Pilgrims Progress

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Photo Sam Bagnall

Moor Street station in Birmingham (where we are catching our train) is a beautiful place. I love the wrought iron work, I love the Gingerbread roof, I love….oh fucking hell. A load of Aston Villa scruffs walk past me as I am gazing at the architecture. They are a scruffy load of gits. Mind the gap? Nah, pull your trousers up Aston Villa, wipe the drool from your lips. One of them has a carrier bag full of Carling. Jesus Christ, if you are going to pre drink at least buy something that has some taste…HEY! that’s pretty much a mantra for their team. I laugh to myself a little bit as Horace slurps his coffee next to me and I can feel there is a bit of violence in him. Last March, me on the cold streets of Witton, Downer and me sharing the pain killing gas and laughing. Aston fucking Villa. There will be loads of them on the train but I’m past caring about them for a few weeks at least. They have sacked Steve Bruce and thrown cabbages on the pitch. I laughed that much I nearly had multiple fractures of the funny bone. Fuck Villa.

The train to that hole London. ‘Us’ the Wolves. It’s a collective term really that encompasses the whole zeitgeist Nuno and Fosun have made. Now the ‘Wolves’ is all of us, everybody. It’s a strong seedling that’s germinated in the tear soaked soils of Molineux. Fucking hell we have had some pain here. Now of course we can look forwards to a visit to London.

My Adidas (which mar mate Andy gave me) are dry. No wet foot. Here in London are deep puddles which every body else jumps over. I of course have to gingerly step through and over them so each step is a concentrated manoeuvre so I don’t fuck my leg up. Twenty minutes into the walking and I am exhausted already but the need to see this team overrides any pain. I would crawl through broken glass to see them, to sing at them, to venerate them. It’s a journey for all of us really. It does give you a spring to your step as you navigate through this London, this most horrible of places that has an even darker underbelly. South London, it’s a hole. Not something like a cosy Rat hole but a place where ideas are thrown never to be seen again, We go for a pre game pint in a plastic pseudo pub where the staff is one fat disinterested Cuban and one Czech sex fantasy with a bogie stuck in her nostril. Her boobs are nearly falling out and I am mesmerised by her tits on the one hand and the snot on the other. She is asking me what I would like and is annoyed because I’m not listening. The bogie and the tits. Fucking hell. I order a hipster beer. An IPA called Hopadelic and I want to throw it over them and smash the place up a little. Fetch out your Riot Gear. Wolves are here. But I hand my fiver over and get 2p change. Fuck off.

Surrounding us is the detritus of the place. Tourists laden down with overpriced shit they have bought. Getting the ‘British pub experience’ in this plastic insane place. They have bags and trolleys, suitcases. Everybody looks like they want out of this place. The only laughter here is Wolverhampton laughter. It is genuine laughing because it’s deep and rumbling honest and pure. I choke down the first pint and outside the rain is in sheets, incessant. It will do this all day.

‘Nunos the special one, Nunos the special one’

Crystal Palace is wrongly named. Shitstal Palarse more like. The trip over the green murk of the Thames and we enter South London. Rows of roofs slate grey, gardens full of shit, windows curtained so they can shut out the environment. What are we doing here? Nuno tells us to come. He doesn’t pimp ticket sales of course. His message is deeper and he pulls us towards every match with his idea and his intent. Is Nuno the special one? That would mean entering the shoes of another ‘special one’ and I don’t think Nuno would accept the place of another. Nuno isn’t the special one…Nuno is the one. The rain sticks to your skin here, there is a grime within it. The passive slack faces of the inhabitants are in stark opposition to our faces which shine through the gloom. A raindrop from an awning over the entrance to a ‘Money exchange’ shop staffed by a slack jawed bucolic Syrian fat man drips down my neck. I am transported instantly to Swansea away last season, cup game, rain, storms, wetness.

Crystal Palace. A journey to Hell indeed. We talked of Galatasary and their ‘Welcome to Hell’ banner but a Turkish painted bedsheet is a vapid devoid idea really. This is hell, this cold rain, these Londoners rushing to nowhere. Nobody talks, everybody rushes, everybody has earphones on, everybody looks sad.  Hell is cold and damp not hot but our faces shine anyway. This is a pilgrimage not a visit to watch a football match. This is something else. That glow in our faces? Direct from Portugal mate, a fire inside us. Another tube station platform and the sounds of ‘Nuno had a dream’ comes floating down the platform, bouncing off the walls. You cant see who’s singing of course, there is a crush of damp bodies that press and move. The song is of course a mantra. We have to keep singing it because it is the only way to understand what is happening when we watch our team. It’s the only thing that helps us make sense of all of it. The walls of the subway reverberate to it and adds it’s own magic to whatever pain these tiled walls hold. Then the song is quieter as whoever is singing it turns a corner and you walk a little faster so you can still hear it.

Roy Hodgson is a fucking idiot. We all know it. He managed ‘Them’ once. You know who. He has a face like a sick mans pillow, like a pair of old stained knickers caught on a canalside Hawthorn tree. We remember you Roy. But you got out of North Birmingham fast. We don’t blame you mate.

They start the game on the front foot for sure. Their team move the ball ably and with danger. They press high and seem to be pushing back Doherty and Jonny into weird deep positions. We aren’t getting them up front to support Costa-Jota and Jimenez. They of course have occasional forays into dangerous positions. But these Palace players. They play almost the same football as us for large slices of the game. Coady is omnipresent. Here is a lad not far from the intrigues of League one football who has thrust himself on to the worlds biggest footballing stage. Watch him snuff out another attack. Watch him destroy another Crystal palace move. Watch everything he does. Southgate doesn’t want him in the England team yet. I want whats best for Conor. Will he write his name large within an England team that are clique filled and arsey? Can Conor do that same thing here? At Wolves? and disregard the fluff and flannelling from the madhouse that is the England set up?

Coady is attacking every attack, he doesn’t defend this man, he doesn’t retreat and block, get his body in the way although there are aspects to his game that require it. He dampens the opposition attacks and disintegrates the movement splitting up Palaces tactical offense. He is the ‘Terminator’ of CPFCs premier league quality, it seems effortless but I know it isn’t really. Hard work Nuno keeps repeating. I know Nuno is right. Bennett and Boly either side of him and they are a power trio, a veritable Motorhead of defences. We fans stuck under a leaking roof and a view I would describe as ‘abstract’ and ‘shit’ keep singing. We understand perfectly well thank you. We withstand this barrage of Palace silkiness with more singing, more shouting, we are not disheartened of course because ‘we know’. We are a few weeks into this season of Premier League madness and already we have withstood the intricacies of the Manchester teams and deployed our philosophies perfectly well against the other quality laden sides we have faced. We know that Nuno doesn’t have a dream, he has a plan, and we stick to it like the London grime to damp skin. Horace is chewing his knuckles again, but he knows.

Rui Patricio our goalie stretches and flies again across the goal. This man is world quality. He shifts his weight from foot to foot and he is springing around like an insane mountain goat. Here he is throwing himself into a tangle of bodies, a loose ball, feet everywhere, the ball pinging around. Coady protects with an almost violent passionate attempt to dissipate the attack and get the fucking ball away. This incisive violence and passion of Conor Coady the perfect foil to the almost Zen like quality of Patricio.

