Despite Saturday’s positive result against big-spending, high-flying Burnley, the Wolves faithful are losing their patience with Kenny Jackett once again.
This isn’t the first time that many of the keyboard warriors on the club’s social media outlets have been calling for the Head Coach to be sacked. Rewind a year, and the club were in the middle of their worst run in second tier football since 1991, losing five matches on the spin. This terrible period included an embarrassing 5-0 defeat against Derby.
Of course, Jackett kept his job, and a spirited fight back after Christmas (interestingly coinciding with the return of Nouha Dicko from injury) resulted in the club narrowly missing out on the play-offs. But fast forward a year, and once again Jackett’s job is under scrutiny. Patience is a rare commodity in football these days, which Wolves fans should be fully aware of. Since 2012, Mick McCarthy, Terry Connor, Stale Solbakken and Dean Saunders have all been sacked. With only five wins in 16 league games, and four defeats in the last six, Jackett will certainly be looking over his shoulder.
But has he had enough time? Optimists would say that four points from a possible six, including two clean sheets, against promotion-chasing Birmingham and Burnley is more than admirable, forgetting the dismal Bristol City performance. There are still plenty of points up for grabs, but many fans would argue that at the start of the season, Wolves were considered one of the favourites to lift the title trophy come May.
Poor summer recruitment and questionable tactical choices seemed to have dashed those hopes already, even at this relatively early point in the season. Many fans, myself included, would love to see Jack Price in the starting XI more often. I feel that his rugged, hard-working style allows Kevin McDonald to express himself further forward. However, Jackett seems to favour Conor Coady, a summer signing from Huddersfield. Reading between the lines, I would suggest that Jackett wishes to justify the £2 million spent on the Liverpool academy graduate by starting him more often than not this season, because his performances have been less than impressive thus far. His will to drive forward can leave McDonald, arguably the team’s most gifted and influential player, wasted as a defensive midfielder.
Injuries have also taken their toll on this young and trimmed Wolves squad. Club captain Danny Batth missed the start of the season, and fellow defenders Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Kourtney Hause and Dominic Iorfa have all suffered niggling injuries. Coupled with the fact that Carl Ikeme and Emi Martinez seemed to share the goalkeeper’s position at the beginning of the season, and cult hero Richard Stearman was strangely sold, the back line has been very unsettled. Hopefully Mike Williamson can continue to rectify that, after a promising start.
I am not suggesting that these injuries are anybody’s fault, but Nouha Dicko’s season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered at the end of August at home to Charlton was a massive blow. Dicko, Bakary Sako and Benik Afobe scored over 40 league goals between them last season. With Dicko sidelined and Sako now playing for Crystal Palace, Afobe is the only one of the trio remaining. He has scored six goals this season, and hasn’t found the net for over a month now. Adam Le Fondre has only scored three, and Grant Holt hasn’t scored – despite an admirable attempt at getting on the end of Sheyi Ojo’s goal against Birmingham last week, I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed.
Jackett will not wish to test the patience of the club’s board much more. He will be fully aware that football is a results-driven industry, and with Chris Ramsey, Chris Powell and Kit Symons sacked by QPR, Huddersfield and Fulham this week, he will be feeling far from invincible.
But whether the club choose to sack Jackett, or stick with him (I think that they should), I believe that the play-offs are still a realistic target for Wolves this season. With no clear message from the club, will the Old Gold faithful have to accept that this season is simply transitional? As I said, Wolves fans have asked many questions this term, with very few being answered.