IT’S MY VIEW: Frustrating times roll on

Warrington Guardian: Tony Smith and then skipper Adrian Morley celebrate Wolves’ first Challenge Cup success in 35 years at Wembley in 2009 Tony Smith and then skipper Adrian Morley celebrate Wolves’ first Challenge Cup success in 35 years at Wembley in 2009

WOLVES’ frustrating season continues and supporters’ concerns increasingly grow.

A woeful defeat to troubled Bradford Bulls at the weekend left Wolves feeling the pain of as many Super League losses in 11 rounds as in each of the entire 2013 and 2012 schedules.

Tony Smith’s men are currently nearer to the bottom trio than they are to the top three, where Wolves have finished in the past four campaigns.

It does not make good reading and it is no surprise that fans are worried.

While some are seeing this as a transition year – confident that Wolves will come good again under the guidance of Smith and owner Simon Moran – others see the wheels falling off.

Either way, it is a fall from grace at this current time. Of course it hurts, frustrates and disappoints to see the offering now compared to the exhilarating and record-breaking rugby of 2011 for example.

After all the exciting times, putting an end to a long trophy drought, nobody wants it all to go belly-up now.

That includes the club’s chiefs, the ones who have turned this great club around since the move from Wilderspool Stadium. Among them there are no signs of panic.

It is perhaps the lack of improvement and progression over 11 rounds that is causing most concern, with the same mistakes repeating game after game.

Since the season started fingers have been pointed at missing creativity and cohesion, a wayward kicking game, the absence of on-field leadership, and the defence for being caught out too easily.

This sixth season is quite clearly the toughest period of Smith’s reign and he, along with his staff, are going to need all their knowhow and energy to put matters right.

When Smith arrived in 2009, he found a way to get the best out of the substantial resources at his disposal, going on to win the Challenge Cup in 2009, 2010 and 2012, the League Leaders’ Shield in 2011 as well as finishing runners up in the past two Grand Finals.

Now it is a rebuilding job, looking for younger players who have patiently developed their trade with under 20s and loan clubs to make a name for themselves.

Wolves have expended a lot of time, effort and money on talented British youth. They see it as the way forward, spending less on ready-made signings than they have done in the past.

And in some ways they cannot win – they would be slated for not giving their youngsters a chance, in the same way as they are now for not signing an established half back and additional forwards.

I’m not going to make excuses for some of the shoddy defensive work in the past two Super League matches, when some players appear to have switched off, nor for what is seen by many as lack of heart on occasions.

But there have clearly been issues to overcome, including a slow opening few weeks not helped by a large chunk of the squad not having had full pre-season training regimes due to operations or international duty in the World Cup.

An uninspiring start, a rise in squad injuries and a drop in confidence have made life tougher.

Wolves have leaned on more younger players for longer spells in this period than they had probably anticipated.

In these circumstances, five half-back combinations and stacks of other week-to-week changes have not helped to bed in a new style of play that is needed following the departures of commanders Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Brett Hodgson.

Those world-class talents provided spine, heartbeat and soul as Wolves lifted to unprecented levels in the Super League era.

Their qualities as players and characteristics as leaders are irreplacable and the adjustments take time.

St Helens, the most decorated club since the advent of Super League, went through a similar scenario after losing the services of talismen like Sean Long, Paul Sculthorpe and Keiron Cunningham, while current table toppers Leeds Rhinos will face tackling the same prospect when Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow hang up their boots in the not so distant future.

Perhaps a major difference for them is that their shining lights steered the club to Grand Final glory, whereas Warrington’s didn’t when they were expected to.

Saints look as though they are contenders again, having added some major signings to their talented crop of youngsters.

In my view, Smith, without any scope on the salary cap for additional signings in 2014, will need to tread the same path as Saints next year to help bring out the best in this squad.

In the meantime, the senior players need to share in setting a fine example, showing their worth and providing much-needed leadership in matches as the team attempts to rid itself of some poor execution in attack and misjudgements in defence.

This season can still be rescued but a massive turnaround is needed from what has been seen so far.

Comments (7)

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10:40am Thu 8 May 14

realistic southstander says...

I think that all the problems spring firstly from not replacing Briers in the squad last November and then from thinking that our youngsters were ready to step up to Superleague when they clearly are not. The pack has suffered in the same way with four players lost and only one replacement.
I think that all the problems spring firstly from not replacing Briers in the squad last November and then from thinking that our youngsters were ready to step up to Superleague when they clearly are not. The pack has suffered in the same way with four players lost and only one replacement. realistic southstander
  • Score: 6

1:34pm Thu 8 May 14

orford_addict says...

Like most (true) supporters, yes I was surprised that we had not recruited off-season at least some "experienced" players to replace the ones that had departed; I am all for youth and stepping-up, but I can't help feeling that we have made a big mistake this season in the recruiting department. Top 3 material?? Sorry, no (not on these performances anyway); play-off material?? I guess we will be in the mix but........

My major concern is for 2015 onwards; do the Club miss the fact that a poor campaign this season is likely to mean reducing crowds and season ticket sales next season??
Like most (true) supporters, yes I was surprised that we had not recruited off-season at least some "experienced" players to replace the ones that had departed; I am all for youth and stepping-up, but I can't help feeling that we have made a big mistake this season in the recruiting department. Top 3 material?? Sorry, no (not on these performances anyway); play-off material?? I guess we will be in the mix but........ My major concern is for 2015 onwards; do the Club miss the fact that a poor campaign this season is likely to mean reducing crowds and season ticket sales next season?? orford_addict
  • Score: 7

5:55pm Thu 8 May 14

momentumruler says...