They have many chances of course. They are a Premier league team. But as the first half progresses we start to see a sort of lethargy creep into the Palace side. Not a physical lethargy of course but maybe a metaphysical one for sure. They tactically fumble their way to the break. They are trying to pick a magical lock with a ten quid set of lock picking tools off ebay and are tired of poking their intent at a footballing idea that defies logic. It is an ideological malaise for sure. What ideas will Roy Hodgson explain to Zaha, what foundations does Roy build his ideas upon? Here in the murk of South London? Jimmy has a chance, ten yards out. Its a fucking miracle he can twist his body around and put a thundering shot just wide. He is leading the line like a Warrior, he is everywhere pulling Palaces defence here and there allowing Costa or Jota to move and to probe spaces. Costa is beautiful bounding around Palaces defence like it isn’t there. Jota gets hacked down again. He’s back up instantly. Jota is a fucking machine but he needs a goal just for him really. Diogo is a pleasure for me regardless of whether he scores or not. Interplay now, Costa to Jota to Jimenez, it’s fluid and magical they can do this here in this strange place.

I suspect that Palace had locked down Ruben and Moutinho with some tasty man marking at some points. We were not clicking there for sure. It was more a case of hang on tight possibly for both of our midfield dynamos. There wasn’t much time to spend on the ball and todays murk required maybe another fraction of a second for Moutinho and Neves to define where the ball was going to go, we didn’t have it, not for large parts of the game anyway.

‘Where’s ya famous atmosphere’

Jimmy gets the ball and slinks it to Doherty who rages towards goal and splashes some colour into the greyness. Boom. Straight through Hennessy…remember him? I was vitriolic towards him when he first ran onto the pitch, I booed every time he touched the ball and I did this for half an hour maybe. Before Hennessy meant nothing at all. A redundant meme under the glare of our team. 1-0 to us. Crowd goes wild. Everybody is hugging everybody else and for a moment I don’t have anybody to hug and share the moment with so I grab a dude in the row in front and rag him around a bit, then my glasses fall off again, I go to pick them up and somebodies knee hits me in the face, my Adidas have a big foot mark on them, my knee is hurting, my glasses have steamed up, somebody punches me in the back of the head. 1-0 Jesus Christ. Doherty. I was moaning about him ten minutes earlier. What do I know about football? Fuck all mate. 1-0 Jesus Christ. Palace fans start to walk out the stadium, I laugh. Then I weep a little bit too drying my eyes on the Pret Napkins I nicked earlier on in the day.

We are all Pilgrims you know. Now the whole Wolves thing is turning into an almost quasi religious thing. I know supporting Wolves needs faith at times but it’s becoming an almost revelation to see beautiful, passionate and hard pressing football that we are. I look at our team and I have to pinch myself that they are my time. Here’s another word. Healing. Those days at Gillingham and Burton, Brentford and Rotherham watching our team disintegrate under teams that should never be allowed to put their stinky feet on our hallowed turf. Wounds we had for a long time. Open wounds. Hoddle, Lambert, Saunders now being healed by this football. Our football. Nuno calls and we answer him, we travel and we attend these sacred events with happiness that we have been delivered from the evil football we have had to endure. I think we have ceased to be fans and are now Pilgrims. Nuno comes over at the end of the game to clap and applaud us. I am weeping a bit again. It’s emotional.

There are Villa fans on the train coming back and they are happy for some reason. I suspect they are just stupid. Their songs are too shrill, too loud. Their laughter is forced and too long. They too are drinking Carling. One of them tells me it was a bad idea beating us last March. He thinks we broke them. I hate his accent, I hate his team for what they said about us. Horace is staring at him. Everybody is staring at him, everybody Wolves any way. But this Villa thing is in the past. We have left them behind in our wake and they know it. They will never have what we have, they will never suffer what we have had to endure over the years. I ask him ‘are you ever going to eat cabbage again?’ and he looks at me like he is confused. Standard.

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Nuno Slits Another Throat

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‘Can you imagine Wolves going to Barcelona or Madrid to play European football? it will be brilliant’

Yes it would…but there was me smoking a roll up outside the pub listening to it all and feeling a bit weird. Why weird? Well, I can appreciate us playing European football but I don’t really care where we play it. Somewhere warm and cheap for sure, but I’ve always looked on teams that weren’t Wolves as being a bit lacking in…well Wolves to be honest. Barcelona or Madrid? Well yes. You see I’m still a bit stuck in League 1 to be honest, mentally at least. I haven’t quite caught up with the Nunolution I still think that Barcelona or Madrid will be privileged to watch my team and have our fans at their stadiums. But I’m also still thinking about Tommy Rowe and bantering Leyton Orient fans, so Southampton. What do I make of that match? We were below par. But we won. The Gods are still smiling on us again. We are five games unbeaten and I still think there is more to come, more in the tank. I suspect we haven’t seen anything yet. But I’m still counting my 12p change in the Royal London Pre Match.

Were we confident? I suppose we were, wasn’t the last time we played them an F.A Cup thing? I’m reticent to cuss their town as Southampton is very, well, weird. It has a defunct and just ‘thereness’ about it, like it’s forgotten what it’s about, why it’s there. Kind of mirrored by Mark Hughes the Southampton Coach. You know he only dines at the best restaurants and enjoys the fruits of his career but does he know why? I’m watching pre game fireworks and phone videos of Liverpools goalie porking a succession of be-eyebrowed Cheshire Pussies in a hotel room. His dong is flapping around like an elephants trunk, like a babies arm holding an opple. Cavaleiro is on the bench. Someone is screaming over the PA. Explosions in the sky. Football. Singing. Oh God I love this shit.

What do I like about it? Every member of the team steps out onto that pitch with a furrowed brow. They are assimilating their Coach’s pre game match. They are working through the moves and the tactics, the planning, the homework done at Compton. I bet some egos are left shivering and running out of breath on those pitches as the first frosts fall. I bet those egos die on that pitch. Play or Die I suppose. I think we have an idea that Nuno is this fucking wizard like sage who wafts his wand over the players and they all explode into this stardust Unicorn studded football we are playing and everybody joins arms and dances around like lunatics and we sing the Nuno had a dream thing again. I was totally on that level. Being cuddled by Nuno, tickling his beard by an open fire, Led Zeppelin on the turntable.

“Nuno? Talk to me about football” as you lie back and cram another eight stack of Pringles in your fat gob. My mind is changing of course. It started at Old Trafford and for a few idle minutes I just watched Nuno in the technical area. The way he moved and gestured, shouted, moved a position, debated substitutions or something with his staff. There was something there but for a few moments it wasn’t magic and it wasn’t wizardry. It was violence.

Not the way he moved of course, everything was measured and beautiful, that beard, that skull. I think there is a Wizard Nuno and I think he is channelling a footballing Muse somewhere, a Muse that maybe delicately arranges raw ideas into tangible forms on the pitch. But there is another side to him. At Old Trafford I was shocked to mentally discover that in our players faces there was something else too. apart from the tactics etc. I think that was fear. Not of the opponents or the match. I think they suspect Nuno will pull a plastic bag over their heads, gaffa tape it until they stop kicking then drive cursing up to Cannock Chase to find somewhere quiet, where he can enjoy a few hours digging in the Cannock dawn. I think the Nuno we see on the telly and on videos is the friendly version. Would you cross him? I’ve lost and won some fights against violent people but I don’t know whether I would like to tangle with Nuno. I think there is some of the Romany in him, quick to smile and love but also quick to slit your throat for transgressions.

So with Goalies willies and fireworks still wanging around my head it was kick off and we were away. Well nothing really happened in the first half, it was like the Burnley match part two. We were playing a bunch of very wise players in Southampton FC. They were a bit elbowy to start with. Wise and again stoical, plundering, incessant, sparkles of pure art among the hues of bland greyness and looking at the seagulls, the flags, the Billy Wright, oh…the Southampton fans. Hello. You’re quiet. They were moaning pre game about Wolverhampton being unwelcoming. This. From a load of Southerners. Jesus Christ. I hope we are unwelcoming to the enemy. That’s good. Watch the game then piss off.

