Wolves Fans' Verdict v Derby: "We were magnificent"

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Our fans are purring with excitement after a wonderful win at Derby.

Clockwise from top left; Russ Cockburn, Russ Evers, Adam Virgo, Heather Large, Chris Hughes, Clive Smith and Rob Cartwright

Russ Cockburn

What's your verdict on the match? It was August, but it may have well been ‘September’ at Pride Park yesterday as Wolves fans serenaded our Portuguese wizard with his own version of the Earth Wind and Fire classic.

The new song was one of the many highlights of a cracking away day and one of the finest performances I’ve seen in years from the men in gold and black. It really was that good and left us pretty much dumbfounded when discussing the game in the pub after.

It was only four months ago when we got walloped at Derby. The football was dull, the players looked like they’d never seen a ball before and Lambert was unconvincing. How times change!

The team and style yesterday were completely unrecognisable. In April we were like a clapped out Fiesta ready for the scrap heap, whereas we are now cruising around the Championship in an Aston Martin DB9…and boy don’t other fans hate the motor!

Ruddy, a man mountain of a bloke, made important saves when he needed to and marshalled the back three for 94 minutes.

Apart from those odd moments, we absolutely dominated the game and the Rams could well have been put to the sword by a few more goals if Bonatini, Doherty and Jota hadn’t left their shooting boots at WV1.

It was the manner in which we controlled play and set the tempo that was really impressive. Neves and Saiss go together like gin and tonic, fish and chips and Sonny and Cher. They dictate things in a way I haven’t seen in ages and when you add the inventiveness of Bright and Jota, coupled with the probing runs of Doherty and Douglas, then you can see how teams are struggling to play against us.


The Scotsman, in particular, is making a huge difference and is fast becoming the most famous Barry in football.

So six points out of Boro and Derby. That’s extremely impressive and if we can secure a point at Hull then that will be a better start than anything I expected.

More importantly, there is a collective feeling that something special is happening, how else do you explain more than 1,200 heading off to Hull on a Tuesday night?

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Who didn’t? I think everyone was a 7+ for me, but two players really stood out. Firstly, Conor Coady, aka captain marvel.


His emergence as centre back is a revelation and importantly he’s the new leader that we were missing last season. Two clearances first half proved crucial and he masterfully nullified the threat of Chris Martin, so long the scourge of Wolves. His personality is also infectious, not something you normally say about scousers!

Secondly, I was pleased that Nuno stuck with Bright. The lad clearly thrives by being loved and his performance yesterday will have received a lot of admirers.

Importantly, he passed the ball when he should do and the pass through to Doherty was the best flick I’ve seen since Cameron Diaz’s one in There's Something About Mary. Big talent, big prospect with the right ‘arm around the shoulder’.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match? I wasn't massively optimistic going into the game. The opening weekend against Middlesbrough showed a Wolves team with potential but Derby away doesn't normally provide anything but an embarrassing score line and a depressing drive home.

I felt we struggled to get going in the first 20 minutes. As expected Derby started the game fast and I didn't think we could get a handle on the game. Even though Derby were threatening at times I never really felt like they were going to score.

However after our first goal I think we really stepped it up a gear and played some lovely football.

I knew Derby would come out fighting in the second half however Wolves came out and carried on where they left off in the first half and they just couldn't match us. We really controlled the second half and didn't look like conceding.....something I wouldn't have said very often last season!!! The only down side to the game was that out of five clear chances we only scored two!

In the two league games so far what has been really refreshing to see is some positive, attacking football.

This was exciting to watch and every time Wolves had the ball it felt like they could create something. We have had to put up with some awful football over recent seasons but this team feels like a breath of fresh air and have the potential to do really well this year. I haven't said this in a while but I'm already excited for the next game!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Saiss and Jota in particular really stood out.

The defence was solid. Willy Boly and Conor Coady were both brilliant.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? Magnificent. A word we haven't been able to use as a description of too many performances over recent seasons but is the correct summing up of the events at Derby.

Determined when required, assured at all times, every player entirely comfortable on the ball in whatever position and quick, incisive, thoughtful moves that carved Derby open clinically and seemingly for fun.

It is still early days and we have Costa and Marshall to return with Graham and Bonatini needing match fitness to improve further. The only upsetting thing was the highlights of the game only being shown on the usual football show rather than an impromptu edition of The Magicians.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Saiss ran the midfield assisted by some sublime skill and more than a few well timed tackles from Ruben Neves.

