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Ruben Neves endures horror show for Wolves

Wolves are in a diabolical rut at the moment, and for the first time since they entered the Premier League, they are stagnating.

This side have been a breath of fresh air to the top-flight. They usually play ruthless counter-attacking football and it was that style which earned them successive top-half finishes.

However, this season has been one to forget so far. With Raul Jimenez injured and with a switch in system to a four-man defence, problems have arisen in their droves for Nuno Santo.

Since Jimenez fractured his skull against Arsenal, the Old Gold have won just two of their last ten games and talk of relegation is starting to loom.

A Black Country derby gave them a perfect way to bounce back but after suffering a 3-2 defeat, it only piled further pressure on Nuno and his players.

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Clearly, the manager was not his usual self. He cut a frustrated figure on the bench, not even willing his players on in the dying embers. To epitomise the strange mood around the camp, he even hauled Conor Coady off for the very first time in his tenure.

The defender gave away a penalty and looked particularly out of sorts, finding himself out of position in an unfavoured system. Yet, worse still was the performance of Ruben Neves.

The Portuguese midfielder has played well in recent weeks, scoring against Brighton and Everton, while picking up an assist versus Crystal Palace. Yet, when their rivals West Brom came to town, he was nothing short of abysmal.

Birmingham Live reporter Alex Dicken said at full-time: “Neves has been outstanding over the past few weeks but he didn’t seem able to stay on his feet during the first half. Everything he did was slow and passive and he missed the chance to dominate his first Black Country derby.”

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These were thoughts echoed by The Athletic’s Tim Spiers, who delivered a slightly more brutal assessment: “He was absolutely shocking! Completely overrun, kept giving the ball away. Awful.”

During the contest, Neves completed 85% of his passes – worse than Coady – and made just a solitary tackle as West Brom’s midfield runners dominated him completely. For context, he contested just two duels in the whole match – the joint-worst tally of any  Wolves outfield player who started the game.

Neves also failed to provide a single key pass – a tally that Leander Dendoncker bettered by four. Considering the Portugal international is usually someone to play on the front foot, this was a particularly poor statistic.

The midfielder has been one of a few bright sparks in recent weeks but this display was a complete horror show.

In the big games, you need your best players to stand up and be counted. Neves didn’t do anything of the sort on Saturday. His performance betrayed Nuno’s trust.

AND in other news, Worse than Silva: Shi would be in danger of Wolves transfer howler over £44.3m target…

Article title: Ruben Neves endures horror show for Wolves

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