Wolves’ controversial defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad and the impact of VAR 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 old gold winger Matt Jarvis they analysed the 1-0 loss to the Premier League leaders, which was packed with contentious decisions from referee Jon Moss and VAR referee Andre Marriner.
The trio also spoke about starting the game with a three-man midfield and a front two pairing for one of the first times this season, the debatable penalty decision which went against Wolves to decide the game and another impressive defensive display.
On setting up with Traore partnering Jimenez in a 5-3-2
Thompson said: “He [Traore] scored the two goals here that one time, so maybe he’s [Lage] hoping that he can do the same again. He started that last game as wing-back, but maybe he’s given him the confidence to come here and think, ‘I’ve done it here before, so can I go again?’
“But he [Lage] had to do something about the midfield because, for me, he should have possibly done that against Liverpool last week, just tighten it a little bit, because we got outnumbered. We’ve seen it against Norwich as well, where we got outnumbered in the central area. We know this team [Man City] will be passing it a lot, with a lot of possession, and they’ve got to give some players in the middle, just to get somebody near them.”
Jarvis added: “This is definitely the right way to go. You’re going to have so much defending to do, you need that outlet, and when you get the ball, you need someone to run the channel, somebody to hold it up, so having Traore and Jimenez able to do that will be huge for the team.
“They need players to help the team get back up the pitch because you can’t defend for 90 minutes. It’s so difficult, especially against a City side who can pick away at you and get between the lines, so you need that outlet.”
On falling to the Premier League leaders
Jarvis said: “I’m gutted for the lads, honestly. I said at half-time that I hope it’s not a [controversial] decision which decides the game, and unfortunately, I was right.
“You can just see how much effort they all put in. Ait-Nouri at left-back did so well against Sterling, he got the better of him the whole game, and showed his class going forwards as well, but it’s just so demoralising to see something like that after all the effort everyone put into the performance.
“Yes, we didn’t create much, but the effort alone to soak up so much pressure, and then to come away with nothing because of a terrible decision is really gutting.”
On the penalty decision
Jarvis said: “On BT, they even got one of the refs in to talk about it and his first reaction was, ‘Oh yeah, it looks like that will get overturned.’
“Then they start slowing down all the videos and change the angles, and from the first angle, it looked like it potentially hits his arm, but as they turn the camera angle, they slow it down and you can see the ball hit him right underneath his armpit. They were still talking like it was going to be overturned.
“The next thing I heard was your [Burrows] voice saying it’s not, because you were slightly in front of me. I was like, ‘No way!’ It bemused me at how they have given that. They’re [VAR] thinking it wasn’t clear and obvious, which obviously it was, but it’s so frustrating to have that in front of you and them to just back up the ref, even if they think he has got it wrong – we’re going to have to accept it.”
New week. New challenges.— Wolves (@Wolves) December 13, 2021
Battles against Brighton and Chelsea up next.
On VAR’s impact
Thompson said: “The problem I’ve got, is that it’s [VAR] still down to people’s opinions, and those opinions seem to be getting it wrong most of the time, and that’s the inconsistency we’re looking at.
“If the referee makes the wrong decision, that’s why we’ve got VAR, for people to help them out. If somebody’s watching the screen in slow motion, different angles, how can they get it wrong? I don’t understand how the VAR people watching it can get it so wrong.
“You can accept it when officials [on the pitch] get it wrong because it’s a split second for them, but if somebody is staring at a screen for two or three minutes, watching it from all angles and still getting it wrong, then I don’t understand what’s going on.
“You look over the last couple of seasons at all the inconsistent decisions which have gone against us, it’s probably cost us double figures in points with the amount of time we’ve drawn games or lost games all down to a VAR decision.”
On another solid defensive display against the top teams
Thompson said: “At the start of the season, we were attacking well, but we were losing games, so what he’s [Lage] done, is make sure that we’re resilient at the back. But what that has done, is taken away that flair and creativity up front.
“We’re struggling to get forward and struggling to get out, but we defend brilliantly as a team. We set up and make it difficult for teams, and Liverpool and Man City – two of the three top teams in the division – and we’ve made it difficult for them to get any clear-cut chances.
“But we’ve got to have a balance between the two and think about that balance going forward because we want to be a bit more creative going forwards. For me, I think the full-backs need to go better going forward. Defensively, those two have been brilliant, but I think they need to get the ball out of their feet and be positive with it, rather than having a touch, going sideways, coming back, and it knocks the momentum out of the attack.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve got some quality players in the team, but unfortunately we’re not utilising them to the best of their ability at the minute.”
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.