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Monday, 19 November 2012

The View Outside The Premier League: Wolves On The Slide And Hartlepool Fall Flat


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Sqf hugh larkin

Watford beat Wolves 2-1 on Saturday to send the visitors down to 16th place in the table and the Midlanders have now gone seven matches without a victory. This bad run has revived all the concerns about Stale Solbakken's appointment and the loss of key players as the campaign started.

There wasn't a great deal Wolves could do about the decisions of Stephen Fletcher and Michael Kightly to jump ship - and the West Ham offer for Matt Jarvis was difficult to turn down. Unfortunately the deals, especially Fletcher's, went close to the wire at the start of the season and added to the uncertainty about the new boss coming.

Initially things went reasonably well and Wolves were in the play-off places before the current bad run dragged them down the table. At Molineux the pressure is always on managers because the fans believe their club should be a Premier League outfit.

While the focus had been on the attacking players leaving, it's at the back that Wolves are suffering. Only once in the last seven have they failed to score but there have been no clean sheets either.

Earlier in the week Solbakken addressed season ticket holders and warned that the team had to stay with the passing game rather than percentage football. Wolves fans traditionally favour a longer ball style, so the Norwegian has a bit to do to convince the Molineux fans that he has what it takes to get the club into the top flight.

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New managers have been a consistent theme of the View in recent weeks - bosses like Mick McCarthy, Edgar Davids etc have come in and got an immediate 'bounce' from their teams.

John Hughes experienced the opposite feeling on Saturday. His Hartlepool squad - already bottom of League One by a distance - contrived to let in five without reply against Coventry City.

It's one thing being pasted on the road but that is mainly in front of the diehard travelling fans. Ninety per cent really only see their team at home and Pool have delivered just one victory all season at Victoria Park.

Naturally the stats don't look good but just one suffices to demonstrate their dire situation. Their league top scorer is midfielder Johnathan Franks with two goals.

It's a massive salvage job that Hughes has taken on but he had an impressive record with scant resources at Falkirk and after two years out of the hot seat since Hibernian, this is a chance to prove his worth. The only way from here is up.

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While all the talk is of AFC Wimbledon's FA Cup tie with the MK Dons, the club really do have more important issues to deal with. Last season's first League Two season became a bit of a struggle and this year they hover above the drop zone.

On Saturday they ground out a point against Aldershot, one of the sides below them. Survival has to be the priority and there are many Dons fans who would prefer three points over a cup win at Milton Keynes.

The sense of history at the club received another boost though with the return between the sticks of Neil Sullivan, a link back to the glory days in the top flight. He finds himself in a dressing room managed by his former team mate Neil Ardley.

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To say that Mick McCarthy's results at Ipswich have been mixed would be something of an understatement. He's bagged two wins that lifted the club off the bottom but in two defeats his side have let in 11 goals without reply.

Maybe that's the plan. With three points for a win it's far better to get the victory than grind out a couple of draws - and unlike the Hartlepool experience he made sure that Ipswich won the one game of the four in front of their home fans.

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Hugh Larkin

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