The Joe Edwards debrief - Wolves 2 West Ham 3

A soft centre was firmly on display as Wolves’ spirited second-half showing proved to be in vain against West Ham.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Conor Coady (right) and Leander Dendoncker appear dejected during the Premier League match at the Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton. Issue date: Monday April 5, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Wolverhampton. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire...RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications..
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Conor Coady (right) and Leander Dendoncker appear dejected during the Premier League match at the Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton. Issue date: Monday April 5, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Wolverhampton. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire...RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications..

Catastrophic defending over the first 35 minutes – allowing Jesse Lingard to pick them off at will – gave them too steep a hill to climb.

So, let’s go over the main issues coming out of the 3-2 defeat.

Frail formation

Not for the first time this campaign, Wolves’ 4-2-3-1 set-up was exposed.

The cruel second knee injury to Jonny Castro Otto – who hopefully recovers as well as possible – and the absences of Joao Moutinho (groin) and Willy Boly (Covid positive), naturally, forced a rethink.

But was going with a back four the right thing to do?

Yes, Wolves score more goals in that system and, for the neutral at least, are far more entertaining to watch.

However, when attacked, they are passed through like a sieve.

Having four forward players – Pedro Neto, Adama Traore and Daniel Podence in behind Willian Jose – places far more emphasis and work onto the shoulders of the midfield and backline.

And with full-backs continuing to play like wing-backs and midfielders not known for their speed, it spells trouble.

Conor Coady and Romain Saiss, the centre-halves, performed badly and there is no hiding from that.

They were not helped by those around them, though, either.

You can see why Nuno Espirito Santo likes the system, given the chances they tend to create with it. However, the jury is out over whether they currently have the players to pull it off.

If they believe it is the future, they need to recruit specifically for that formation in the summer transfer window.

Lacking aggression

Something Wolves must become – regardless of system – is more streetwise.

For each of the Hammers’ three goals, they had the chance to hack down Lingard, take a yellow card and regroup.

Jesse Lingard was allowed to run riot (PA)

But they were far too nice and made to pay, with the third goal – where a crowd of old gold shirts, somehow, lost the battle with the Manchester United loanee – perhaps even worse from a defensive point of view than when he ran 60 yards, unchallenged, to open the scoring.

David Moyes’ men, meanwhile, were quite happy to cynically stop attacks dead in their tracks.

Issa Diop and Craig Dawson both picked up early yellow cards, as you have to do sometimes.

It is part and parcel of the game and something Wolves – which they have shown in the past, to be fair – need to adopt again.

Silva’s strike

The biggest positive to come from the night was Fabio Silva coming off the bench and getting on the scoresheet.

It was a beautifully-taken goal that any striker would have been proud of.

Now, surely, it is time for him to be starting games ahead of Jose.

The Brazilian did at least have a couple of chances against West Ham, but Silva has been the far more lively of the two for a number of weeks.

And if the teenager does get the nod over the final few weeks of the campaign, he could well end it as Wolves’ top scorer.

Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto are joint-top with five and Silva, moving up to three after calmly placing the ball beyond Lukasz Fabianski, might actually fancy his chances of ending a testing first season in gold and black with a flourish.

Of course, he is far from the finished article. But his attitude seems to be spot-on.

Fulham decisions

Weighing everything up, reverting to a back three for the trip to Craven Cottage on Friday seems the safer bet.

And as well as going with Silva from the off in attack, perhaps Max Kilman – someone who has been a solid performer most times he has been called upon – should be brought back into the defence.

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