Wolves’ comfortable victory over Sheffield United, Daniel Podence’s brace and respecting the FA Cup 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, as well as former gold and black striker Chris Iwelumo as they analysed Bruno Lage’s men continuing their 100 per cent start to 2022.
The trio also spoke about Wolves’ possibility of going all the way in the competition, Fabio Silva having a positive game in place of Raul Jimenez and the ways Lage is replacing Romain Saiss while he’s at AFCON.
On being up for the cup
Thompson said: “Bruno has showed his intent and the way we’re going to play with the team he’s put out there. He’s put out probably the strongest 11 that he thinks he can put out at the moment with things that are going on and injuries.
“But there’s no reason why we can’t have a good cup run. Look at what Leicester did last season and ended up winning the cup, and there’s no reason why we can’t do that. Look at the position we are in the league, I know we’re still challenging and would like to get into Europe for next year, but it’s always nice to have a cup run.”
Iwelumo added: “The objective and remit was for progression and to try to get into Europe, but I don’t think you can have both. It has to be one or the other and I think the majority of the Wolves fans, if we could go on and win the FA Cup, we would allow the league form to falter a little bit.”
On making it into the fourth round
Thompson said: “They’ve gone out there and performed pretty well today. They’ve had a couple of scares throughout the game and Sheffield United had opportunities, but it’s about getting over the iine and getting that victory.
“A clean sheet again, the goalkeeper was called upon, who didn’t have too much to do either, so it’s all about the quality we’ve got there. But they’ll all be happy about the result because it’s another clean sheet, three goals – we’ve been struggling to score so that’s nice – Podence got a couple of good goals, so they’ll be very pleased with their afternoon’s work.”
Iwelumo added: “The 27,000 fans who were here today would’ve been delighted with what they’ve seen. Some of the passages of play, the quality from back to front, the interchanges between the forward players, one full-backs getting on the end of it and getting a goal created by the other full-back, a clean sheet – there’s so many positives.”
On Silva impressing with a first start since September
Iwelumo said: “We touched on Fabio Silva and it did him a world of good having that moment coming in for Raul Jimenez when he was injured, and he’s come back stronger and wiser for it. But there were little moments in this game that he’ll be pleased with, but he’ll also be disappointed he’s not got on the end of one and put it in the back of the net. That’s what he’s going to be judged on.
“If Fabio has a run of games now, he’ll get stronger and stronger, but you want to make it difficult for the manager, and don’t let him drop you from the team. Podence has done that – he’s first name on the teamsheet for Southampton now.”
Thompson added: “You can judge his performance today from the reaction of the crowd when he went off. The noise level went up and it shows you their appreciation. They can see a player who goes out there and works his all for the team. He was a bit unfortunate that he hasn’t got the goal, but he’s got the assist, and there’s nothing harder in the game than scoring goals.
“But he’s worked his row out, he’s put pressure on the backline of Sheffield United, and the fans appreciated that.”
On Podence’s fourth goal in three cup games
Thompson said: “There was no doubting his ability when he first came into the squad or this team, that you want to watch him. But what you haven’t seen is him consistently performing throughout the games.
“What I’ve seen lately, is a Podence who wants the ball, he’s working hard for the team, he’s creating opportunities, he’s scoring goals, he got two today – that’s the Podence we want to see and we know we can see that. He’s invaluable with the way he’s performing at the moment, his sharp feet, his creativity, but we haven’t seen enough of that over the 90 minutes.
“We’ve seen it in patches, so we always knew he was a good player, but we want to see a performance like we did today, we did at Man United and we did in the game before that. Because if you’ve got somebody like him in your team, who can create opportunities, he’s got great feet, a great turn of pace, and can change direction as well, to set up opportunities, you’re going to do really good, especially providing ammunition for the other players in the team.”
Iwelumo added: “His two goals today were outstanding. They were two similar goals, the little reverse and going near post, with power and accuracy. He’s an intelligent footballer and just needs a run of games now.
“He’ll be very much aware of his Premier League return and he’ll know that there’s been opportunities in games that he’s made that wrong decision, or he should have been more clinical, but it’s a nice habit to get into off the back of two goals and hopefully he’ll get that league goal and kick on from there, because he does have everything.”
On changes in defence with Saiss missing
Thompson said: “I think Dendoncker will be in the defence for the next few games. The team that finished this game will roughly be the team which starts Saturday for me. Especially the three at the back.
“Saiss has been unbelievable this season for me, and those three at the back and the goalkeeper have been pivotal to the way that we defend and the way that we play because they have that understanding. All of a sudden, they’ve lost one of their key players, but they’ve definitely got replacements in there. It’s just about working on it in the training ground all week, so whoever is playing has an understanding.
“You know Conor Coady is going to talk to them and lead them from the back, and you’ve got a goalkeeper to come back in – although I thought John Ruddy had a very good game today, especially the save off Billy Sharp – but I think Dendoncker will play in there as a three, Kilman over to the left, and that will probably be the team.”
Iwelumo added: “But that’s dependant on Marcal. I thought he was outstanding in the first-half, and it is a concern picking up all these little niggly injruries, but he was on the front foot, he was anticipating, he’s mobile, a fantastic transition with the ball, so hopefully it is just one of those that if he’s fit he comes straight in, but there is other players who can drop back.”
On a positive start to 2022
Iwelumo said: If you spoke to anyone involved in the club; staff, players, fans, the position, where they are, how they’re picking up points, you can see it’s very evident how Bruno Lage has brought and he’s implemented his style.
“It’s still a work in transition and still a work in progress, but I think the importance of this competition and going on a run, it can only have positives. The quality that’s here, the team spirit, the philosophy, why can’t they go and win this, go deep into this competition and win this.
“The manager is saying we are taking this seriously, because I want to go and win every game. If they win every game then they’ll go on and win it. It’s refreshing, it’s good to see, but it’s a real, real possibility.”
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.