View from the opposition: Paul Lambert’s influence is beginning to reap rewards for Wolves
- Credit: PA
Wolves fan and TV commentator Dan O'Hagan is in the hot-seat ahead of today's big game at Carrow Road
Things have changed since we last spoke … Paul Lambert is at Wolves. How pleased are you with that?
More pleased than I was a few games ago. I worked on the win over Villa last week, and Lambert's influence is now beginning to bear fruit. There's a real togetherness, a real desire and the passion is back. What Lambert's done is to go back to the players that had done well under Kenny Jackett, but were apparently deemed unfashionable and surplus to requirements under the new owners and Walter Zenga. Players like Jack Price in midfield, Matt Doherty playing out of position at left-back and the much-criticised captain Danny Batth look like new signings. I think Lambert's trying to use the same blueprint he had such success with at Norwich, using Football League players over foreign imports, and draining every last drop out of them, and giving them the will to run through brick walls for him.
Back in October at Molineux, City won and were flying high – could anyone have forecast what has followed since?
Not at all! I commentated on that game, and Norwich were superb and played a poor Wolves side off the pitch and should probably have won by more. I would never have thought Norwich would go on to have the terrible run they have done – that day, you'd have said they were a shoo-in for at least a play-off place, which is now rapidly looking beyond them. Wolves look set for mid-table, which, given that display in October, and the scattergun transfers of the Zenga era, I think most Wolves fans would settle for now.
Wolves are 16th – can you see them doing enough to have a say at the business end of the season?
I think they've given themselves too much to do. Lambert's brief will have been to stay up and lay the foundations for next season, and perhaps to thin out a rather bloated and unbalanced squad. Mid-table will do, and Lambert will be well-liked for securing that, so long as fans can see that there are foundations being laid for a push in 2017/18.
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Do you expect much more business at Wolves before the deadline?
Yes, but mainly 'outs'. The summer's transfer activity seemed to be a case of buying (or loaning) as many players as possible with no overall plan of how those players would gel as a team. If there are to be further signings in January, I suspect they'll be experienced Championship or even upper-League One level players – again, that's what served him well at Carrow Road.
Who will be the key Wolves players today?
Jack Price ran the show in midfield against Villa, but the wide attackers have been in terrific form of late. Ivan Cavaleiro cost around £7m, but is beginning to show why, and Helder Costa has become a real fan favourite, even though he's only on loan. Dave Edwards, arriving from deep, has been a Norwich nemesis in the past, and is currently top scorer.
And how do you think City will perform?
Whoever plays at centre-back will have to contain a tricky front three – Nouha Dicko's back to full fitness and is well overdue a goal, and Ivo Pinto will have his work cut out against his compatriot Cavaleiro.
And finally, a prediction please?
I have a suspicion the back pages will feature a smiling Scottish manager – but it'll be a grinning Paul Lambert heaping more misery on Alex Neil. I'll say City 1 Wolves 2.