The day has arrived. Finally I get to write a piece about Wolves without using a single negative adjective or depressing adverb.
I was one of the 19,000 plus at Molineux on Saturday who left having witnessed one of the most impressive performances from a Wolves team in years.
Yes, I know this is the third tier and yes, I know Gillingham weren’t great, but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and boy did we beat what was in front of us.
After a goalless performance at Preston and a horror show at Morecambe, we needed to hit the ground running – an early goal from a striker of whom much is expected would be perfect, I thought. So when Leigh Griffiths put us ahead early-doors, the cries of joy from the crowd were partly cries of relief. This was it. This was the start. We could relax and enjoy this.
I can’t mention Griffiths without shining a light on his overall performance for those not in attendance on Saturday. To put it simply, he is far too good for this level of football. His first touch, his vision and his passing was sublime.
But what impressed me most, more than his lust for scoring goals, was his movement off the ball. When we were coming forward, Griffiths was always on the move, looking for the ball, creating space for himself and others; he barely ever stood still.
It’s easy to see why Griffiths was attracting so much attention north of the border – he’s got a sharp footballing brain and is very difficult to handle – Gillingham won’t be the only defence he ruins this season.
His celebration and general demeanour showed that he was clearly enjoying himself; he played up to the crowd and they were only too happy to respond. Griffith celebrated converting his penalty to put us 4-0 as if he’d just scored a last-minute winner. Enthusiasm is just as important as skill when it comes to winning over fans, and Griffiths has it in abundance.
There are many who are saying that Griffiths should have been brought back from his loan spell last season, but I for one am glad he was not. From what I hear, the dressing room has been poisonous for the last few years – not a great environment to be introduced to.
Kenny Jackett, however, made it clear immediately that Griffiths was a big part of his plans: “I got the job one day and phoned him the next and that’s how I feel, having watched him last season. I told him ‘You’re not moving, you’re coming back to Wolves and I’m going to give you a chance'”.
Who doesn’t want to be wanted? I doubt that Griffiths would have got such a warm welcome from Solbakken or Saunders.
I still have my doubts as to whether we can keep hold of him for the long term, but let’s enjoy it while we can.
To single out Griffiths is justified, but the whole team was wonderful. Richard Stearman and Danny Batth were calm and solid at the back, and David Davis and Lee Evans were in complete control of the midfield from minute one to minute 90.
Kevin Doyle, while not much of a goal threat, did what Doyle does best. He won the aerial battles and linked midfield with the front line with dinks, flicks and little passes.
Bakary Sako, too, showed that he was interested, and tormented his marker with step-overs and sprints to the byline with every opportunity. If this was Doyle and Sako’s final Molineux salute, then they bowed out on a high. I would expect both to move on this month as we certainly can’t afford to keep them both, but I tip my hat to both for putting in a shift.
The second half passed like the first, just with fewer goals: complete domination whilst denying Gillingham a sniff.
The trip to Bristol City will be a different proposition, but after conceding five goals at Coventry/Northampton on Sunday, Griffiths et al will be licking their lips.
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