New season, new hope
We’re back! Almost exactly three months after the dreariest of seasons ended, we kick off 2016/17 with a new owner, new manager and a handful of new players. We’re still currently very much in the realm of the unknown regarding our prospects for the campaign; the squad still needs serious rebuilding and further new signings are an inevitability (how high profile they’ll be is still up for debate at present), Walter Zenga will be taking charge of his first ever game in English football and at this stage we’re very much in the dark as to how he’ll choose to set up. Still, unfamiliarity has an intrigue to it which beats hands down anything last season had to offer. For a while, anyway.
Getting thumped 4-0 at home in your final pre-season friendly is hardly perfect preparation so it’s just as well that several of those who played against Swansea last week are unlikely to have any long term future at the club. Zenga gave little away in his pre-match briefing yesterday regarding whether the new arrivals are ready to play – clearly none of the Portuguese intake have had much by way of pre-season football so match fitness would have to be a question. Dominic Iorfa and Joe Mason have been passed fit to play after missing the Swansea game which in the case of the former is a major positive.
Personally, I’d be playing all of the new signings. They have to get some football at some stage, we’re unlikely to field them in U23 games to get them up to speed, the alternatives scarcely bear thinking about and we need to find out quickly how suitable they are for Championship football. Going ‘tried and trusted’ only works if the ‘trusted’ bit actually applies, and I fundamentally don’t trust the likes of Dave Edwards, Matt Doherty and Conor Coady.
In the longer term I would like to move away from the 4-2-3-1 most often favoured by Kenny Jackett but for this fixture with the players available I feel it’s the best fit.
Dominic Iorfa – Danny Batth – Kortney Hause – Silvio
Jack Price – Lee Evans
Jed Wallace – Joao Teixeira – Helder Costa
Jón Daði Böðvarsson
Subs: Andy Lonergan, Matt Doherty, Sylvain Deslandes, George Saville, James Henry, Joe Mason, Niall Ennis.
Rotherham kicked off last season heavily tipped for relegation with a squad that on paper looked deeply insufficient for second tier football; fast forward 12 months and exactly the same applies. They are extremely light on forwards with only Danny Ward (who has often played in wide areas for his previous clubs) having any kind of record at this level while any defence marshalled by Kirk Broadfoot is about as reassuring as a George Osborne economic forecast. They have this week broken their record transfer fee for Peterborough’s Jon Taylor who looked lively against us for Shrewsbury in League One but otherwise this looks like another tough season ahead for the Millers. Neil Warnock did an exceptional job in leading them to an 11 game unbeaten run which hauled them out of the relegation mire, but he appeared to know when the time was right to jump ship as similar heroics would be a very tough ask the following year. Alan Stubbs won the Scottish Cup last season with Hibs to end a 104 year hoodoo for the club yet equally presided over a second successive year of promotion hopes collapsing in the spring, despite purportedly having a bigger budget than many SPL teams. This seems a tough assignment for his first managerial job in England. Rotherham have also signed ex-Wolf Anthony Forde from Walsall this summer; he appeared to perform reasonably well for the Saddlers but all the evidence from his time at Molineux was that League One would be his absolute limit, being a winger who doesn’t really have anything by way of pace, trickery or delivery which are generally pre-requisites to play out there. The ever popular Greg Halford is also still at the New York Stadium and the travelling fans will doubtless show their appreciation for his many whole-hearted and skilful displays in a gold shirt.
Saturday 23 April 2016: Wolves 0-0 Rotherham
The final instalment of Ken’s tetralogy of 0-0 home draws in March/April 2016. What glorious times to be alive. There really isn’t much to recount from the game at all; Rotherham came for a point as they knew it would more or less guarantee their survival, we were as potent an attacking force as Audley Harrison circa 2002. Joe Mason missed a one-on-one, Sylvain Deslandes nearly scored with a header right at the end, but that was pretty much it. We had nothing to play for at all yet decided to play Bright Enobakhare out of position and leave two youngsters as unused subs. Given the choice between watching this game again and tuning in for the Olympic dressage in the next few weeks, I think I’d have to plump for the horse dancing.
Team: Ikeme; Doherty, Iorfa, Batth, Deslandes; Coady, Saville, Edwards; Enobakhare (Wallace 64), Mason, Henry. Unused subs: Martinez, Hause, McDonald, Price, Hunte, Collins.
2015/16: D 0-0 (H), W 2-1 (A)
2014/15: W 5-0 (H), L 0-1 (A)
2013/14: W 6-4 (H), D 3-3 (A)
2008/9: D 0-0 (A, LC, lost on pens)
2004/5: W 2-0 (H), W 2-1 (A)
2002/3: D 0-0 (H), D 0-0 (A), D 4-4 (A, LC, lost on pens)
2001/2: W 2-1 (H), W 3-0 (A)
Rotherham 1-2 Wolves (Wallace, Batth)