After losing Briers, Morley, Hodgson, Carvell and Cooper and only signincg 2 relacements, Its little wonder that results have been so poor. Wigan lost 4players and signed 4 to replace them. Also I find it strange that there is no scope in the salary cap after losing high earners like Briers, Morley etc unless Asotasi and Russell are being vastly overpaid. Obviously young players are not ready yet an we may have to put this season down to experience and learning
After losing Briers, Morley, Hodgson, Carvell and Cooper and only signincg 2 relacements, Its little wonder that results have been so poor. Wigan lost 4players and signed 4 to replace them. Also I find it strange that there is no scope in the salary cap after losing high earners like Briers, Morley etc unless Asotasi and Russell are being vastly overpaid. Obviously young players are not ready yet an we may have to put this season down to experience and learning momentumruler
  • Score: 4

9:13pm Thu 8 May 14

Gainsborough one says...

I also find some incredulity to the notion that warrington have spent to the cap limit and have no leeway to make a necessary adjustment to the squad... People may live in hope that a major overseas half back is in the offing in 2015.., the salary cap differentials in Australia to England highlight that warrington or any other super league club cannot compete at the top end of recruitment ... But warrington have the means surely to compete at the next level of the transfer market ... And here they are losing a trick with the likes of players such as michael Dobson currently languishing in the Newcastle knights lower grade and yet having the super league experience and organisational and leadership qualities to move warrington around the park ... If warrington cannot make interim moves to correct the half back problem now at that level of potential signing ..then one does has to question how the cap has been spent this year.
I also find some incredulity to the notion that warrington have spent to the cap limit and have no leeway to make a necessary adjustment to the squad... People may live in hope that a major overseas half back is in the offing in 2015.., the salary cap differentials in Australia to England highlight that warrington or any other super league club cannot compete at the top end of recruitment ... But warrington have the means surely to compete at the next level of the transfer market ... And here they are losing a trick with the likes of players such as michael Dobson currently languishing in the Newcastle knights lower grade and yet having the super league experience and organisational and leadership qualities to move warrington around the park ... If warrington cannot make interim moves to correct the half back problem now at that level of potential signing ..then one does has to question how the cap has been spent this year. Gainsborough one
  • Score: 1

11:19pm Thu 8 May 14

pennstate says...

1 Are you really saying Asotasi, England and Russell off set Morley, Carvell, Hodgson, Cooper, Briers, MccArthy, Blythe and Williams?
2 Thank goodness Briers had to retire because we now know we could not play him.
3 Leeds and St Helens and Wigan have nurtured and brought on youngsters by playing them regularly in a side with clear direction and structure where their role was more prescriptive. Poor old OBrien has played stand off, srrum half and most of the north west!
If it is true we have no salary cap left and Asotasi has really repaced the impact of Morley or Carvell, who is our Sinfield, Roby or O'Loughlan to lead through the improvement. cycle.
Even Eddie asked the question last night what on earth has happened to Warrington?
1 Are you really saying Asotasi, England and Russell off set Morley, Carvell, Hodgson, Cooper, Briers, MccArthy, Blythe and Williams? 2 Thank goodness Briers had to retire because we now know we could not play him. 3 Leeds and St Helens and Wigan have nurtured and brought on youngsters by playing them regularly in a side with clear direction and structure where their role was more prescriptive. Poor old OBrien has played stand off, srrum half and most of the north west! If it is true we have no salary cap left and Asotasi has really repaced the impact of Morley or Carvell, who is our Sinfield, Roby or O'Loughlan to lead through the improvement. cycle. Even Eddie asked the question last night what on earth has happened to Warrington? pennstate
  • Score: 1

7:05am Fri 9 May 14

nitram says...

I believe that there was some 300,000 left from the salary cap this season,as you would expect not paying the junior playing staff the same as a seasoned player.So why are we waiting for this season to turn into a disaster before we fix the wheel,as it seems to be falling off already.
I'm sure that SJM is an astute business man and for the life of me cannot understand him standing back and letting it all develop,please Mr Moran let the paying public know what the future holds for the Wolves,as there are a lot of very disgruntled fans out there.
I believe that there was some 300,000 left from the salary cap this season,as you would expect not paying the junior playing staff the same as a seasoned player.So why are we waiting for this season to turn into a disaster before we fix the wheel,as it seems to be falling off already. I'm sure that SJM is an astute business man and for the life of me cannot understand him standing back and letting it all develop,please Mr Moran let the paying public know what the future holds for the Wolves,as there are a lot of very disgruntled fans out there. nitram
  • Score: 1

10:37am Fri 9 May 14

wolfitdown says...

We are all scratching our heads at the moment as it it is that bewildering, I agree that Briers was finished at the end of last season having watched him take a forlorn glance at the GF trophy after the final whistle, his face said it all.
The squad for this season assuming all were fully fit is a good squad, but at the moment we have our problems, think back to when Hill first started he was nowhere near the player he is now but had the old guard to help his progression, Asotasi, England, Russell and the other young players don't have that experience to call on, also at the moment Westwood, Grix, Harrison, Wood,Myler and others missing.
Bewildered is an understatement yet if TS gets all his players back in a month or so I believe he will sort this out, that's not to say we don't need signings for next season.
We are all scratching our heads at the moment as it it is that bewildering, I agree that Briers was finished at the end of last season having watched him take a forlorn glance at the GF trophy after the final whistle, his face said it all. The squad for this season assuming all were fully fit is a good squad, but at the moment we have our problems, think back to when Hill first started he was nowhere near the player he is now but had the old guard to help his progression, Asotasi, England, Russell and the other young players don't have that experience to call on, also at the moment Westwood, Grix, Harrison, Wood,Myler and others missing. Bewildered is an understatement yet if TS gets all his players back in a month or so I believe he will sort this out, that's not to say we don't need signings for next season. wolfitdown
  • Score: 1

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