Opposition view: Wolves must be more clinical to achieve their top six target
- Credit: PA
Ahead of Sunday’s game, David Evans, from the Wolves Fancast podcast admitted he is not expecting an easy ride against the Canaries at Molineux.
Just how pleased have you been with the season so far, considering the amount of extra games the Europa League campaign has brought?
It depends how you view it. From the outside you would say this has been a great season so far. From inside, the view is mixed. Being in the knockout stage of the Europa League is fantastic, and the fan base is really embracing the European adventure. Despite the media cliché, we always felt we had the resources to cope with the demands of Europe compared to previous sides outside of the top six. However, although Wolves are eighth in a compact mini-league in the chase for fourth or fifth, Wolves have lacked a clinical finish in recent games and should have obtained a grip on one of these places by now given how we have played. If Wolves don't finish sixth or above, some may see it as an opportunity missed.
Do you expect to see the club in the Champions League in the next few years, given the spending power of the club's owners?
The owners want to see it, so it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility. As I've mentioned before, the side is playing well enough to challenge for a top four place, but needs that final pass or killer touch to get over the line. Evolving the team and buying that next level signing over the next couple of years could push us up that mountain.
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Which players have been the top performers so far this season?
Adama Traore. From unreliable to unplayable, it has been a breakout season for the Spaniard. When he is on form, he is unstoppable. His pace and strength are becoming the foundations of our attacking intent. One player who has gone under the radar recently is Romain Saiss. The Moroccan has been playing in defence instead of his usual role as a defensive midfielder and has put in some stellar performances in the last few weeks. One to keep an eye on (he does love a yellow card though).
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And which areas of the team need to be improved?
It is all about clinical finishing. Wolves are gifted in the their attacking options. Raul Jimenez, Traore, Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and new signing Daniel Podence. But in recent weeks that final touch has been missing to finish games off. If Wolves can match their dominance with that extra goal, they will take the league by storm.
Former Norwich defender Ryan Bennett was allowed to leave for Leicester in January, were you disappointed to see him go?
It was a surprise and a disappointment. When Ryan joined about three years ago, he felt not only like a Paul Lambert signing, but someone who would be a squad player and on the bench. However, he quickly became a first team regular and a stalwart in defence. During this season he has dropped down the pecking order and replaced by Saiss and even behind youngster Max Kilman (yes, that is a great name). Bennett will be fondly remembered at Molineux, a great servant.
John Ruddy as still at Molineux though, is he held in high regard as a number two?
Again, another who impressed from day one when he joined Molineux. He has been one of the best goalkeepers we've had at Wolves in recent years and in a short space of time. Rui Patricio has been a step up but I don't think fans would feel aggrieved if Ruddy came back in between the sticks if injury fell to Patricio. With the summer approaching, we can imagine Ruddy seeking pastures new to find more game time.
Have you been surprised to see Norwich spend so long at the bottom of the table?
Norwich stormed the Championship last season and given their impressive start to the season, it has been a surprise to see them cut adrift at the bottom. Especially with how Sheffield United have become the surprise package of this season, with a team made up mostly of their squad from the Championship. Like Wolves have experienced in the past, you fear that the side could be removed of its best parts if relegation happens in May.
And finally, what is your prediction for Sunday?
Usually Wolves struggle against teams at the bottom end of the table, despite being at home. Although Wolves had a Europa League tie against Espanyol on Thursday night, it is at Molineux, so no travel is required. I think Wolves will prevail, with Norwich keeping it tight at the back and giving Wolves a bit of a scare. 1-0 win.