We haven’t been beaten for four games and I am quite happy. I enjoy parts of the game where Jonny is being a massive lunatic diving around nibbling away at people with the ball. He’s like a little Staffie, once he gets those jaws around the ball it’s his and you can piss off. Passing it gives him real grief I think. I suspect in his head he’s visualising charging down the pitch, scoring a goal. Kicking off and he does it again. I think playing with a load of other blokes pisses him off to be honest. I watch him make a run again from deep into our half and into theirs. He’s palming off Southampton players by shoving his hand in their faces. Like he wants to pull their eyes out. But it’s restrained by Nuno again. Or his skillset I don’t know. But underneath Jonny is something Nuno identifies with. Controlled violence. Jota is also of the same mold. His play has been as always beautiful and sublime. He’s not having a tough time on the pitch, not for me at least. But I think he is tense with the whole idea of playing in the Premier League. He needs to relax a little, chill out, kick back.

Atwell the towel boy is Ref. He doesn’t really know what’s going on in the first half as he loses control of the game for long periods. Of course his dimply fat hand and protein bubble muscle arms flick out a few cards to incredulous Wolves players. What for? Fuck knows. Atwell comes out of the gym. Those 5kg pink dumbells are a killer. fifteen whole reps and his arm was falling off. He takes a swig of his MUSCLE KNOBHEAD protein drink. It’s full of Testosterite and Muscleoids, and maybe the adrenal glands of the lesser spotted groat. Fuck knows, he bought it off Amazon. £29.99 with a free Knobbo protein bar. He watches his bicep flick into some life in the smoked glass window of the gym as he lifts his free RAWKNOB plastic bottle. Jesus Christ Atwell you fucking fruit loop. I bet he has a stack of Soft Cell and Depeche Mode CDs in his Audi.

Traore is looking leaner. Who knows what the Boffins at Compton have found in him. Some need to lean up, get that upper body muscle off while keeping his core intact. I bet there are spreadsheets and graphs all about Adama Traore. We are building him into something ‘fantabulous’ for sure. He bursts everywhere. How can we top this? How can we add to this crazy show in the second half as we constantly attack the Southampton defence? Fuck knows! Oh shit Cavaleiro is coming on. Oh my days look at them! Cavaleiro on the left, Traore on the right with Jimmy running things in the middle. Jonny is in the box, everybody is in the Southampton box even Benno! Of course Cavaleiro scores. Pulling the game up by the scruff of the neck he boots it smack in the balls and wakes everybody up. Ivan you beauty. I am emotional. You have been missed. We talked about when you would be back fit and running around with Adama. I’m getting a Dicko-Afobe-Sacko feeling. I told you I was stuck in League 1. Who would be the missing link between them? Would it be Jimenez? Costa playing more central? Some unknown buy in January or somebody about to break into the team? Who knows. For the last twenty minutes everything is crazy. Southampton have to stretch now and stop playing scaredy cats in their own half. They boost out in number, now there are gaps and Jonny loves to fill in the gaps. Boom. 2-0. Even Atwell in his dopey protein addled head doesn’t feel the need to add to the drama. That’s five on the bounce now and we end Saturday in 8th. European places are there look. But it’s too early to think about that. In all fairness we played a C class game for sure. A few players maybe shouldn’t have played Leicester in the week. But who am I to comment? I don’t want Nuno coming around here booting my door down.

In parts it was almost Warnockian this version of Mark Hughes ideas. So Jota gets kicked around the floor a few times again and Atwell runs off waving play on waggling his arse to his ‘adoring’ fans in the Southbank. There are elbows and errant feet. Costa goes down under a tackle, Moutinho is nibbled. Great. That’s what I like to see. If they have resorted to doing this so early in the game then they have run out of ideas. They are fucked. I go for my halftime roll up content that we will beat this side. They will be going home sad. Trudging up the steps of the Steve Bull stand with heads heavy, muttering post mortem match bullshit. Moaning, long trip home in sadness, It’s hilarious. I’m laughing my tits off already. Confidence you see. Nothing is going to happen during this match that puts a handful of sand in this particular gearbox. Those gears will go up a cog. It’s like watching a video of a bloke getting his balls punched by some woman. You wince at first then you start to wonder…when will he tell her to stop. That’s how Southampton look. Like they are getting their eggs minced.

For sure we have encountered a right smorgasbord of tactical grooves from teams we have played so far. The brilliance of Manchester City was tempered, and we have broken Manchester United again, we shocked West Ham United with our belief and we have sent Burnley back home with things to think about. What is the zeitgeist? We too have answers to all the questions an opposition coach may offer. We are adaptable and creative, we can change our shape at will and with minimal fuss. We defend with bravery and belief. Boly-Coady-Bennett are a wall of belief and trust. Patricio rarely troubled but when called upon is brave, astute and fast to snuff out penetrations and dangerous balls. Loved all of it. Don’t fuck with Nuno.

Love Song For My Adidas

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So my captive audience of pissheads and crackheads down the canal had been asking about when Mikey is coming to read them a poem again. They are my audience of course. So I grabbed this poem of sorts and rammed it in my pockets with the shit bags, harnessed up the dogs and went out. I read them this and then we had a conversation about new trainers and drank a little 6.7% Polish lager while the dogs sniffed around. It’s a poem about those precious trainers we bought but can’t bear to put on. They lie in the wardrobe for a long time, in their boxes and we go to visit them sometimes. You see the relationship between a man and his new Creps is a thing. I like to think of it as a ‘getting to know you’ period. You know one day they are going to be ruined and you will be stepping in mud and crap. Maybe painting or decorating in them, as by that time they will be sad but extremely comfortable. Why is it shoes only become like a second skin when they are half demolished? It’s a fucking tragedy. 

Love Song For My Adidas

I know you spend too much time in the wardrobe, in your box with the tissue paper. I know you want to be used and enjoyed. But you are too fresh yet. Too young to be shown the horrors of the killing floors.

I know you want to be out there with the others playing and having fun. On the train or the slapping run, the spills and the thrills and the away days we have. Cigarette ash and a day on the lash.

We have our little visits I know, when I come and ease off the lid and gently part the wrapping and look at you. Don’t look at me like that, like I’m some weird pervert. This is my Buddha like shoe moment in the quiet of the bedroom. Shared between me and you.

You pair of beauties, sitting there asleep. Like two brothers in dreamland. Top to tail. Laces tucked in safe.

Your soles are clean and fresh, that suede a treasure possessed. Fresh? Unless we wear them out. But some fat bastard might tread on them and say ‘sorry mate’ and you look down and see a dirty mark and you die a little inside.

The laces that bind you are untouched. Pure and placed just so. I try not to think about scuffs. Wet ends. Rain, snow, dirt and filth.

Dare I take one of you out? To fondle and smell to put you within that inner city concrete hell. Nah mate, not today.

An effortless ten minutes of shoe gazing bliss. To separate the day and make something worthwhile at least.

A moment shared between me and you. If I close my eyes I can smell the sweet glue.

Me cross legged on the floor…and you. My fingers are clean as I revolve and twist you around. To love and suffer, you will never see the ground.

Dare I part your sides and see, the delicious conjunction of Adidas and me? That love affair that others cannot see.

To slip a clean sock deep into you and relish the lustful grip, the laces tied and never slip.

No concourse for you my pretties. No dusty concrete, no wet street, no drunken steps.

No soaking from an errant beer, no trodden scuffed toes to fear.

No dirty train station floor.

No filth of an away day shore.

Nobody will mar those luscious looks.

Of the shoes we only see in books.

So rare and so sweet the shoes that seek, the sunnier climes and fresh clean socks.

The games we win and the games we lost.

But you are safe here with me and your soles are unmarked.

The ends of your laces are not unravelled, the leather not even touched.

