Jody Craddock: "A club legend"
Welcome back everyone, it's time for another thrilling installment of Fan Focus. The feature where we get to meet an opposition fan, blogger, journalist, writer, broadcaster or what have you and talk about their team and the game.
Today to get the view from Molineux (see what I did there? Oh right, the title, sorry) we've got a top draw fella. Having written for the likes of In Bed With Maradona, FourFourTwo, WSC, Calcio Italia, TeamTalk and more, I'm delighted to say here's Adam Bate from his own rather exceptional blog Ghost Goal (click here visit it immediately).
Adam's Wolves through and through, and in a great position to give us the happenings in the Midlands. Enjoy...
Hi Adam, so give us the story of the season so far for Wolves. How are new signings bedding in, are you where you thought you'd be at this stage?
Adam: What new signings?! That would be the reaction of most. Jamie O'Hara had his loan made permanent and we signed a reserve keeper on a Bosman. The only other signing was our new captain Roger Johnson who - despite being unanimously hailed as a coup - has had a fairly torrid time of it. Our wins have come against Blackburn, Fulham and Wigan which says it all really - we are struggling but there are quite a few other poor teams in this division right now.
Mick McCarthy was leveled some abuse recently. How's life with Big Mick?
Adam: Although his honesty makes him popular with neutrals, Mick could never be accused of pandering to the Molineux crowd and as a result he divides opinion. While many remain grateful for him delivering Premier League football, there are still doubts about whether he has a vision of how to take the team forward beyond a relegation scrap. Sounds familiar I suspect?
Several SAFC players have passed though Wolves, but none have stuck around perhaps as long as Jody Craddock. It's speculated this could be his final season, so how will he be remembered at Molineux?
Adam: He's hugely popular. We bought him in 2003 for our first Premier League season and he had huge boots to fill because Joleon Lescott missed that whole season through injury. He copped some stick but he's such an honest grafter that he has won the fans round over time. It's almost comical how many centre-backs we have bought to replace Craddock only to see him outlast them. He was even loaned out to Stoke but returned to help us win promotion and was named Player of the Year in our first season back in the Premier League. Some fans are still chanting for his return to the team, so I think in his ninth season you can now call him a club legend.
This Sunday there's talk of a protest against ticket prices. What do you and fellow Wolves fans think of the idea?
Adam: I don't like the idea of a silence - I want Molineux to be noisier not quieter! But there's a valid issue regarding pricing. What frustrates me is that clubs now get such a high proportion of their money from Sky that there shouldn't be the same necessity to squeeze the fans for every last penny. Even if it makes short-term financial sense to have 25,000 paying £30, I would still prefer 35,000 paying £15 because maximising crowds is the best way for a football club to grow in the long-term.
Looking more at the game itself, is it too early in the season to call it a six-pointer, if you'll excuse the massive cliché?
Adam: Wolves need to win the game just to get back up to the point-per-game target - a bare minimum for safety. At the time of writing it's not clear whether Steve Bruce will even be Sunderland manager at the weekend so it's fair to say it's a massive game.
Where do you think SAFC are weak, and what do you think Wolves will be looking to exploit on Sunday?
Adam: On paper I think Sunderland have some good defenders and you haven't conceded three in a game yet so I'm doubtful we have the weapons to break you down. Matt Jarvis is still our best bet to create a chance and Steven Fletcher is the man most likely to stick it in the net. Whether either of them will be selected is another matter.
On the flip-side are there any match-ups on the pitch where you think we'll give you problems?
Adam: Wolves have gone 2-0 down in eight of our last ten games so take your pick. We've had a couple of injuries at right-back and Ronald Zubar has been rushed back so hopefully he'll be up to speed. If we play 4-4-2 then O'Hara and Karl Henry can sometimes be overrun in midfield. But if we play 4-5-1 with Kevin Doyle up front you sometimes wonder where the goal is going to come from. It's a conundrum.
And lastly mate, how do you think it's going to go and what's the score going to be?
Don't get too excited but I'll go for a 0-0 draw. I'm a ray of sunshine, me.