Shropshire Star

Wolves Fans' Verdict v Man City: A gulf in class cost Wolves

Our Wolves fans have their say on the loss to Manchester City.

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Adam Virgo

Didn’t expect to get anything out of the game but the goals we gave away makes it really frustrating because all three were so avoidable.

We really struggled in the first 15 minutes but after that we started to get into the game gradually and I feel as though if we got into half time at 0-0, we could have built on that.

Nunes left De Bruyne free for him to cross it in because he decided to double up on Mahrez with Bueno. If he just stayed with De Bruyne, he wouldn’t have been able to pick out Haaland with absolute ease.

After half time I was hoping the three changes would offer us something different going forward but we give away a penalty within five minutes and the game is completely over. I haven’t seen a replay of it so can’t fully judge but it did look a bit soft in real time.

I have absolutely no idea what Jose Sa was doing for the third goal, he’s been so error prone this season and it’s just so frustrating. If this continues throughout the season, it wouldn’t surprise me if Lopetegui wanted to replace him.

Collins and Semedo weren’t even bad today from the starters, they dealt with everything they had pretty much fine. It’s just silly individual errors that have allowed City to win with so much ease. Even without them we probably still would have lost but it’s not the point.

We need to be so much better against Liverpool in two weeks if we want to get anything out of the game. The break next week will hopefully give some of the new signings a bit of time to work with Lopetegui and the other players in regards to fitting everyone in and knowing exactly how we want it to work.

Thankfully other teams around us lost or drew over the weekend too so we’re still above the relegation zone. This was never a game that was going to define our season, it’s just annoying travelling all that way to concede idiotic goals that are so preventable.

Clive Smith

We will be delighted to finish 17th. City will be devastated if they finish second. That is an indication of where these teams are currently. We were well beaten in September and we were again on Sunday.

There is always a balance between picking a team devoid of an attacking threat or one that is going to be able to protect our goal. It’s good to have impact subs on the bench, but you need to still be in the game when they take the field. Who’d be a Manager eh? I thought Lopetegui was too ambitious picking that front three to start the game. At kick-off I would have found room for Podence and Ait-Nouri, at the expense of Nunes and probably Traore.

We were compact centrally at the back which meant we gave Grealish and Mahrez plenty of space down the wings. Meanwhile, within fifteen minutes, the ref had already awarded the compulsory first yellow card to Wolves, Kilman, and also shown it to Lemina and Lopetegui. Like the odds needed to be further stacked against us.

As the interval approached our resolution in defence had been admirable, Collins in particular had been as solid as in any game.

All it took though was one inch perfect cross to undo all our efforts. Google suggests the two players height is the same but Haaland met the cross above Collins and we trailed.

We had defended well up until then and we’d certainly had plenty of practice. Retaining possession had been difficult, trying to play out from the back via Kilman and Bueno was a non-starter. The long ball from Sa was aimed at Traore and he won some headers and we tried to play from there. It seemed strange that the target was Traore but Jimenez was not winning headers - had he done so then that surely would have been a better option with Traore chasing the second ball.

Whether it was the score or it was always the plan, but Lopetegui changed all of the front three for the second half. We never really got to find out if that might have changed the pattern of the game because we gifted City two goals within 10 minutes.

A Neves foul resulted in a penalty and then Sa passed the ball away. His passing has been risky for the last three or four games, it had looked an accident waiting to happen. This time we did not get away with the error. I wonder if this will lead to a rethink in the way we try and play out when the opposition employ a high press. Perhaps the only consolation was the fact these two errors were done in a game we were likely to lose anyway and not in one of the many must-win games coming up.

3-0 and still thirty minutes left – we were not in a good place. City rotated their team and we used our remaining subs. The game became more open which, maybe surprisingly, seemed to favour us, certainly from an attacking point of view with Podence coming closest to scoring.

City are good, we all know that, so it was hard to judge Lemina and Sarabia in particular. Does the acquisition of Dawson suggest a back five? That formation makes it easier passing out from the back which seems to be Lopetegui’s preferred approach. We have looked increasingly vulnerable playing that way however and it does not play to our strengths. When Neves, our best forward passer by a long way, is spending so much time passing back to Sa and the centre-backs it is not conducive to helping us score more goals.

A shout out to Collins. After his red card in the home game v City he was our MOTM.

James Pugh

A chastening afternoon where Wolves were architects of their own downfall.

Admittedly we were playing one of the best club teams in the world, with their manager`s forthright views ringing in their ears from previous lacklustre performances, but individual errors cost us dearly, mistakes you simply cannot make against such a side.

Having defended stoutly for 40 minutes, Wolves were undone by a quality team goal just before half-time, which is always the worst time to concede as it completely changes the imminent team talk.

However Wolves undeterred started the second half brightly changing the complete frontline. An unnecessary gifted penalty saw confidence drain away. Followed by a big mistake by Jose Sa the game was as a contest finished.

Wolves huffed and puffed without really threatening the Man City goal. Podence had his moments and the Wolves faithful managed to get a viewing of Sariba and Lemina.

I feel I must mention Nathan Collins who had a really strong back to the wall defensive performance making several key interventions and clearances.

As a footnote another poor refereeing performance, one particular frustrating moment in the first half when Hwang turned past the last defender completely fairly only to be pulled up for a foul when he may have had a one on one with the goalkeeper.

On a brighter note this game will not define our season, I have my eyes on the Febuary fixtures against Southampton and Bournemouth. These will be huge six pointers. This is an unforgiving league and our fate may go right down to the wire.

Rob Cartwright

A completely abject performance by Wolves; we were terrible.

This was as bad a first half as I’ve seen this season. Devoid of any attacking ambition, we appeared content on holding onto a 0-0 until going behind. Somewhat better in the second half, though we gifted two more goals to give the scoreline a more realistic look.

