When we lost to Wolves back in March I felt really miserable. I believed that we were not strong enough to win promotion any time soon and suggested that the club (the board) would starve off Pardew's funding and force him to prepare for a prolonged stay in the second tier of English football.
Sometimes it is nicer to be wrong when you forecast bad news. However, despite the exit of just about every saleable player this summer, and the reduction of squad size I feel more confident about our future now than I did in the week before Wolves came to town last time.
Wolves are going to be a strong side this season. Ebanks-Blake looks like a real goal scorer, and Big Chris is a very competent player at this level, however, my knowledge of Wolves is not all that great. Iwelumo has started the season on fire. It would seem that if you get wingers out wide and put crosses in he will score goals. It's just ironic that we have changed our style of play this season after he left.
The reading game was magnificent. The Preston game was not. Our biggest problem with the run in last season was that the team seemed to blow hot and cold. This is probably the hardest thing a manager (in just about every industry) has to cope with - consistency. I know that the style of the opposition makes a big difference, but I can accept failing to break down teams that put ten men behind the ball, but clearly Preston were a goal behind and were trying to score themselves.
I have never placed too much emphasis on the fledgling league tables but I do believe that Wolves will finish in the top six this season so a point this weekend will be a good result, and a win a real bonus. Having said that I thought that Reading were going to be the real pace setters this season, and we literally took them apart.
This season I think we will have more games where the crowd go hoping to win but not actually expecting it. This is definitely one of those games. Hopefully the lowering of expectations will take some of the pressure of the players and enable them to play the type of football we want to see.
Is this a must win? No. Is this a game we need to win if we are going to really challenge for the top two positions? Maybe. Is a draw a decent enough result to be getting on with? Probably. If we are realistic, a top six position would be an achievement this season. I'm not saying I'd settle for that now, but if we accept the limitations of our aspirations then even a defeat at home to Wolves is not a major set back.
Having said all that after the manner of our defeat last season "I would really love it if we beat them".
Up the Addicks!