Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers (AMA)
Losing two of your starting defence will always have an impact, just ask Liverpool. Losing them just a couple of days before a game makes it even harder to adjust.
However, Nuno’s decision to play a back four was disappointing. I thought we had seen the end of that experiment, and proved we do not have the personnel to play it. Yes team selection was compromised, but there was still options to retain five at the back.
Seeing Ait-Nouri in particular in the attacking third with no cover behind when the ball is lost, is an accident waiting to happen. His crosses have to beat the first man, Semedo’s too, otherwise we are outnumbered on the counter attack.
The risk versus reward is a painful watch. Twenty attempts on goal is fun, and no doubt a good watch for a neutral, but we are not neutral and playing like that is not the way for us to win games.
Was it stubborn or brave to not change things after fifteen minutes when a repeat of the 0-4 was looking the least we could expect.
With no pace in midfield and the defence a shambles, the only positive was the front four. We crafted lots of chances and the first ‘if only’ moment fell to Jose when he shot wide. A lay off to Neves looked a better option, but in the second half he played a lay off when he should have shot. Decision making is always easier watching from the sidelines.
Dreadful defending, when a yellow card on halfway could have avoided a third goal, meant the game was lost before the break. Our character from then on was a positive. Traore did exactly what we want him to do every game – because we know he can. Brush aside a handoff, jump over a desperate lunge, run sixty yards at full pelt and put over a perfect cross for an assist. Textbook. Perfect.
It was still a huge ask in the second half but we were competitive throughout. West Ham took their foot off the gas and we kept our shape better. We did not go gung-ho, having learnt the negative consequences, but we obviously tried to push forward. More chances came, before and after a brilliant Neto assist brought a pleasing finish from a delighted Silva.
A bit more from Neto and Traore might have helped us achieve what looked like the impossible but a 2-3 finish, in my opinion, failed to justify the formation.
Traore gets MOTM for that piece of brilliance no other Wolves player could have done. Virtually ever other player had room for improvement. Neves in particular should have done better on each of the goals. Others too could have. Dendoncker had a dreadful opening thirty minutes and was unable to protect the back four at all. Ait-Nouri, although offering something in the final third, played like a wing-back when we really needed a full-back.
Podence and Vitinha both acquitted themselves well in their reduced minutes.
Yet again this season, too many unavailable players has meant significant compromises in our team line-up. Hopefully that is the lesson we have learnt and we address in the future.
As per usual this season, starting a game terribly and going 1-0 down. Not only that but awful defending like we’ve seen for the majority of this season and that comes to as no surprise having two midfielders by trade playing together in a back four.
We’re too much of a nice, soft team as well. We had opportunities to take players down for two of their three goals but we chose not to and they ended up scoring. West Ham got two yellow cards in the first 10 minutes by taking out Neto and Adama to stop a counter attack, but we allowed Lingard to just run freely into the box without a challenge.
To go 3-0 down at home within 40 minutes is unacceptable. They’re having a really good season but over the whole game we created more chances, we had so much more of the ball but we lose because we defend like a bunch of clowns.
Playing a back three does make us more compact but then we create next to nothing in games. I really believe a back four is the way forward but we need another good centre back to partner Boly for that to happen, and with Jonny being out for the long term we definitely need a new LB to come in as well.
Our first goal was all down to Adama’s brilliance, it only took Dendoncker 28 attempts this season to finally score. Adama has created so many chances this season but nobody is taking them so what else can he do?
Silva will be a future star, the way he took the fantastic pass from Neto was a sign of greater things to come and then the finish was brilliant. He should be starting over Jose every time but for some reason Nuno persists with the Brazilian, no idea why because he offers nothing to us in an attacking sense. Silva has got much better movement off the ball and because of that finds himself in better attacking positions.
Our next five games are massive, I’d say we need to win at least two just to get rid of any relegation worries but I expect to be winning at least four of them, we won’t though. The quicker Boly is back the better and hopefully Jonny can recover well from another awful setback.
Can’t wait for this season to be over and hopefully we can have a good transfer window, not holding my breath over it though.
