With the Championship season underway, we take a look at Wolves' first game and pick out four things we learned.
Swansea's Jack Cork in action with Wolverhampton Wanderers' George Saville
With Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Championship season now firmly underway, we take a look at their opening day draw with Rotherham. What has the early fixture revealed from pre-season? Who shone? And who already needs to up their game?
1) Classic slow starters
It is one of football’s oldest clichés but it rang incredibly true for Wolves on the weekend. It does take time to shake away the cobwebs at the start of a new season and pre-season often fails to help a team gel like competitive fixtures do. Perhaps it was apt then, that Wolves found themselves on the wrong end of a Rotherham siege in the first half. After a mere 20 minutes, Wolves found themselves 2-0 down, courtesy of a Danny Ward power header in the ninth minute and a long range drive from Will Vaulks which doubled the lead.
Wolverhampton then began to grow into the game hugely with George Saville cutting the deficit in half in the 39th minute. By the time the half-time whistle was blown, Wolves were back in the contest and, with yet another cliché, they did not want the half to end.
2) Players must keep their heads if Wolves are to challenge this season
Wolves were well and truly back in the contest when the second half began and looked like good value for money to take a point at least. However, the indiscipline of Dominic Iorfa could have cost them hugely here. His sending off in the 52nd minute for pulling back Jon Taylor may have proved the difference on another day, with a positive start in the Championship vital.
While Taylor was through on goal if Iorfa had chosen not to foul him, it was no certainty he would have scored. Iorfa sacrificed himself to keep the deficit to a single goal, but they would have been in a far more vulnerable position had they have gone a man down and the resulting free-kick had gone in. Perhaps, then, new manager Walter Zenga will go to task on the discipline and decision-making of his players.
3) A fantastic debut for summer signings
England's Chris Smalling in action with Iceland's Jon Dadi Bodvarsson
Bodvarsson marked his debut with a very well taken goal in the 65th minute to level the game with a cool finish. The Icelandic forward could have provided a game winning assist in the 87th minute too, but Joe Mason was unable to provide the finish. Teixeira was also impressive. He provided the assist for Bodvarsson’s equaliser, while he was very busy going forward giving the Rotherham backline all sorts of problems.
It bodes well for Wolves that two of their summer signings have hit the ground running in the Championship.
4) No panic, no problem
Too often does a sending off or injury completely changes the face of a game. Iorfa’s red card, under different circumstances, may have completely turned the game on its head, but it didn’t. Walter Zenga chose to change his formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 at half time and it paid dividends with West Midlands side in the ascendancy. After Iorfa’s red card, Zenga did not panic, he let the game continue to flow which helped Wolves no end as they equalised shortly afterwards.
New Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Walter Zenga
Perhaps then, the lack of panic from the Wolves’ bench had a calming effect on the players as the manager displayed his trust in them. A calm and trusting approach may prove to be the difference for Wolves in a number of games this season as they continue their mission to win promotion to the Premier League.