Wolves blog: Where does Dave Edwards fit in?
Wolves rounded off the first week of their season with two 1-0 wins at Molineux.
In both games, Nuno Espirito Santo has retained his preferred formation to include three centre backs and wing backs, writes Wolves blogger Tom Tracey.
This puts great importance on the two central midfield positions both as a barrier to the defence and the unit where a lot of the play will begin.
The special pass we saw from Ruben Neves to Matt Doherty in the game against Middlesbrough is exactly the kind of thing Wolves bought him for.
Taken from midway in his own half, the pass was perfectly weighted with perfect bend and height for Doc to run onto.
On a less spectacular scale, Romain Saiss also did a fantastic job in the midfield against Boro.
If Saiss can produce this type of performance consistently, the midfield duo offers exactly the attributes needed for the central midfield roles in this formation.
They are both robust players who can pass the ball effectively and keep the play ticking over.
If you had to pick a deputy for each of these two players, you would probably choose Connor Ronan for Neves and Jack Price for Saiss.
Ronan, like Neves, has great technical ability and has largely shown he is a good passer of the ball.
Price, like Saiss, looks at his best when breaking up play and keep possession moving – the formation suits him.
Clearly, Wolves are much stronger with Neves and Saiss, but these other two players can ably fill their boots if and when the need arises.
The big problem, which has probably led to Joe Mason’s inevitable departure from the club, is this formation doesn’t provide a place for a number ten.
Dave Edwards is at his best when behind the striker, allowing him to arrive in the box and get on the end of crosses – which he can do to great effect.
However, a 3-4-3 requires the central midfielders to provide a dual-role, being able to protect the defence and keep the ball moving.
It is difficult to imagine Wolves’ central midfielders scoring many goals this season – their role will occur earlier in attacking moves, getting the ball to the three forwards or two wing backs.
They will need to be disciplined as well as creative.
Dave Edwards doesn’t possess these strengths, so it is difficult to imagine him being used in anything other than a late substitute capacity.
The work rate he is lauded for would be even more explosive when condensed into the final 30 minutes (or less) of a match.
He would be tenacious and would fulfil a role which would be perfect if Wolves are trying to see out a match.
He has outlasted any other player at the club who didn’t begin in the academy, spanning eight managers.
Including substitute appearances, he played in more games than any other player both in the 2008/09 Championship winning season and last season.
He will probably have to make do with a lot more substitute appearances this season – but it would be foolish to write off Dave Edwards completely.