Blog: Wolves' effort and skill with Hunt and Sako

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There's a constant debate in my household about what the archetypal footballer should be, writes Wolves blogger Tim Spiers.

This is usually split into two easily-defined camps - hard working rugged, agricultural, old-school players who get their foot in, versus work-shy but technically gifted tiki-taka merchants.

Granted this argument often descends into petty name-calling after a several bevvies and few games of FIFA.

But with English football - unlike Spain for example - such an eclectic and vibrant mix of styles and philosophies, it's a pertinent subject amongst football fans in this country.

And never was the balance between the two more perfectly illustrated last weekend when a first-half substitution was made at Molineux.

Bakary Sako - Mr Creativity - who couldn't defend if his haircut depended on it - a 100 per cent flair player, part genius, part maverick, purveyor of conceding penalties but scorer of beautiful goals and creator of countless chances, was injured and substituted.

Sako, a different breed of footballer to what we have been used to in recent years - Mick McCarthy would never have signed him, he thought sending a scout to Brighton was exotic - has shone brightly in this awful season and his loss was a huge blow.

On his place came the yin to his yang, the night to his day, the Tennent's super-strength to his fine French wine, the Janet Street-Porter to his Mila Kunis - Stephen Hunt. Now this wasn't your average substitution.

Seven minutes earlier, David Davis and Carl Ikeme contrived to make Laurel and Hardy look like sophisticated aristocrats when they combined to score the most embarrassing own goal at Molineux in living memory.


Another fine mess. Resentment filled the Molineux air and, when Sako pulled up clutching his hamstring, the groan around the stadium told you all you needed to know - most of us believed League One football was on its way.

But when it was shaggy-haired Hunt who took off his tracksuit top and not the in-form Bjorn Sigurdarson to replace Sako, the atmosphere turned nasty.

Loud boos greeted Hunt's arrival - albeit mixed with hearty applause in response to the booing.

But the initial booing was a cringeworthy, embarrassing and petulant greeting to a man who has never shirked his responsibilities in a Wolves shirt.


Hunt had been booed off on his last appearance at Molineux after a clunky 64-minute appearance full of misplaced passes, constant fouls and second touches being sliding tackles.

It was his first start for yonks and he'd barely even appeared from the bench, so he was clearly unfit, but to boo him off was extremely harsh and uncalled for considering the effort he was putting in.

Hunt duly - in his refreshingly outspoken manner - had a pop back at the fans, calling their reaction "embarrassing."

Now if a man publicly castigated by a few thousand people can't tell them what he thinks of them - and don't get me started on the wages argument, he doesn't decide how much he gets paid - then we might as well all go home and take up tiddlywinks.

But his words riled a few people and so the reaction when he came on against Bristol City was even more venomous.

The vast majority of players would have shrunk when presented with this abuse, but Hunt's mind does not work like your average footballer.

After a middling - but no worse than his struggling team mates - performance, lit up by a few meaty challenges and interceptions - Hunt came to life in minutes 76 and 78, setting up two goals and winning us three points.

In short, a brief but match-winning contribution, much like those seen by, oh I don't know, Bakary Sako on countless occasions this season.

It's an odd one because the Molineux hordes normally love a trier. But, in recent seasons, work ethic just hasn't been enough.

I'm thinking of Karl Henry, Stephen Ward and Andy Keogh, all hard workers but all booed for...well...I'm not exactly sure, a lack of talent perhaps.

Which if true is a ridiculous notion - if someone turns up to my workplace on Monday and starts booing me for one typo too many, I would be pretty miffed.

Contrarily the misdemeanors of the likes of George Elokobi, Ronald Zubar and yes, Sako, are forgiven because of their quirky, loveable nature.

Anyway, at the end of it all we're left without Sako, probably for the rest of the season. What's indisputable is that losing him is a tremendous blow.

His goals and assists have carried us through several games this year. So can Hunt - his most likely replacement in the side - make up for the shortfall?

In skill, obviously not. But in attitude, effort, commitment and endeavour? Undoubtedly, yes. As fans, we should never ask for any more from him.

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