Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Blues 1 .. Ron's Report

Last updated : 30 November 2009 By Richard Barker

This was an afternoon to smile about, and not just because Blues comprehensively outplayed their local rivals and the side that beat them to the Championship title last season, but because, well, much of it was funny.

I'm not actually sure what was funniest out of the following...

Was it the fact that pre-match, Wolves had a girl who finished in the "top 50" of X Factor (surely that's just the audition stage?) "performing" on the pitch to attempt to generate some atmosphere?

Was it Steve Bull's pre-match attempt at choreographing several thousand Wolves fans to hold bits of paper above their heads to make a shape?

Was it the fact that Wolves came out for the game so fired up that they had a huddle moments before kick-off, before having to have the first ever mid-match huddle that I've ever seen 180 seconds later after Lee Bowyer had put Blues in front?

Was it Christophe Berra's defending?

Was it Liam Ridgewell's insistence on being handed a towel to wipe the ball down before taking a throw-in after Greg Halford had been afforded the same opportunity prior to hurling in his 40 yard throws, only for Ridgewell to then chuck the ball about 3 yards to a teammate?

Was it Cameron Jerome's "shot" that nearly took out the temporary stand that fits into one of the vast corners at Molineux so inconspicuously?

Was it the Wolves' fans boos that greeted both the half-time and full-time whistles?

To be honest, they were all funny, as was the fact that Wolves were about as poor a Premier League side as I've ever seen.

Blues though, to their credit, were good (again). I'm usually a fairly critical writer, but I'm running out of things to be critical about. Blues played well, again, and are in decent form.

Wolves' menacing pre-match huddle meant very little as Blues went at them from the off. Christian Benitez has been subject of some criticism lately, and did tire considerably in this game, but he set the tempo for Blues' display here by initially chasing the ball into Wolves' right-hand defensive corner and having some success there, and then thereafter doing the same in their opposite corner, and again having some success.

From there, Blues worked the ball to Lee Bowyer who took a touch, set himself, and curled a fine effort into the far top corner to make it 1-0 and initiate Wolves' second huddle in five minutes.

After that, Blues dominated the first half, with Bowyer in particular immense. I've said it many times already, but as excellent as Roger Johnson, Stephen Carr and Barry Ferguson have been, I feel that Bowyer's non-stop approach and his consistency mean that he's comfortably been Blues' player-of-the-season so far. Not to mention the fact that he's got five league goals before the end of November - most Blues strikers struggle to get that in a season.

The only problem with the first half display was that Blues weren't more than 1-0 up at half-time, and as any football fan knows, failing to make your superiority count can come back and bite you on the arse.

In the second half Wolves had more of the play, without being overly dangerous. Blues, as they have done most of the seaon, defended superbly. The two centre halves were again outstanding. Quite why Wolves thought that a sensible tactic would be lumping long balls at their heads is one thing, but Johnson and Scott Dann were immense and cleared everything all day.

Johnson's currently getting a lot of plaudits, but over the past month I personally feel that Dann has been at least his equal, yet he doesn't quite seem to get the same reaction. Regardless, Blues have two top, young centre halves, and it really will be criminal if they don't start building for the future from here on that solid foundation.

Joe Hart also deserves a mention for another clean sheet and another solid display, including one world class save. I said so at the time, but the fact that there was a debate over the merits of Hart v Maik Taylor seems bizarre, and no one can argue with Hart's performances at present.

So, whilst Wolves had the token pressure that you'd expect from any home team 1-0 down with time running out on them, Blues looked comfortable enough and defended solidly - they never looked in much danger. James McFadden still had the best chance of the second half, being denied by Marcus Hahnemann after a superb Blues break started by Cameron Jerome. McFadden perhaps should have knocked the ball to his right to his supporting teammate, but once he saw that was Ridgewell (why was he flying down the right wing?? Are we Arsenal?), he decided to shoot instead.

This was pretty much the perfect away performance from Blues, and the only thing it lacked was a second goal that would have killed the game and, if early enough, may have set up a far more convincing win.

Still, I can't go this far without being critical, so I'll make one observation. When it got to four minutes of injury time being announced, Blues had made one substitution, meaning they had two left. This has happened a few times recently, yet Blues make no further substitutions.

Now, I know it'd be "time wasting", but that's the idea. Whilst referees supposedly add time on for substitutions, it's only 30 seconds, and if you watch one late on in a game, where the departing player ambles off, it generally takes about a minute for one. It also completely kills the game, especially if used at the right break in play. As such, I do not get why Blues, when in that situation, don't take advantage and slow the game down to the point of killing it off. Granted, it's not caught Blues out yet, and here's hoping it doesn't, but it's just an observation.

Back to the positives though, of which there were many (again), and this was fine result and another fine performance from Blues who are really beginning to look like they may make Premier League survival look something of a formality. Eleven points out of the last fifteen available is title form.

As for Wolves, well, as I say, sometimes it's just very, very hard not to laugh at those less fortunate than yourself, and to be honest, it was very hard not to laugh at Wolves today. In fact, it was impossible.