There was much disappointment amongst the Wolverhampton Wanderers faithful with their club’s failure to secure any ‘big’ signings in the January transfer window. A month that could prove so crucial was seen as wasted amid lots of talk but not much action.
Wolves chief executive, Jez Moxey, stated that they had tried desperately for established talent with names such as Adam Johnson and Stephen Hunt being mentioned. The fans were told that the Molineux hierarchy was set to break their transfer record for the Middlesbrough winger and were prepared to pay well over the odds for Hull’s wide man. Heck, Moxey even said that there was an audacious attempt to bring back Robbie Keane. But it all came to nothing. And what were the Black Country side left with? That’s right – two unknowns from the backwaters of Belgian football. Nice.
But one of these purchases, Adlene Guedioura, has shown in his appearances so far that Mick McCarthy may have just pulled off another unexpected but brilliant capture. Big Mick has shown regularly in years gone by that he and his scouting network are more than able at finding talent from surprising places, such as the signing of Michael Kightly from Grays Athletic in his first year in charge. And Guedioura has shown in his last two outings, a brief substitute cameo away at Birmingham and his full debut against Spurs, that he has something about him.
At St Andrews he instantly showed his confidence by getting himself around the 18-yard box and finding space for a couple of scoring opportunities and he then delivered a powerful run and shot from 35 yards that, with Joe Hart beaten, rose just over the crossbar. But surely it was just beginners’ luck against tired legs? Well, McCarthy didn’t think so as he put the French-born midfielder into his starting line up for the visit of Tottenham. And he added a dynamic edge that has been missing from Wolves play on so many occasions this season. The 24-year-old produced a terrier-like display – getting stuck into tackles – but this didn’t disrupt the creative side of his game as he went on numerous forays forward and showed an excellent touch and awareness, constantly passing and moving. It worked ever so well alongside the industriousness of Karl Henry and fluidity of David Jones in a midfield trio and he played a massive part in the 18-pass move that led to Jones’ winner. That sort of performance, with greater accuracy in his shooting, will make Guedioura a certain starter as Wolves look to survive in the most open of Premier Leagues.
Whether he can maintain such levels remains to be seen. And while Wanderers’ fans will not be going overboard – players have started off brightly and faded many times before – it was an encouraging opener from the 24-year-old. His father was Nacer Guedioura, a former Algerian international striker so he definitely has footballing pedigree present in his family. But the well-built midfielder has spent much of his career playing in the amateur leagues of France, not getting his move into the professional game until 2006 when he joined third tier side L’Entente. This was followed by a move to US Creteil-Lusitanos, another Championnat National club. After this, Belgium beckoned when he joined firstly KV Kortrijk and then Charleroi who he signed for on an 18-month contract in January ’09.
Now he will be hoping to turn his loan move at Wolves into a permanent one at the end of the season. A three-year contract has already been agreed in the club’s favour. If Guedioura can continue to reproduce the form of his impressive debut, then the Molineux masses will be seeing more of him in the years to come.