Your stitches fresh and tight, the insole white clean and light, so bright, so right. On the top shelf of my wardrobe you sleep and dream of away days.

You would look so slick with my Levis or my Primark jeans, but sweethearts I could never attempt you know…that fresh shoe glow. There is a piece of fluff on your toe, so I blow, softly and it flutters away.

That smell of leather that sweet perfume. Lifts to my nostrils and I close my eyes for a second. I think of you hugging my toes.

That way you glow in the streetlit gloom.

Stay in your box safe. The world outside is not for you. You are too slick to suffer the pricks. You stay there.

I place the tissue over you both like bed covers. Place the lid carefully back, shush don’t wake up. Go back to sleep my beauties. Back to dreamland. Daddy will keep you safe.

For now.

 

Nuno and the Great Red Tomb

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How do you denigrate a great lumpen mess like Manchester United? For me I just open my mouth. Me and Horace are bumping along, standing up on a train to Manchester, In front of us sitting down are two Wolverhampton Reds. Man and woman. She doesn’t like Wolves fans apparently…but nobody actually asked her if she did or not. She has tits like a couple of leftover Samosas at a Wake for a dead man nobody liked. Does anybody want another cup of tea? Her eyebrows looked like somebody who didn’t know what an eyebrow was had drawn them on. She has a Manchester United coat on. Fucking Lizards. We’ve been walking around Manchester and the ground for two hours and I’ve only heard one Manchester accent.

‘We are the foundations of European football’ she says. But I’m not bantering today. Manchester United are walking on foundations Wolves built with their own feet, blood, snot and tears back when Manchesterites were still wearing clogs. We were the champions of the world bab. There is a piece of sausage sandwich stuck on her top lip and I’m concentrating on that, up and down it went, trying to keep up with that sneer on her lip as it moved up and down. We built the foundations for these bastards and I’m thinking about this as I walk around old Trafford. But I’m thinking yes, solid foundations mate, but you’ve built a house of shit on top of it. Is there anything more dysfunctional about Old Trafford than the hawkers selling shite outside the ground and the silence of 67,000 of their ‘fans’? What a God forsaken place. Now I’m all about having a go at atmospheres at grounds but this? I can’t find words…but ‘Propaganda’ and ‘Disinformation’ spring to mind. I suspect this Manchester club are now a political entity in many aspects and nothing devours creativity and dynamism more than a political philosophy. Somebody shoves a half and half scarf in my face and I nearly deck the scarf gyppo selling them. The sole of his shoe is falling off. So the bottom feeders scuttle and feed from the crumbs that fall from this gigantic behemoth of nothing much at all. I’m feeling a little homesick for some Warnockian madness to be honest. I watch him on Match of the Day later on that night and I want to pat him on the back. Oh Colin. Got a kicking day ya?

‘Mourinhos right ya fans are shite’

Nunos ‘ideas’ of course fill the ground. In the football and the madness off field. And how precious that Idea and Philosophy is. I mean you never know how something is so precious to you until it’s gone. Of course at this ground it has gone. There’s nothing here for us at all. In a way it was worse than West Ham. This great Red Tomb is now a trap or a jail for any idea Jose has to reinvigorate whatever pulse these bastards had in the first place. On the field Moutinho doesn’t give a shit about that history either. Pogba is picking his arse in midfield again as Moutinho dispossess him. I don’t think Pogba even knew the ball had gone. He looked like he was stoned. Mourinho flaps around in the technical area like an old crow in his black overcoat. His internal dialogue must be like the Wolves fans here in the corner. Shouting and whispering, singing and slapping backs. Never trust a Coach that has a very small head.

On the way into the ground earlier it was quiet and morose apart from the odd group of Wolves fans who were yamming all over the place, singing, dancing, having a laugh. We have lobbed a few smoke bombs around, there has been a few ejections, injections and rejections already. The stand above which is full of Reds is hefty with the odd one leaning over the edge and giving us lot below some verbals. But every doughnut looks Spectrum Special up there. What are they really going to do? Block you on their PS4s or something? Fuck off. They are even doing it in one of the corporate boxes. One of the prongs has a haircut like a fucking Walnut Whip. His mate stands there ‘on guard’ like Horace is about to pull Walnut Whip head through the window. Walnut whip head turns to his mate and says something to him. Walnut whip head has fucking foundation on no shit. You can see the line on his scrawny neck. I would love to turn around and give it back but the gap between the seats is shin to calf and it’s like reversing an articulated lorry trying to turn around in this place. Stack em high bleed em dry eh?

Just before kick off they trundled old Purple Nose out for the crowd. He loved the Wolves did Sir Alex. I couldn’t give a fuck. Some Wolves fans are clapping him and I laugh. Probably that silly bastard who clapped Hart and Pickford at Molineux. The Red Tomb loves it’s frail and crumbly heroes for sure. I bet they drag the odd one out of their retirement homes in Lytham Saint Annes every week for the delight of all the tourists who haven’t got a clue who the fuck they are but they will blow their Red Devils whistles (£4.99) until their fucking eyeballs fall out. I mean you’ve paid all that money to cross Old Trafford off your gap year list why not enjoy it? I expected Sir Alex to be on strings like some weird puppet jangling up the steps to his seat, his conk shining like a darkroom light. In the next few decades you will see an Alex Ferguson animatronic dummy with a tinny Scottish electronic voice going ‘It was 40 years ago when I blah blah’ and his nose will start to flash until you put another pound coin in the slot on his head.

Our team is unchanged. I love that whole madness. We go again. Second verse, same as the first verse. Have United played 182 games already? European something or others? Who cares. We define the tactics now. Nuno puts out a team to stamp and impress his ideas here today. He doesn’t care about the enemy only the beauty of how we play, how we press and how we jive that relentless pressure again. From the back. Boom. Again and again we shatter whatever United are today, which is a bunch of highly skilled players with only a distant memory of why they started to play football in the first place. They have forgotten for sure. Forgotten not how to play attractive penetrating football, but forgotten why they are doing it at all. They look like puppets for sure. It’s all an act this Manchester United thing. A house of straw and the big bad fucking Wolf has turned up.

They score of course and then all of a sudden I am aware there are actually Manchester United fans in the ground. Well bloody hell eh? Whooda thunk it? Patricio was unsighted I’m sure. He wasn’t far away from it at all. Apparently a bloke called ‘Fred’ scored it. Fred who? This was on the back of a number of potential goal scoring shapes we were carving in front of Uniteds goal. But we knew it wasn’t going to be one of those days at all. We carried on singing and shouting. Of course we were going to get one back. It’s the Nuno way. Don’t let your heads drop. The idea is everything here and you have to believe it will come good. It always does if you believe.

Now don’t think for a minute that this was some sort of Apprentice versus the Master moment as Nuno meets Mourinho. It’s a silly analogy. Who knows what madness Nuno chose to pick from the people he met through his life. What information that he assembled to make his own philosophy, his own beliefs. Who knows what Nuno decided would be useful in building his own idea of what football he wants his team to play. . What would Mourinho have told Nuno? To spend big? To bluster results? To denigrate any idea of football as an entertainment? To slather your emotions and salt over every press conference? It was never Master and Pupil. Espirito Santos knows intimately the zeitgeist to invigorate a system with creative centres ie Moutinho and Neves, add a dash of the stoical with Doherty and Bennet, Jonny and Boly, then pour in some Jimenez-Jota and Costa to froth the whole Wolves madness into a frenzy. Somebody had forgotten to sugar this United team. The Referee had tried to help them of course. Every touch on a United player ended up with said player rolling around like he was trying to put out a fire on his back. They were looking for easy routes here. That showed me United had if not lost the game had stopped believing in it.

