Football FanCast columnist Adam Thompson hails the contributions of Jody Craddock and the importance of having an experienced leader.
Much talk has been made been over the last few weeks over the diminishing displays of a deflated – excuse the pun- Liverpool side. It’s no coincidence that if Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher aren’t ticking then Liverpool look no competent than their opening day defeaters from North London -with arguable a weaker squad. But before you think this blog has gone all Scouse on you, the point I’m making is all good sides need a leader. Step forward Jody Craddock.
With Wolves 2-0 down, away at fortress Britannia and Wolves fans despairing at the impending traffic cone, saturated jaunt down the M6, Craddock came up with two precious goals that epitomised the importance of leadership to level the game to 2-2.
The fans chant ‘He used to be s***e, but now he’s alright, walking in a Craddock wonderland.’ Tongue in cheek maybe but Wolves fans know just how crucial their number 6 had been at steadying a ship in the run up to promotion last season and this term, replacing Michael Mancienne and leading Wolves to three games undefeated.
The loss at home to Portsmouth was the low of the season, a half hearted display where Pompey shoved every column inch of bad taste right back at its creator. Yes we were unlucky in a penalty decision and David James made some terrific saves but make no mistake, that game highlighted the fact that no matter how fearless our crop of young talent is there needs an old timer to bring belief and stability when things go bad.
I have much admiration for Michael Mancienne I believe he is a very talented defender on the fringes of England but had Craddock had not shackled Louis Saha at Goodison, handled the aerial threat of John Carew at Molineux and rose highest in the potteries with a brace Wolves would be have not have performed so astute against such tough opposition and with Arsenal and Chelsea lying in wait.
Mick McCarthy now has three of his back four impressing, Craddock, Christophe Berra and Ronald Zubar-poor old George Elokobi is struggling for form. In front of them Karl Henry who is raking in the man of the match performances and Segundo Castillo who has been solid, full of running and likes a tackle or two. But so important is it for a defence to have familiarity and assurance, especially when for large parts of the game they are being attacked that you feel with each game they play together the stronger they will become.
The know how of Craddock is crucial to Wolves survival bid, and whilst we one day we dream to have a centre back that oozes the quality Nemanja Vidic or Ricardo Carvalho, having a defender like Craddock who does the nuts of bolts and defending by heading and kicking everything is certainly not to be snubbed.
And where I started by saying its no coincidence when Gerrard and Carragher play badly Liverpool suffer, its no coincidence that when Craddock plays Wolves have their rock and further more half a chance of staying up.