Where Wolves' five wins are likely to come

Wolves boss Dean Saunders believes five wins is what it will take to achieve safety in the Championship.

Dean Saunders

Doesn’t sound a great deal does it? The trouble is, Wolves only have nine games to get them in.

They have won just one in their last 14 in the league, and it’s taken a whopping 28 matches to achieve their five previous victories. Put into that stark context, and Saunders’ aim sounds ambitious.

But at least his maths are in the right area. If Wolves do achieve his target, they will be on 54 points, which should put them well clear of trouble.

In the last four seasons going back to when Wolves won the Championship, the average number of points needed to avoid the drop has been 49.

In the last two campaigns, the fourth bottom team – Barnsley last term then Doncaster before that – has amassed 48 points, with Crystal Palace staying up on 49 in 2009-10, after losing 10 points for entering administration, and Plymouth finishing on 51 the year Wolves won the title.

Wolves, at least, appear to have one of the more favourable run-ins. The problem is they have had a habit of running into teams in form.

First it was Leicester – five wins and a draw in their previous six – then Barnsley, who had won seven and drawn one of their last eight, then Cardiff, who had won three in five, then Watford, who had won nine out of 11.

That theme continues on Saturday when Bristol City will attempt to become the 14th visiting team out of the last 15 to avoid defeat at Molineux.

Under Wolverhampton-born Sean O’Driscoll, the Robins are unbeaten in four and haven’t conceded in their last three.

Like Wolves, they have a decent-looking run-in, with trips to mid-table Derby, Burnley and Charlton.

Counting against City is having only four home games left and they boast the equal best record in front of their own fans of the bottom eight – but two of them are against strugglers in Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield.

If the run-ins of Wolves and Bristol City are considered reasonable, then Barnsley’s looks a darned side tougher.

David Flicroft’s side might have two games in hand but look at their fixtures: Brighton at home tonight, Watford at home on Saturday, Leicester at Oakwell then trips to Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest before ending with a Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield.

Peterborough have their game in hand at middling Leeds tonight but they face high-flying Cardiff, Watford, Brighton and Crystal Palace as well as a potential six-pointer at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Back to Wolves, how are they going to achieve Saunders’ 15-point target? Well, first up, they need to be starting as they mean to go on and completing their first double of the season against the Robins is a must.

After that, Middlesbrough are in something of a freefall with five defeats in their last seven, so they can bank another three points there.

Draw specialists Birmingham, where they go on Easter Monday, are inconsistent. Games against Blues are generally tight and Wolves should earn a point at St Andrew’s.

Then it’s off to improving Bolton for Wolves, who always find it hard going at the Reebok.

Six wins in an unbeaten nine-match run suggests Dougie Freedman’s side are only heading in one direction and Wolves could leave Lancashire empty-handed.

Next opponents Huddersfield are struggling but also in the relegation mix and home advantage should offer Wolves the chance of another point.

Three days later, Hull are the visitors to Molineux and Steve Bruce’s side have maintained their solid winter form with five wins in eight.

Wolves seem to have difficulties against the 3-5-2 formation and a point wouldn’t be a bad result against the Tigers.

The trip to Charlton on April 20 offers encouragement for a win as the Addicks have the poorest home record in the division and Wolves have a decent recent record at The Valley.

And they can maintain the winning habit when they sign off their home programme against Burnley on April 27 .

That should be enough to keep them up without needing anything from the final-day swansong at play-off chasers Brighton, who have long been Wolves’ bogey team.

So they might not get those five wins, but four wins and three draws achieves Saunders’ 15-point return, which should be enough.

By Tim Nash