The Opposition View - Wolves
1. What were your expectations before the season started and after your good start, have they changed at all?
PB: At the end of last season I said that I'd be happy with a finish somewhere safely mid-table around 9th-14th. The squad is in transition after a well reported bad few years! Given how we've started and the beating of some well fancied teams then you start looking at finishing higher up the table. But, our squad is still very thin in some places, and our lack of goals scored is a worry, but having the meanest defence in the Football League helps! We're not quite in the '1-0 to the Arsenal' territory yet :-) I'd still take mid-table, but somewhere 5th-9th should now be a realistic target. And then hopefully we can push on next season.
2. You currently sit in an impressive third place in the league, what do you put your good start down to?
PB: Momentum and confidence from last season has been key. Partly related to your question below, we've not really brought in many players. So the team is much as it was from last year. This team work well together and have hit the ground running. Sometimes too many changes too quickly have a detrimental effect. We seem to have avoided that. And the players coming in are having to bide their time and come in from the bench rather than being thrown straight in.
Last season we had the best defensive record in the Football League by some margin, that form has also carried on. Add to this a game built around keeping possession we are just a hard team to break down and beat. Which will no doubt lead to us conceding at least 3 on Sunday now :-)
3. What did you make of your recent transfer window? You got three players in and let a lot go, do you feel you needed any more players to bolster your squad?
PB: I don't think there's a single Wolves fan out there who doesn't want another striker bringing in as a matter of urgency!! We were linked with a few in the summer and still are in the loan market. Today we appear to be linked with our former striker Fletcher of Sunderland, which would ruffle a few feathers given his '#headsgone' Tweet just before his move north! Behind the main man Dicko we have Leon 'barn door' Clarke and a few youths who've not really done anything of note as yet. We're incredibly think on the ground. Dicko went off injured at half-time last week, if he's not fit we have a massive problem. It's a good job we have a few midfielders who can chip in with goals.
As for players who left, there's not many fans who'd be bothered by those who've gone. Especially our favourite 'love rat' Jamie O'Hara! We're nearly shot of all the Premier League dead wood now so can move on, those who are left, 'Group 3' are training on their own and kept away from the 1st team until we find some mugs to sell/give them to. Don't suppose Reading need any new signings do you? :-)
4. Kenny Jackett left Millwall saying he needed a new challenge, where he went to Wolves. How good a job has he done and what sort of footballing philosophy has he imposed?
PB: The man is rapidly becoming a legend! He took over a club on an awful downward spiral that had been in place for 2 years or more. Not only did he steady the ship but he instantly landed the League 1 title at the first attempt, when some fans thought it might take a year or two just to stop the rot. And he did this playing some of the best football seen at Molineux in a LONG time. And that footballing style of play has carried through to this season. We are playing possession football, comfortable on the ball and quick on the attack. It really is a joy to watch.
He's also brought through a number of players from the youth set-up, which fans always like to see. Danny Batth has long been thought of in high regard by fans but previous managers didn't give him a go and he was loaned out a lot. And Saunders dropped him quickly for Gorkks from your place when he'd not put a foot wrong in a couple of games. But he took his chance last season and remains in the team, and has captained his local team whenever Ricketts hasn't started. He's mixed that up with some very astute signings like Jacobs, Henry and the impecable Kevin McDonald.
I was one of many who wasn't all that inspired when we heard KJ had got the job. I got it wrong. BADLY! If Kenny gets support from the club and there's no mad panic as and when we hit the odd slump the guy could turn out to be the best appointment in the 30+ years I've been a fan.Mind, it's not a long list of managers who've been a success in that time ;-)
5. Which Wolves player(s) do you expect to have a big season?
PB: There's quite a few to choose from! Players like Golbourne, Batth, McDonald, Sako and Dicko are all important players and will be key to us ending the season at the right of the table! Youngsters like Doherty and Evans have started the season brightly too. But the one for me is Carl Ikeme, who is already making headlines as a keeper. Like Batth, he's a local lad who's been here a long time and has struggled to get a chance with the likes of Murray and Hennessey ahead of him. But he has taken his latest chance and looks to be our #1 for a long time to come.
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
PB: A striker. ANY striker. Someone who isn't as bad as Leon Clarke, which isn't too hard to find. Please. We'll even send you Roger Johnson in return as a way of saying thank you.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Jackett on Sunday?
PB: Things will remain largely unchanged, as they have been all season.
Ikeme behind a back four of Doherty, Batth, Stearman and Golbourne. He'll likely have Evans and McDonald central midfield. With Sako and either Van La Parra or Henry out wide. Edwards will no doubt play behind Dicko, although he may give new signing Saville (no relation) that role. For all the criticism Edwards gets from some fans he's a big loss when not on the pitch. If Dicko is injured we'll likely play Clarke as the lone strike. You'll hear the collective sigh of Wolves fans from wherever you may be sat in your seat when that is announced!!
8. What is your prediction for the game?
PB: 1-1. hich would be a decent away point at a team who will likely be there or thereabouts by May.