Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Fulham Six Things: Wolves a class above

Saiss powers home the opener – bbc.co.uk

Headers from Romain Saiss and Leo Bonatini saw league leaders Wolves beat out-of-form Fulham 2-0. Here’s six things to discuss after a controlled performance from the home side.

Wolves’ super centre-backs

Conor Coady has established himself as a standard Championship ball-winner over the last three years, but it would be only a slight exaggeration to say that under Nuno Espirito Santo, he has turned into Franz Beckenbauer Mark 2.0. The centre-backs either side of him, Ryan Bennett and Willy Boly, also looked technically proficient, so whoever Fulham tried to press, they always risked giving another player space to switch play.

Cavaleiro and Doherty

With Floyd Ayite guilty of neglecting his defensive duties, it often took just one Crossfield pass from one of Wolves’ centre-backs or the outstanding Ruben Neves for the hosts to be away down the right side. 17-year-old left-back Ryan Sessegnon was unfairly left on his own to deal with the winding runs of wide forward Ivan Cavaleiro or the driving runs of wing-back Matt Doherty, which led to key set pieces that decided the contest.

Douglas’ deliveries

Left wing-back Barry Douglas showed more positional discipline than the right-sided Doherty, but he made two key attacking contributions from dead ball situations. The Scot’s corner from the right was hit flat into the centre of the penalty area, perfect for Romain Saiss, who headed home powerfully on nine minutes. Just after the first half’s midway point, Douglas’ free-kick was delivered for Leo Bonatini to head in, taking the striker’s seasonal tally into double-figures. That second goal effectively killed off the contest, though Bonatini could have added a third in the second half following another corner from Douglas, but David Button kept him at bay.

Pedestrian Cottagers

While Wolves used the ball with purpose and intent, Fulham did not, although Ayite might have done better with his 51st minute effort after Rui Fonte’s lay-off inside the box. When the Cottagers had possession, almost all their passes were played short, without the curve to allow the recipient time to lift their head up and play forward. Only right-back Ryan Fredericks showed any drive and due to the lack of movement from his teammates, his energy wasn’t rewarded with product in the final third.

Should Slav stay or go?

Although it should be acknowledged the level of opposition faced, 16th is not where Fulham expect to be and such a lethargic display has heaped further pressure on Slavisa Jokanovic. The players should not be absolved of responsibility, but one does wonder whether the Serb’s stern man management style only works to a certain point. If the head coach were to leave tomorrow, it is not difficult to imagine a more personable character in the mould of Kit Symons (not necessarily the man himself) providing a refreshing change initially. In defence of Jokanovic though, he has not been responsible for the mistakes in recruitment the club made in the summer, having got his signings right when handed control the year before.

Wolves to make history?

We may only be a third of the way through the season, but it is difficult to remember a Championship team quite as complete as Wolverhampton Wanderers are this term. So controlled are their performances, the question may soon drift from whether they will go up to other questions: will they win the title? Are they the best second-tier team ever? Could they challenge for the top half of the Premier League? Right now, few possibilities look beyond them.