Mike Holden fancies a bet in the HT/FT market in the Wolves v Derby lunchtime clash.
When things aren’t up to scratch, Wolves fans will let you know much sooner than most. And things are a long way from up-to-scratch at Molineux right now. Supporters have turned on the club, the manager and the players in each of the last three matches - all of which have ended in defeat - against Preston, Huddersfield and Brentford. The club couldn’t be more fragmented.
With no chairman, there is no long-term strategy in place and the current mood is the culmination of five months of growing concern. Ire is mostly reserved owner Steve Morgan and chief executive Jez Moxey but Kenny Jackett is far from exempt. The manager’s hands are tied, he doesn’t have the basic tools to do the job, but recent performances still haven’t been acceptable.
After Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Griffin Park, the local media were questioning whether Jackett would even be in charge for this game. Wanderers were abject, continually handing over possession, unable for large periods to escape their own half. And this against a team that was suffering its own malaise through a lack of incentive.
The only thing Jackett can do to appease the fans is deliver something that resembles purposeful, attacking football - have a go, basically - but it’s never been in his nature to throw off the shackles and approach games with such abandon. And given how terrible Wolves have been in possession in recent weeks, a solid shape now is probably more important than ever.
Derby’s recent problems, although nothing like as bad, also stem from a disconnect between board and management. However, the dismissal of Paul Clement and appointment of Darren Wassall until the end of the season appears to have swiftly rectified the problem, putting the team back in touch with a broader philosophy. Only time will tell if Wassall is actually good enough.
A home defeat to MK Dons was the worst possible way for him to start his tenure, and his choice of the word "delighted" to describe his take on the players’ efforts only caused further alarm. But victory at Brentford last Saturday, where the Rams came from behind in the final ten minutes to win 3-1, bought him some credibility that was built on further with a narrow win over Blackburn in midweek.
To his credit, Wassall has shaken up the dressing room by dropping the likes of Chris Martin and Tom Ince, then getting the right response when recalling them, but confidence doesn’t soar from 0-60 in two or three games and it’s fair to say Derby are currently in a process of rehabilitation, which involves trying to avoid any talk of promotion.
The quick turnaround after the Blackburn game - played on Wednesday night - does the Rams no favours, though, and there’s more mileage in attempting to call how the visitors go about their business here rather than just backing them in a straight match bet at a paltry 5/4. Instead, take the 23/5 available in the Draw/Derby half-time/full-time outcome.
If Wolves don’t start the game well, they know how toxic the atmosphere will turn. If they fall behind early, it could be one of the longest afternoons in their professional lives. Likewise, Derby aren’t really on top of their game but if they stick to the task they should ultimately be good enough to land the spoils and they will happily take the patient route to three points.
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