Jimenez again was rocking the funk all over the place. He was everywhere this lad. Pulling and splitting the United defence like he owned it. He’s a gorgeous thing to watch and the lad ran his heart out making the dreads of Smalling wave around like the tentacles of some faintly dangerous deep see fish. Corners were the finished product of much of this movement. Moutinho started to stick some right spiky balls into the box. Ry Bennett wanted some, his header choked over the bar. Sir William Boly dives in. He wants a go too…hang about, we are playing these Euro giants and our fucking defenders are all over their box? Fair play lads, get in there and have a sniff. Doherty dives in as well. It’s crazy…I’m expecting Coady to think ‘fuck it’ and pegging it up the pitch so he can have a dabble as well…but Coady knows. He might get picked for the next few England games. Well, I did say a few years ago he would be an excellent addition to the national squad. You see he’s picking balls away from Uniteds players like he does it every day.

‘You Brummie bastards’ somebody shouts from the stand above…yeah well fuck Manchester and Yorkshire too, fucking Scousers.

Patricio now has his own shapes to throw and he does, a lot. I mean Uniteds team have gazillions of quid to their names. Of course they are going to bung a few incisive glorious balls in and out of our end. Of course they are. They ay daft. Mourinho ay daft either. But the thing is, they are doing it without a smile on their faces at all. It’s like they would rather be doing something else. Do they make their players clock in and out? It seems like it. Lingard throws a few shots in, it’s obvious United have a hard on now but they are walking around with it in their hand like they don’t know what to do with it.

Now United are playing with their backs to us I expected a goal. You see it’s always the Southbank where I sit or stand., It’s always home wherever I’m surrounded by half pissed lunatics from my town. Somebody chucks a smoke bomb and I’m laughing. I love smoke bombs. The ball wangs around a bit and there is Moutinho. He collects, has a saunter around then curls a delicious swerving ball right into the money box. Smack. Cheers Mucka. I fly over the seat in front of me. I get punched in the ear, my quiff goes mental under an armpit, Powelly is laughing his head off, Horace is trapped between seats, I fall over again, I get a knee in the leg, somebody steps on my foot, I get punched in the other ear, my glasses are falling off, I try to sing something but forget the words and I’m singing something unrelated to everything else. By the time I can see again we are kicking off again. Fucking hell 1-1. We can nick this but nah. United throw everything but Fergies nose into the mix and we are diving all over the place to block shots and make sure that ball doesn’t break our hearts.

Was it a Cup final game? Nah. Jose you are mistaken. Every game we play now is a World cup game, every one. Whether it’s against some doughnut league 1 side in a cup game or playing here at the ‘Home of blah blah blah Old Trafford’. You see our sight is set on bigger things than playing these Dinosaurs. Manchester United don’t have Heroes any more. We didn’t come to old Trafford to watch these mighty Reds play. We didn’t come here to see Mourinhos side. We didn’t come here to have a day out in the madness of Manchester. We came to see our team play, not theirs. This is how far we have progressed, these are our ideas. We have come to see Nuno and to sing songs to him to show him how much we love him. We have come to see Moutinho-Neves-Costa-Jimenez-Traore-Jota and fuck me we even came to see Bennett. We came because we believe and we came because we love, it’s as simple as that. Their 67k fans had come because once upon a time this great Red Tomb used to be like Molineux. Back in those days they too believed in a philosophy, believed in their team. Now of course the place is filled with the ghosts of those times and whatever those ghosts had done in the past, those great games, the typical United fan now sucks on what energy those ghosts have like a baby on a tit.

Nuno had a dream? The dream is turning slowly into a concrete reality.

Do you enjoy or hate this blog? Click the link and buy ‘Viva Nuno’ it’s full of shit like this.

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Relentless: Wolves V Burnley

Valencia CF Announce New Manager Nuno Espirito Santo

I had a Stanley Kubrick incident I’ll admit. Five hours after the Burnley match had finished I was walking, plodding on a mountain road to Bala Lake, it was twilight and I looked at my shitty iPhone 4s for the last time, all nestled there in my hand bleeping away. You remember the Apes at the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey? Throwing the bone in the air? I chucked my black Monolithic phone into the distance and it tumbled down somewhere into the darkness below. Thank fuck. Now it was just me. It was getting dark. At that moment I was a useless waste of space and I trudged further up the mountain, the tops of these weirdly named hills were just deep purple smudges in the half light. I could fall off the edge if I wasn’t careful, and I wasn’t. Fucking hell Nuno. I want you to phone me up and tell me to work harder and inspire me…but I’ve chucked my phone away. But the rhythm of the walking and the miles that passed also brought a hypnotic succession of idle thoughts…and I could see Nuno coming to rescue me and he’s on a Golden Chariot with coal black horses with eyes aflame and the beat of their feet like the roar of a Molineux crowd and he would offer me his strong brown hand as he rode towards me and I would grab it and he would pull me onto his chariot and he would throw back his head and laugh loud, he would say some powerful magic words to his horses and they would rear up screaming with pleasure as they ran off the edge of the road and we were flying…to Nuno land probably. I have stepped on a squashed Rat in the road. At first I thought it was a Squirrel…but the bald tail and those sharp teeth, the cloudy Rat eye. It was getting dark.

At Molineux earlier I had watched the whole Nuno thing in relentless operation. Can I draw a parallel with Hitlers incisive Blitzkrieg into Poland? I’m scratching around for angles and dangles of how to describe our football at the moment. We don’t fucking stop do we. It’s a constant stream of beautiful madness as the ball is pinged across the pitch, controlled, moved off, space, a threaded angelic ball, sacred geometry mate, boom, a chance.

We are taking these Claret and Blue scalps with aplomb in the same way as that Panzer driven lunacy over a border way back in time. Moutinho is the driver of the whole show, it seems like he is connected to Neves by an invisible magic string. They devour midfields these pair, like hunting sharks, they gather their prey just where they want them before attacking, ferocious and contact between Neves or Moutinho and an opposition player ends up with the ball at our feet and another bloody rampaging load of beautiful madness as we move further into enemy territory for the 100th time. How many shots did we have? 30? or 40? Fuck knows. I just stood there with my mate Pottsy who was waxing highly lyrical at this display. Every time we moved he was jabbing me with his elbow or turning me around so he could shake me into some sort of consciousness. Because I was confused. You see the football was moving a lot faster than my poor old brain could register. This was light speed bollocks. I’ve said ‘relentless’ before. It was bloody relentless, there I said it again. Not only for Sean Dyche and his rag tag band of weirdos from the North, but for us too. Burnley are on the arc of hopelessness, swirling into the pit…you can tell. Their football lacks context. But us? We are grinding them all down.

You see this football is hypnotic. The steady tick tock of manufacturing goal scoring opportunities never actually stops. The ethic is of course hard work. Nuno tells us that every week. It’s the time we spend on the training pitch at Compton that gives us this seemingly effortless chop chop chop of recycling the ball from the back, up to the front end where Jota or Costa or Jimmy can get a foot on it. Goal scoring chance. Jota puts it slightly wide. I mean who knows what blurb will be written about this game elsewhere but the one I watched was domination from start to finish. Clearing balls off the line, Sir William of Boly having the odd whack at goal. Jimmy flinging himself at everything. Little Jonny popping up like some mad little Corsican mafia assassin. You could see the Burnley defence going ‘Who the fuck is this nutter? How many people have they actually got playing?’ That was the scope of the whole thing, the whole show. Domination from start to finish.

