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Liam Keen comment: Wolves deserve answers for latest referee blunder

Officiating mistakes can have a huge impact over a season and Wolves are currently swimming against the tide.

Referee Andy Madley (PA)
Referee Andy Madley (PA)

Every team suffers from poor decisions or incredible blunders, but Wolves have seen an unusual amount of gaffes go against them.

Newcastle were the better team on Sunday and deserved the three points on the balance of the game, but it could have been so different if the right decision was made.

The penalty call

Andy Madley was the referee when VAR failed and incorrectly ruled out Toti Gomes’s winner at Liverpool in the FA Cup back in January, so it was only fitting he was involved in another controversy.

The decision not to award Raul Jimenez a penalty, and subsequently give Nick Pope his marching orders, was farcical to say the least.

The latter decision on a potential Pope red card is dependent on whether a penalty was given and whether Jimenez would have reached the ball for an open goal, but the fact remains that a penalty should have been given.

Madley’s swift decision, taken from a long way away, was the first mistake. Human error happens and as bad as it was, it is at least justifiable to some extent.

What is not justifiable is VAR not intervening. The check took seconds, nothing was communicated inside the stadium and Wolves were denied a huge advantage when the game was locked at 0-0.

In the wake of that amazing blunder, there is no accountability. The PGMOL will likely stay silent and Wolves will have to live with the monumental mistake.

Crucial substitutions

Since his arrival at Wolves, no Premier League manager has made more substitutions per game than Julen Lopetegui, while the Spaniard has also been the quickest to look to his bench among his peers.

On the whole, Lopetegui has made a success of that approach and been able to change games in Wolves’ favour.

Against Newcastle, most of his changes had some impact, but the decision to bring on Nathan Collins at 1-1 was a mistake in hindsight.

Not because of the player himself, which the head coach admitted to, but because it halted Wolves’ momentum at a time when they were on top.

The defending for the Magpies’ winner saw some very poor Wolves defending on the left side, with Rayan Ait-Nouri moving to left-wing-back, with the decision to change to a back five backfiring on Lopetegui.

No goal threat

For all of the controversies and decisions, Wolves are still struggling in front of goal.

Creating chances has been a huge issue all season and Lopetegui is still battling to find a creative spark in this team.

Just look at the expected goals (xG) for the forwards, for example, which determines how many goals a player should have scored from the quality of chances they had.

Striker Raul Jimenez, who played the full 90 minutes, had an xG of just 0.03. Daniel Podence, who played 68 minutes, had the exact same figure.

Pedro Neto, who came on at half-time, had a slightly improved 0.11, while goalscorer Hwang Hee-chan had an xG of 0.8, which was solely down to his equaliser.

Wolves are currently creating nowhere near enough and that will be their biggest challenge from now until the end of May.

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