Raul Jimenez’s first goal since his return from his career-threatening injury and a second Premier League win of the season were just some of the topics discussed on the latest episode of Matchday Live Extra.
Joining Mikey Burrows was co-commentator and Wolves Hall of Fame full-back Andy Thompson and former Wolves striker Chris Iwelumo as they pair analysed a 1-0 win at St Mary’s, which secured an all-important three points for Bruno Lage’s men.
The trio also spoke about the importance of winning when not performing at their best and Lage making changes to his side for the first time since the start of the season.
On a both sides needing the three points
Iwelumo said: “You might think Southampton will go for it because they need to win too, but they’ll have looked at the matches Wolves have played and will see how dominant we’ve been with the ball and how many chances we’ve created and they might think they can pick holes in behind when we throw men forward.
“It’s going to be a very tactical affair, but I would love to see both teams go at it, hell for leather, but it’s the Premier League and the managers are better than that.”
Thompson added: “We’re desperate for those three points, it’s going to be a tough afternoon, but there’s enough out there to mean we should get the right result.”
On changes to the starting line-up
Iwelumo said: “There’s no criticism towards Traore and Trincao here, but after Wednesday, we’re looking at what we’re doing very well. We’re using the ball well, we’re creating chances, but we’re not scoring goals.
“Dendoncker and Podence stepped up and hit the back of the net, so it was a natural thing [to make changes]. We were all in agreement on Wednesday that they’ll come into the team, Bruno Lage thinks the same. If you’re struggling to score goals and you score two against Tottenham – albeit in the cup, it was a still a strong, strong team – they have to start.
“I was very impressed with Hee Chan Hwang the other night, he played through the centre, he showed footballing intelligence, without the ball, he pressed well, but goals need to be coming from everywhere.”
On winning when not performing well
Thompson said: “I know we’ve just said that we’ve not played as well as we have in our other games, and we’ll leave that to the analysts who will look at the stats, but all the players will be bothered about is that they’ve just got three points from the game.
“When they’ve gone in and played really well in the previous games, they’ll be disappointed because we’ve got nothing from the games, we deserved more, and today it was very scrappy, possession given away by both sides, and it was there for either team.
“But it’s all about results, it’s all about getting the right result, and today, they’ve done it. You can see what it means to those Wolves supporters in the crowd. They won’t be bothered about the performance, they’ll only care about the result.”
What a goal. What a player.— Wolves (@Wolves) September 26, 2021
We are 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 going to get tired of watching this.
On Jimenez getting his long-awaited goal
Iwelumo said: “You look at the mental thing with Raul Jimenez – he’s been the main man, he’s scored the goals, everyone’s talking about him, questioning if he’s coming back and if he’s ever going to be the same that he was. But that all plays a part, that will be in the back of his mind whenever he’s missed the chances he’s had.
“But I never saw that today in him. He’s still done the basics well, linked up, was strong, brought players in, movement in the attacking third, and then a couple of bits of brilliance to make the goal himself.
“He probably answered his own doubts and you could see how much it meant when he was celebrating in front of the Wolves fans. You could see how much it meant when the final whistle went; he was looking up to the skies and it was a massive weight off his shoulders.”
On a relief for Jimenez to get off the mark
Iwelumo said: “For any footballer, the hardest thing is watching your team go out to train, go to matches and enjoy watching them enjoy good moments when you can’t be a part of it, and you don’t feel a part of it.
“He’s experienced all that, but he’s got a very good family unit and circle around him which supports him, but that goal today, all those dark moments and all that hard work he’s put in, everything is worth it, just for that feeling. The hardest thing to do in football is score goals. That’s what wins football matches and he’s the man that makes the difference, but that goal is more than just a goal for him.”
Thompson added: “It’s an horrendous injury that he had. It would’ve put anyone on the back foot, especially the position in which he plays, but I’ve not seen him pull out of any aerial challenges, whether it’s shots or tackles, since he came back and that would’ve been the fear in his head, but you’ve seen he’s still willing to put it right.
“What I like is that he’s still been trying to do the right things and if you do that, you’ll get your rewards and he got that today.”
On the mental strength of Jimenez
Iwelumo said: “I don’t think he even thinks about [his injury] anymore. The protective headband he has to wear is a little reminder, and in the first couple of games it might have been in the back of his head.
“When you come back from any injury you’re just thinking about putting a challenge in and put my body weight here or put my head in where it hurts, but I think that’s gone now – although I don’t think he’d have used it as an excuse any way.
“He’s not only that presence up top, but he has those defensive responsibilities as well. He has the responsibilities in his own 18 yard box to go and put his head in and make sure he clears that danger. But I’m absolutely delighted for him, because he puts that pressure on himself to be the main man, and to be the one who puts the points on the board, so I’m delighted he’s got the rewards he deserves.”
You can watch Matchday Live Extra 30 minutes before every Wolves kick-off this season, on Twitter and on Wolves TV, before heading over to the Wolves App following full-time for all the post-match reaction.