These are worrying times. We didn’t expect to beat Man City but to lose in this way is cause for concern. The front three were awful and were rightly replaced at half-time. Their impact on the game was zero. They offered nothing by way of threat – no runs, lacking movement and not giving any options to the player in possession.

They should have been replaced sooner!

This obsession with playing out from the back is doing us no good whatsoever. We put the full backs under too much pressure and inevitably lose possession in our own half. We cannot continue in this way while players confidence is low. Sa is not good enough with his feet either. He gifted the third goal. I’m now of the opinion he needs a break; costing us too many goals recently. Here lies another issue, as he hasn’t got much competition for his place.

There are bigger games coming up in February, but we will need a big uplift to get the wins needed. Time for Lopetegui to sort this out in terms of his “best” team and his tactics. I just can’t see where the goals are coming from with only Podence looking ever likely to score.

We had seven corners but created no danger from these either.

The defence get some credit as they were overworked and at 1-0 we were still in the game. Collins in particular did well against this constant battering.

All things considered a very worrying display when you consider Man City conceded two goals in each of their last three games.

John Lalley

When we were flying under Nuno not so long ago, we faced this fixture without any hint of trepidation, at ease with ourselves, confident in our game plan and spoiling to give the aristocrats a bloody nose. And on occasions, we mixed it beautifully; Traore twice slaloming through their defences in Manchester and Doherty’s late winner on a breathless night under the Molineux lights.

Absolutely ecstatic memories and what’s more, we weren’t the least bit surprised we had done so well. And neither were City; you sensed they respected Wolves as fast developing, quality opposition.

A bit different these days; you hope for the best, boost the spirits by reminding one and all that if a hapless Everton can nick a draw at the Etihad, maybe Wolves might follow suit. In reality, this was a cakewalk for City; Wolves resisted doggedly for 40 minutes but the sense of inevitability was overpowering from the outset.

We were outclassed by the Champions and there is no disgrace in that. As soon as the first goal was conceded, damage limitation with the avoidance of humiliation was the prime priority.

It’s a comparison between different stratospheres I know, but it’s faintly amusing to lament our desperate scoring record against a guy who has rattled in 25 goals already. And Haaland only works part-time; he turns up, scores in fusillades and retires to the bench job done and puts his feet up to happily watch the rest of the game without a care in the world. Wolves like most other teams can only dream of such luxuries.

Thankfully, we won’t be facing City again this season but a look at the fixtures reveals that pretty soon the likes of Southampton and Bournemouth will be on our agenda. Games such as these carry far more importance than whistling in the wind in Manchester and will likely determine our fate for the season.

Much better that Jose Sa’s almighty clanger to present Haaland with the hat-trick came on Sunday when the error with the game lost, counted for absolutely nothing, rather than in a relegation battle we had a genuine stake in.

Against West Ham, Wolves struggled desperately playing out from the back, self-induced pressure that the Hammers couldn’t exploit. It came as no surprise that such a slick outfit as City cashed in on such a basic mistake.

If nothing else, you hope Wolves at least learned their lesson on Sunday. Cup commitments extinguished, Lopetegui has an extended preparation period he will hope to exploit; the new faces will be afforded some time to familiarise themselves with what is required. And there is no settling in buffer; they all need to adapt rapidly such is the congestion at the bottom this League. The coach and his players need to spend this time wisely; there is so much improving to be done!

Fraser Bishop

A scoreline that we probably expected, but it’s still frustrating nonetheless. On one hand, it’s important to keep in mind the quality of the opponent and how games like this won’t define our season, as taking points and beating teams around us is more important, however, is there such thing as a free hit when you’re fighting for your life?

The two main disappointing elements for me were the timing of the goals and the manner of the third. It might not have made a difference, but if we could have just held on until half-time and gone in level and re-grouped, you never know. But our hard work which enabled us to stay in the game unravelled either side of half-time. Not to mention the third goal. Of course we want to play out from the back and play attractive football, but mistakes like this are so frustrating as we handed them a third on a plate.

I thought Collins had a good game particularly in the first half where he cleared one off the line and made some important interceptions and blocks. It was good to see Lemina get a start, but he had be careful after an early soft booking, and Sarabia get his debut too.

Overall, disappointing day but it was always going to be an uphill battle. It was disappointing to concede three goals in a short space of time, either side of the break, with the third goal being a gift. The fact Haaland has more than double our league goals says a lot about him, but more about us. Two weeks now to rest and (hopefully) bed some new signings in and go again against Liverpool.

Chris Ward

This was a game that we didn’t really have high expectations for. When Man City turn it on, they are near impossible to stop. While the game was ultimately decided by a penalty and a costly goalkeeping error, it’s hard to argue that Manchester City were not the dominant team and could have easily scored more.

Julen, acknowledged that the starting line-up was not ideal for the match, knowing that his team would have limited possession and would need to rely on counter-attacks. However, this strategy did not pay off as Wolves had very few opportunities in the opposition’s box and failed to take any shots on goal.

Wolves have a real dilemma now in the goalkeeping department, Sa has not been good this season and I’ve lost count of the number of shaky moments he has had between the sticks. Julen’s desire for his team to play out from the back is clear, but the question remains whether the team has the players with the necessary skills and confidence to execute this effectively.

The last 25 minutes we showed more promise going forward and for all his frustrations Podence is the player that really makes us tick. We looked better after the substitutions but at this point City had already taken their foot off the gas.

Dawson will be an excellent re-enforcement to what is an in-experienced and fragile defence now and will offer a different threat from attacking corners. The promising part is Wolves remain out of the drop zone after a loss and now have a couple of weeks to work with and embed the new signings. Liverpool are certainly there for the taking but it all depends on what Wolves turn up.