For the past two years, whilst being in the Premier League, Wolves have been at their most effective whilst playing 4-5-1. However, this surely must be the season that Mick finally reverts back to his favoured 4-4-2 formation with both Doyler and Fletch leading the line.
Over the last two seasons there is no question that Wolves have not had the midfield and defence to allow us to play two up top as we have often been stretched, leading to many goals conceded, but that, I am sure, is due to change this season. With the additions of Roger Johnson and Jamie O’Hara, suddenly the spine of our team looks very healthy. Not to mention Hennessey improving with every game, I can see a hardcore of 5 players playing more or less every game this coming season. This includes the centre forward partnership of Doyler and Fletcher.
But who are we kidding? We all know that the Premier League takes no prisoners and has Mick said last season, we can only call ourselves a Premier League club after we have been in the league about ten years. If we are to take the cautious route to safety again this coming season and play 4-5-1 id still play Doyle ahead of Fletcher. Now before you start slating me, here me out.
If we look at the two players’ stats from the past two seasons Doyle has notched up 14 goals and Fletcher 18 with Burnley and then Wolves last season. Just looking at the amount of goals scored by the pair, there’s not a lot of difference between them, especially when you consider this has been done in 64 appearances from Fletch and 60 from Doyle. However, you do have to consider that Fletch has come off the bench a number of times and hasn’t had as much actual game play as Doyle. This averages out at Doyle scoring every 4.2 games compared to Fletcher scoring one in every 2.9 games. Although, this is extremely impressive for a struggling side, for me, it is all about their all round games that gives Doyle the nod ahead of Fletcher.
If we look at these two chalkboards below (thanks to the Guardian.co.uk) from arguably their best games in Wolves’ colours, Doyle against Liverpool in Jan ’10 and Fletch against them lot down the road in March ’11, the one thing that stands out for me, is their ability for the team to build on them holding the ball up and bringing others into play.
The work rate Doyle brings to the team is immense and Mick even went on record as saying his performance against Liverpool that night was the best centre forwards performance for Wolves in 30 years. It would be hard to disagree with Mick but I’m sure many Wolves fans can always refer back to a few Steve Bull performances during that time that could have rivalled Doyle’s performance! His pass success rate that night was 74%. That aside, it was a stellar performance, with only a goal lacking for the Irish man.
Above, I have looked at Fletcher’s performance against West Brom last season as a stand out game for the Scotsman. Just at a quick glance we can see that already he hasn’t got the same presence as Doyle and bringing others into play. Fletcher’s pass success rate was just 55% that Sunday afternoon. However, he did score that day, and this is something that Fletcher did well at last year ending up as Wolves top scorer.
With all that said and done, Id still take Doyle over Fletcher to start games with Fletcher in the ‘super sub’ role. With our strongest positionsin the team being the wingers, its down to the likes of Hunty and Jarvo that need to step up and score some more goals in order for Doyle to be effective enough to stay in the team. If , however, our summer signings do what they say on the tin, I can see Wolves being very penetrative going forward this season with Doyler’s work rate, and Fletcher’s instinctive finishing.
Here’s hoping that we end up playing both of them together to save Mick the headache of playing either one of them!
- Good Read