People are starting to worry about Tuesday. Read the forums and, because Wolves did well at Villa and we have looked bloody awful in our last four games, anxiety is creeping in. I saw one poster say that 4 points from 6 next week would be a good return. In a way it would, but we should not be thinking in that way. We should be expecting a spanking. Why?
Well I had no time for Parker's bleating after the Bolton game but there is no denying that an anxious crowd communicates its anxiety, whereas an expectant crowd communicates enthusiasm. Look at the Burnley fans who sucked in their opening goal against us at Turf Moor. Look at the way the Hull fans roared their Tigers on after we took a two goal lead on their dung heap. Look at how Stoke fans turn their stadium into a baying arena for every home game. A goal and a man down against Spurs yesterday and they were still drowning out Phil Thompson when he tried to report on the game for Sky.
Upton Park used to be a cauldron, especially for games under floodlights. Teams used to dread coming to the Boleyn for the crunch games under lights, they knew the crowd would make our players a yard faster, a boxing division stronger and a division higher in terms of ability. That's why we used to beat Man Utd!
But we have lost that. Why?
Turds must take a lot of the blame. He sent the stadium into a coma and the crowd seem to have been on life support ever since. The atmosphere is muted now, no doubt about it. But Turds was flushed away 18 months ago now and that should have been sufficient time to recharge the passion, to get the fans stoked up again(the pun is deliberate!). Why hasn't it happened?
Because Zola's football, in its way, is as boring to watch as Curbishley's. True we no longer lump and chase, but now we pass sideways and backwards with very little forward momentum. We criticised Di Michele for his lack of goals but so much of our forward play was linked through him last season. He dropped deep and played the ball forward or wide, or spun either with the ball or looking for a return after laying it off. Everything was done at speed and there was a sense of urgency about our play, almost reminiscent of the Pardew era.
But this season we have lost that. Franco has no pace at all and, like Cole at the moment, shields every ball played up to him before looking for a backwards pass. We seem to be forever setting up the second and third phase and never actually get round to launching the attack itself. If Zola had been in charge of Desert Storm, we would still be camped in Saudi Arabia and Saddam would still be talking about the "Mother of all Battles".
This nonsense has to stop on Tuesday. If Zola tells the team to pass their way through the middle of Wolves then we will draw 1-1 at best. It is now time to go for the throat, to forget the fancy stuff and just aim to get the crowd onside and Wolves on the back foot.
With that in mind, I would throw caution to the wind. My team would be 4-4-2 but not as we have seen it so far. Behrami would be moved to right back. He can't play a killer pass and can't cross for his life so is a waste of space in midfield when you are looking to attack. He runs and runs and runs but so bloody what? I'd sell him in the summer! In central midfield I would pair Parker and Diamanti. It would be Parker's job to anchor sadly. I know we would lose something by doing this but I want to liberate Diamanti to roam and find space in the hole behind the two strikers. On the right of midfield, assuming Faubert is injured, would be Stanislas - yes on the right! The instruction would be simple. Get the ball, run at the full back and whip in crosses. Over on the left, if fit, would be Collison. If not, then I would move Behrami over to the left of midfield and bring back Spector to right back. Either way, the instruction to Ilunga, if fit, or Daprela, would be to attack the left flank, with whoever is on duty on the left of midfield warned to watch his back and provide adequate cover. Up front I would go with Cole and McCarthy, with instructions to get into the box to attack the crosses.
This is the way to get Upton Park roaring again. The first time Stanislas skins the Wolves left back, hope will surge. The more crosses that come into the box, the more the decibels will rise.
If I was Zola, I would have 5-0 on the wall of the dressing room. That's all I would be talking on Monday and Tuesday. This is Wolves, they are shite, we are much better player for player, so let's annihilate them!
I am there on Tuesday. I will be roaring encouragement when the players come on to the field. If I see direct play, with crosses into the box and shots on goal, I will roar support until the final whistle. Wolves will wilt if we attack as we attacked in the Pardew era. But if we play it the Zola way...well God help us!