Stoke City hosting Wolves used to be a ‘local’ derby, albeit it one between two founder league members separated by just over 30 miles, until the boundaries were changed and Wolverhampton became part of the West Midlands instead of Staffordshire. This Saturday both clubs are in the top flight, divided by 7 places and 16 points in the table.
The season has, however, been wildly different for the two sides; the Potters reached the last 32 in the UEFA Europa League and are looking forward to another season in the Premiership, but bottom of the table Wanderers are almost certain of a return to the Second division.
A place they are more than familiar with, having spent a large proportion of the last 25 years blundering around in the basement, like a long-lost Killing Joke demo.
The game is live on Disney’s ESPN channel, comical performances aside; this surely spells more misery for Wolves who always seem to reserve the worst of their pitiful performances for broadcast to the world, almost as if they are fully intent on providing further ammunition for the growing army of critics of the way the club is run.
Stoke are often derided as playing anti-football, with opposition fans frequently coming out with jibes along the lines of ‘How do you watch this every week?’, yet I suspect the vast majority of Wolves’ huge fan base would send their granny on a night out with Wayne Rooney, for the chance to be watching that particular brand of hoof ball in the top flight next season.
The two clubs also share a link through the CEO; Jez Moxey is highly unpopular amongst Wolves fans and occupied the same position in the hearts of the Stoke City supporters, prior to his defection to Molineux in 2000. Since his departure, the Potters have prospered, selling almost 10,000 more ‘Early Bird’ season tickets than their former county neighbours, whilst Wolves have failed to build on their presence in the Premiership and started to slide backwards at an alarming rate.
Wanderers have won just once in their last 17 games, and only 5 times all season, if they are to stand any chance of survival, then they need to start winning games, whether it is a winning goal off Ebanks-Blake’s comfortably upholstered backside or a bullet header from Stephen Fletcher – it really does not matter how they find the back of the net.
The chaos at Molineux rose to the surface like the scum on a rancid pond in the previous home game against Bolton when Defender Roger Johnson (6’ 3”) and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey (6’ 5”) had to be separated by winger Michael Kightly (5’ 8”) before the pair came to blows. The incident was dismissed by manager Terry Connor, a man surely with one foot already across the threshold at Jobcentre plus as two team-mates demonstrating their passion, rather than another colossal defensive c*ck-up.
It does not appear to be a case of a glass half empty or full at Wolves – just a glass devoid of contents that needs a good clean out.
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