Sunday afternoon’s goalless draw with Leicester, Jonny’s return from an ACL injury and looking back to the Wolves of old were just some of the topics discussed on the latest episode of Matchday Live Extra.
Joining Mikey Burrows was co-commentator and former-Wolves full-back Andy Thompson, as well as regular pundits in the form of ex-old gold players Carl Ikeme and Chris Iwelumo, who analysed Wolves third 0-0 result against the Foxes in their last four meetings.
Also joining the panel were special guests including former Leicester striker Emile Heskey and ex-Wolves forward Andy Keogh as the team discussed Dendoncker deputising at the back for the injured Willy Boly as well as Pedro Neto’s positive performance.
On injuries to Podence and Boly
Iwelumo said: “You hear about Boly being out and Podence being out and you think, ‘Wow, that’s massive blows’, but looking at the team, it makes you realise the quality in depth that we’ve got.
“Moutinho and Neves were in there protecting, Dendoncker knows that central defence position, and he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the power, he’s got the presence and he’s a good footballer. Even with the injuries, we’ve still got the relationships all over the pitch.”
Ikeme added: “Deondoncker being at the back is something that doesn’t worry me, because he’s more than capable. But with Boly being injured, it maybe forced Nuno’s hand a little bit to bring Jonny back sooner than he would’ve liked.”
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On Jonny’s return after six months
Ikeme said: “It’s a massive thing for Jonny to come back. We’ve realised how much we’ve missed him this season. He brings such balance getting forward and going back to this team.
“With losing Doc as well over the summer, it was two really important members of our famous back five. We’ve had arguments all season about formations, but we’ve maybe neglected just how big Jonny and Doc were in the way we played. Jonny coming back is going to be huge.”
Thompson added: “It’s a remarkable recovery. We’ve spoken about what this medical team do at Wolves and how they keep players fit, and for the first two years, we’ve been fortunate not to have any big injuries. But getting Jonny back as quickly as they have has shown what they do and the way they’ve looked after him.”
On a point apiece for Wolves and Leicester
Iwelumo said: “I would say it’s a fair result. The possession at the start of the second-half was 60/40, so it showed how dominant we were, we were getting on the ball, doing the right things, and Leicester were always going to have their moments, so a point is probably a fair result.
“It’s the fine margins, the big chances, the Vardy header, fantastic movement, but it’s the Fabio Silva one for me, which could have got us the three points. That chance doesn’t fall to Willian Jose, it’s because of the movement of Fabio. He’s always on the go, he’s anticipating, and once he’s got there, he actually had that much time, he saw Schmeichel had committed himself, it’s just having that clinical idea.”
Ikeme added: “I agree that a point is fair, but we might have just edged it if we’d have been more clinical. It was a good performance, and what I was happy with was our balance. We defended well, we attacked well, and I don’t think we’ve had that combination right for the last six weeks or so. It was a bit like being back to the old Wolves today.”
On looking like the Wolves of old
Thompson said: “I think this is a starting position for Wolves. We’re five yards closer [to the opposition] than we were the other night. When the ball is played between Leicester, we are snapping at them and putting the challenges in.
“Against Arsenal, we were getting too deep and weren’t close enough to them, but at least they’re putting in those challenges or trying to put the challenges in and have done well out of it, as they’ve managed to turn the ball over and catch Leicester on the counter-attack.
“That’s what you want to see from the team. Get closer to them and make it difficult for them. It’s nice to see that we actually competed against Leicester who are a very good team and showed that we aren’t far from getting back up to where we want to be.”
On Neto’s positive first-half showing
Iwelumo said: “I thought Neto’s been outstanding. He’s been getting on the ball and driving at Leicester, causing them problems.
“We all know what he’s about, but that end-product, seeing the pass, can Willian Jose get in front of his man? The one that he whipped across, if anyone got a touch on it, it would’ve been in the back of the net.
“The one that he cut back for Traore, I know that he took the shot first-time, but if he took a touch, he would’ve opened up the full goal.”
On Willian Jose’s wait for his first goal
Keogh said: “It took me six games to get my first goal for Wolves and it wasn’t through a lack of trying. But as long as you’re giving your all for the team, you make unselfish runs and the team benefits in a positive way, your time will come. If you do the right things, the rewards will come your way.
“It’s engrained in certain people and if you are unselfish and have genuine love for your team and your teammates, then you don’t care if you score or not. If they score, you’re happy. That’s how I was for Chris [Iwelumo] for Sylv [Ebanks-Blake] and for Vokesy [Sam Vokes]. Whoever scored, it doesn’t matter, as long as the team won.
“Understanding the relationship with his teammates is vital. With Traore getting down the wing and Neto on the other side with his silky skills and quick feet, if they keep making those runs, and Jose can get across his man, then he’s going to get what he wants and then it’s up to him to finish it.”
To rewatch the latest Matchday Live Extra show from Sunday, click here.