TAYLOR MOURNED AS WOLVES NICK IT
MOLINEUX stood and applauded the memory of Graham Taylor. He revived both Wolves and Aston Villa during his career but this game was about who is doing the better job these days, Paul Lambert or Steve Bruce?
Taylor, who died on Thursday, rebuilt Villa, got them promotion and re-established the club as a force in English football.
He attempted to do the same at Wolves, getting them to the play-offs in his one full season and, significantly, set-up the training ground and the philosophy that Lambert is benefiting from with so many young footballers coming through.
What happens now is up to Lambert, a former Villa manager himself who endured debilitating times there, and Bruce, with a nod of thanks to Taylor.
Villa’s form has died after the initial big impact Bruce made when he took over in October, with five defeats in their last nine games, including the FA Cup loss at Spurs.
“My thoughts on that performance of ours. Not a lot,” said Bruce.
“If that is all we’ve got then it’s going to be a long, difficult winter. We have to question ourselves. We have created very little in games over the last three or four weeks.
“Yes we have injuries and players away on international duty but we’ve got to have a little more quality than what we are showing at the moment. That simply wasn’t good enough.”
In contrast Lambert has got the Old Golds’ confidence flowing with only two defeats in Wolves last eight league games and a big FA Cup victory at Stoke, and it showed.
Wolves were ahead in the 15th minute, Joe Mason becoming the first of their strikers to score a goal since August 20 when he took advantage of the Nouha Dicko run that undid Villa.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, making his league debut on loan from Manchester United, only dived and parried Dicko’s shot and Mason was able to slot the ball into an empty net.
Even though Villa were poor, Ross McCormack should have headed them level 12 minutes later but put the ball over.
“He should have scored with that. He knows that too, but McCormack is going through a tough time,” added Bruce.
Villa got no better and it took James Chester to clear away from the line when Mason missed a second shortly before half-time.
The pattern was the same in the second half, Villa dull and ineffective and living on the edge of going two down. Helder Costa’s scorching run set-up Dicko with Johnstone to beat for Wolves’ second goal in the 56th minute, but the keeper stood firm and blocked his shot.
That helped 23-year-old Johnstone redeem his earlier error, but nothing got Villa off the hook
When Dave Edwards had to go off because of a cut on his head that needed three stiches the power of Wolves’ performance faded a little, but Lambert was pleased.
“My team were brilliant,” said Lambert. “There is a brilliant infrastructure here. A good fan base and the supporters and the players are right together.
“You need that for success. I didn’t have the pleasure to meet Graham Taylor but I knew about him and listened to what he had to say.
“He put the academy in here with the former owner Sir Jack Hayward. It was a brilliant, fitting tribute.”
GOAL: Joe Mason celebrates scoring Wolves’ winner INSET: A floral tribute to Graham Taylor