Diogo Jota looks like he will quickly become a fans' favourite with some great runs and impressive work whilst Leo Bonatini impressed in parts with his link up play but missed a second half sitter.

Doherty and Douglas enjoyed the space they had in the Leicester friendly and would have been disappointed that not more was made of their dozens of crosses.

At the back Miranda was good and Coady even better but in Willy Boly we have potentially the find of this and any other season. A man mountain with skill poise and desire who was initially described as Elokobi with skill but looks like a modern-day Frank Munro.

The moment he was surrounded by three Derby attackers whilst he had the ball at his feet and he simply flicked the ball over all three straight to a colleague was fantastic.

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? Living where I do, surrounded by sheep ST holders, banter has not been much fun recently.

The walk back to the car in Chaddesden usually brings comments too - my only reply is usually 'see you next season'.

Saturday was to be different.

I don't know what the Portuguese is for putta ina shifto... but that is certainly what we did. Collectively we played really, really well. To hell with it - let's get carried away for a couple of days at least. It was such a contrast and such a role reversal from our last away performance at the same ground.

Our back five then was Burgoyne, Coady, Williamson, Hause and Saville and we were 2-0 down inside 30 minutes.

This was another day for sure. The defence looked very solid, comfortable under pressure and always trying to play the ball out of danger, only resorting to the big hoof when forced to. It helps having an outlet ball and in the two wing backs we have that option.

During the first half it seemed compulsory that Doherty had to be involved in every move three times before the ball went into the box. In defence I am beginning to buy into the Coady project. From midfield to right back to central defender. Who decided that and how did they know it would work?

Collectively we were winning most of the tackles and 50-50 balls. On the occasions we did not there was often a colleague there to clean up and we retained possession. Neves and Saiss were at the heart of that. With the ball they both had an eye on the long diagonal to the wing back but were also comfortable with the short quick pass as well.

We looked a more dangerous side once we were 1-0 up. As Derby tried to press it meant we could counter attack with more pace.

The score could have really made amends for recent years as twice Jota, Bonatini and Doherty were well placed to add to our score. Had a couple of those gone in then the ground would have cleared even quicker than it did.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? It was more like the sum of all the parts rather than specific individuals. But my man of the match Boly did look impressive. He looks taller, wider and stronger with each game - a huge asset.

Coady looks comfortable in his new role while Miranda did well enough. Chris Martin was likely to be a handful, he usually is against us, but other than a few trademark free kicks won with his back to goal he was marshalled very well indeed.

Ruddy again proved competent in goal. One diving save and a couple efforts tipped over the bar made sure we kept our clean sheet.

Douglas and Doherty in particular saw plenty of the ball and it was good to see that over hit crosses were not wasted but kept in play by the opposite wing back. They hug the touchline when we are moving the ball forward which encourages others to play the ball to them.

Neves shows a nice touch and reads the game very well - with eyes everywhere he always seems to know where everyone is. It would be good to see him on the ball towards the edge of the box as he should be able to hurt the opposition more then.

Saiss too rarely gets close to the opposition box – there are times when we need extra bodies there to get on the end of crosses. He looks more in control of his game this season - by that, I mean he is not a yellow card waiting to happen.

The front three all did okay but failed in front of goal. Jota, when one-on-one, should have done better and at least got a shot off. Unselfishly he passed when in a similar position for our second. Bonatini missed a sitter when the ball rebounded from the post.

Enobakhare played in a more controlled way. Slightly less individualistic than usual and he contributed more for that. Hopefully the lack of a goal does not weigh on his mind.

The subs, Cavaleiro, Ronan and Dicko helped keep our momentum and with them we continued to look as likely as Derby to score.

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? Two words on yesterday's performance – absolutely sublime. Every single player played superb and if I was going to be critical about anything, it would be the fact we didn't put more chances away.

Pre game it was mixed emotions, one part of me was worried considering our three previous trips to Pride Park have all been humiliating. The other was optimism because of what Nuno has done to our team since he's came in and how he's got us playing. Let's just say I'm going to be a lot more confident before games from now on.

First half I thought there wasn't too much in it, neither team had many big opportunities but we made some nice plays in the final third at times. Even though Douglas' goal was deflected in, he still hit it in the right direction with a lot of power and sometimes you get rewarded for that, like he did yesterday.

