Ahead of our match tomorrow, I’ve been speaking to Thomas Baugh from Wolves Blog. He talks us through his recollections of our 1-0 loss to Wolves earlier this season, his thoughts on Robbie Keane and his predictions for the match at Molineux.
Thomas, welcome to TottenhamBlog. Spurs fans are still harbouring painful memories of losing at home to Wolves. You defended brilliantly that day, but were you surprised that Tottenham couldn’t break you down?
Cheers Dan, thanks for inviting me.
Victory at White Hart Lane has unquestionably been the highlight of the season to date. I was listening to the second half on the radio and had to pull into the services to see out the last ten minutes. Otherwise I would most certainly have perished on the M6 that afternoon. I got a few odd looks for the high-pitched squeal I expelled at the full-time whistle.
I was surprised you didn’t really make any clear cut chances (other than one miss from Kranjkar if I remember correctly) given that you were camped in our half for 95% of the match. Just one of those days I guess.
Plus we’re a young side and I think that helped as we needed those youthful legs to get us over the line. An older side would probably have crumbled under the pressure.
What did you make of Mick McCarthy fielding a reserve team against Manchester United just a few days after that result? Was he justified, considering that you then won your home match against Burnley?
We can debate this until the cows come home and everyone has I think.
My personal view is that I didn’t agree with it. Man Utd were vulnerable at that particular time of the season and I think we had a chance to go there and cause another upset. But who knows, we could have played our best eleven, lost at Old Trafford and then lost to Burnley. There’s no right or wrong answer.
What did annoy me was everyone else wading in and saying we should be docked points (or even relegated!?!). You can’t have one rule for the top sides and another for the teams scrapping against relegation.
McCarthy has an impressive record of getting teams out of the Championship, but has struggled to keep them in the Premier League. Is he up to the job of managing at the top level, or has he just lacked the financial resources?
At Sunderland, he wasn’t given a penny to spend and with the side he had, they had zero chance of staying up before a ball had even been kicked. You couldn’t judge him fairly on the time he had there as a Premiership manager.
It’s been a different story at Wolves. The money’s in the bank but for some reason, it wasn’t spent. Aside from the £6.5 million signing of Kevin Doyle (worth every penny by the way) we’ve largely opted to bring in quantity rather than quality. That’s a big mistake in my opinion.
We had a decent squad last season and what we really needed were three or four quality additions that would improve the first team. Instead we’ve ended up with one quality player (Doyle), a couple of hit and misses (Zubar and Milijas) and six or seven that are no better than what we already had. The manager has to take a portion of the blame for that, but our board don’t want to pay big wages to attract big players, so I have some sympathy for Mick.
His tactics have been poor this season. There’s no doubt about that. Sending out a second-string at Old Trafford was obviously the most controversial move but what is really angering the fans at the moment is his persistence in playing certain players out of position. We’ve got a centre-half playing in midfield, a striker playing at left-back and right-back playing right-wing. It’s madness.
If we stay up, he’ll have proved he’s got what it takes to manage at this level. If we go down, he’ll still be considered a failure. It’s as simple as that.
Only Portsmouth have scored less goals in the Premier League than Wolves this season. Will that ultimately be your undoing, or do you think that you can survive relegation?
Goals have been a problem and that’s due to a couple of things. Ebanks-Blake hasn’t fired, Michael Kightly (our chief provider last season) has been injured for much of the season and our manager has picked progressively more negative sides as the season has gone on.
Despite all of that, I still believe we can survive the drop. There’s a good spirit in the team and we’ve shown that on our day we’re capable of pulling a result out of the bag (as you know all too well). I’d rate our survival chances as 50/50 at this point in the season.
Which three sides do you think will go down?
I think it will be three from four of Pompey, Hull, Burnley & Wolves. As I’m obviously biased and eternally optimistic I’ll go for the three clubs other than Wolves.
It has been revealed that you tried to sign Robbie Keane from us on loan before he went to Celtic. Is he still a popular figure at Molineux and could you see Wolves making a move for him in the summer, should you stay up?
