Kevin Doyle today admitted the quality of League One teams has surprised Wolves – as Walsall look to hand them another footballing lesson tonight.
Swindon became the latest side to impress at Molineux for the quality of their play on Saturday after Crawley and the Saddlers.
The Robins somehow left empty-handed in a 3-2 defeat with nothing to show for their dominance after outplaying Wolves.
Walsall have already served a warning of their ability after pushing Kenny Jackett’s side all the way in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy thriller two weeks ago which ended with Wolves squeezing through on penalties after the tie ended 2-2.
Wolves will rightly point to their results, and after five straight league wins, no-one can complain about the points return so far.
But Doyle readily agrees the quality of their opponents means they can’t be under-estimated – not that Jackett would allow that anyway.
“Maybe we find it easier against teams who are a bit more physical and direct and we can play the football,” said the £6.5m man. “But teams come here and try to match us and it’s enjoyable to play against sides because I’d never played in League One so I didn’t know what to expect.
“The first few games have shown us that teams in this division have played more football than we’ve seen in the last couple of years, to be honest.
“There are a few teams who have surprised us with their football.
“Swindon were as good a team in how they tried to play as we’ve seen in the last few years.
“We were far from our best but we got the win, which is a good sign.
“We won’t be able to play like that every week and win but it was good to take our chances and win while not being at our best.
“When we played Walsall before it was a very good game as well – they play some very nice football.
“As a local derby, they’ll be well up for it – but we’ll be the same.
“The fans have seen, too, that teams aren’t going to be pushovers.”
Molineux can work in two ways; opposition teams raise their game and if Wolves aren’t up for it, the home fans will soon let the players know.
So far Wolves have kept the crowd onside with wins against Gillingham, Crawley and Swindon.
But Doyle knows teams make the most of the more extravagant stage and Molineux’s lush acres.
“All the teams have risen to the occasion here and with our crowd and the atmosphere and the pitch and everything, it’s a great place to play football,” he said.
“So some teams are taking it as a good chance to show what they can do – Swindon certainly did and Crawley a few weeks ago in the TV game but we won both games.
“On Saturday we had a few chances on the break where we could have finished them off earlier but they had some great chances as well and Carl Ikeme made some great saves.
“We won’t get away with that every week but we got our luck on Saturday which maybe in other seasons we haven’t had.”
Starting with this evening’s visit of the Saddlers, Wolves face two local derbies this week with Shrewsbury to follow on Saturday lunchtime.
And Doyle admitted they must improve on their performance at the weekend.
“We’ll have to play better than Saturday,” he said. “Our supporters will be well up for it so you can look at it either way.
“It’s a good chance to play local teams and try to play well and keep our run going.
“With three games in a week, it will be a tough one, but we got off to a great start.
“And if we play well and play as well as we can, we should do OK.”
Despite the wobbles in front of their own fans, the atmosphere has remained positive inside Molineux as the supporters have backed Jackett’s relatively young, rebuilt side.
Doyle believes the Molineux masses recognise that Wolves aren’t going to just roll teams over, and that the team needs their support.
“We were under the cosh a bit on Saturday and they were putting us under pressure, but there was no negativity,” said the Ireland international.
“I think the fans realised Swindon are a good team so we’re not just going to walk it against good teams.
“If we can get promoted, it will be through a lot of hard work and playing good football.”
Doyle turns 30 tomorrow, and as one of the senior figures in an increasingly youthful dressing room, he has been asked to take a more hands-on role with the club’s young first-teamers.
“I think the manager wants us senior players to have more of an input,” he said.
“There aren’t many of us – three or four of us who have been around for a while, plus Sam Ricketts who has come in – just to make sure we’re the vocal ones.”