Wow, That Was Some Day And Evening!
Reflecting On Match Night And The Stories It Threw Up
Nothing like football to shock, inspire and inflame, is there?
On the day we witnessed a sensational 23-minute hat-trick from a midfielder who used his ‘wrong’ foot on all three occasions, we also learned of a high-profile appointment tinged with strong Molineux connections.
With the champagne barely drunk following Forest Green’s unlikely League Two title conquest, Rob Edwards chose to swap the world’s most sustainable club for one that dumps its head coaches in the landfill at the rate of two or three per season.
As club-hopping goes, this isn’t in the Mark McGhee class – the Scot, incidentally, suffered top-flight relegation north of the border with Dundee last night, 24 hours after overseeing his first win in 13 matches in charge.
But the likeable, up-and-coming Edwards has moved with haste, indecently so, some would say. There are still two Premier League games left of the Hornets’ season and history tells us he will be allowed no time to build or for backward steps at Vicarage Road.
We wish him well and hope this proves a wise move but a trigger-happy board will be on his case from the kick-off in August and it’s difficult to avoid the assumption that some respect around the country for his fine work has been stripped away for now.
What Graham Taylor would have said about it all, we can only wonder and weep. Watford might as well be in a different galaxy for all the comparison they bear with the family club feel he worked so hard to nurture in the 1970s and 1980s.
Forest Green conducted themselves with a bit more class by saying they wished Edwards well and forgave him for the manner of his departure; a politeish way of pointing out they are less than impressed.
At Molineux, the 2022-23 season ticket prices announcement that brought a king-sized from long-time A Load Of Bull editor Charles Ross on BBC WM could have had a better accompaniment than a 5-1 home loss.
But this was no distracted, didn’t-want-to-be-there, end-of-season capitulation. City produced the best team performance I had witnessed from any side anywhere in the flesh for years and still possibly had to concede that the goal of the night was the Leander Dendoncker equaliser that briefly had Molimeux rocking.
If there was a consolation amid the ultimate outcome, it was that the title might well be wrapped up as early as this weekend and Wolves might find themselves facing a weakened pre-Paris Liverpool team on the final day of the season.
If this was City dealing with the threat of nerves on the run-in, as Pep Guardiola had hinted at beforehand, heaven help the rest when the shackles are off. We were in the presence of greatness.
Kevin de Bruyne’s four goals were at the heart of it as he out-scored his fellow Belgian 4-1 but this was a master-class from a team who continue to be shorn through injury of their defenders and fly on as if it makes no difference.
Just to put the midfielder’s deeds into context, only three Wolves players have scored four goals in a League game at Molineux in the last 60 years.
Steve Bull delivered in time-honoured fashion against Preston in 1988-89, Kenny Hibbitt included a penalty against Newcastle in 1974-75 and, by coincidence, Ted Farmer inspired an 8-1 romp against Manchester City on the opening day of 1962-63.