Robbie Keane is a God at Wolves. He is universally loved and adored by every single supporter in Old Gold. I hope that makes it clear enough.
There’s a conspiracy theory amongst the fans that we only made a move for him as a publicity stunt to drum up interest for advanced season ticket sales for next year. Whether or not that’s true, he would have been a great signing to help keep us up.
I can’t see us getting him on a permanent basis in the summer, as his wage demands would surely scupper any deal.
As a side note, I had to laugh at what he said in the press conference when he was unveiled at Celtic. It was something along the lines of ‘I didn’t want to come here when I’m 34 and on my last legs’ and I was sat at home thinking, ‘Yeah, that will be when you decide to make your much talked about return to Molineux’.
Who have been your most impressive performers this season?
Kevin Doyle has been immense. Without him, we’d be cut adrift at the bottom. He’s been our player of the season so far by a country mile (and then some).
A mention too for Jody Craddock. He’s having the season of his life and holding a shaky defence together almost single-handedly. He’s also knocked in four goals at the other end of the pitch too, which have come in handy.
Milijas has shown moments of brilliance and his delivery from dead balls is immense. Unfortunately, his overall game has been somewhat inconsistent, which is a shame because he could be a top, top player.
What about the worst? Is there anyone not up to playing in the Premier League?
The player that stands out like a sore-thumb for this question is Ebanks-Blake. I was expecting a minimum of ten Premier League goals from him this season and he’s only got one so far (and that was a penalty).
He was injured at the start of the season but he’s had long enough to get back at it now, so there’s no excuse. He’s missing chances he would have gobbled up last season and his confidence is shot.
There’s a big question mark over whether he’s good enough to score goals in the Premiership, but I know he’s a better player than what he’s showing at the moment. I can’t help but shake the suspicion that he might yet have a big role to play in keeping us up.
What do you make of Tottenham this season? What do you think we will achieve?
Spurs have been a superb attacking side since I can remember and if they’re on the box, they’re one of the sides I always enjoy watching.
For me, the reason you’ve improved this season is simply because there’s a better balance to the side. Players like Palacios and Huddlestone seem to do a great job for you, which allows the likes of Modric, Lennon and Kranjcar to concentrate on breaking teams down.
It also helps that you’ve got a striker in Defoe, that smashes in goals for fun. Crouchie of course gives you another option when teams try to stop you from playing football and I think he was a very shrewd signing by ‘Arry’.
You’re still vulnerable at the back for me, which might well prove your downfall in the scrap for fourth place. If you brought in a couple of centre-halves and a steady goalkeeper in the summer, you’d definitely go up a level. The likes of Gomes and Dawson aren’t good enough to challenge the top 4 and you can’t carry sicknotes like King and Woodgate in your squad, if you’re serious about the Champions League. You might well disagree of course. That’s purely my view looking in on it.
Nevertheless, I think you deserve some success this season and I back you to get fourth place, barring injuries to key players of course. With three of the big four out of the FA Cup, you’ve got to fancy your chances there too I’d imagine. I reckon you’ll get to the final.
Prediction time. How do you see the game going tomorrow?
I predict doom for Wolves, which would obviously be music to your ears. Doing the double over Spurs sounds too good to be true and I can’t envisage us shutting you out like we did in the game at White Hart Lane earlier in the season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if we beat you. Love it. I just don’t think we will. My guess: 3-1 to Spurs.
Final question. If you could choose one former Wolves legend to play in your current squad, who would it be and why?
Without a moment’s hesitation, Steve Bull.
He never got a crack at the Premiership, mainly because of his die-hard loyalty to the club. Villa and Coventry both came in for him, but the bloke just bleeds gold and black and he wanted to do it with the Wolves. Sadly, he never got his chance, which is a real tragedy in my opinion.
Whether or not he would have plundered anywhere near the amount of goals in the Premiership that he did in the lower divisions is up for debate, but I’d chew off my right arm to see him in the starting lineup tonight.
Thanks again to Thomas and make sure you check out his blog here.