’ve put Temple [Ojinnaka] on.
“We might have got two [under-16s] on the pitch by the end of the game, but if they’re ready, they’re ready. If they’re 14 or 15 and they’re ready to be pushed up, then we’re in a situation at the club where we’re looking to do that.
“It’s the same with the under-23s – their average age is the youngest in the league and they’re second in the table. We’re doing well, but we have to be mindful about these young players coming in to the team and how these sorts of results will affect them, but it’s a good learning opportunity for them.”
On looking forward to 2021
“They’ve ended the first-half of the season poorly really, and maybe the next couple of weeks will give them time to rest, reflect and look back, but also look forward and not repeat that type of performance.
“You’ve got to make sure you do the basics well, and that’s being competitive as a group, and I don’t think we did that.
“That’s the first time I’ve had to say that because they have been competitive for the large majority of the season so far. But we take that on the chin and move on.”