Hoilett leaves Wolves lost in mire
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Blackburn Rovers 2: Misery for Connor but fans vent their anger at board and confront Morgan after latest defeat
Sunday 11 March 2012
It was from this fixture last season that Wolves somehow emerged with their Premier League status still intact when it had appeared, with three minutes left not only in the match but the season, that they would be relegated. Trailing 3-0 at half-time, their two second-half goals were enough to haul them out of the bottom three by the skin of their teeth.
Players have since revealed that it was Terry Connor's impassioned speech in the dressing room at half-time that inspired their comeback, which presumably helped the Wolves board reach the decision to give Connor the job of leading this season's escape bid. On yesterday's evidence, sadly, it is going to require more than well chosen words to get them out of trouble again.
Connor, appointed until the end of the season in the farcical wake of Mick McCarthy's sacking, but only after attempts to lure others to Molineux failed, looked as if he might be a reasonable compromise choice as Wolves earned a battling point at Newcastle in his first match in charge but, coming after the hammering at Fulham last week, yesterday's performance had the stamp of a team locked in reverse gear.
Wolves have won only one match in their last 14 in the Premier League and have suffered six defeats in their last seven at home. Connor's 13 years on the staff at Molineux might have taken him a long way as coach but may not, you suspect, equip him to manage under the pressure beginning to mount. It does not help when your first home game in charge ends with fans demonstrating outside the ground, even if the objects of their wrath are the occupants of the directors' box, rather than the dug-out. A small group of supporters confronted the chairman, Steve Morgan, as he left the ground and it was to his credit that he spent several minutes in conversation with them before being driven away. It was not the kind of atmosphere that Connor needs.
"It is not easy to ignore," he said. "I feel if there is a demonstration against the club it is against all of us, the staff and the players included," he said. "We all work for the club, we are in it together. It was going to be a difficult season from the start and having a new manager does not make it any easier to pick up points."
Danielle Lloyd, the fiancée of the Wolves midfielder Jamie O'Hara, later tweeted that he was on the receiving end of fans' abuse while with their young son. "How dare protesters start on Jamie when he is carrying our son! Am disgusted should be ashamed. disgrace," she wrote.
Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, is better placed than most to offer advice on coping with disaffected fans. "Fans get frustrated," he said. "We often felt we played well but if you are not getting the results it happens. All you can do is get back on the training ground and work through it and if I were to give Terry any advice it would be to do just that."
Blackburn's third away win takes them three points above the relegation places and they did it, moreover, without conceding a goal for the first time this season, ending a run of 30 matches without a clean sheet.
Connor was bold enough to select 21-year-old David Davis for a Premier League debut and was rewarded with a courageous performance from the young midfielder but once Junior Hoilett swept Blackburn into the lead after 43 minutes as Wolves failed collectively to deal with a long throw from Morten Gamst Pedersen, they faced a tall task.
Wolves missed one decent chance when Matt Jarvis failed to convert a low cross by David Edwards but otherwise had not troubled Paul Robinson. Hoilett's second goal, drilled low into the bottom corner following good hold-up play by Yakubu Ayegbeni, sealed it with 21 minutes left.
Hoilett's contract expires in the summer and Blackburn are packaging an attractive offer to keep him, although Kean admitted that staying up will be a key factor.
Wolves (4-5-1): Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Bassong, Ward; Doyle (Ebanks-Blake, 81), O'Hara, Edwards (Kightly, 60), Davis (Milijas, 75), Jarvis; Fletcher.
Blackburn (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Hanley, Lowe, Dann, Martin Olsson; Formica, Pedersen (Dunn, 75), Nzonzi, Marcus Olsson; Hoilett; Yakubu.
Referee Chris Foy.
Man of the match Hoilett (Blackburn).
Match rating 6/10.
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