We had the awful news about Jonny and with Moutinho and Boly also missing this one, we would have to be at our best. It was good to see Patricio starting and the return of Podence.
Wolves made a reasonably good start, but fell behind after six minutes. A great run by Lingard, from inside his own half, unchallenged as he went passed Dendoncker and then Saiss before shooting. It was calling out for a trip or obstruction while in no man’s land.
So, it seemed everything was against us. Our defence were completely lacking in belief. Certainly, this particular back four does not work.
It wasn’t long before things got worse. Lingard again involved with a smart turn to lose Semedo at the corner flag to cross. So we were 2-0 down inside 14 minutes and no sign of us getting back into the game.
Antonio went off after 35 minutes. Could this be a turning point?
There were some bits of positive play, especially with Jose and Traore linking well.
The third goal went in on 38 minutes. Two West Ham players sliced through five Wolves defenders for Bowen to beat Patricio at the near post (again). This was defending at its absolute worst.
We then suffered a double miss by Wolves, with both Jose and Neto missing a relatively easy chance to reduce the gap. A few minutes later, it was Traore’s turn to turn on the style. He did brilliantly to set up Dendoncker to score with header, running virtually the whole length of the pitch to cross from the byline. This is what we need to see more of.
At the interval, I think most Wolves fans were in shock. We had the majority of possession and created the most goal chances. West Ham had taken us by counter attack, assisted by abysmal defending. Silva replaced Podence who hadn’t really got involved.
West Ham did look rattled and Wolves continued to dominate with the ball, while still vulnerable to the counter attack. Dendoncker had another good chance, but produced a poor shot wide. Jose also had chance to shoot, but dithered and the moment was gone.
We pulled another goal back with a smart finish by Silva. Surely he deserves his chance now for more starts?
With over 20 minutes remaining, I expected us to do more for an equaliser. The midfield didn’t provide enough support to our forwards. Vitinha came on to help; a player I would like to see much more of.
So, after a three week break we get a thoroughly depressing performance. Man of the match was Lingard whose form deserves an England call-up for the Euros. Traore was highlight for Wolves, but he must see much more of the ball.
Taking last season as the yardstick, West Ham are demonstrably the most improved outfit in the Premier League.
Equally emphatic is that the team suffering the sharpest demise is Wolves. The contrast in fortunes was sharply brought into focus by this game.
In the first ten minutes, both West Ham central defenders accepted yellow cards as they cynically blotted out dangerous surges from Neto and Traore. Wolves chose the more passive approach; retreating obligingly and without any challenge, defences opening like the waves of the Red Sea. Moses himself couldn’t have conjured up a greater expanse of room.
The Hammers happily cashed in. Coincidental maybe, but the instant Jonny Otto begins another extended absence, Wolves are more open and vulnerable. With Boly missing too, Wolves were ripe for the picking. Yet regardless of the deficit, Wolves startlingly out of character were sharp during that first period.
Five decent chances were created but significantly Fabianski was not called upon to make a single save from any of the opportunities. Frighteningly vulnerable at the back and profligate and wasteful up front leaves you with a mountain to climb. Wolves at least made a spirited effort; Traore quite exceptionally created a gloriously overdue goal for Dendoncker and West Ham almost immediately turned to introspection and surrendered their dominance. That said, despite Fabio’s excellent confidence boosting finish, we didn’t pressurise the Hammers penalty area or test Fabianski unduly.
Dendoncker had the best opportunity but given both time and space, he lacked composure and disappointingly blazed wide of the target. This, quite unlike so many Molineux games this season was an attractive spectacle for the neutral. But for Wolves the bottom line is another frustrating home defeat in an increasingly mediocre season.
There was a chasm between these two sides last season just as there is a glaring disparity right now. But the roles have been reversed. West Ham boosted by quality recruitment and positive tactics have left us trailing and it’s all a bit depressing.
Architects of our own downfall with flat-footed Sunday League defending leaving us with a mountain to climb.
We probably had as many chances and efforts on goal as in any other game this season but West Ham were clinical and we were far from it.
Let’s just get safety secured ASAP and draw a line under the season. Then get the cheque book out!