Bolton v Wolves - five talking points

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Wolves lost their third game from six as they continued an indifferent start to the Championship season with a 2-1 defeat at Bolton.

The result left them in 15th, already nine points behind leaders Brighton - who visit Molineux next Saturday.

What went wrong for Kenny Jackett's team? Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points.

Consistency starts with selection

Wolves have been consistent only in their inconsistency so far this season.

But, admittedly despite the turmoil of the transfer window which has unsettled his squad, Jackett hasn't helped himself with his team selections.

He made three changes from the team that beat Charlton Atheltic, one enforced.

And the formation continues to be, to put it kindly, a work in progress.


Not for the first time this season the attackers on show didn't seem to know where they were supposed to be playing at times.

Midfield is the major problem hindering Wolves' attacking prowess, or lack of it.

The sooner Jackett restores the 4-2-3-1 that has brought him so much success in two years, the better.

That means playing with width, pace and energy, all of which was lacking at Bolton.


The Wolves chief seems almost to be trying to hard to find that winning formula, tinkering too much, meaning his decision making is coming under more scrutiny than at any time during his Wolves tenure.

He has the players at his disposal. Now he needs to be bold - and consistent - with his team selection, or risk quickly undoing all the good work of the past two seasons.

Defensive mistakes will continue

This result should not have come as the slightest of surprises to anyone of a certain Wolves vintage.

And with Bolton having merely scored a solitary goal in their seven matches so far this season, it was obvious what was coming.

This is Wolves, after all.

But seriously, and sadly, the fact Bolton's goals were gifted to them by defensive errors was the least surprising aspect of the whole afternoon.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell, otherwise a solid performer who won countless headers, was chief culprit with his moment of madness in needlessly conceding a penalty, but Kortney Hause and the underperforming Scott Golbourne were culpable for the opener.

As Jackett himself readily admits, mistakes will happen when you have young players.

But that excuse will not wash for long, and it of course makes the decision to sell Richard Stearman continuously baffling.

Only three teams have conceded more goals than Wolves so far this season. And no promotion campaign is built on a mistake-ridden defence.

Selecting the same keeper for a run of more than two games in a row would be a good start.

But Wolves need their young charges to grow up.

In the unforgiving, relentless nature of Championship football, that is a big challenge, but one they must meet if consistency is to be achieved.

New signing Nathan Byrne was Wolves' only purchase on Deadline Day.

Or, more to the point, where were the substitutions?

Against Charlton, the introduction of Sheyi Ojo and Adam Le Fondre was a masterstroke that won the game.

Against Bolton, Ojo was again utilised from the hour mark, this time proving ineffective in the kind of raw performance that, you guessed it, you're bound to get with young players.

With James Henry and Conor Coady both fading badly in the final 20 minutes, as they have done throughout the first six matches, a couple of changes, say, Nathan Byrne for Henry and Saville for Coady, would have freshened Wolves up.

Or maybe Bright Enobakhare could have been given a licence to run at the tiring Bolton defence.

But Jackett's substitutions weren't forthcoming.

Henry's form is likely to deny Byrne a debut on the right flank next weekend, so the former Swindon man may need the change in formation most Wolves fans are craving if he's to be given a chance to impress, either on the left or behind the front man.

A big surprise to see McDonald omitted. An even bigger surprise to hear that it was purely on form.

McDonald travelled with the squad to Bolton but wasn't even worthy of a place on the bench.

Admittedly he was below par against Charlton two weeks ago, but not bad enough to be dropped.

In his place David Edwards gave his worst performance for a long while, regularly giving away possession in a jaded display that suggested his international exertions for Wales had taken their toll.

Conor Coady was much improved from the anonymous performances he gave before the international break, but Wolves lacked guile and stability in midfield.

McDonald could have given that. So too could Jack Price, another missing from the squad, although this was most likely down to injury.

McDonald, though, is needed in the team and at his best if Wolves are to rediscover their form of the past two seasons.

If indeed he was dropped on form, Jackett has been incredibly ruthless.

If, as one suspects, it's to do with his ongoing contract situation, then this quite simply needs sorting out as soon as possible.

While James Henry continues his good form (he was once again Wolves' most creative outlet and it's hard to believe he was nearly sold to Charlton just last month) despite being out of contract, McDonald has publicly stated he needs the stability of his future being clear.

This should be a priority in the coming weeks.

A quick glance on social media and message boards and you'd be forgiven for thinking the apocalypse was nigh at Molineux.

Yes, Wolves' start to the season is a concern, there were more negatives than positives at Bolton and some supporters are beginning to lose faith.

But come on. Six games in, Wolves have plenty of time to get their promotion campaign back on track - and possess the quality in their ranks to do so.

After the game Benik Afobe was unstinting in his assertion that the belief in the squad is stronger than ever.

While the team spirit is there - and there is nothing to suggest that it isn't - Wolves will most likely battle through this tricky spell.

Danny Batth is edging closer to a first-team return, Jed Wallace showed promise at Bolton and when fully fit is primed to make a big impact, Nathan Byrne is an exciting addition to the squad, Benik Afobe and Adam Le Fondre's partnership has the potential to blossom and the likes of Dominic Iorfa, Jack Price and Kevin McDonald are all geared to come back into the side and improve it.

Wolves have played good football in patches and when/if that consistency comes they will flourish.

That's the theory, anyway.

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