Saturday evening’s victory over Sheffield United, winning when not at their best and Willian Jose’s first goal for Wolves 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 pundits in the form of ex-old gold player Carl Ikeme and former Wolves Women legend Claire Hakeman, who analysed the victory, which also condemned the Blades to relegation.
Also joining the panel ahead of kick-off were special guests including former United striker Brian Deane and the Athletic’s Tim Spiers, as the team discussed both teams’ difference in form from last season as well as Pedro Neto’s season ending injury.
On an evenly-fought first-half
Hakeman said: “It was quite scrappy first-half, they’ve tried to frustrate us a little bit and stop us playing out, but there was little glimpses, and I mean ‘little’ glimpses, where we were going through the phases, with Traore and Podence looking promising.
“But we were just lacking that spark. Whether it will be one of those games where Silva and Gibbs-White can come on and give us a bit more in the final third.”
Ikeme added: “I completely agree with Claire. There’s no ‘spark’. It’s disappointing in a sense where we’re in control to a degree, but we’re not really going anywhere. There is no spark, there is no-one who looks like they’re going to create anything, but we really need to get advanced with our wing-backs and take our chance.”
On getting the win when under pressure
Ikeme said: “I would say that Sheffield United probably edged it, well, definitely did edge it for much of the second-half and put us under a lot of pressure.
“Wolves were probably the better team in the first-half without being that good but were the better team in sense of possession and dominance of areas, but the argument for Wolves’ victory is that we probably had the better of the chances. I think there is a lot more questions than there were answers, but the result was the most important thing tonight. We’ve had games where we’ve played better and not got the result.”
Hakeman added: “It definitely wasn’t the prettiest game to watch. I heard the Sheffield United manager say in his pre-match that ‘results are what brings belief, not performances’, and back to back clean sheets will really please the back five. There’s positives to take, but we didn’t link-up that well, didn’t create masses of chances, but we got the points and a clean sheet, so we’ll take it.”
On breaking the deadlock with one piece of quality
Thompson said: “We showed that when we pick up the pace in our attacks and change our movement that we can cause teams problems and the goal has come from that. 20 seconds earlier, they’re having an effort at goal and then all of a sudden, we start breaking at pace, cause them a problem and Willian gets his goal.
“That’s the difference. It just shows when you add a little bit of quality to what we’ve got, with the players that we’ve got, then you can create anything.”
Ikeme added: “The best thing coming out of the night is Jose getting on the scoresheet because I really wanted to see him get some goals towards the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what would come from that, going into next season and if we would sign him, because I do like him, I think he’s a good player, and with the right supply, he will score goals, like you saw tonight.”
On approaching the remainder of the season
Hakeman said: “In these final games we’ve got West Brom away, which is obviously a huge game for the fans and for everybody in the area, and you want to pick up as many points as you can so there’s some massive games in there, and it will be interesting to see how we open up.
“Do we start to take some risks? Do we try to blood some of the younger players we were talking about pre-match and give them a go and see how they get on?”
Ikeme added: “I really believe it’s an important stretch of games coming up as it’s a chance to try a few players to see if they can make that step up for next season. There’s question marks about whose going to push on for next season and where do we need to strengthen because I believe the board will pull the trigger and spend some money if they have to.
“These games will give others the chance to say, ‘You don’t need to strengthen in my position because I’m here and I’m going to be the one to drive the team forward.’”
Adama's last three games: 🅰️⚽️🅰️ pic.twitter.com/4aGqlkHSvc— Wolves (@Wolves) April 17, 2021
On how the season has changed since the reverse fixture
Ikeme said: “It was exciting to watch that game, especially when we went 2-0 up quite early and you’re thinking, ‘What are we going to achieve this season?’
“But we’ve kind of stuttered all season, in all honesty, and we’ve not really found our rhythm or a run of form. But Sheffield United have capitulated compared to last season. They were tough, hard to beat, and exciting to watch as well.
“They had that energy when they were flowing forward and this year, they’ve had that at all, they’ve not had that same fight, despite it being a similar squad. They’ve not got going, and it’s disappointing to see because we all enjoyed how exciting and entertaining they were last season, but I’ve not been able to put my finger on why.”
On missing Neto for the rest of the season
Thompson said: “He’ll be a big miss. He’s been very bright this season, he’s played really well. I know he hasn’t contributed with goals in recent weeks, but he’s still been performing well when he plays, so he’s been massive to the team – especially with all the injuries we had prior to him.
“We did see him at the Fulham game when he was walking in front of us with his leg strapped up, so you could see there was a slight problem there before the game, but he’ll have to put it right, he’s still young, so I’m sure he’ll heal pretty quickly and will be good to get him back next year.”
Hakeman added: “He’ll be really frustrated because he did brilliantly for Portugal on international duty, but he’s got youth on his side, so there’s every chance that he’ll come back fitter and stronger. It will also give Podence the chance to really shine again.”
To rewatch the latest Matchday Live Extra show from Saturday, click here.