Sean Dyche on his touchline was doing an apoplectic Pub Landlord impression. He looked like somebody has shit on the floor of his toilets or robbed his gambler. Jesus Christ man relax. just enjoy it. He must have felt like a right banana seeing his team taken apart like this. I could see him getting redder as the game went on and I expected a ‘Scanners’ moment where his head would just pop brain and bone all over our pitch and everybody would just sigh and pack up, go home. Tick Tock. Every movement of the ball was another hard won afternoon at Compton. It is relentless because Nuno wants it that way. I went for a Coffee in the week. Aromas of Portugal in King Street, a lady named Monica owns it. She is lovely, from Portugal. Show her some love and go there next time you are in town. The Portuguese egg custards are bad man fodder, have two Espressos, they will blow your head off. So yeah, Nuno had just been in, I missed him by ten minutes. I could probably have still smelt his aftershave if I tried, hanging around the coffee smells like some abstract strange aromatic melody, it would be powerful but understated with a scent of Brimstone. As I stepped back outside there was a Spice head picking his arse and looking at his finger like there was something stuck on it. He howled to the sky as I hurried past. Spicehead stinkfinger is not a thing. I missed Nuno by ten minutes.

Somebody has said something to Joe Hart as he strides towards the Southbank goal. He is pissed off and intimates some abuse back. Somebody is clapping his arrival in the goal. Probably the same doughnut who clapped Pickford the other week. I wonder what the stats are for us scoring at the Southbank end over the season? Somebody tell me please. Joe Hart is still mouthing. Weird eyebrowed dickhead. Fuck off. Somebody shouts ‘Hart you wanker’ and he winks. But he is hurt. We should use this tactic a lot in the next home games. Be relentless in cussing the opposition goalie. Halfway through the second half Hart sits down and chills out in his six yard box. Bloody hell. Dyche, this is your idea and philosophy then is it? Your goalie sitting down. Jesus Christ. I have a quick squint up field at Rui Patricio. Our goalie is shouting something at Coady. It’s that loud I can hear him right back here with Pottsy shouting in me earhole.

What ideas Burnley had were of the World war 1 variety. Throw bodies in front of it mate. I kept hearing this word ‘clinical’ as we busted goal scoring shapes all over the place. They were sticking their pale little bodies all over the shop these Burnley players. How many did they get off the line? Little Jonny Otto busts one goal wards and I don’t know what happened but we didn’t score. Jonny runs back up field like he has just cut an ear off one of their defenders and is now running back with it in his possession. He’s a right mad little sod ay he? Only little, but again one of those blokes you pick on after a few pints and he ends up punching you in the face for ten minutes and your tshirt is pulled over your head and he boots you a good one right in the nuts and you wonder if you should have just gone home.

There were times when we should have fucking toe bunted the ball into the net maybe eight or nine times. The Costa chance was one of them. We are so nice and polite it’s silly sometimes. Not every goal has to be as beautiful as you ya know. Sometimes we just want to see it in the back of the net so we can collapse over the seat in front grabbing hold of whoever. We are trying to walk it in. The pace of the game leading up to any attack is so fast and popping that it seems like the money shot still has to be beautiful. It doesn’t of course. There will be plenty of time for steezy 30 yard volleys and sexy curving balls that drift into the net.

Fancy missing Nuno. But what would I even say to him? Thanks Nuno…or just stand there like a knobhead singing ‘Nuno had a dream..’ showing him how few teeth I had. Muttering some heartfelt but dysfunctional thank you as the sweat dripped down my back and I wish I could talk as easy as I write. I dunno. Boly stretches to the ball as it oodles and noodles across the goal line. Fucks sake. But 4.5 seconds later the ball is back in the danger area again and Joe Hart is fannying around. It looks good don’t get me wrong, but it’s fucking pointless movement from him…we are our own worse enemy and Jota takes 0.3928 seconds too long and there is a Burnley neck in the way, throwing his body in the way for Seans and Burnleys one idea…and if anybody knows what that idea is put it on a post card and send it me because I haven’t got a fucking clue.

I had a look at Patricio up the other end at one point in the game, still as the Bronze Stan Cullis outside the North bank. Somebody should have took him a chair and a paper…maybe my book. At one segment of our domination I’m sure he was reading the adverts on the video display thing. Doherty has just had a thing with Costa where the ball pinged beautifully confusing the Burnleyites into tumbled messes of neck and bad trims. But the ball goes somewhere else and it’s probably chance number twenty something. It’s entertaining shit there’s no doubt about it.

I realise of course, I’m at the top of this mountain road now and it’s pitch black, maybe midnight and I’m ten miles away from Bala. I stop for a roll up and sit awhile smoking then notice a star reflected in a puddle at my feet, then my eyes readjust and I see it’s actually a farmhouse light maybe a thousand feet below and I’m sitting on the edge of a cliff I never knew was there. I turn around and go back to the Lake.

Jimmy flicks the ball off his foot and the ball hits the post and goes in. Three fucking points mate, cheers. Sherpa Van trophy, Andy Mutch, Bully, scrapping Chelsea fans in Kings Cross station, fighting through Burnley fans at Wembley, Wolves were everywhere that day. Jesus Christ we were beautiful that day as well. I missed Nuno I suppose but in other ways I meet him most the time I watch a game at Molineux. I suppose Nuno is what we see on the pitch and his personality runs through the team like a golden lode through thick rock. Yes I am sure I meet him like this. The wider aspects of the victory must be left to others to work out. We are still in the early stages of this revolution. The start of it has been positive and good, everything looks dangerous and ready to explode. The goals are going to come, I can smell it in the air when we play, it’s anticipation, it’s fucking relentless this Wolves Machine.

I suppose I was on mile 41 or something when I eventually decided to stop walking. My feet have two massive blisters that had burst. My hips were iron fire and my knees felt like I was balancing on razor sharp knives. But my brain was empty at last I suppose. So I just sat in the forest for a while as the rain splodded big drops of water down my neck and I kept my roll up alight in cupped hands. Sometimes football isn’t important at all you know. It’s someone elses ideas not yours. You are just the beneficiary of the hard work put down for your entertainment every Saturday Friday, Sunday, Tuesday or whatever day the Great Satan at Sky Sports picks. No, sometimes it’s not important but it is needed. It gives you something to pin your hopes onto when everything else seems a bit dark and unlit. Out of darkness cometh light? I keep coming back to that mantra like a habit or something. Like it explains in it’s own way everything about life. Mad times bro. Manchester United next Saturday. I hate Man U.

The Great Gold and Black Truth Machine

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West Ham United V Wolverhampton Wanderers

Has their ever been such an emphatic victory in such a vast and empty place? The Olympic stadium was full of course…but there was nothing in it except the well oiled hum of the machine as we took to the field, cranked up the starter motor and sat back to wait. Plus 3k Wolves fans on a day out. How beautiful we looked. Apprehension, excitement perhaps happy in the knowledge even before a ball was kicked that we would win it. Confidence? I’m not sure. Maybe we saw ourselves filling the stadium with something that really wasn’t three thousand fans, maybe we would fill it with ideas, Nunos ideas. Maybe fortitude, intent, courage and adherence to pure footballing Philosophy all the traits the greatest teams hold dear. In that soulless Olympic stadium we would bring soul, maybe into that vast bowl of abstract nothingness we could bring passion and light?

As the Tube train rocked and shuffled us from strange place to strange place the rhythm of the tracks was nullified by the stoney faces of the people that live here. They were like grey faced things these Londoners. On their faces the realisation that perhaps their time has come and gone. Maybe they see the decimation of their cities once dynamic ideas reflected in the performance of this most London of teams. West Ham United slathered by cash, held hostage by the Dildo brothers and that most hated of figures Karen Brady who has the traits of a Disney Villainess, dark and brooding her present held tight under the bonds of the past. The Karen Brady blow up doll at Saint Andrews, her demanding pinched face with all the emotion of a Plasterers knee. A West Ham fan gets on the tube in a team shirt with Snodgrass and the claret and blue, the name on the back gives me an icy stab of instant Villa hate again. Claret and fucking blue. Peschisolido the little wanker, Sullivans, Alf Garnett, scouse gits, sex toys, KY Jelly, strange pies and eels, Lulus, Villa, my leg, Horace staring like a psychopath at someone, probably his own yellow reflection in the tube train window.

