Gaffer demanding strong finish
Kenny Jackett says tomorrow’s visit to Huddersfield kicks off a ‘really important’ last third of Wolves’ campaign.
And despite sitting six places and 11 points of the Sky Bet Championship playoffs, Jackett is still not ruling out his team putting together the consistent run of results needed to achieve a playoff berth.
Even if the top six ultimately proves out of reach, Jackett is demanding his squad finish the season as strongly as possible.
He said: “I think Wolves are close, at times this season we’ve shown we are close and at others we haven’t.
“We are where we are, we’ve been mid-table and we’ve threatened both ends [of the table] at different times and I believe we can close that gap.
“It’s a really important 15 games now to finish off strongly to make sure we put the performances on the pitch that do lift the supporters and drive them on towards the summer.”
Bettering last season’s effort of nine wins in the last 15 games of the season – which saw the club miss out on the playoffs via goal difference – will give Jackett’s men a far better chance of being involved in the shake-up.
Jackett said: “It did look like two points a game from that period last season would be enough and then you’re projecting back and looking at different years and that didn’t happen.
“For the top sides in the division they look like they’ve got a hold on their squads and their signings, they look like it’s going to be hard for them to go away.
“And they’ve been consistently in those places – certainly the top five have been, a few then after that have flirted with that and have started to have ambition.
“As the season goes on the number that can realistically make it can start to dwindle, but for us it’s a key period and we have to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us, and yes it is still possible.
“We have 15 games left, a third of the season and we want to finish strongly and see where it takes us.
“If it takes us into the top six then fine, if it takes us on to project for the future then that’s o-k as well.
“We really want to come through this period and settle the side down and be able to develop new strengths to this team.
“I feel we have a capable squad of players, we have an honest and hard working group of players that will be doing everything they can to be able to put results on and appreciate the type of support we get because it is considerable.”
Uncertainty over the club’s future ownership as well as recent results have led supporters to vent their frustration across various platforms.
Jackett is more than aware of this, and is now concentrating on helping to turn things around on the field to help restore the solidarity at the club.
He said: “People have asked me, does the club being up for sale have an effect on things? Of course.
“The board of directors, the owners their financial input their direction affects the bigger picture.
“We have enough to put good performances and good results on the pitch. We have enough to do that and that has to be the focus.
“I feel it is what it is, it’s up to us put the performances on the pitch which the fans are proud of and want to encourage.
“Fans do come to get behind the team, but they do react to what they see on the pitch.
“If they don’t see what they want, then obviously they voice their concerns.
“But for us anyway it’s those performances that can turn that in a positive way, and that’s all our focus is on.
“It’s up to us to take responsibility and make sure we lead going forward.
“Looking at Saturday, I’m led to believe that there’s 1,300 Wolves supporters who’ve bought tickets already, and I’m very thankful for that and so are the players.
“It’s appreciated and we have to make sure now that our determination is very high to reward them and give them something to be proud of both in the result and the performance up at Huddersfield.
“And from my point of view that’s the best way of creating any unity.”
This weekend sees Jackett’s men travel to Huddersfield Town (3pm) as they look to extend their unbeaten league away record to five matches. A run that has seen Wolves concede just one goal, a role reversal from recent Molineux encounters.
“Away from home we have been tighter, more compact, harder to break down and harder to beat and that’s reflected in the results,” Jackett said.
“We’ve given too many goals away at home and too many soft goals in my opinion and it’s taken games away from us.
“That hasn’t been the case away, we’ve been in the games and been very competitive and that’s been very pleasing.
“We want to try to obviously replicate that now, because we have the trip to Huddersfield shortly followed by Brentford, but we’d like that to be consistent right the way through.
“Our goals against column has been too high and not giving us the points that we need.”
Wolves go into the game without winger James Henry who suffered a hamstring injury during last Saturday’s home match with Preston North End. Defender Mike Williamson is also unavailable but Jackett has been boosted by the return of Kortney Hause after he came through Tuesday night’s Birmingham Senior Cup match with Solihull Moors unscathed.
Talking of the injuries suffered this season Jackett said: “We’ve had a period where we have lost influential people at different times.
“We have to come through those periods, make sure they are not an excuse and develop other strengths, and work away at defensively and offensively with different people forming different combinations very quickly to produce good performances and results.”
Jackett also expanded on comments he made in relation to new signing Joe Mason after last week’s match.
He said: “Joe has been used to playing off a big striker at Cardiff, coming slightly deeper and linking the play.
“He’s been better for us up in the goalscoring position and having the freedom to run in behind defenders.
“When he came on against Preston he did that, it’s tough to get in behind Preston particularly when they are playing three centre defenders and had an early lead.
“He showed an ability to do that and we all play best when we have a complement around us and Joe is no different.
“Finding that complement now as he comes in to a new club is something that will bring out his strengths.
“He’s scored two goals in three games and in the couple of weeks he’s been here, he looks a natural finisher.
“In recent weeks, we’ve lost Henry and Dave Edwards who can get goals, and obviously before that we’d lost natural goal corers from the side, and for Mason to come in and show an ability to put chances away is a big one and shows promise for me for the future.”
It’s a really important 15 games now to finish off strongly.