Wolves blog: It can still be magic, you know
As Wolves look to improve upon a seventh placed finish last season, it is vital that key players step up to the task of providing Wolves with the goals that will fire them up the table, writes blogger Tom Tracey.
Last season's triumphant triumvirate of Dicko, Afobe and Sako was split up during the summer with Sako leaving to join Crystal Palace and Nouha Dicko suffering a season-ending injury after just five league games.
This season began with emphasis on the partnership of Dicko and Afobe as being the key to Wolves' goal-scoring success. But nobody expected this to be so short-lived.
Wolves were left with just 32-goal striker Benik Afobe from the attacking trio that provided Wolves with so much success throughout 2015, meaning that new partnerships would need to be forged to ensure that Wolves still retained some attacking potency.
But Wolves already had the player in their ranks that was capable of being influential in making sure that the team hit the back of the net regularly - if not in terms of his goal scoring record, certainly in his ability to make and create goals.
Kevin McDonald did not manage to score a single goal last season - although he did manage five goals in the victorious League One campaign.
However, he managed 11 assists in the Championship last season, the joint-fifth highest of all players. This meant that he had assisted over 15 percent of Wolves' total goals.
Benik Afobe's debut goal for the club against Blackpool came from a Kevin McDonald long ball – with much help from a Blackpool defensive mix up, admittedly.
A recent new contract and the return of McDonald's most complementary midfield partner, Jack Price, meant that he has been able to return to form as Wolves' key playmaker.
Jack Price's ability to retain the ball and create space by racking up a high number of passes frees McDonald to get into positions to make key, defence-splitting passes. When Price was not playing, McDonald was having to do much of the work just to keep the ball and this inhibited his playmaking.
The combination of the best passer at the club and a prolific goal scorer is obviously a match made in heaven. Kevin McDonald's ability spot an opportunity at any range and Benik Afobe's ability and pace to provide the run should see Wolves score plenty of goals in this way.
As well as being close friends off the pitch, they are the two most intelligent footballers that Wolves currently possess. Afobe has the ability to read McDonald's intentions when playing a through ball better than anyone.
Benik himself has lauded McDonald as the best midfielder in the league. If he manages to stay in good form, this is certainly plausible.
In the 3-0 win over Huddersfield, McDonald was at his best as he played a long ball through the defence that set off Le Fondre to set up Afobe, before playing another long ball through to Afobe himself to wrap up the game.
McDonald's other assist this season came in the Fulham match as he played the ball out wide to Sheyi Ojo to make it 2-0.
However, this season he has shown a renewed eye for goal as he has scored three goals – all from outside of the box. His shooting has improved dramatically with emphasis on placement rather than power which saw him knock pies flying in the South Bank regularly last season.
If he can manage to score around an achievable ten goals this season, he will soak up a large chunk of the goals missing since Bakary Sako's departure.
McDonald's three goals are only bettered by Afobe's six in all competitions – these two players alone
are responsible for more than half of Wolves total goals. If they can continue their form throughout the remaining games, Wolves will score in most games.
Whilst the names of Kevin McDonald and Benik Afobe, when paired together, don't make for the best of chants, they certainly have the potential to replace the magic of Dicko, Afobe, Sako.
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