Leo Bonatini squares a pass to Traore who is unstoppable. From his own half Adama suddenly does have idea, intent and madness. Those sinews stretch and prime themselves as he attacks. He’s like a Lion chasing an Antelope, he bounds and strides as the acids and chemicals flood his muscles with electrical messages, to stretch and leap, to contract and expand at scarily rapid crashes and smashings of electrons deep in that muscle fibre. I hold my breath and sense something and it is a hush, we watch and wonder. Adama leaves players in his wake, all they have is a memory of him, a distant foggy memory of Traore once there and now there, 3-4-5-6-7 yards away now, gone. They were defeated by Adama before they even knew it. He is the Bruce Lee of this team.

But the vision? Adamas arrival was perfectly forseen by Leo who when he came on was a delight again, probing and dragging West Ham players here and there. The smoke and Mirrors routine of the Brothers Fantastic Moutinho and Neves, a perfect interplay of delightful rapid passes and movements, it was mesmerising and I was mesmerised, but West Ham also slipped into that warm zone of absent minded football as they luxuriated in the display of the Brothers Fantastic. And verily Leo made much of this. Adama (at one point) wasn’t even looking at anything, I suspect he had visualised the ball coming to him, where it would be, what power it had and probably which way it was spinning. Here is the real magic. Adama knew because Leo knew, because Moutinho knew and Ruben knew, as did little Ruben, and so did Doherty and Bennet is starting to know as Coady always knew and Patricio who knew last week against Manchester City. They know because Nuno told them. Nuno told them and they trust him so what Nuno says is ‘The Truth’ and that my friends is the fucking most powerful thing in the world. But what is this truth?

Hard work, courage, skill, TEAM work, never the individual ALWAYS the team, always Nunos way. West Ham probed, they spun, they threaded delightful passes, they looked like the multi million pound team that they are. As Everton and Manchester City before them I delighted to watch them. This was the Premier League and nobody is here by mistake, they have all fought long and fucking hard battles. But what is the truth of this place they play their football? It was vast and beautiful, swooping lines, wide concourses, relatively easy access, friendly staff. Their fans were still West Ham fans, but there was a sadness in them, a deep sadness. You saw it in their faces as they trudged up the sun baked tarmac towards the great monstrous thing this place was. Madness. They were sad because they were not in their rightful place. They were not linked in any way to the geology underneath this stadium. There have been not battles there, no great losses, no blood spilt on the steps of this place. There is no history for them here and without the memories of the past how are you supposed to look to the future? This sadness that pervades this West Ham team is a product of this removal from one dynamic, crazy and creative Upton Park to this amazing architectural swooping delightful place of absolutely nothing at all except vast empty spaces that ideas should fill.

But us? Shape and movement, here and there a snubbed chance. Less defensive frailty at times than a team learning, a team playing against a multi million pound attack from West Hams frontline. Coady has a voice that at times I heard even though he was eight miles away from the pitch but ‘HEY…HEY…HEY…HEY’ he shouted. One simple word that hid an avalanche of information about positioning, control and luxurious movement. He swept up attacks, he instigated counter attack, his communications were short and brusk, demands of movement and of adjustment. He pulled players wide for Boly to collect and to neutralise. Coady moved players to Bennet who would deal with the threat with a delightful dig at the loose ball to ‘player’ or to hustle the threat to safety away from goal. Coady strains at the bit to move forward to instigate attacks but his discipline pulls him back every time. This is the truth of Nuno, he needs Conor back there, in ‘that place’ and no other. Otherwise nothing would work and the whole Gold and Black machine would grind to a halt. The simplest disobedience to ‘THE PLAN’ will result in the whole edifice crashing down.

So from West Ham in the second half great passes that split Wolves and resulted in half chances, crosses were pin point and dangerous. Patricio hustled and controlled. Is he going to pull these world class saves out of the bag at every match? These Patricio moments are sublime and fast, his hands are safe and movement into a ruck of players courageous and here is some other word we may insert into this idea…trust. Our defence are becoming a true unit where the chain of understanding is starting to grow and grow. At the other end Costa, my little big Helder was menacing. Jimmy Jimenez was thinking too much. Such is his tenacity and belief, his need to do his job and repay the confidence Nuno has in him…there is too much strength in him. It is over powerful and intense, too intense. It is time for Jimmy to start playing with the Nuno ‘Hive mind’ that permeates this team and to utilise it fully, to embrace it.

Adama has that bass thing going on so of course the shot, when he meets it, is low and fast. His journey across the pitch has ended with him smashing the ball beyond the goalkeeper and hits the net which performs a sensual ripple across the rear of the goal. I see no more of this, there are limbs. I smash against the seat in front, my shin, my bad knee. My back cracks, somebody punches me in the ear, I hug and I am crazy, we all fucking are, my head is aching, the lagers, the dark fruit cider, the cocaine, I haven’t eaten all day, I feel sick and all of a sudden tired. 93rd fucking minute mate. First Premier League win. Three fucking points. Are we being daft thinking we belong here? Nah. The stress of thinking about this game dissipates out of me and I feel like going to sleep for a few hours, folding up my coat and putting my big fat head on it to sleep.

On match of the day later I watch Shearer say some nice things, I always mute Lineker and I’m laughing at Keowns monkey head too much to hear what he says. The edited match is all West Ham. Fucking standard. I only watch it so I can see Nuno, what he thought and what his analysis of the game was. He talks about the TEAM a lot. But my eyes are heavy and in my mind I was in dark deep City of London pubs, drinking lager, with people I love.

AMAZON_EBOOK

It’s been a long time Leo

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Original Photo by Sam Bagnall

I’m beginning to enjoy my trips to Hillsborough but sometimes during last nights match I think I enjoy (more) the descent into mediocrity of Foresteiri or whatever his name is, I can’t get the Sako incident out of my head but I digress…I bump into a dude with a head like a battered traffic cone and he says something I don’t understand so I just smile and carry on. The sky is low here tonight and everything is a little grey and my eyes start stinging from the traffic fumes but the feeling is friendly, the feeling is that Wednesday are going to get dicked. I eat a tray of chips outside the ground before I go in and they are tasty. I feel like I visit this ground eight or nine times a season it’s that familiar now. I’m starting to not mind it and that’s weird even if outside the ground is surrounded by that identikit semi industrial wasteland that typifies most football ground I have been to.

Was it so long ago I watched our other first round Caraboa or whatever first round Cup match. Bristol Rovers I think it was. We sat in the Northbank and basically watched our second stringers muscle some sort of result out of it. At the time there were cameos from the first team that smelled a bit like what we had suffered the year before under Lambert. It was laboured and bitty. You could see of course that there was some sort of revolution going on in the team but there was more a sense of maybe…the revolution was just here and there. Seedlings maybe, just starting to unfurl their green leaves of the Nunolution.

Last night at Hillsborough there was a completely different zeitgeist to the whole thing. Where last season it was a rather insipid display of Caraboa or whatever football that still had the tendrils of Lambertism running through it…this was different, this was a whole new thing. You see I think Nuno now has a template not a team. I suspect although the team has a duty to play their beautiful football they do it under the auspices of the Nuno template. So we take last Saturdays match for instance. Shape. Nuno has now reached the stage where he has extrapolated the Philosophies and the training and now that ‘idea’ has become mobile and is able to be transplanted from line up to line up. So we see a whole new plethora of faces playing exactly the way, shape and form the stars of our side do.