However, the second half was a complete different story. We came out the blocks quicker than a Bugatti Veyron and we put Derby on the back foot for the majority of the half. You'd think away at Derby, 1-0 up, most teams would take that and maybe just hold out but not Nuno's Wolves, we just kept attacking and it paid off when Cavaleiro got the second goal.

Overall it was an outstanding performance from everyone and some of the football that was being played by us was incredible. In the past few seasons I certainly wouldn't be looking forward to Hull away on a Tuesday night but this time round I am because way we play and how good we look, I just can't get enough of it. Says a lot about what Nuno has done over the summer.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Just like last week against Middlesbrough, everyone played well but this time it was more convincing, away from home as well which isn't always easy to do.

If I had to pick my standout player from yesterday, it would probably be Romain Saiss, just. I could have picked from about seven players but I just thought the Moroccan did a fantastic job on Tom Huddlestone who can be an important player when he's given space. Once again his partnership with Neves was insane, bossed the midfield which I'm sure they'll do in most games this season.

I've got to give props to Bright Enobakhare because he had his best game in a Wolves shirt yesterday. Some of the touches he played, including that one in the second half to Doherty for his chance which I don't want to mention too much as it was so filthy. His end product was a lot better and his pass which set Jota free for Cavaleiro's goal was a prime example of that.

The back three as well as John Ruddy once again looked very assured and solid, especially with big Willy a part of it. He could probably have played yesterday's game barefoot and still have had no problems whatsoever from the Derby front three.

Coady will surely be our most improved player this season, he leads the line and commands everyone so well. Who would have thought three months ago that he would be captaining Wolves in a back three, probably no one.

Jota really is a touch of class, reminds me of Helder Costa the way he runs at players and is so direct, just not as speedy. He probably should have scored when he hit the post but in fairness to Scott Carson it was a good save too, Bonatini should have certainly scored the rebound though but he is still lacking match fitness.

On a last note, fantastic to see Cavaleiro back after the last two games out, looked exactly like the player we saw in pre season, nice to see him on the scoresheet as well.

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? Well, well, well. Tough start for Wolves this season - "take that!"

Looking forward to the national press' take on what's happening. Just hope they get the players names right!

Don't usually enjoy going to Pride Park, unless Andy Keogh is playing for us. However, this trip was up with the very best. I was a little surprised that Cavaleiro didn't start but Nuno stuck with the same 11 and no-one is going to argue with him. This guy knows what he is doing, for sure.

A shaky opening 10 minutes apart, where Weimann was their biggest threat down our right, we were simply awesome. A goalkeeper who instills great confidence. A solid defence who can quickly change to attack. A controlling and creative midfield...I never thought I would ever be writing that!

I listened to Derby's local radio station during the game. I think their take on it just about sums up our performance.

10m - Wolves have a lot of new players and it is going to take them time to gel and understand what this league is all about. A great time to be playing them.

35m - Wolves are completely controlling this game. They've got the goal and are now tearing us apart.

45m - Derby very happy to be only going in one-nil down.

60m - This Wolves team is full of quality. They are comfortable on the ball all over the pitch and every player knows what his role is.

75m - Wolves are ripping us to shreds. We've not been outplayed at home like this as far back as I can remember.

My personal view is that this is the best passing that I have seen in all my 48 years of watching Wolves. We are still lacking something up front and I hope they get a deal done so that we can convert lots of the many chances we will create.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? One word - TEAM.

Ruddy is our best goalkeeper since Matt Murray.

Boly - immense. Will be a hero, when we sign him next year.

Miranda - assured. Had a very good game.

Coady - give him a new contract and make him long term captain.

Doherty/Douglas - instrumental to Nuno's tactics. Both doing well.

Saiss - quality. Nothing gets past him now. Reminds me of Mike Bailey.

Neves/Jota - what a great combination. Neves controlled midfield. The ability to pick a pass out with great accuracy. Jota is often the outlet, if Doherty/Douglas are well marked.

Enobakhare - had a very good game and was a handful for Derby defence.

Bonatini - missed the one clear cut chance he had. Good contribution, but still not sure if he is the striker we need. Happy to give him time though, as needs games.

Overall, a fabulous day. Roll on Tuesday at Hull.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living


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