I mean, we are playing a Championship side. Standing there in the Leppings Lane end there was a definite smell of puke as some youngblood lets go of the contents of his stomach all over the seats a few rows away. I hope he feels better this morning. Dude we have all been there. There was disgust from several of us and then stories of when they puked up somewhere odd. I felt like being sick watching the strange fucking football Wednesday were playing. In fact I had a fucking weird flashback during several parts of it as the ball flew into the air for some head ping pong. There was that ‘tackling’ thing where a Sheffield player clattered into one of our players. There was tugging and some elbow action. There was everything Championship football had, which was not a lot. The first half kind of blathered away like the fans in the Chip shop before the match. The football Wednesday offered was hidden under a thick Yorkshire accent while they rolled a hot chip around their mouths making any utterance on the pitch kind of muffled and unidentifiable…and a bit painful.

Donk puts a foot in and dispossesses a Wednesday doughnut, split second and he’s off into space and razor sharp he tangles a ball through two Wednesday players to Saiss who dinks the ball out of play. Saiss is rusty, he needs game time and maybe needs to chill out a bit. Donk runs up to the centre of the pitch looking for a pass again, he finds Morgan Gibbs White and an attack is on. Donk jogs back into position with Coadys voice reverberating around his head. Donk likes to get forward. I see Kortney moving forward too. The shape is everything and if Nuno is the Conductor of this mad orchestra then Coady is the lead Violinist for me. But this defence isn’t really a defence sometimes, it’s more of an attacking aid. Kortney or Donk move into space and the whole shape moves up a gear and forward. Lose possession and they are hunting for the ball constantly seeking to get it back. Wednesday don’t have much time on the ball before there is a player in Gold chomping away at the back of their neck to get the ball back. It’s our ball mate, you can’t have it, you don’t know what to do with it any way.

But it was kind of good natured. Wolves struggled a little due to the abstract and strange shapes Sheffield were throwing. I suppose the ‘groping’ stage was the first half really. Unbuttoning the bra of Sheffield was a sticky fumbly thing only really sparking to life when Morgan Gibbs White bust a shot wide on the wrong foot. We aim for a big wet tongue kiss but keep licking an eye or a chin in our frenetic pre coital football. But we had him and Saiss back in midfield. Morgan was in the Jota role I think and seemed to be pulled a little out of shape by the set up. Maybe that first half he had the directions set in stone by Nuno and couldn’t dare to question it. I know a few of his positions were a bit strange and he found himself in territory unknown. So Nuno is stalking the technical area and taking everything in while the stink of puke wafts around the stand.

Ruddy was back too. He didn’t really put a foot wrong to be honest, it was nice to see him back. He dealt with most of the shit thrown at him, ably protected by Kortney and Conor who were themselves busting some defensive shapes again. Conor is growing fast, sniffing out attacks before Sheffield Wednesday even knew they were attacking. His voice echoed around the ground as he directed play. He is our Captain you know and boy does he do some Captaining. The philosophy is naked and raw, play from the back and direct the attack. He splashes some beautiful passes around, diagonal and inch perfect to whatever player is in space and primed to attack. He directs shape and possession with his passes and ameliorates the directions and tactics of Nuno into the physical realms so it becomes less about airy fairy ideas of tactics and shape and more into direct aggressive movements. So Wednesday at the end of the first half looked knackered and we looked like we were just warming up. It was looking good. It was looking beautiful. But there wasn’t any real penetration, no real intent as yet. Traore one side of Bonatini and Morgan the other couldn’t quite get the groove flowing. But at least Wednesday weren’t throwing the Jackie Chan moves yet thank fuck. I’m tempted to think this Sheffield team have gone backwards…but then I remember when they chopped Conor Ronan to the ground in the cold January we played there under Lambert. It’s as sure as Tangos tits flopping around that some Wednesday doughnut will lose it at some point and I’m hoping we stay injury free and get out of here quickly. Elliot Watt tangles up a player by shifting the ball from side to side and he’s off. I like young Elliott, I like the cut of his jib.

I go for a roll up in the break and talk to people. It’s good but I don’t think many people know why they are there, but I take the opportunity to gobble two 30mg Co-Codomol and a funky 50mg Tramodol as I stepped in a pothole outside the ground and twisted my leg a bit and now it’s sending shooting pains up into my hip. It’s a good job I didn’t have a drink or I would be slumped in a chair dribbling…again.

I think about Vinagre as I watch him. Twisting and turning, movong constantly, he gets a few flavours from the Wednesday backline. These flavours are dull insipid things. Vinagre is a fucking delight. In my madness I would throw him into the first team every time but what do I know? Traore wants to put his own stamp on the game. A swish of the tail and he’s off again. Busting apart the obstacles Wednesday put in his way he shrugs, he dips, he is off. Who has an answer to Adama? How do you actually defend against him? It was like he had a forcefield around him, some strange Star Trek technology that repels opposition players. He is relentless when he has the ball. He gets to the touchline and arcs his body to get a cut back in. To Leo! Fucking hell, at last. Leo scores. Spiersy reports it as 23 hours and 59 minutes since he scored a goal. I don’t know what Leo is doing to celebrate it but I’m just looking up at the roof of the stand and thanking the footballing Gods. Jesus Christ Leo…1-0 to us. I never said a bad word about you Leo, I always trusted you. Are you channelling Dark Leo? I hope so. Traore, dude, you are not a ‘beast’ you are not a ‘unit’, you are a fucking treasure, a true footballer and you make my heart leap. Donk looks ecstatic at the goal which also makes me feel good and Conor Coady is shouting something loud and happy. Teams eh?

Pedro and Helder come on. All of a sudden it’s fucking samba time again, limbo dancing, carnival. I like Pedro a lot, in fact I think if I watch him again soon I may start to love him a little bit. He’s ultimate Steez for me. Like a young Moutinho maybe, same shapes and movement but with some tweak here and there as he produces an absolutely magical move between his feet that makes the ball jiggle like some quantum particle puffing in and out of existence as a Wednesday player merely observes. Pedro is gone mate, like a flash of Magicians magic powder he pops up again somewhere else while we all dribble as the painkillers kick in and it’s a bit numb. But Pedro…dude.

Helder is doing Helder type things. What’s got into him? Now he’s busting between players he goes past one, two, three Wednesday players. Head down, resolute. They chop him down. There ideas lack anything beautiful these Wednesday lot. Penalty. Helder steps up and smashes it in. 2-0. Fuck off Sheffield. In the cold of Fulham they denigrated you my little Helder, but I knew you would have courage and tenacity. I wonder what words Nuno spoke to you? You came back out of the abyss my friend and are now in the light for me. Sheffield Wednesday make a substitution. It’s that Serbian lanky bastard again. He’s got a neck like a Telegraph pole and a head like a students rucksack. This my friends is what ideas Wednesday have…the same ideas they had two years ago. Since I mentioned Foresteiri at the start of this match I haven’t thought of him again because I simply never saw him..he is fading away like Sako maybe and those battles they had a few years ago are fading too. This team Wolves team are a bright light and they are dazzling.

Walking back to the car I am concentrating on the paths and roads underneath me so I don’t stumble again. So I listen to the Wednesday fans that surround me. They talk not of their own teams failings but of us. I hear words like Strong/very good/a different class/brilliant/exciting and I am proud of my team and prouder still of the way we play. Discipline and hard work training. We only see the tip of the iceberg, the product of the pain that seeps into the Compton pitches after training. The hours spent looking at tactics and shape, sculpting those ideas into verifiable results like tonight. Yes, it’s the start of the Cup run, yes it’s still early days and yes, I suppose it’s not really important before we go to West Ham…but man I feel good about this madness.